Hands-On PlanetSide 2‘s Impressive Massive Multiplayer at E3 2012
Based off the previous MMOFPS that started it all, technology has finally caught up after eight years and allowed Sony Online Entertainment to develop the PlanetSide game they always intended to make. PlanetSide 2 was one of the most ambitious titles we saw at E3 this year with servers that will allow for 2000 people all playing at once. Last year, Starhawk‘s multiplayer stole the show for us in terms of epic multiplayer battles and went on to live up to the hype when it was released last month. For those unfamiliar with the PlanetSide series, it plays a lot like Starhawk, but on a much, much bigger scale and only on the PC — sorry console fanboys, this is one war you won’t be a part of.
To allow for the the insane amount of players that can fight in one single game, PlanetSide 2‘s graphics were far from the most impressive we saw at E3. That’s not to say PlanetSide 2 is an ugly game by any means; it’s actually pretty good looking, especially if you have a powerful PC and can crank all the settings up to max. But PlanetSide 2 clearly isn’t trying to beat out other graphics juggernauts and please pixel counters. It’s all about providing a solid shooter experience that you would find in other AAA shooters, but on a scale that has never been seen before.
In PlanetSide 2, players can choose to play on one of three different factions. All three of the factions are in constant, never-ending battle for control over locations within the game’s insanely large continent. Key word “continent” because unlike other shooters and similar to an MMORGP, PlanetSide 2 allows players to go anywhere they please; whether it’s to a quiet small battle with only a couple other players or one of the areas where thousands of players are fighting, players can travel anywhere and at any time after they’ve logged in.
In the demo we played, our factions just fought over control of three nearby control points within buildings. The developers have said that in addition to traditional capture-and-hold style objectives, there will be some other objective-based elements, such as capture-the-flag, to keep gameplay in different areas diverse for players. The goal in PlanetSide 2 isn’t so much to win, but to conquer, and in doing so gain buffs and other rewards for having control of more of the world than your enemy.
Unlike the original, PlanetSide 2 not only blows other shooters away in terms of size, but actually holds its own in terms of shooter mechanics when put up against other big budget ones. The controls are solid, and the aim can be tweaked to perfection. It’s crazy when you first start playing and feel like you’re just playing a normal FPS and then take a step back out of battle and look at the map and realize how big the world you’re fighting in actually is.
To keep gameplay diverse like other popular FPS games over the years that have been merging RPG character development elements, PlanetSide 2 allows players to pick from seven different classes with their own skill trees: Light Assault, Heavy Assault, Medic, Engineer, Infiltrator, and Mechanized Assault Exo-Suit (MA,). I spent the majority of my time playing as the Heavy Assault because I was simply having too much fun to try out the other classes. As a Heavy, I was able to rock a good amount of armor to keep me up during intense firefights and take out multiple enemies with my machine gun.
Best of all was that as a Heavy I could switch to a rocket launcher to not only use against ground troops but also use to lock on and take down massive enemy ships flying overhead. I absolutely loved that I could unload a ton of rockets into enemy ships from across the battlefield, dealing extra damage when hitting them from behind and playing a huge role for my team by easily taking down the other team’s biggest and strongest units all while staying on the ground in between shootouts with other players.
Again, like Starhawk (but not as exciting), the game drops respawning players from the sky and features tons of vehicles that players can spawn and drive to make for epic battles in the air all while even more action is taking place on the ground. I tried out a couple vehicles and besides the aircrafts, everything was very easy to drive. One of the developers explained that it was supposed to be somewhat realistic and trying to fly a spacecraft isn’t supposed to be easy the first time you do it. Personally, I like the ease of maneuverability amongst air vehicles like in Starhawk, but I can respect the learning curve which can also be found in games like Battlefield that force players to teach themselves how to pilot more powerful vehicles.
Best of all, PlanetSide 2 will be completely free to play, making it by far the biggest and best looking F2P game we’ve ever seen. The developers did say that the game will use paid micro-transactions like other F2P games, but they made it clear that what can be bought, such as cosmetic items and add-ons to guns, will not make the game have a Pay to Win feel and will not give players big advantages over those who choose to play the game for free.
There’s still no release date announced, but PlanetSide 2‘s beta starts soon, so head over to www.PlanetSide2.com to sign up. With the game already looking so good in alpha, it’s definitely something that you should be excited about if you own a PC, especially if you played the first game or are just a fan of competitive first-person shooters.