While in the Army, I was stationed in Korea. It was a boring tour until I noticed a sign in Korean that read PC Bang. If youre anything like me, those words just made you think something like: What in the world kind of fetish involves banging computers?
Turns out bang (pronounced bahng) is the Korean word for room, and I was about to be introduced to how Internet cafes should be. That same month, I got a beta invite to Planetside and my tour in Korea got a lot less boring. Planetside defined a new genre in MMOs and FPSs by slamming the two separately distinct genres together with strategy games to form a pulsing quasar of badassness. Now, nearly ten years later SOE is orbiting back around in their second installment of the franchise. You are most definitely going to want to check this game out.
Here are five reasons why:
Tactics vs. Strategy
Very few FPS games get beyond the immediate squad-based objectives, assuming they get even that far. Call of Duty and Battlefield offer a great time in fast-paced shoot em up action, but not much on strategy, especially in later versions as theyve become more consolized. The opposite is true for games like Total War and Supreme Commander, which represent excellent strategy-based games in their genres.
Planetside represents the best of both worlds in a single package by providing a global battlefield to fight over. Planetside 2 will improve on the old model with new Facilities designed to be the size of a typical FPS map in themselves. With dozens of those facilities spread out across each continent, itll take a grand strategy to take them and hold them from the enemy.
Control the Spice, Control the Galaxy
Okay, its not spice your controlling in Planetside 2. In fact, Im not sure exactly what it is other than the generic resources mentioned in Dev Interviews. Whatever theyre called, resources change the game in Planetside 2. Now its worth the effort to capture towers and points away from the leading edge of battle.
No longer just a place to spawn, resource points fuel the imperial war machine and turn a shoddy element of troops into a serious threat on the battlefield. Resources are needed to purchase and upgrade equipment, and as the Romans demonstrated very aptly in their day, resources are the key to any victory. Resources in Planetside 2 should create a much more dynamic battlefield, breathing new life into guerilla operations and hit-and-run tactics.
Despite its problems, APB demonstrated some great ideas for using VoIP in-game, and SOE has taken notice and applied lessons learned to the new Planetside 2. In a recent interview, Jon Weathers mentioned that the game would definitely have VoIP for squad channels, likely a local area VoIP in safe zones. It also sounds like there may be other options in the works for other echelons of the command structure.
Even if its just on the squad level, in-game VoIP will be critical for keeping Planetside 2 competitive as it becomes more prevalent in modern games. Players wont have to tab out to connect to some new Vent server in order to gain the advantage of in-game voice chat; itll be right there in the game and as readily available for a pick-up group as it is for a hardcore outfit.
Missions will be a new feature for Planetside 2. Theres still some debate over whether players will be able to create missions themselves or not, but missions will be a great way to gain experience and diversify the activity of the population. Large-scale combat is usually the best way to get experience, but with missions the smaller raids become a much more viable way to level up. The good thing about missions is that theyll give a lot of the benefits of random rewards without stooping to Skinner box techniques to create false enjoyment.
There is an attempt to integrate these missions into mobile devices through apps, so that a player could pick what types of missions theyre interested in, and get notified when those missions go out. Should SOE make mission creation available to players, as their currently talking, the advantages to the system will be even more pronounced. The wise general will quickly be able to allocate the resources he needs at any foreseen problem, and players who might have been in the area or even online will be notified of the action, pulling more interested players into the fight. That could mean no more missing epic battles for global control just because you decided to watch TV for an hour or so.
Mad Ménage à Trois of Mayhem
Planetside 2 will feature the same three factions as the original. This makes my List of Righteousness because three is a great number for adversaries, as Planetside demonstrated very well nearly ten years ago. Three factions means that there will never be stagnation on the battlefield, because one faction getting pushed back means the other two will inevitably come into conflict. Three factions also mean that the player will always be involved in different types of combat. You may be kicking the Vanu off of Forseral one day, but things will look completely different tomorrow when youre defending against the Terrans.
The After Action Review
Its a little hard to explain just exactly why Planetside 2 will be a phenomenal game in just a few paragraphs. After all, several of the points I noted above could easily make for an entire article in themselves.
The take-away is that the team at SOE seems to be improving on what was already an excellent game. This second take will represent a lot more than just updated graphics and a barely updated platform as weve seen in other sequels. SOE is rolling out new mechanics and systems, but theyre also being smart and focusing updates around key points such as communication, getting players into combat quickly, and improving the depth of the game.
Planetside 2 is more than just an improvement on Planetside. The new game engine really looks like itll contribute to another genre-defining game, and the staff is definitely doing their part to realize that goal.
Now, come on all you Blues--lets gear up and get ready to dust those Barnies!
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