Posted Tue, Jul 17, 2012 by Sardu
If lack of distinguishable on-screen markers is the biggest mark in the cons column from my hands-on experience, the day / night cycles sit squarely at the top of the pros. I absolutely adore everything about the system, and consider it one of the things that make PlanetSide 2 feel not only persistent, but flat out epic. This works on a couple of different levels; the purely cosmetic, and the impactful environment changes on gameplay.
On the cosmetic end of the spectrum, the shift from sunset, to nightfall, to sunrise, to daytime is subtle enough to give you a real sense of time passing while you play. A struggle to take over a key facility goes from being fun to epic in the sense that you really end up feeling like your squad just battled all night to secure critical resources.
The length of the cycle is still be ironed out, but Matt Higby noted that they’re currently targeting somewhere around 4 hours for the full cycle. So it won’t be a case where your geographical location and playtimes will help dictate the in-game time of day, nor will the cycle repeat so often as to never give you proper time to adjust. Instead, it will happen subtly enough that you’ll be able to take note of the sun beginning to set, and adjust your loadout accordingly (which I’ll touch on again briefly in a moment).
Graphically, I was truly impressed by how great the game looks at night. Fighting over the same facility suddenly becomes an all new experience, and was easily one of my favorite things during my afternoon play session.
Of course, this kind of radical environmental change is only as good as the game mechanics that support it, and the PS2 team has absolutely taken this into account. Apart from the obvious need to adjust your tactics at nighttime (hello giant headlights on vehicles!), there are other things players will need to factor in. Here is a pair of examples for your brain monsters to chew on:
First, the infiltrater’s stealth becomes much more effective at night. During the day, it produces a slight shimmering effect that the more keenly eyed players will learn to distinguish from their surroundings. At night, however, stealth is much more difficult to detect. In terms of tactics, you could almost think of nightfall as an opportunity to send in your special ops team to lock down respawn points so that your heavy infantry can muscle forward come daybreak.
The second, and perhaps even more interesting impact worthy of note, is that you’ll be able to switch to using night vision goggles which adds another layer of depth to the overall experience.
While some of my peers flat out hated how radically the nighttime gameplay changed, I found it completely brilliant. I honestly can’t wait to see what happens once weather patterns come into play. Large scale combat at night during a massive thunderstorm? Sign me up!
So far we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of what PlanetSide 2 has to offer based on our hands-on time with the game. Be sure to keep your dials turned to the Ten Ton Hammer channel, because we’ve got plenty more exclusive PS2 coverage coming your way. Specifically, we’ll be going more in-depth about our squad play experiences, and also giving our readers a better feel for how overarching gameplay concepts in PS2 compare to more traditional MMOs.