|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Composer(s)||Jeff Broadbent and Don Ferrone|
|Release date(s)||November 20, 2012|
|Genre(s)||massively multiplayer online first person shooter|
|Media/distribution||Digital distribution, Steam|
PlanetSide 2 is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online first person shooter (MMOFPS) published by Sony Online Entertainment and released on November 20, 2012. It is the sequel to PlanetSide which originally released in 2003. Officially announced on July 7, 2011 at the Sony Fan Fair, the second installment uses a new game engine and supports hundreds of players in continuous large scale conflict. As in the first PlanetSide, PlanetSide 2 chronicles the efforts of three factions as they fight for territorial control of the planet Auraxis.
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PlanetSide 2 is a re-imagining of PlanetSide, featuring the same world, factions and taking place at roughly the same time period. As in the previous game, it features territory control in an open-world, large battles featuring up to 2000 players per continent on foot or in land/air vehicles. The territory system differs greatly from that of the original, being more free-form and based on a hexagonal territory control system. SOE has been taking into account balance issues from the first game. As stated by creative director Matthew Higby, they reward combatants on lower population empires through mechanics such as proportionally increased advancement rates and resources to aid the balance of overall empire saturation on each server as much as possible without force-restricting players from being able to play with their friends.
It is a faster paced game than the original PlanetSide and holds the ability to feature potentially thousands of players. It also features familiar first person shooter elements such as sprinting, iron sights, and regenerating shields. An important aspect is that player skill and teamwork are major determiners when it comes to being able to kill other players and overcome opposing teams. Unlockable skills are available and are stated to only make between a 15-20% difference between any player. The game also features a day and night cycle, meaning that battles happen in different times of day, affecting the general methods for warfare.
Combat takes place on the continents of Auraxis which are broken up into many territories. Territories are then split into sectors which can be captured by the various empires. Influence from captured sectors can provide bonuses to a faction in adjacent sectors. The mission system is partly automated and partly controlled by commanders and outfits. It provides focal points for players to attack and defend and helps players get into the action quickly.
As a player participates in completing objectives they will earn experience which will increase their character's Battle Rank and reward them with certification points. As the player's Battle Rank increases he will unlock improved certifications, granting the player new abilities or items. These will allow the player to specialize in certain roles by allowing them to improve the weapons, vehicles or tools they use. Many certifications require the player to invest in multiple upgrade tiers of the certification, which will increase how effective the certification is. For example, players can purchase five ranks of Nanoweave Armor, which when equipped will increase the amount of damage they can sustain. Some certifications require the player to purchase prerequisite certifications, meaning a squad leader who wishes to unlock the ability to communicate using voice chat with an entire platoon will first need to unlock a certification to allow them to set squad waypoints. Using the certification system, players will be able to customise how they play using different classes or vehicles. For example, a player can purchase certifications to alter the main function of the Sunderer vehicle, meaning they can unlock the ability to have fellow squad members spawn from the vehicle, or as an alternative, give the vehicle the ability to repair and restock the ammunition of nearby allied vehicles.
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PlanetSide 2 is a science fiction MMOFPS set approximately 300 years after the discovery of Auraxis, although the chronology of the game universe starts a few years before. After the Earth has nearly come to ruin following a devastating war, the world's governments came to a consensus and united under one banner: the world-wide Terran Republic (TR). Some time later a wormhole, one which scientists fail to explain, appears and then disappears without a trace. Ex-President of the Terran Republic, Tom Connery, believes that the wormhole is a sign of existing extraterrestrial life and launches several space expeditions. The first expedition to Moon Belt gives a lead—a figurine of alien nature—giving Connery a reason to start a second expedition further into space. Several Terran Republic ships travel through the wormhole and are stranded for a very long period of time; their situation grows dire. Due to the crew's mental exhaustion and provision limit, strict curfews are applied. Later, a vote is held about the necessity of the measures. The positive vote wins, but only barely. There are nearly as many negative votes. A second vote is called. However, a terrorist bomb destroys the ship on which the vote is to occur, killing everyone aboard, including Connery. Curfews pass. Later, the expedition discovers the planet Auraxis, and as a result, Vanu, or "ancient", technology. Among this vast array of technology is "Rebirthing Chambers", capable of reviving any person from any kind of injury with even the smallest amount of genetic code. This removed the main tool of the Terran Republic on Auraxis, fear. As a result the Republic banned the use of this technology, but some scientists continued, forming the Vanu Sovereignty, as the Terran started to militarize to control this, a collection of separatists broke off, forming the New Conglomerate, who stole weapons and equipment from the militarization process. So exactly 175 years after Tom Connery and the other leaders of the Terran Republic were killed, the war between the Terran Republic and the New Conglomerate breaks out. Following this, the New Conglomerate attacks the scientists who were still working on the alien technology, the Vanu Sovereignty, and they are as a result drawn into the conflict with the Terran Republic and the New Conglomerate. This prevented any work towards finding a way to regain contact with Earth, and the war for Auraxis has been raging ever since.
In the original PlanetSide there were ten continents on Auraxis. The original playable ten were: Solsar, Hossin, Esamir, Cyssor, Ishundar (now Indar in PlanetSide 2), Forseral, Ceryshen, Searhus, Amerish and Oshur. Oshur was destroyed in an expansion to PlanetSide and formed smaller more traditional FPS style "Battle Islands" as a result.
To date there are three continents in PlanetSide 2: Indar, a mix of desert and high desert terrain marked by deep canyons and open dunes, was the first continent available for testing in beta; Esamir, an icy permafrost wasteland, was released for beta testing shortly after Indar; and Amerish, a mountainous continent filled with green, sparsely forested valleys, was the last continent added before launch. Hossin, a swampy marshland area considerably darker than the other continents, has been confirmed via Roadmap to be the fourth continent added to the game, and would be the first continent added post-launch, and the developers leaked an image of Searhus (a volcanic continent with lava flows) in developement via their Twitter account.
Although the story is very similar to the original, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced that award-winning author Marv Wolfman has joined the SOE team to write the ongoing historic fiction for the game. This is the first time the PlanetSide franchise narrative has been detailed.
- Terran Republic
- An authoritarian government that leverages military might to maintain strict control over the colonial citizens. The Terran Republic is obsessed with the preservation of law and order and are thus seen by some to be an oppressive and dictatorial force, but many view the TR as the only hope for lasting security on Auraxis. Their colors are red and black. TR forces are distinguished by their use of rapid fire weapons and miniguns, large magazines, and high speed ground and air vehicles.
- New Conglomerate
- The New Conglomerate operates as a loosely organized band of freedom fighters, vehemently opposed to the stranglehold that the Terran Republic has on Auraxis. Led by an unusual quorum of outcasts, industry titans, and pirates, the New Conglomerate is unwavering and prepared to achieve freedom from oppression by any means necessary. Their colors are blue and gold. NC forces use hard hitting gauss weaponry that is devastating at short ranges, supported by heavily armored shock troops and durable vehicles and aircraft. They are fighting for freedom, rather than duty or technology.
- Vanu Sovereignty
- The Vanu Sovereignty believes that only through the mysterious power of ancient technology can humanity truly evolve its next state of existence. They are an advanced and cunning faction, employing powerful alien technology on the battlefield. Their singular purpose is to uncover the secrets hidden away in ancient artifacts scattered over the surface of Auraxis, and they annihilate anyone who interferes with their progress. Their colors are purple and cyan. Vanu employ advanced plasma and laser technology on the battlefield, distinguished by lack of bullet drop and high reload speed, as well as highly maneuverable hovering tanks and air support.
The game features classes for infantry, which define your available weapons and abilities and can be customized through progression trees. The versatility of the original inventory system in the first game was replaced with the new class system to provide more team play experience and give players the ability of visual distinction. The game presents 6 classes, each of them possess 2 specializations, and all except MAX have handguns, frag grenades, and combat knives:
- Light Assault - A trooper with a jetpack, who can use carbines, shotguns and SMGs, along with tools like C4, a flashbang, and a smoke grenade.
- Heavy Assault - A heavy trooper which uses a personal shield, allowing them to take more damage. A versatile role that has both a primary weapon and an anti-vehicle rocket launcher. Can equip LMGs, shotguns, battle rifles, and SMGs, along with a variety of rocket launchers, and the empire specific heavy weapons; The New Conglomerate's Jackhammer shotgun, the Terran Republic's mini-chaingun, and the Vanu Sovereignty's Lasher plasma launcher. Anti-vehicle and concussion grenades are available.
- Medic - A support trooper with a healing tool, which can replenish health and revive dead players in the field. The class ability is an area-of-effect heal around the user. The Medic can equip assault rifles, shotguns, and SMGs. Healing and Revive grenades are available.
- Engineer - A support trooper that can repair vehicles, turrets, and generators as well as deploy ammo packs. For weaponry the Engineer can deploy a machine gun or rocket turret, and for personal armament can equip a carbine, shotgun, battle rifle, or SMG. Sticky grenades are available.
- Infiltrator - A saboteur or sniper, the infiltrator has a cloaking suit and inferior armor. The infiltrator can hack equipment terminals and turrets to allow them to be used by their own faction. The infiltrator can equip either a sniper rifle, scout rifle, or SMG, and tools such as an IFF probe, decoy grenade, or EMP grenade.
- Mechanized Assault Exo-Suit (MAX) - A robotic exosuit, the MAX can tank damage effectively, and can be specialized to be very effective against infantry, ground vehicles, or air. The MAX can only be repaired by engineers, although if it is killed it can be revived by medics, and an engineer must repair it to get back to full health. The max features 2 arms which can be used simultaneously and independent of each other. Each arm can equip a flak turret, anti-vehicle grenade launcher, or a faction specific anti-infantry weapon; a chaingun for the Terran Republic, a giant shotgun for the NC, and a plasma shooter for the Vanu Soverignty. It has the ability to charge forward and its melee attacks do more damage than a knife.
The classes are not tied to a character, one can switch a class at any given time, by using an equipment terminal on a base or at a mobile spawn point. Skill progression likewise is not tied to the active class.
Vehicles are a major component of PlanetSide 2's gameplay. All of the vehicles are available to players by default and vehiclar progression is based upon investing certification points into upgrades that will improve their combat viability. The game has a total of 7 ground vehicles and 5 aircraft:
- Main Battle Tank - Each faction has their own version of the main battle tank. Has a primary cannon and a secondary turret. Carries 2 people; driver and gunner.
- Prowler - The Terran Republic's main battle tank. Primary cannon fires twice before needing to reload. Strikes a balance between speed/acceleration and defensive armor.
- Vanguard - The New Conglomerate's main battle tank. Designed to strike hard and absorb punishment while being relatively slow compared to the other two main battle tanks.
- Magrider - The Vanu Sovereignty's main battle tank. Has a fixed primary cannon that is aimed by movement of the tank rather than movement of the turret. Designed to be nimble and maneuverable while sacrificing defensive armor.
- Sunderer - All factions have access to this vehicle. A transport vehicle with significant defensive armor and capacity. Has two turret weapons. Carries twelve people; a dedicated driver, a primary gunner and a secondary gunner with a further capacity for 9 back seat passengers. One of the most common upgrades for this vehicle is the deployment feature which enables other players to spawn from this vehicle when it is deployed.
- Lightning - All factions have access to this vehicle. Designed to be nimble and maneuverable but only has one cannon with less armor than a main battle tank. Carries one person who doubles up as the driver and gunner of the vehicle.
- Flash - All factions have access to this vehicle. Designed to be nimble and fast. The vehicle is designed like an All-Terrain Vehicle. Has extremely low armor and does not carry a turret by default although weapons can be added via the certification system. Carries two people; a driver who doubles up as the gunner and a back seat passenger.
- Harasser - All factions have access to this vehicle. Designed to be extremely fast like the flash but is more expensive and carries more people. Has reasonable armor similar to the lightning. Carries three people; a driver, a gunner and a back seat passenger.
- Empire Specific Fighter - Each faction has their own version of the air superiority fighter. Has a primary cannon and a secondary feature. Carries only one person; the driver, who doubles up as the gunner.
- Mosquito - The Terran Republic's air superiority fighter.
- Reaver - The New Conglomerate's air superiority fighter.
- Scythe - The Vanu Sovereignty's air superiority fighter.
- Liberator - All factions have access to this aircraft. Has a primary cannon, a secondary weapon and a tertiary weapon. Carries three people; the driver who doubles up as the primary cannon operator, a secondary weapon operator and a tertiary weapon operator.
- Galaxy - A large transport aircraft available to all factions. Has four turret weapons. Carries twelve people; a dedicated driver, a primary cannon operator, a secondary cannon operator, a tertiary cannon operator and a quaternary cannon operator and a further capacity for 7 back seat passengers.
The first official indications that a PlanetSide sequel was in development appeared in 2009. On September 25, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) sent a mass e-mail to current and former PlanetSide subscribers, asking to fill a survey that would help SOE design the next generation PlanetSide. "We plan to expand the PlanetSide universe with another game and we need your help with the design. After all, who knows the game better than you, our customers, the people who actually play it! Don't worry about the original PlanetSide, it isn't going anywhere." In addition, SOE registered the domain www.PlanetSide2.com on September 21. On October 11, SOE president John Smedley posted on his LiveJournal account that the sequel's working title is PlanetSide Next.
Little was revealed about the sequel until December 2010, when Smedley said that SOE would be launching a first-person shooter in March 2011, which was soon confirmed by Paul Williams of SOE as referring to PlanetSide Next. On March 31, 2011, SOE announced that it would be ending development of their spy-themed MMO The Agency and refocusing efforts on EverQuest Next and PlanetSide Next. Smedley confirmed that PlanetSide Next had been delayed – the result of recently switching to a new game engine – and would be available later in the year. The working title was later changed to PlanetSide 2. The official website was later updated to show a video trailer of the upcoming game. Many interview videos were taken after that showing sections of gameplay, but the biggest off-screen game play video was shown at 2012's GDC, showing most of the game aspects.
SOE President John Smedley announced that a closed beta test would begin July 30 or 31 2012 "barring any unforseen circumstances.". On July 30 Smedley announced that the beta testing would be delayed until at least August 3 "to make sure some stuff is awesome.". On August 3 Smedley announced via Twitter that the closed Beta would commence 2pm PDT (GMT-7) Monday 6 August. The beta closed on November 17, 2012, pending the game's official release November 20, 2012.
Game engine 
The game uses SOE's Forgelight Engine which in turn uses Nvidia's PhysX API for its physics engine. This enables more realistic vehicle handling compared to the previous PlanetSide, especially when it comes to flying aircraft. Weather and day/night cycles are also possible as well as volumetric fog and clouds which players can hide in. Bullets are also simulated by the physics engine so players (other than the Vanu Sovereignty, whose projectiles are not affected by gravity) will need to compensate for gravity while aiming.
Another improvement over PlanetSide is the introduction of locational damage (hitboxes) for soldiers and vehicles. This is customizable by the developers so that a sniper rifle shot to the head can have a huge bonus while high rate of fire weapons, such as the Mini Chaingun, and vehicles have small to no bonus.
Business model 
PlanetSide 2 is free-to-play but includes a cash shop for players to purchase in-game convenience items and cosmetic changes using real money. The developers have indicated an admiration of League of Legends's freemium business model. In 2011, SOE CEO John Smedley said the cash shop "will not sell a more powerful gun or vehicle." During the beta for the game, Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Nathan Grayson noted that the cash shop sold secondary weapons for aircrafts, but that changes would be made to the game before it left beta.
The game also offers a subscription which provides players with increased experience, cert points, and extra resources such as grenades, spawn beacons, and medical kits. Grayson said that goal of these benefits were convenience rather than making subscribed players more powerful than other players. However, Grayson noted that people purchasing these offerings might then be able to quickly acquire a large number of powerful items. Creative director Matt Higby said, "success on the battlefield is still entirely player skill based, [players purchasing cash shop offerings will] just be less impacted for re-deploying to the battlefield. That is a huge benefit, no denying it. Is that 'buying power'? Well, that depends on your definition."
PlanetSide 2 launched November 20, 2012. European players were initially unable to play due to an incorrect game launcher on the Steam platform in addition to EU server issues.
Sony Online Entertainment's President John Smedley mentioned that a Mac version might be planned for PlanetSide 2. Smedley said: "I absolutely strongly share that view. No you aren't going to see PlanetSide 2 on Linux. You will see it on Mac though". The official PlanetSide 2 Twitter account responded to a question on the topic of a Mac version as "Stay tuned for all potential updates. ^Spoiler"
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