It seems like every year we see more and more MMOs come out. Every year we’re promised something big, and new, and shiny. We’re promised an immersive experience that we’ve never had before, we’ve been promised that this particular company’s game will blow all of the competition out of the water forever and that nothing will ever challenge their superiority. I don’t know about you, but for me, I’m prone to falling for the lofty promises, so dearly do I hope for that one special MMO that I’ve let myself be hurt time and time again. I’ve been hurt so many times that it’s hard to keep track. So why might you ask, am I willing to put myself out there all over again?
It’s because I have high hopes. I have a big dream for something that’s not just another cut and paste WoW clone, or some buggy Korean grinder port. I have a desire for real progression, for my actions to mean something, for my character to grow into the killing machine that uses skill and reflexes over hitting tab followed by 1, 2, 3. And that’s where Planetside 2 comes in. For those of you who don’t know Planetside 2 is an MMOFPS that’s a sequel to one of my favorite games of all times. (That’s right you guessed it. Planetside.) In a massive world with three continents, players fight to conquer territory to give themselves an advantage in the overall war. Imagine Call of Duty, Battlefield, and Tribes all rolled up into one glorious ball brimming with weapons and explosions. There are three factions to choose from in this eternal tug of war. Vanu Sovereignty, Terran Republic, and the New Conglomerate. Let’s take a second to run by each faction and then we’ll move into what makes this game so unique.
The Vanu Sovereignty, best described as a technocracy is a group of people who’ve found alien technology. In an effort to move on from the old petty warring lifestyle that humans have enjoyed on Auraxis they believe that the advanced technology will free them and bring peace to their world. This faction utilizes laser weaponry and other advanced pieces of armament such as hover tanks. Their beam rifles shoot fast and they don’t have to worry about bullet drop, however they are stuck with damage degradation over range. (In case you don’t know, they’re the best faction. You should join them.)
The New Conglomerate are your typical rebels, after they split off from the Terran Republic they’ve scavenged and worked their way onto the world stage. Best described as a democracy they fight for freedom, choice, and human rights. They believe that freedom and self-government is the true path to peace. Tired of living under the Terran’s boot they’ve struck out in an effort to free all the people of the world, whether they want to be free or not. Because they’re so much more rag tag than the other groups they have a much more boxy and cobbled look. Their weapons fire slower but hit harder, as they need to make every bullet count.
Last, and certainly least, is the Terran Republic, though don’t be confused by the word republic, they’re anything but. This faction can be best described as Authoritarian, they believe that nothing short of complete control over the lives of all the people of the world will there ever be peace. They’re highly trained, equipped with the best weapons and armor money can buy, and they’re coming for you. To ensure their “inevitable” victory they often put into action weapons with a fast rate of fire but less damage per hit. You see, there’s no shortage or money or ammunition for this group.
So now you might be wondering, why did I take all that space to give you a rundown of the factions? I did it because it’s important. The factions are the backbone of the game and part of what makes the community so great, is how much the fans of each faction love to speak out for their own cause. Players of the original Planetside will be hard pressed to change factions, and new players coming in are quickly picking sides. But the real fun doesn’t start until we hit the battlefield.
Speaking of the community, I’ve been involved with the communities of numerous games and MMOs and never have I seen a company more dedicated to its fans and eager to communicate. Numerous postings per day on Facebook, countless postings on twitter talking to fans. YouTube video after YouTube video emerges. They’ve hosted several events for their fans to come and meet them, recently they even had a day to come get your hair cut and and the emblem of your faction sprayed on or cut into it! It appears to me that the people working on this game not only genuinely love their jobs, but also love their fans.
That’s all well and good, but what about the game? Back in the original Planetside, even back in 2003 hundreds of players would go up against one another. I remember fighting for massive control points in huge three way battles even on my ancient clunky HP desktop that I jimmy rigged into a rudimentary gaming machine. Fighting for the Vanu dropping into locations, rolling out in huge airships or on the ground. We fought tree to tree, up to the walls, into the building, finally capturing our objective from the lowly TR dogs, only to turn around and be bombarded by countless NC fighters and ground troops.
Planetside was a tug of war unlike any other I’ve experienced. And that was almost a decade ago! I’ve poured over information, I’ve watched hours of video and I can safely say it looks like everyone on the Planetside 2 team are trying their damnedest to bring back that one of a kind experience. There is a great write up HERE on a particularly fun glitch that happened back in Planetside 1. I cannot recommend you read it enough. It’s a wonderful take on a truly incredible experience. I’m sure if you talk to any old Planetside player they’ll be happy to share their experiences.
From the footage I’ve seen and the interviews I’ve read, the terrain around bases has been lovingly crafted to ensure great combat. Some points may be entrenched and better protected from ground troops, but vulnerable to air strikes. Other points may be found in a swamp, covered in dense fog, making air attacks useless, while making the fighting on the ground dangerous! Oh, and just as you were hoping for, there IS friendly fire. Grenade spamming your own troops as they rush in won’t end well for your side. You’ll need to be careful and play to win with your team to make any progress. They’ve toned down the MMO mechanics as much as possible, making it easy for FPS players to hop right in and not have to worry about huge convoluted menus, and making it easy for players to group up for attacks on valuable targets. But there is still a deep advancement system for MMO players who want to tweak every little detail.
So how much would you pay for something like this? $15 a month? $5 a month? $59.99 one time payment? How does nothing sound? That’s right. Planetside 2 is a Free-to-Play game. I’m sure this is sending of red flags, but you can put those away, as the developers will be the first to tell you, they’ve taken great strides to keep this game Free-to-Play, but not Pay-to-Win. Every weapon you can buy with station cash will also be un-lockable in game. The only things you can spend money on are sideways-upgrades (Meaning it’s equivalent to something other players already have, but just looks different) or pure aesthetic purchases.
All in all, I’m as hyped for Planetside 2 as I’ve been for anything. I’m sure that if this game disappoints, as I’ve been so many other times by others, I might just crumble into nothing. Beta should be starting within the next month and from then on we’ll only be seeing them speed further along to release. As much as I want to play this game more than any others. I also want the developers to take their time and make it work. I’ve already been waiting almost a decade. I know I can wait a little longer.