BLUF (bottom line up front): Planetside 2 should sporadically generate factionless armies that travel across the three continents and attack random objectives.
After you experience Planetside 2 (PS2) and all it has to offer, you might grow slightly weary of the circular meta and monotonous tactics. It goes something like this: Attack a region with a group of players, run into an enemy force with a larger group of players, regroup, defend against the invading group, loop back to the beginning and repeat. This isn’t to say that PS2 is boring, because it’s not. There is so much to do and experience. PS2 is an absolute blast to play, but this process can get repetitive, which a new dynamic could help curb…
The idea is this: A non-playable 4th faction, randomly launching offensives on the map every once in awhile, trudging across the continent as it attempts to capture and destroy anything in its path. I would make the size of the NPC force a percentage of the number of players currently logged on. However, ideally the size would be anywhere from 12 to 96. These offensives could start off the map, and make their way to another point across the continent. For example, on Indar, this NPC force could come from the edge of the map on Indar Excavation Site, and have an objective to reach the edge of Howling Pass.
You can debate the details of the idea, whether it be the objectives, size, force makeup, events trigger their spawn, where they would spawn, or anything else about the NPC force, but the idea itself is what I want to focus on.
Not many games incorporate this. This isn’t because it’s a bad idea; it is because for many games the idea doesn’t fit into their respective styles of play. More seasoned genres like Battlefield would not be able to handle the change in dynamics due to its 64v64 size limitation. Newer games like ArcheAge focus on exploration and economics, which would leave players scratching their heads in frustration rather than engaging in the new addition. PS2’s style revolves around surprise, flexibility, adaptability, fast-paced change, and massive size. This roaming NPC army idea would fit snugly into PS2.
One game that does do this really well is Knight Online (KO). In the PvP realm (Moradon, I think it was called?), you may have noticed that while you were sitting in town doing whatever it was that you were doing, a horde of NPC creatures came charging into the main area and started attacking everyone. It was then up to everyone in the area to work together to repel the attack. It did three things, it kept players on their toes, forced players to work alongside someone they had never met before, and it took care of players that sat there and went afk for hours on end. This works really well in KO, and is an added surprise that kept the overall predictable MMORPG meta interesting.
So an expanded version of this could work even better in PS2. It would definitely keep PS2ers on their toes, and could even prompt faction to faction cooperation. It would be interesting to see the dynamics of it all play out. The blitzkrieg could be launched anywhere, on any continent (or all of them, whatever the developers decide).
To illustrate, I’ll take a well known entity, Starcraft, and incorporate it here. For this to work, pretend that Blizzard agreed to let this happen. You’re fighting at Xelas Bio Lab, participating in the infamous Bio Lab Farm. The infantry forces are fighting inside the Lab, and the armor/air forces are lying around waiting for the cap so they can move down the lattice line. Suddenly, nydus canals start appearing around the region, releasing zerglings, hydralisks, ultralisks, and mutalisks (for all of you hardcore SC players, forget that mutalisks can’t go through a nydus). The zerg force then starts attacking everyone, continually being fed through the nydus. Their objective is to kill every player they come into contact with. Your objective, if you want to win, is to fight through the zerg and destroy the nydus canals. The Bio Lab Farm, which so many players complain about, doesn’t seem to matter as much anymore. If you continue fighting each other, you get overrun.
Everyone has something to fight. The infantry scuffles with the zerglings and hydralisks. Armor bombards the ultralisks to keep them away from the infantry. Air faces off against the mutalisks. Of course we all know it won’t be that clean of a fight, but it isn’t supposed to be. Point is, fight or be annihilated.
In this illustration, everything remains the same; you can still take territory, fight other factions, and spawn at hardpoints you already have access to. The surprise addition is, the zerg attacks anything and everything, and there are a ton of them. To me, this would be the coolest thing in the world, and would instantly re-energize my enthusiasm for the game. Since I am a Sixer (that’s the 666th Devil Dogs outfit on Connery), I would immediately jump on outfits TRG, DPSO, and ADK teamspeak to see if they would be willing to coordinate.
Sure, this idea is crazy. I know that. But what I also know is that many people play games to escape from reality. Games allow you to participate in something that is impossible in life. Magic, historical events, and futuristic settings. Gaming lets you enjoy it all. I would absolutely disagree with anyone who tries to say that this would break the game. How? I don’t see it. If anything, it would upset the natural order of the MMO world, which I think is a positive thing. This, coupled with the expansion into the PS4 console, and you have a recipe for enormous publicity, kind of like the publicity PS2 got when a reddit /r/gaming thread hit the front page. I may be overly optimistic of the effect, but I think it would be worth it to give it a shot.
If you believe the probability of this is slim to none, think again. John Smedley, the President of SOE, has already alluded to this possibility in one of his LiveJournal posts saying, “NPC enemies – I don’t want to call this PVE. That’s not exactly what we have in mind. More like a global invasion that goes after everybody. This isn’t a bunch of quest givers saying ‘go kill 10 rats’ – this is bad ass aliens that want to gut you.” So instead of zerg nydus canals, maybe demonic portals? Or maybe, and I’m just spitballing here, the mysterious device that the Vanu Sovereignty worships will periodically appear and fabricate a fighting force. Whatever it is, I’m looking forward to finding out. What are your thoughts?
Thank you for reading. If you enjoyed this, you might also enjoy my other articles about Planetside. Have a great day!
//LanzerRelated: Article, MMOFPS, Planetside 2, Sci-Fi, Shooter