PAX East 2012: Relaunching the MMOFPS With Planetside 2

PAX East 2012: Relaunching the MMOFPS With Planetside 2

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Planetside 2 will offer a unique, persistent game world and large-scale battles with a free-to-play subscription model.

Like other gamers with low-end computers and shoddy dial-up connections, I didn't get to play the original PlanetSide, missing out on the unique blend of massively multiplayer and FPS action it introduced to the gaming populace way back in 2003. This year Sony officially announced PlanetSide 2, a direct sequel to industry's first ever MMOFPS. I recently sat down with Matt Higby, PlanetSide 2's Creative Director, to find out what's new in PlanetSide 2 and what he hopes players will enjoy the most.

"PlanetSide 1 came out ahead of its time. People weren't able to really play the game, [and] the people who did, they loved it and they remained as ardent fans of the game because nothing else really matched it," said Highby of the first game. "There's no other games out there that are really like PlanetSide, so that's why we're making PlanetSide 2."

The main draw of PlanetSide 2 , like its predecessor, is the massive scale it brings to the table. PlanetSide 2's game engine, titled Forgelight, is designed with next-gen MMOs in mind and is capable of supporting up to 2000 players within the game world, far exceeding the kind of large-scale firefights seen in other FPS titles like Battlefield 3. In addition to promising huge locales populated with hundreds of players, PlanetSide 2 also promises a persistent game world that will change based on how players interact with the environment. Bases and territories that players conquer will remain under their control until others from a rival faction invade to reclaim it, which in turn adds a level of strategy to the game that Higby believes that many other FPS title don't have.

In addition, PlanetSide 2 will feature a day and night cycle, meaning players will need to invest in equipment like nightvision to handle things like differing lighting conditions. Higby hopes to introduce more environmental factors after the game launches to add more variety and challenge to PlanetSide 2's gameplay.

"It's probably not something we'll have at ship, but we're definitely planning on having weather, so you'll have sandstorms come blowing through and that'll mess you up, [and] the fog will adjust as it gets more humid. " Higby said of some of SOE's next plans for PlanetSide 2's persistent game world, which may also allow players to construct their own bases and fortifications that remain until destroyed. "There's a lot of things like that to try and make the world more dynamic."

One of the more interesting aspects of PlanetSide 2 is that unlike other games in the FPS genre, the game will instead adopt a free-to-play subscriber model similar to other Sony Online Entertainment's free to play MMOs (such as DC Universe Online and Everquest II).

"[Free to play] makes sense for a variety of reasons, but the main one is I think as a player-friendly business model, it doesn't get much better." Higby said in support of the decision to make PlanetSide 2 free. "If you're a player and just want to play the game, you can. There's no bullshit about it."

Higby also added that a free-to-play subscriber model puts the burden on developers to make a great game so that players will want to stick around and spend money on any "freemium" items that may be available for purchase. Currently, most of the unlockables, items and weapons in PlanetSide 2 will be available for purchase using in-game resources earned through fighting and conquering territories, but Higby explained that players can use real money to purchase station cash to pick up things like armor sets or camo patterns to customize their characters.

"Anything that actually affects gameplay, you can unlock in gameplay." Higby said of the PlanetSide 2's in-game store. "There's nothing that's inherently better or worse on the store, so if I'm choosing assault rifle X over assault rifle Z, the difference is just my own personal preference or maybe situational over what kind of battle I'm going into. One is better than the other, but they're balanced against one another, so you're never really buying something that's stronger than what over people have access to."

Currently, there's no information as to when gamers can expect to play PlanetSide 2, but Higby did say that SOE is working to ensure it'll have the game in excellent shape when it opens up to the public for beta testing. Interested parties can currently sign up for the beta through PlanetSide 2's website.

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I hope there are some localized servers for Oceania. I remember trying to play the Planetside US servers with horrendous pings.

So, is Firefall not an MMOFPS?

Mad Sun:
So, is Firefall not an MMOFPS?

From what I've seen of Firefall, that is debatable. In comparison to Planetside though, it doesn't even come close.

PlanetSide is by FAR the best/only example of an MMOFPS.

I can't wait. Planetside 1 is the only MMO that I've stuck with, and I've been playing since 2004.

It's pure PvP. There are no NPC's. There are no quests. There are no mobs.
There is no grinding.

Everybody is on a level playing field from day 1. It's the most balanced PvP in an MMO I've ever encountered.

A level 1 character has the same amount of health and access to the same weapons as a max level 40. At level 40 you get access to everything all at once, where as at lower levels you can only choose a few things at a time, and can pick different things (weapons, vehicles, and support items) every 6 hours. Players have to specialize (eg. heavy infantry, pilot, or unarmored sneak), and the higher level you are, the more tools you'll have at any given time, so the more likely it will be that you'll have the ideal gear for any given situation ("Do I want access to both a shotgun and sniper rifle tonight, or do I just take the shotgun and be able to drive tanks?").

Planetside 2 is going to be slightly different. At max level, you'll be about 20% more powerful than someone who just started.

Humans playing cooperatively against AI use entirely different tactics than humans playing against other humans. Graphics aside, a hypothetical DOOM with co-op multiplayer and Battlefield multiplayer are very different games, and I expect Firefall to be more like the former.

Dust and Firefall might turn out to be good games. But they are not in the same league as Planetside 2. The former is limited in scope and player count due to weak console hardware, and the latter is PvE centric. One or both may turn out to be a lot of fun, but neither is the same kind of game as Planetside. Maybe we need a new word to distinguish between FPS's with NPC's and those without?

Planetside 2 will be similar to Battlefield or Modern Warefare, except at a massive, persistent scale. Instead of winning or losing a match, and then starting over, the world is persistent and the territory you earn one night will effect the gameplay experience of everybody else until the next time you log in. A planned major offensive might take several days to carry out. And every victory is made sweeter by the knowledge that it was a clever, adaptable human that you've out-thought and out-fought.

Beta can't start soon enough.

willis888:
Beta can't start soon enough.

I second that motion!

I do have a couple of worries tough, the first is that the bugs that ended up crippling Planetside for me will return after a few months. It probably holds the record for most bizarre crash when the error message claimed too much available RAM had created an infinite loop.

The other one is that it will devolve into lined up slugging matches like the first tends to. It's no fun when both sides just line up in the MAX suits/trucks/fighters and blast away for hours at a time in complete stalemate. With any luck weapons will do more damage in this version, so if a numpty walks into an ambush, he can't just calmly turn round and walk back out again to find an engineer...

this might be another reason Dust 514 is Playstation exclusive. the only other mmofps that is in the industry are playstation exclusive. so they get the data from planetside to make tweeks and changes. Dust 514 for life! Now if i can just get into the closed beta.. =( hope they do a second wave of canidates soon.

http://youtu.be/eRnH1dwpkpU

Dust doesn't compare. 32 players v. 32 players is a different game than Planetside's 150 players v. 150 players v. 100 players, or Planetside 2's 666 v. 666 v. 666.

A group of ~30 players is a single platoon in Planetside, and it makes a highly effective Special Ops team. A while back, I was running with such a group when we captured a base that was far away from the main fighting. An opposing group of ~30 players, organized veterans likely all on TeamSpeak together same as we were, arrived and tried to kick us out and re-take the base.

In the 64 player skirmish that followed, we were able to harass their vehicles to delay their getting set up for a siege of the base (setting up mobile spawn points nearby and training tank cannons on exit doors to keep defenders pinned inside). They did eventually force us inside - they had some excellent tank drives and gunners, while we were preparing for an air assault and not for tanks since we were so far out of the way that it would take a long time to drive tanks to our position. Inside the base, we held onto chokepoints and exacted a terrible toll on their Kills to Deaths ratios. We held them off long enough for reinforcements to arrive, but they got reinforcements also. A battle on a different continent had just finished and both the victors and the displaced decided to come join our fight. Hundreds of players from all sides showed up to our little skirmish, turning it into a massive Charlie Foxtrot.

My small Special Ops team of 30 and the opposing organized team of 30 both went our separate ways to cause more chaos behind enemy lines, away from the main fighting where we could be most effective.

Dust can only have 1 small team v. 1 small team. There are no reinforcements to hold out for, no global battlefield to consider logistically, and no Massive battles. It's an MOFPS. It's missing the first M though - it's not massive.

I remember seeing the first game on the PC wall of Game when I was younger, and wishing we had proper internet so I could play it because it looked really cool. Now's my chance!

This game is on my top 5 list of upcoming games. I'm not much of an FPS person but I thoroughly enjoyed my time with PS1 and PS2 looks to address all of the issued I had with the first one.

This here is online FPS done right, MMO or not.

willis888:
Dust doesn't compare. 32 players v. 32 players is a different game than Planetside's 150 players v. 150 players v. 100 players, or Planetside 2's 666 v. 666 v. 666...

We've a usergroup on here for this now. I think you should get involved if you're committed to buying it.

I've already signed up for the Beta.

 

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