War Never Changes
Published by Sony Online Entertainment and originally released in 2003, the first Planetside is a massively multiplayer online first person shooter that still remains one of the few of its kind. Last summer at the Sony Fan Fair, a sequel (that serves as more of a re-imagining than anything else) was announced. It is still very early in its development, but Planetside 2 continues to recount the ongoing war of three powerful factions – The Terran Republic, The New Conglomerate, and The Vanu Sovereignty – each perpetually vying for dominance over the planet Auraxis.
Each faction in Planetside 2 has distinctive visual designs and specific styles of play. The traits of the various faction-unique land and air vehicles, for instance, range from speedy but fragile to slow and durable. Weapons for foot-soldiers can range from basic familiar military weaponry where ammo is of concern to energy-based weapons that have no ammo limitations but can be relatively weak. With experience points gained through most actions, you can enhance and customize the vehicles and your character's skills to fit your play style. There are various classes to choose from including medic, engineer, and the uncommon but incredibly important support role of transport pilot who is in charge of supply and respawning points (a difficult task considering how massive each area is).
As it is a territorial war, the object of each match is to acquire facilities in an effort to spread the area of your faction's influence. The landscape is filled with checkpoints to seize from the enemies, and gameplay bonuses apply to regions neighboring any areas under your faction's control, making it likely (and smart) to go to battle near your territory.
In the nine years since the release of the original, Planetside 2 implements more ubiquitous modern casual and social gaming elements like gaining experience points when you are not even playing to the tracking of player progression online, similar to Battlefield 3's Battlelog. The former will help you stay competitive even if you cannot dedicate massive amounts of time to the game, while the latter's social aspect will encourage you to be competitive.
Planetside 2 will be free-to-play at launch, with intentions to support the game solely via microtransactions. Thankfully, none of these specific items will offer great advantages to those who choose not to pay, and most can be unlocked via natural play. Instead, they can be used to alter aesthetics or receive boosts to experience-gain and resource output. In fact, allotting hundreds of hours will not grant you better weapons or vehicle upgrades, but alternatives. For example, a weak, rapid-fire gun can eventually be swapped out for a slow-loading but stronger one. Playing more does not give you insane powers that would be a deterrent to novices; it gives you different ways of playing, thus keeping everyone on a relatively level field, regardless of experience.
The camaraderie formed through going to virtual battle with strangers online should fuel ample replay value. It is all about large-scale cooperative play. Whereas most games nowadays recreate intense cinematic moments through cutscenes or quick-time events where the player has little control, Planetside 2 hopes to provide these epic experiences that you actually contribute to. With hundreds of players possibly playing simultaneously, these events are not scripted; they are player-controlled.
With massive team-focused play being encouraged and a free-to-play model with accessible gameplay mechanics, Planetside 2 is full of thrilling potential.
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