Time Extended - PlanetSide 2: Final Thoughts
In this "Time Extended" I provided my Final Thoughts on PlanetSide 2 now I've spent over 60 hours up to my eyeballs in death.
Similarly to Bloodline Champions, PlanetSide 2 is a game that will firmly stay on my desktop. As already discussed in my first 24 Time Limit with the game, I really was impressed and have continued to be impressed with what it offers players. What really has blown me away is the fact that it is free-to-play but not only that, that it doesn't penalize those who don't want to pay. I'm honestly amazed Sony Online Entertainment have achieved it and it gives me great hope for the likes of EverQuest Next.
Something I wanted to discuss in this Final Thoughts was "Certs", outfits and the disposable nature of the game despite it being a persistent world.
One of the most interesting things about PlanetSide 2 is its Cert system. Simply put, it's a way of improving your chosen class by spending your Cert points that you earn only through play. Unbeknownst to me, I'd amassed a considerable amount of Cert Points that were just sat waiting to be spent. Although the improvements you can earn through spending your Cert Points aren't enormous, they do make minor differences to your play though they will take a significant amount of points to max out as most Certs available for each class have multiple tiers. As someone who loves to play Light Assault, it's going to take me hundreds upon hundreds of points to reach the top of what my class can do. Better still, Sony Online Entertainment have been devilish in the deployment of Certs and once you've unlocked specific ones, they only allow you to equip two at any one time. It's a clever way of dividing the builds each player uses. I would have preferred more depth to Certs to really differentiate one Infiltrator from another another but they serve a basic purpose.
I find the whole Squad and Outfit system very confusing in PlanetSide 2. None of the markers are clear, it's not clear how you move to your squad if your instant deploy is on cooldown and it's not exactly easy to trace players on the world map either. It feels a bit uncoordinated and too reliant on private voice chat servers (despite the voice chat in PS2 being amazing). I asked for answers to these map navigation and Squad/Outfit issues and many people simply replied “Dude, it took us months to learn that stuff” with one particular individual stating 3 months of hardcore play. Months I have, but is there really a need to have such a poor interface? I understand Sony Online Entertainment are improving the performance of PS2 at the moment but I think a key area they need to improve is clear sign posting. Battlefield has always done it fantastically well, it's just frustrating to see it done badly here. I'm sick of asking “where have you gone?” when the map should clearly tell me.
Coming on to my biggest concern for PlanetSide 2 is the fact that the game-play despite it being persistent is so disposable. People die, respawn and charge back in to die again. There's no consequence to death and no repercussions to you or your chosen side. It feels a little odd in the face of war to be frivolous with your life. Although on the flip side, the sheer scale of PS2 leaves you with little option but to die repeatedly. When you're attempting to defend a base with six or so armoured vehicles surrounding it, it's inevitable. Deaths come from everywhere and anywhere and that, for PS2, is both a negative and a positive. I'd like to see the game somehow refined so that it isn't a cluster of chaos upon assaulting and defending and yet I'm not sure it could be any other way.
Overall then, PS2 is unquestionably the best free-to-play title on the market. It's polished, slick, runs surprisingly well considering the on screen action and best of all, it doesn't force you to purchase to a single thing. PS2 will stay on my desktop for the foreseeable future, I just hope that Sony Online Entertainment take some time out to really cater for the beginner.