The MMOFPS by Sony Online Entertainment!

The MMOFPS by Sony Online Entertainment!

Planetside 2 released in November of 2012, and has an upcoming PS4 release, currently being in closed beta on that console. Planetside 2 is a combined arms MMOFPS (Massively multiplayer online first person shooter) where hundreds of players can take part in battles spanning various continents. There are three empires in the game, the New Conglomerate (Space ‘Murica), the Terran Republic (Space Soviets), and the Vanu Sovereignty (Space zealots). Each empire has certain unique aspects to them, and all empires have access to various cross-empire vehicles and weaponry.

Space 'Murica. Space Soviets. Weirdos.

Space ‘Murica. Space Soviets. Weirdos.

Empires are always battling for control on the (currently) four continents in the game, with “alerts” appearing at times drawing focus to one particular continent. An empire that controls the most continent territory at the end of the alert gains complete control of the continent, a small but significant discount on certain resource costs, and some bonus XP. While the overall goal of the game is to gain control of territory, the ebb and flow of battle often means the base you just fought an hour to take is lost twenty minutes later. Due to this, many players feel there is a distinct lack of “metagame”, something that Planetside 1 had more focus on. However, if you play the game to enjoy the gameplay and not to be an armchair general, then this will not be an issue for you.

The continental struggle is real.

The continental struggle is real.

Death comes quickly in Planetside 2, with an average TTK (time to kill) on weapons well under a second. This seems to be following the trend of Call of Duty, Battlefield and others; if this is a gamebreaker for you, then you will not enjoy Planetside 2’s infantry combat. Vehicles survive for much longer, and play arguably a larger role in battles than infantry, being that they are force multipliers. However, even vehicles are not immune to short lifespans, as a driver who is not cautious will find himself being blown up with C4 by a Light Assault player, or will run over an Engineer’s tank mines. Overall, whether you enjoy vehicle combat or infantry combat, Planetside 2 provides a solid but deadly experience for both of these playstyles.

The three empires seem to be balanced as a whole; while one empire may receive a heavy handed buff or nerf from time to time, overall it seems to be well balanced. Perceived empire imbalance tends to stem from the dominant empire on a particular server; players on the Matherson server may be convinced that the Vanu Sovereignty are over-powered, while players on another may think that the Terran Republic are. My personal experience with all three empires leads me to believe that none are particularly over-powered, but rather have specific advantages in certain aspects of the game. The Vanu Sovereignty, for example, has arguably the best light machine gun, the Orion (which you start with), while the New Conglomerate has the best shotgun, the Jackhammer. These difference add flavor to the game, so that fighting different empires gives a different experience.

The Jackhammer, ripper of new assholes.

The Jackhammer, ripper of new assholes.

The cash shop of the game, in my opinion, is one of the better cash shops I’ve seen in a free-to-play game. All guns that one can buy in the cash shop can be earned in game with certs, and weapons are typically designed to fill different niches rather than be upgrades to other weapons. Cosmetics are a little on the costly side, but being they have no bearing on the game other than “cool factor”, I am totally fine with that. The closest thing to the dreaded pay-to-win that Planetside 2 offers is the monthly subscription; the subscription, on top of other benefits, grants one bonus resource gains. These bonus gains come in handy for pulling more MAX units, vehicles and aircraft; so while it’s not necessarily paying for something that gives a direct advantage over another player, it does make it that much harder for the enemies when you can just come back in your tank or Liberator and continue shelling after a death.

Planetside 2 isn’t without its bugs – as with any regularly patched MMO, new ones are always being introduced, and some old ones seem to have been swept under the rug. However, most of these bugs aren’t too serious gamebreakers, but minor annoyances. Some players have big problems with the game’s hit detection; while I have yet to really see this myself, it appears that some people are able to unload entire clips into enemies and never get a kill; something that I would imagine would be a deal breaker for a game if you experienced it regularly. Instant Action, a feature that allows one to drop into the middle of battle via a drop pod (which is a rather cool sequence to experience at least once), tends to drop one in the most unfavorable battles and in the worst spots imaginable. It’s bad enough that I stopped using Instant Action completely – it seems you are almost guaranteed a quick death due to it dropping you, say, in an enemy armor column or out in the open where you are a sitting duck.

Popular PS2 player Wrel sums up Instant Action quite nicely.

Popular PS2 player Wrel sums up Instant Action quite nicely.

If you enjoy FPS games, large battles, and combined arms, Planetside 2 is definitely a game worth checking out. It’s graphically pleasing and the gameplay can provide a solid experience for infantry, armor or air combat.

Good Ole Score: 7 out of 10.

Good Ole Score: 7 out of 10.

Pros:

  • It’s free. It does have an optional subscription and a cash shop, but these are very reasonable and the game doesn’t inconvenience you too badly without them.
  • Balanced empires. Empires have different strengths, but one isn’t inherently better than another.
  • Massive battles. I think the largest battle I’ve taken part in had somewhere around 400-500 players; no other FPS can come close to offering this.
  • Combined arms. This provides multiple methods of attack and defense, and means one can always jump out of their typical role when feeling burned out.
  • Good graphics. While they are by no means on par with games like Crysis, Planetside 2’s graphics are good enough to show some beauty amidst the chaos.

Meh:

  • No “metagame.” If you don’t care to play armchair general, or don’t mind that what you fight hard for today won’t mean anything in a few hours, then this won’t affect you.
  • Short TTK(time to kill). If you enjoy this, then it would be a pro; coming from a background of Quake, Unreal Tournament and Team Fortress, I would prefer longer TTKs, but I still find it enjoyable.
  • XP Grind. There’s always something you want certs for, which means you’re always wanting to earn more XP. If you’re cool with just playing how you want and getting XP whenever it comes, then this doesn’t matter. If you have to maximize XP gain, then the game can become grindy indeed.

Cons:

  • Bugs. While few are ever gamebreaking, some stay around for way longer than they should.
  • Hit detection. It has yet to really affect me, but it seems to be a widespread enough problem to list it here.
  • Cheaters. They tend to be dealt with quickly, but one will still sometimes run into a teleporting hacker knifing everybody in the vicinity within seconds.
  • Flavor of the month buffs/nerfs. This is almost standard in many MMOs, but it’s not too uncommon to see one weapon over-buffed for a time while others are heavily nerfed.