Arguably one of the most anticipated MMO titles to come out of the Sony Online Entertainment studios, PlanetSide 2 is the upcoming sequel to the hugely popular MMOFPS, PlanetSide. There's a plethora of online FPS titles but the term MMOFPS itself is thrown around far too often, but in the case of PlanetSide 2, the term deserves the definition. Regular "MMOFPS" games usually consist of lobby based combat that give players the opportunity to dive into small-scale combat, even titles such as War Rock are limited in terms of player numbers. However, PlanetSide 2 aims to totally destroy the shackles that have restrained online FPS games for so long, offering a potentially staggering 2000 player combat.
There are 3 factions that players are able to align with, Vanu Sovereignty, New Conglomerate and Terran Republic. These are the same factions that were available in the original PlanetSide game, and the dedication and loyalty from veteran players has passed onto the sequel. There are diehard loyalists that will stick with only one faction for the entirety of their game experience, with many doing the same in the original game. There are no restrictions though as players are able to play with multiple factions on different servers. Although each faction is fundamentally the same, they've all got their own selection of weapons, vehicles and upgrades. This creates intense competition across the field as some players feel a particular faction has aerial superiority, while others are convinced the Sniper Rifle of a certain faction is over powered. This would usually be a negative feature for an MMO game but it creates diversity and varied play-styles based on the faction and weapon players are using.
PlanetSide 2 uses a familiar FPS class-based system where players can choose classes between death and at spawn. Each class is built to fulfill a specific purpose. There's the Engineer, a steadfast soldier who's designed to repair vehicles and other objects, as well as having the ability to offer ammo to other players and build deadly turrets. The Light Assault are the foundations to any ground-based infantry squad, they have access to a rifle that's comfortable in almost any situation and also a Jetpack, a valuable skill that allows them to fly short distances to ambush enemies or infiltrate structures. The Heavy Assault are the bulk of the infantry forces, using an LMG, Frag Grenades and a Rocket Launcher, they're number one when it comes to destroying vehicles and structures from an infantry perspective. The final class of base infantry is the Medic, arguably one of the most vital infantry units as they're the only class than can heal friendlies and bring them back from death. There's another class available to players, the MAX. This mech-like beast can be equipping to be deadly to infantry, aerial and vehicle units, making it one of the most versatile classes in the game, but it is expensive to spawn and has a long cool down should you die quickly.
The main attraction to PlanetSide 2 is the real-time progressive combat mechanic. Each faction has their own personal Warp Gate, a safe area where groups can be formed and vehicles created. This is the only guaranteed safe area in the game as every other area can be attacked and occupied. There are 4 different types of resources in the game, and these are the driving force behind the real-time occupation of each area on the map. Certain resources are used to purchase vehicles, or refill ammo, but others are used to purchase weapon upgrades and new gear. Different bases across the map provide different resources boosts for the controlling faction, with bonus resources being offered for fighting in that particular zone. Having different valued resources creates a great atmosphere within the game as small squads fight it out for the less valuable areas, while massive battles take place in the areas with the more valuable resources.
The character customization and unlockable features are huge, offering a massive amount of diversity among both infantry and vehicle players. Upgrades can be purchasing in 2 different ways. Character improvements, such as weapons and stat-boosting implants are purchased by using certifications. These are earned through general combat and achievements, killing players and taking bases is among the best way to increase your certification gains. There's multiple attachments for each weapon, creating a huge variety of potential class builds and load outs. There's even more customization options in terms of vehicles. All factions have a selection of vehicles at their disposal, each of which can be improved using certification points. Some improvements include improvement handling, extra shields or better weapons. The more strategical options include adding additional spawn points for your team or creating mobile vehicles that can be used to rearm and equip different weapons.
I've been playing the beta for quite a while now and having easily passed the 100 hour mark, I have to say it's an experience that every FPS fan will want to discover. There's something really special about the pure size of the combat in PlanetSide 2. There's nothing quite like watching several columns of tanks fight of a large squad of fighter jets while infantry fight over the control points.
The true success of PlanetSide 2 depends on the beta that is currently underway. Sony Online Entertainment are constantly throwing out new patches and updates, just recently introducing an entirely new continent to play on. This offers players 2 fronts of combat, with both maps requiring totally different tactics and strategies. A number of PlaneSide veterans have expressed concern over the territory capture and character progression systems, both of which have been met with a heavy response from Sony.
If only one thing is certain, PlanetSide 2 has the potential to totally dominate the FPS niche of the MMO world. There's never been anything quite like the PlanetSide franchise and the next generation of the series could potentially be far more successful than the original.