|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
PlanetSide chronicles the efforts of three factions as they fight for territorial control over ten different continents on the planet Auraxis. Players take on the role of individual soldiers fighting for one of the three factions within the game, and can specialize in various fields such as combat vehicle crewman, infantry, invisible infiltrator or a variety of combat support roles such as combat medic or combat engineer. The game is played primarily in a first person perspective, with the option of third-person.
Unlike most shooting games, in which small-scale matches take place in essentially an instanced map, PlanetSide battles can involve hundreds of players in a single fight. PlanetSide battles concern control over territory and strategic points, and can cause repercussions to all three factions. To date, PlanetSide remains one of the few MMOFPS games ever created. A sequel, Planetside 2, was released in November, 2012.
After exploring through a deep space wormhole, the Terran Republic, a highly centralized oligarchic galactic government which had unconditionally ruled humanity for the past thousand years, discovered a single habitable planet. Not only was this planet suitable for the sustenance of life, but it also already possessed many native, highly developed, and staggeringly familiar flora. The Science Institute named this planet Auraxis. Taking a keen interest in this aberration, the Republic quickly sent expeditions through the wormhole to explore and colonize the planet. Shortly after arriving, the colonists discovered the remains and technology of a lost and ancient alien species - the Vanu (or Ancients). This technology proved to be so complex and powerful as to barely be conceivable to human minds, involving levels of energy previously thought to be physically unquantifiable. This allowed for the quick colonization of the ten continents of Auraxis, the creation of power sources and vehicles for the use of the colonists and, most importantly, it facilitated the development of rebirthing technology. This nanotechnology allowed the Terrans to deconstruct and reconstruct their own bodies, allowing fast transportation across the world. Later on, it was discovered that dead workers could be brought back to life using the technology, revealing a startling new possibility: immortality. Needless to say, the incredible power (and value) of this technology was systemically acknowledged, and despite the scale of the advances made due to the study of the technology, it was also recognized that humanity had not yet even scratched the surface of any future possibilities. Later on, the discovery that the planet itself had been an artificial construction of the Ancients further served to solidify the realization that, if left unchecked, Vanu technology would forever and irrevocably change humanity and its future.
Shortly after the rebirthing technology was discovered, the wormhole collapsed, cutting the colony off from the Mother Republic and preventing the return of Vanu technology for proper examination. The Republic authorities took measures to hide this fact, while desperately exhausting all theoretical options for re-establishing the traversability of the wormhole. Meanwhile, as widespread usage of the technology grew, the Republic began to fear the potential repercussions of allowing so much power to be shifted so quickly into the hands of so many people. Namely, it feared that the rebirthing technology and the potential impunity to death, disease, and pain it afforded would cause massive philosophical shifts amongst the isolated population, thus pulling out one leg of the tripod that had sustained the Republic for a millennium: that of deterrence. More generally, the military feared that if utilization of the technology continued to spread, that the other two bases might come away as well: a populace armed with practically god-like power would have very little need of a strong authoritarian body to provide structure and purpose to their lives. Based on these trepidations, the Republic began to restrict usage of the new technologies, and halted all further research and development involving the Ancient Tech.
It was too late, however, and their concerns began to materialize earlier than they had expected. As research diminished, so too did hopes of reopening the wormhole. As news of this began to escape the scientific community, general dissension set in. Amongst the populace, a great resultant of the loss of faith in the capability of the Republic (which had always presented itself as infallible) was a split in their loyalties. Two distinct groups emerged: the loyalists and the separatists. The separatists argued that the recent behavior of the Republic was full of obvious knee-jerk moves and over-reactive mistakes. Claiming that the Republic knew its end was at hand, the separatists advocated breaking away and forming a new society, now that their would-be "oppressors" were isolated and without aid. The loyalists countered that the Republic had never been abusive (a claim hotly debated) and had always looked out for its own, and that the Terran people at least owed them continued loyalty on that point alone. Meanwhile, in the intellectual circles and among the scientific establishment, there had long been the feeling that the Republic was ill at-ease with the possibilities of the New Science, and a movement had begun to sequester and conceal as many of the Vanu artifacts as could be feasibly obtained without overt notice.
As the Terran demographic continued to polarize, these movements finally came to fruition as the predecessors of the Vanu Sovereignty made their exodus and took with them the research and artifacts they had managed to stockpile over the Auraxian years. Encouraged by this, the separatists seceded, seizing a number of military stockpiles and procuring a small arsenal of military assets: they called themselves the New Conglomerate. In a backlash to this, the Republic declared these two factions outlawed, announcing their intentions to reunify with them at all costs. Shortly after this, war broke out between the Terran Republic and the New Conglomerate. Not long after, the Vanu Sovereignty was attacked by the New Conglomerate and dragged into the war.
The Terran Republic (TR)
A conservative, authoritarian, collectivist nation who strive to regain contact with the homeworld and reunite the warring factions. Their leadership is a public oligarchy known as the Overwatch, composed of various representative officials and their associated Ministries, who regulate allotted portions of society in accordance with their own expertise and the collective will towards favourable outcomes. They believe that authority is the bastion that protects humanity and that in a truly free society, with no Big Brother to guide and watch over citizens, misery and suffering would quickly be visited to all. Furthermore, they regard the Vanu technology as dangerous and disruptive, a chaotic force threatening the stability of their righteous order, and only begrudgingly do they utilise it in warfare. Their vision of the future is one of peace restored through their benevolent rule, and humanity reunited by the reopening of the wormhole. They stand by the view that the Vanu went extinct by meddling with power on the orders of magnitude which was to be found in their artifacts and technologies, and they fear groups such as the Sovereignty will drive humanity to a similar fate, causing as much damage to reality as possible along the way. Their ordnance is characterised by its high rate of fire and correspondingly great ammunition consumption.
The New Conglomerate (NC)
A separatist faction determined to remain free of the controlling and domineering Republic, as well as to liberate the rest of humanity from the Republic, whether or not they share the Conglomerate's theories. Unlike the authoritarian and technocratic TR and VS governments, the NC are fighting for democracy, freedom, and human rights. As a rebel group, their leadership lies with the Revolutionary Command, a visible co-operative of military experts and leaders who direct the liberation efforts as a whole. They feel that any form of control is oppression and that a miserable free man is better off than a contented slave. Consequently, they view the Vanu technology as a potential tool of control, and the Vanu Sovereignty as technocratic tyrants, would-be dictators like the Republic, only under the banner of science and probably much worse. Their view of the future is one of freedom and self-government, where every man elects his own path and flourishes in what ways he sees fit. They rely on ponderous vehicles and slow-firing heavy weaponry, foregoing mobility and tactical flexibility for heavy armour and superior firepower. As their name suggests, the New Conglomerate is a diverse collection of forces that have banded-together (but have little trust of one another): ordinary citizens drawn into the conflict, various rebel groups that were previously autonomous, expatriate Terran and Vanu soldiers, and the Expeditionary Force (“XForce”) of the Royal House of Auraxis (the rightful heirs to the Vanu throne, forced into exile, the sole possessors of a working wormhole). The NC's democratic philosophy is often their Achilles' heel militarily, as they lack the iron-fisted leadership structure of the TR and VS. From the New Conglomerate's point of view, however, theirs is the only moral and just cause.
The Vanu Sovereignty (VS)
A loose transhumanist group of academics, intellectuals, and common people who believe that human destiny lies in the further development and exploitation of the alien technology. Their leadership is the clandestine Sovereignty Council, the composition of which is unknown without itself and the existence of which is obscured to those outside the Sovereignty. They see the Republic as pedantic and outmoded; a used-up idea and restriction on the continuing ascendancy of the species through the synthesis of man and machine. They also see the New Conglomerate as a savage, ochlocratic band of thugs who have repackaged old mistakes in new dressings and are desperately afraid of new concepts which they cannot grasp, and the future these promise to the far-sighted. Their view of the future is one of scientific perfection and purity: they believe that the Vanu used the power of their advanced technologies to transcend their physical limitations and the mundane world, ascending to a superior state of being, and ultimately, a higher plane of existence. Scientists and intellectuals through-and-through, they see this path as an enlightened ascension and hold the Ancients up as a shining example for mankind to follow. Hopefully and eagerly they envision humanity imitating this metamorphosis, firstly through the enhancement of the human condition via "hypertech" (foreseeable technological breakthroughs which have not yet quite arrived), and eventually, by the replacement of human beings altogether; from there, not even they can imagine yet. They are most reliant on alien science and technology, and often more than compensate for their shortcomings through the superiority of their engineering, utilising mind-bending physics, high-energy arrays, and other exotic weaponry to defend themselves.
At any one time, the PlanetSide server hosts potentially thousands of players in a variety of landscapes, from the war on foot to the air, across desert, mountains, forests and swamps. The goal is simple: each faction must attempt to capture as many facilities as possible on the surface of the planet while denying them to their enemies. There are many strategies and opportunities that skilled players can utilize in order to direct combat operations. The player controls his or her chosen character from a first-person perspective. This gives combat a more direct role and emphasizes skill.
While a first person shooter at heart, PlanetSide does have an experience/leveling system. Earned experience is divided into three categories: Battle Experience, Support Experience, and Command Experience. Battle Experience is gained from elimination of enemy soldiers, the capture of base facilities, and exploring and interacting with the game world. Support Experience is earned through "Assist" kills: after aiding another player, the first player gains a percentage of experience the other player gains through kills. Command Experience is gained from leading a squad or platoon in a successful base capture. Functionally, Battle Experience and Support Experience are identical, both contributing towards Battle Rank, which leads to benefits such as the ability to use different equipment, implants, or appearance upgrades. Accumulated Command Experience lets the player use several team-oriented abilities. Currently, the maximum Battle Rank is set to 40, while the maximum Command Rank is set to 5. Players who attain Battle Rank 40 are granted every certification in the game.
Most Battle Ranks give you a certification point which can then be spent on certifications, while each Command Rank unlocks a special ability accessed via an item called a "Command Uplink Device (CUD)". Certifications can be used to unlock new weapons or vehicles you can use on the battlefield, thus enhancing a character's flexibility.
PlanetSide contains 38 vehicles, ranging from interceptor aircraft to battle tanks to Battle Frames (introduced with PlanetSide: Aftershock). No one player is able to access all 38 vehicles normally, as many of them are empire-specific meaning that only members of a certain empire can acquire them via a vehicle terminal. Players that have invested certification points in the Hacking tree are able to "jack" enemy vehicles for their own empire's use. Some staple and basic vehicles are available as Common Pool vehicles, meaning that any soldier can acquire them, assuming they have the proper certification to do so. Vehicles play a vital role in PlanetSide, and an experienced pilot or gunner of even one strategic vehicle can often turn the tide of a battle. Although vehicle movements are often more effective when undertaken in groups of 30 or more.
As of July 2008, there are 28 weapons available in PlanetSide. Weapons are grouped and accessed the same way as vehicles are — using the empire-specific and common pool accessibility to keep gameplay balanced.
While a player can experience the game solo, the best way to succeed in PlanetSide is to join a squad. A squad is an ad hoc group of up to ten players led by a squad leader. Two or three squads can form a platoon, for a maximum group of thirty players. Benefits of being in a squad include the sharing of experience (resulting in a speedy rise in Battle Rank) and the results gained from working as a team.
Like most online games, a player can create or join a clan, which is called an Outfit in PlanetSide. Whereas a squad is a temporary group, an outfit persists even if all members are off-line. Outfits are managed through a panel in-game, allowing players to be promoted/demoted. Outfits have eight possible ranks, with the top four being officer ranks, allowing members to invite and kick players to and from the outfit. Outfits can range in membership from two (the minimum number required to form an outfit is ten players) to an infinite number, the largest outfits have over 400 members. Sometimes these large outfits recruit by inviting random players, generally causing the outfit to have a poor reputation. The largest outfits in the history of the game have approached and sometimes exceeded 1000 members. In 2006 an "Outfit Wars" event was launched for competition solely between outfits on each server.
PlanetSide offers a variety of roles for players to choose from. The certification system allows for a divergence from "Class" systems of other games and lets players customize their role for their own playstyle. Most players will find themselves in a specialized combat role with support.
- Sidearms (including pistols and a powered melee dagger)
- Medium Assault (including medium-range assault rifles, combat shotguns)
- Heavy Assault (including a Chaingun, Powered Shotgun, and the Vanu Lasher)
- Anti-Vehicular (including guided rockets, heat seeking rockets and directed energy rifles)
- Special Assault (Grenade-Launcher, Mini Rocket Launcher, Anti-Sniper, and Flame Thrower)
- Reinforced Exosuit (Heavier infantry armor with extra inventory space and an additional weapon slot)
- MAX Units (Special suits of armor with integrated Anti-Air, Anti-Infantry, and Anti-Vehicle weapons)
- Four-Wheel ATVs (Cloaking, Anti-Personnel, Anti-Vehicular)
- Medium Tanks
- Main Battle Tanks
- Air Assault (Scout, Anti-Vehicular, Anti-Air)
- Air Support (Personnel Dropship, Vehicle Carrier, Bomber, Cloaked Dropship)
- Battle Frame Robotics (Mechanized weapons platforms)
- Cloaking (Sneaking behind enemy lines)
- Hacking (Taking enemy strongholds, stealing vehicles, infecting bases with viruses)
- Medical (Heal yourself and others, revive others (advanced))
- Engineering (Repair vehicles, armor, and upgrade base components, base defenses, as well as combat engineering)
As of 2007[update], the game is actively supported by Sony Online Entertainment, although due to a reduced development staff the release of new content is less frequent compared to 2003–2004. New patches are released once every 3–4 months and are usually focused around an in-game community event. The number of active PlanetSide subscriptions worldwide is not provided by Sony Online Entertainment, but is estimated to be around 20,000 players compared to late 2003, when subscriptions peaked at around 75,000 players.
On October 27, 2003, SOE released Core Combat, the only true expansion for PlanetSide.
- Six new massive underground war zones ranging from volcanic lava flows to ice caverns.
- New Ancient-technology vehicles and weapons which can be used by all Empires
- Head-to-Head Urban style combat in subterranean cities
- Unique alien complexes to explore and conquer
- Ancient technology can be used by all Empires to upgrade existing surface level facilities
- A new Module Benefit System, granting special abilities to the player's faction
On August 14, 2004, possibly due to experiments with Ancient Technology, the planet Auraxis has undergone a process known as The Bending, and has been reconstructed as a system of smaller planets scattered throughout the cosmos. These planets are still linked by the original warpgate system. One of the main islands of Auraxis, Oshur, has been destroyed and replaced by a series of small 'Battle Islands'.
On October 18, 2004 SOE released PlanetSide: Aftershock, PlanetSide bundled with Core Combat using a new build of the game. Aftershock introduced Battle Frame Robotics (BFRs), large, heavily-armed walking vehicles similar to those found in BattleTech.
From March 24, 2006 to March 24, 2007 SOE launched the PlanetSide Reserves program. The program allowed anyone to download the game and play for free. All characters in the Reserves were limited to Battle Rank 6 and Command Rank 2, as well as other restrictions. Players were able to convert to a paying account at any time. As of August 1, 2007 the game developers are discussing whether or not to bring back the PlanetSide Reserves program to renew interest in their game. As part of the launch of PlanetSide Reserves, all paying accounts were upgraded to include all Aftershock content. The Reserves program ended sometime prior to December 10, 2008, and is not currently available as of 2012.
Black Ops were first field tested in July 2007 at the SOE Fan Fair by the attendees who were there for Planetside. Due to the Black Ops not being fully complete they were considered part of the Vanu Sovereignty. Those who participated in the field test were given the Fusion Blade as a permanent feature for their characters.
The Black Ops, released around Halloween 2007, are a separate organization on Auraxis not affiliated with any of the three empires. Since 2008, Members of the Black Ops are selected by random in-game. Once in Black Ops, players' health is raised to 1000, their stamina is raised to 500, and they are allowed to use any weapon in the game, including a special melee weapon the "Fusion Blade". Members are restricted to standard or reinforced armor and cannot communicate or team with any other faction. Black Ops are always assimilated on "old" Oshur, with all bases neutral, indicating Black Ops controlled bases.
10th Anniversary Update
All prior Planetside subscribers and Planetside 2 subscribers received free 6 month subscriptions to Planetside. Several weeks before, Core Combat expansion pack content was disabled.
- Johari (Western United States)
- Markov (Western United States)
- Konried (Eastern United States)
- Emerald (Eastern United States)
- Werner (Europe)
- Jackson (Europe)
Shortly after PlanetSide was released, the European server Jackson was shut down, requiring European players move to Werner. In late 2003, SOE announced that Johari would merge into Markov and Konried would merge into Emerald, leaving North America with only two servers. SOE announced in April 2008 that the two North American servers, Emerald and Markov, will be merged on May 20, 2008 to create one server that will be called Gemini. This announcement was greeted with equal enthusiasm and dislike from players of all three servers, some saying the merge would help fix the population problems of PlanetSide, others saying the merge would simply cover up the underlying problem as well as leaving Werner empty (due to players moving over to Gemini). PlanetSide's lead developer, Thom Terrazas (Enrico), announced on the PlanetSide forums on March 6, 2009 that the final two servers, Gemini and Werner, are to be merged. On July 27, 2009, Sony declared the merger will occur on August 25, 2009.
PlanetSide 2 was officially announced on July 7, 2011.