Roundtable Discussion: Planetside 2 First Impressions

Planetside 2 is the highly anticipated sequel for one of the few true open world MMOFPS games available, Planetside. Pitting three factions against each other in a fight for territorial control and economic dominance, players fight in a massive seamless world with no instances or lobbies.

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Since the launch on November 20th, Cody, Daniel, and Tobs have been deep in the front lines of battle, capturing facilities and slaughtering enemies on sight; join them in another roundtable discussion for their first impressions on this new MMOFPS by SOE.

Dan: I must admit I never played the original Planetside, I missed the game’s prime time and therefore was never able to experience it. I always respected the game for what it was, a true MMOFPS and after playing Planetside 2 at E3, I couldn’t wait for the game to launch.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Jumping in to battle for the first time, I didn’t really know what to expect. I chose to join the New Conglomerate – a freedom fighter faction – and deployed straight into battle. From the moment my pod dropped from the sky into the heat of battle, it was absolute chaos.

Dozens of ships flew above me, fighting and falling out of the sky, rockets launched over my head and shells hit the ground nearby as I rushed forward towards a facility we were obviously capturing. Absolute insanity is the only word for it, it was online warfare at a scale I hadn’t expected, let alone dreamed of having in Planetside 2. Needless to say, I was hooked already.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Cody: Logging in for the first time, glancing casually out a nearby window in the massive facility in which I’d spawned, I was enamoured by a similar sight as Dan described above – an enormous battle on multiple fronts greeted me, tanks and infantry smashing together on small, cramped roads, airships above raining death on those not able to find cover below, and snipers, appearing and disappearing on a whim, lined the surrounding mountains picking off anyone left. It was, perhaps, the first truly epic moment I’d experienced in an online video game.

I did play the original Planetside, if only for a few hours. I don’t remember much of what I had seen, but do remember leaving thinking that the visuals, which, even back then, were far too dated for my taste and the gameplay, while incredible in concept wasn’t able to provide the experience it strived to offer on a 256kb Internet connection.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

All the pieces were there, but none of them seemed to fit together. With Planetside 2 launching in a world where 120MB Internet connections are commonplace in Europe and the US, such issues were nowhere to be seen – and oh-so-many new features brought this concept, a true MMOFPS, to life like never before.

Tob: Sure, Planetside 2 is epic. An epic fustercluck perhaps. I’ve been playing regularly over the last week and still have no idea what I’m supposed to be doing or why I’m doing it.

As Dan mentioned, when you first start the game you’re launched into the battlefield from orbit, seemingly at random, with no instruction on what to do next. The experience was actually fairly traumatic.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

I suspect it’s what being born is like; if being born means getting shot from the womb at high altitude, crashing into the ground, being handed a gun as someone shouts “What are you f@#&ing waiting for?!” when all you want is a nice warm bottle of milk and to fall asleep watching the Wiggles.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great game, especially if you’re lucky enough to have a squad or platoon leader that knows what they’re doing and sets waypoints so us infant troopers have an idea of where to go next. Even a text-based tutorial before being dropped into the thick of it would’ve done wonders.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Dan: Tobs is what we like to call cannon fodder, but he’s right – your first few moments in battle, or even your first few days are going to be a confusing mess. From being aimlessly thrust into battle, to capturing your first facility, it’s an entirely unguided process that requires teamwork.

Planetside 2 primarily focuses on territory control, to control a territory within the large open world, you must capture the facility within that zone. Capturing is performed like most objective-based shooters, get a few guys in to a zone and wait until it’s yours.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

It’s not an overly complex system, and it doesn’t require a supreme strategist to take part – but it’s fun for now. I think most of that fun is a result of the epic atmosphere that the large-scale battles bring, as I fight and rank up I am unlocking new toys and finding brand new ways to kill.

Cody: The progression mechanics were one of the highlights for me; each of the 6 classes felt unique and meaningful, each with their own role to fill, and all required for a successful attack or defense. In the beginning, these classes are basic – each have a primary and secondary weapon, a unique class skill, such as stealth, healing or vehicle repair, and most importantly, each are better when the others are present.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

As the guys above have mentioned, teamwork is the key to success in PS2; while it’s entirely possible to capture a facility or outpost on your own, holding it for longer than a few minutes, without either a competent platoon or f$!kload of people behind you is next to impossible.

As you progress further, and begin to unlock new skills and abilities and weapons, your combat efficiency increases, too. You’re able to stealth for longer, shoot from further, and generally, maintain your footing in battle for more than a single assault. Vehicles can also be upgraded, offering a great variety of different choices – and to the new player, an overwhelming list of possible tech paths to choose from.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

My only regret here (and no, it’s not the free to play monetisation – with the exception of purchasable weapons, this is probably the best we’ve ever seen) is the slow pace in which skill points are obtained. In a good 8 hours of play, I was only able to earn about 100 points – enough to add a new scope to my rifle and not much else, and a full 900 points away from my next weapon upgrade.

Tob: *Ignoring Cody* I’ll have you know I was more than cannon fodder, dammit! Once I had a better idea of what I was doing (and after a fruitless search for a knowledgeable squad leader) I figured my inexperience was best put to use by going behind enemy lines and quietly taking undefended facilities. I’d managed to nail down several facilities for my Terran brothers before the Vanu caught on to what I was doing and by that stage I had a few others join in on my subterfuge to help defend what we’d taken so easily.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

The problem with this was that while it helped out our side greatly (I think; I’m still not sure whether my actions made much difference at all) there wasn’t much personal incentive to keep it up. It turns out that medics are awarded more XP for reviving a single soldier than I got for capturing three facilities for our side.

It’s understandable. Without the incentives being higher in the big conflicts everyone would simply avoid them and go for undefended facilities all the time. It just goes against the grain of why you’re told you’re fighting.

Planetside 2 First Impressions - - Your Source for MMOs & MMORPGs

Of course, having the Vanu call in a squadron of fighter aircraft to put a stop to my sneaky-bastard shenanigans and watching as it escalated into one of the very same big conflicts I was missing out on was tremendous fun – so if it’s pure shooty fun you’re after, Planetside 2 has it in spades.

Just don’t expect to have your hand held like the little girl you obviously are.

Planetside 2 is a free-to-play MMOFPS, meaning you can join in on the battle right now at no cost. If you want to join in on the war, we suggest you learn more about each of the three factions and choose who you will fight for.

To learn more about Planetside 2, head on over to the game page. Done all that? Then head on over to either steam or the official site to get enlisted soldier!

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