Planetside 2 Beta Impressions

What is Planetside 2?! A new, free to play MMOFPS that is currently in closed beta, where three warring factions, the Terran Republic (TR), New Conglomerate (NC), and Vanu Sovereignty (VS) fight for control over a large persistent world.

I was lucky enough to snag a Planetside 2 twitter beta key, and have been killing and dying ever since they let me in. As an MMOFPS, and a free to play one at that, two major questions come to mind. Is it good, and is it really free to play, or just free to try or pay to win? In the words of Creative Director Matt Higbey “No weapon, vehicle, attachment, continent, class, or certification is unavailable to you as a free player. Everything and anything that can affect gameplay is available to unlock through gameplay. This is a big deal.” While Planetside 2 may be an MMO, it plays more like a modern FPS, where player skill is the most important thing at the end of the day, not how long you’ve played to get that unlock, or how much money you spent on the game. Playing the Terran Republic (TR), I spent my Auraxium (in game currency) on the Armor Piercing shells for the Prowler Main Battle Tank, and while it worked great against other tanks, trying to take out infantry with it proved futile. This is the trade off using AP rounds vs. the standard HEAT rounds, whereas the HE rounds are more anti-infantry. So while I may have played longer than someone, or spent a lot of money, it didn’t give me a better chance, it just gave the options to specialize.

Planetside 2 plays great, and will only get better as they introduce more features and make tweaks during the beta. Fans of the FPS genre will feel right at home playing Planetside 2, especially Battlefield fans who know to watch out for tanks and aircraft. The name of the game is to capture different bases by taking different points. The method of capture is currently being tweaked in beta, so I don’t want to go into too much detail, because it will most likely change before release. The MMO side of the game is why you capture these points. Capturing them doesn’t end the game or round, as it never truly ends. Instead, by controlling different points, you gain resources, which varies by each point. There are four resources in the game, Auraxium, which allows you to purchase new weapons, implants, customizations, and anything else that real cash can buy you. The other three are used to spawn vehicles, with each player getting their own stash. Upgrading your weapons, vehicles, or player skills (i.e. a combat medic can heal quicker or revive someone with a higher percentage of their health) comes from spending certification points. Vehicle spawns have a countdown timer per person to keep them from dying, and then spawning that same vehicle right away. This timer can be shortened by getting certifications with the vehicle, or by purchasing (with Auraxium or Station Cash) a temporary shorter timer.

While thousands of players fighting over control of huge worlds from three different warring factions make this game unique, it’s true killer feature is teamwork, which is most evident with Outfits. Outfits are Planetside’s version of guilds. You know when there is an outfit running operations, because you’ll get large coordinated assaults on bases that no other fps can even come close to matching. Spur of the moment operation by an outfit called New World Order on US West 02 (server name changes are due soon) gathered up members and random players to fill two 12 man squads, load up in two galaxies (transport ships capable of transporting a 12 person squad) to separately attack neighboring small bases in order to gain influence to quickly capture a large base, in which they mounted a combined assault on. These operations will only get larger, as the populations in the closed beta get larger.

Another memorable battle that raged for hours, where Stronghold earned it’s name. The squad I was in (playing TR) grouped up at our warp gate and manned a Galaxy, filling up 10 of the slots, and headed out and took Stronghold from the Vanu quickly, but soon the Vanu were upon us, heading down from their base up the hill to the East. The Galaxy parked outside was quickly destroyed, and holding Stronghold were prove to be tougher than the initial, unguarded assault. The Vanu swarmed us, some coming down the cliff face to the rear of the fort (Stronghold is small, with only 1 capture point, but very defensible), Liberators dropping bombs from above, Galaxies landing in front, while tanks sat high on the eastern hill to bombard the fort. As their numbers grew, so did ours, and quickly our fort was well manned, but the an even greater threat picked up the scent. The NC joined the fray, slowing at first, but soon they came pouring in. We now had to hold this tiny fort in the South against two relentless hosts. We put up a good fight, holding them off a long time, until finally the NC was able to capture Stronghold.

If you have any questions you want answered, please leave a comment below and I’ll be sure to answer them!

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