Planetside 2 is a free-to-play SciFi MMOFPS by Sony Online Entertainment that puts players in the shoes of a soldier fighting in the war for the planet known as Auraxis. Three Empires fight for control of territory, and resources that can help fuel the war for total dominance.
The term MMOFPS is quite often used incorrectly these days, but Planetside 2 is one of the very few games that can truly claim the title. Auraxis is formed by three continents, each a massive open world map that supports up to 2000 players, resulting in all-out total warfare.
Each of these three continents is divided up in to capturable territories that when controlled, offer valuable resources and influence in the war. The more territory an Empire controls, the stronger it becomes and the faster it can capture more territory. Which Empire rises to the top will be determined by hundreds of soldiers fighting side by side.
Players must align themselves with one of the three Empires, and can only play as that chosen faction on that server. In the war for Auraxis there are the New Conglomerate, a group of freedom fighters and rebels who launched a civil war against the authoritarian and dictatorial government known as the Terran Republic. The third fighting force is the Vanu Sovereignty, a cult-like Empire who worship alien technologies and science.
Each Empire has its own perks for the soldier that swears allegiance but the choice ultimately comes down to your play style. The New Conglomerate trade speed for heavy armour and hard-hitting bullets, while the Terran Republic opt for more speed at the cost of low-damage bullets. The Vanu Sovereignty have harnessed alien weapons that fire lasers.
As a soldier within an Empire, players will dive in to battle as one of six typical classes; the sniper class (Infiltrator), the assault class (Light Assault), the Combat Medic, the Engineer, the anti-vehicle class (Heavy Assault), and a special Empire specific class known as Max. Planetside 2 features a full progression system, unlocking new abilities, equipment, and attachments. To unlock these items and abilities, players must acquire Certifications.
To unlock certifications, players must spend certification points – which can be earned both automatically over time and by participating directly in the war efforts. Additionally, for every 250 XP a player gains they will receive 1 point. It’s a great system that keeps the more casual players who don’t have a lot of time to invest at least progressing, and allows the more hardcore and dedicated players to be rewarded for their increased efforts.
To gain XP, players must kill enemy forces or complete objectives – ranging from capturing territories to reviving fallen soldiers in battle. Everything a player does that has an effect on the war efforts for their Empire will receive XP, and the game generously rewards those who play the objectives more than those who just ignore them to deathmatch.
There are two things players do in Planetside 2, attack or defend. Taking control of territory means capturing the facilities that lie within that area. Each of these facilities provides certain benefits, like access to vehicles or aircraft. Owning a facility that provides access to vehicles or aircraft close to the enemies front line can change the tide of battle.
There’s a layer of strategy to the open world chaos, although there is no hierarchy or supreme leadership to lead the war. Instead, Planetside 2 leaves it up to the players to decide how to fight the war. Players work as individuals or small groups, an automatic matchmaking system groups players together while others can join clans known as outfits.
Besides orders given by squad or outfits leaders, the game does dynamically generate mission points for players, giving them a region to attack or defend. From the map players can deploy in to battle, warping to the location and getting straight in to the action. It’s great for those who don’t have much time and just want to get straight in to the fight.
Although there are missions which can be quickly deployed to, players are free to take the fight wherever they choose and have a range of vehicles and aircraft to do so. Owning territories produces resources, these resources can be spent on quad bikes, tanks, mobile spawn point vehicles, and futuristic air fighters. There aren’t many vehicles overall, but each has its own unique customizations that alter them dramatically from each other.
Vehicles play a major part in Planetside 2’s combat, allowing an invading or defending force to dish out a ton of damage or spawn soldiers in behind enemy lines. It’s one of the highlights of this MMOFPS, supporting so many players in a huge open world has resulted in impressive air and tank raids that put literally hundreds of players head to head.
It doesn’t take long to realize that the developers have really nailed the atmosphere of this game, offering truly intense battles on a massive scale. I can honestly say I have never played an online shooter like it, running in to battle with hundreds of soldiers around you, shots being fired everywhere, tank shells busting in to the dirt and aircraft littering the sky.
The most suitable word for the battles in Planetside 2 would be intense, but even that doesn’t quite justify the experience. It’s action-packed, heart-pounding gameplay that makes you regularly stop and say “Holy sh^& that was epic!”. In my time playing there have been some server stability issues but the developers truly deserve credit for the amazing job they have done to offer battles at a scale I could have never imagined.
It’s easy to get addicted, Planetside 2 is a lot of fun and a really solid MMOFPS however it’s not without its downfalls. Attacking, capturing, and defending territories is all that there is to do in Auraxis – it’s exactly like playing a large-scale match of Conquest in Battlefield 3. Because all there is to do is capture and fight, with no real leadership it has resulted in the game being almost strictly determined by who can muster the biggest zerg in one area.
While the battles are intense as ever, and fighting in such a massive world is refreshing fun – I am not sure how long that fun will last. The awe factor is bound to wear off, and with only repeatedly capturing facilities day in and day out – it’s bound to quick boring quick. There’s tons of unlocks to keep players busy for now, but there needs to be more things to do, more ways to impact the war than just standing in an area and waiting for it to tick over.
Currently the resource focused economy and territorial control don’t have any real meaning and are quite shallow concepts, a lot more depth needs to be added. Planetside 2 is a genre changing MMOFPS and the developers have done a remarkable job, however unless work begins to offer more than just endlessly capturing and defending facilities – I can’t say the game will have any long-term appeal to anyone less than a dedicated fan.
If you’re looking for an online shooter, you can’t pass on Planetside 2 – it’s the highest quality free-to-play shooter currently available. To find out more about Planetside 2, head over to our game page. The game is now available on steam or through the official site.Related: MMOFPS, Planetside 2, Review, Sci-Fi, Sony Online Entertainment