First Details of PlanetSide 2 Revealed at Fan Faire 2011

Find out how SOE plans to advance the MMOFPS genre with PlanetSide 2.
Last night during the opening address at Fan Faire, John Smedley, President of Sony Online Entertainment, proudly announced the newest game in the company’s lineup – PlanetSide 2. SOE is approaching this game a little differently than before, though.

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As Producer, Matt Higby later stated in a Press Conference on the game, they’re looking to revolutionize the genre of MMOFPS games. Up until now, they feel the genre has barely been tapped and SOE wants to be able to deliver the game in a way no one else has.

How does SOE plan to do that? Primarily through the community. Of course, the developers do have some “crazy awesome” ideas, as Smedley stated, but they also realize that some of their ideas may not be necessarily what the players themselves want. So, in order to address that, SOE plans on bringing in the community early. Through open discussions early in the development stage, they hope to get an idea of which elements players want the most. It won’t stop there either, as they plan on presenting their ideas to the community even after launch and let the players decide which elements they want to see the most, as well as which elements of the game may or may not be working as well as they may have hoped.

The idea behind PlanetSide 2 is to make it a large sandbox game, Smedley said. This would include Outfit (or Guild)-owned bases and a large world in which the players can explore and conquer in a new territory control system.

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This isn’t the control system we saw in the first PlanetSide. In the predecessor game battles were always centered around towers or facilities, or other choke points. For PlanetSide 2 the plan is to open up the maps and make many more areas worth fighting for and around. Every section of the map will have value through its resources. These resources are things players will want to fight for. At least, that’s the plan. There will be a need and a desire to capture every piece of the territory instead of just single points on the map where all the action would inevitably take place.

The territory control metagame thus will drive the resource game. As each continent will have multiple regions with intrinsic resources, some of which will be quite rare, the spread of these resources will allow strategic planning on where players want to focus their energies and forces. And since the resources will always be in demand the motivation to continue fighting for them should leave players with a lot of choices during their gaming time.

The territory control is persistent. So if your outfit is able to secure a given area, that area will remain in your control until someone takes it away from you. The longer you’re able to control an area, the more resources you’ll be able to get from it. There are no resets so the battles will rage continuously.

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Also in the way of a new direction, the game will offer classes for the first time. However, the classes are not static, meaning players will be able to switch between classes at any given time pending on what’s needed during the battle. How does this all work? Through the skills tree.

The Skills Tree is a very large, diverse tree which covers every aspect of the game, from implants, to weapon attachments, to power ups to the healing rate on your healing gun. From the skill tree players will then decide which skills they wish to level up. Every 24 hours they’ll be able to focus on which areas of the tree they want to increase, and the skill up will happen whether the player is online or not. Of course, to level up your skills more quickly, it would be of benefit to actually be playing the game as certain bonuses can be applied for specific actions within the game. There are caps on skill ups based on the player’s overall level as well to ensure that players still need to actively play the game in order to develop their character.

The Offline Skill System serves several purposes. First, it offers accessibility for those who may not have as much time to play as they would like. But it also has the benefit that while your forces are rallying and in the planning stages, players won’t feel like they’re wasting time by not actively fighting. This should eliminate situations where a player only needs one more kill to level up a skill, so they just run off randomly on their own, ignoring the plot of the Outfit or battle.

SOE intends for the skills to be useful as well. If a player were to focus on skilling up their Vanguard tank driving skills, eventually they’d be able to command a Vanguard with ease and grace, increasing handling and allowing for more powerful and effective weapons place on the Vanguard. However, that does not mean they’d necessarily be efficient at driving or flying other types of vehicles.

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With a Skill system like this, it allows for Outfits to really begin to specialize their areas of expertise. For instance, the goal is that if a player were to see a large number of bombers coming over a hill in Reavers, they can be quickly identified as a very skilled, focused Bomber Outfit. The Outfit itself would also receive a bonus, like more power for their rockets. This is specializing on the Outfit level, and offering players a choice as to which Outfit would best fit their desired playstyle.

SOE understands certain aspects of PlanetSide didn’t work as well as they had hoped, and they are committed to either fixing, completely redoing, or omitting those elements entirely. These elements include such things as Sanctuaries and slowing down gameplay. Shuttle times, and the inability to spawn where you needed or wanted to respawn without an AMS. The end goal is to take everything that was loved about PlanetSide, add in the conveniences of some more modern FPS games, as well as features from modern MMOGs.

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All the while the number one gameplay goal remains framerate. In an FPS nothing is as important as performance and with the new Forgelight Engine the game will be able to be scaled downward to such a degree that even the most modest of PCs will be able to perform well.

When asked what platforms the game will be available on, Smedley simply responded that they are not yet ready to announce those details, however he stated they are working on other things, and not just for the PS3. With that, we will be hearing more on the “3-year-plan” for PlanetSide 2 in the future.

Details on the revenue model are also not currently available, although the game will have “some” free component to it.

There is no announced date for PlanetSide 2 launch or beta.

To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our PlanetSide 2 Game Page.

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