|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||NA Sony Online Entertainment
|Composer(s)||Jeff Broadbent and Don Ferrone|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online first-person shooter game|
PlanetSide 2 is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online first-person shooter published by Sony Online Entertainment and released on November 20, 2012. It is a remake of 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 thousands 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. PlanetSide 2 was announced for the PlayStation 4 video game console on June 5, 2013.
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PlanetSide 2 is a re-imagining of PlanetSide, featuring the same world and 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. Control of territories can provide bonuses to a faction in adjacent sectors. The mission system is partly automated and partly controlled by players. It provides focal points for players to attack and defend and helps players get into the action quickly.
As a player participates in productive activities, they will earn experience, which will increase their character's battle rank and reward them with certification points. As players gain experience, they will receive more certifications, allowing the player to unlock 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 customize 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.
There are six unique player classes in PlanetSide 2. Each class has several unique weapons and special abilities. For each class new weapons, upgrades, and abilities can be acquired using in-game certification points. In addition, each class can earn ribbons and medals which reward additional certifications. The classes are as follows:
- The Infiltrator is a sniper class with special abilities of cloaking and hacking, and can use sniper rifles, scout rifles and submachine guns to deliver a devastating effect.
- The Light Assault class is a scout who uses carbines, submachine guns and shotguns. The Light Assault's special ability is Jump Jets, which allow them to fly through the air for a short period of time.
- The Combat Medic is a healing class. Their weapons include assault rifles, shotguns and submachine guns. The Combat Medic's special abilities allows them to heal, resurrect others and/or heal themselves.
- The Engineer class has the special ability of repairing vehicles, turrets, and MAX Units. The engineer also has the ability to build anti-infantry and anti-vehicle turrets. The Engineer's weapons include carbines, shotguns, submachine guns and battle rifles.
- The Heavy Assault class has light machine guns, submachine guns, shotguns, battle rifles, and also Rocket Launchers, which are effective at destroying enemy vehicles. They also have the special ability of shields to help them endure heavy fire.
- The MAX class has a mobile armored suit that allows them to take significant damage before dying. However, due to the suit they are also the slowest class. They have access to anti-infantry, anti-vehicle, and anti-air weapons. Max units cost resources to use.
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PlanetSide 2 is a science fiction massively multiplayer online first-person shooter 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, ancient, alien Vanu 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.
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.
As of June 2014, four continents and one battle island have been completed:
- Indar - a mix of desert, highlands and canyons.
- Esamir - a frozen wasteland of snow, ice, rock and pine trees situated at one of Auraxis' poles.
- Amerish - a lush, verdant continent with sparsely forested valleys running between jagged mountain peaks.
- Hossin - a swampy marshland, populated by enormous trees and towering mesas (released: 26-June-2014).
- Battle Islands
- The Nexus (Used for Community Clashes and other tournaments)
There are two planned continents that have been announced:
- Searhus - a volcanic continent with towering basalt arches, a network of caves and pools of lava.
- Oshur - details TBA.
The developers have stated that they would like to bring in more of the original continents from PlanetSide 1; these include:
- Battle Islands
- 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 through violence, 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 medium tanks and fighters.
- New Conglomerate
- The New Conglomerate operates as a loosely organized band of highly effective freedom fighters, they are often viewed as terrorists and rebels, 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 and medium ranges with a medium reload time, supported by heavily armored assault troops and durable tanks and fighters that also have the highest damage per shot in the game.
- 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, high accuracy, and low recoil, as well as highly maneuverable hovering tanks and Empire Specific Fighters such as the Scythe.
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 unforeseen 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.
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. 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 if using some weapons) 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.
SOE is using the Umbra 3 Visibility Solution middleware to handle occlusion culling in PlanetSide 2 as part of the OMFG update announced 13th of September 2013. The system reduces the time spent per-frame on visibility significantly improving rendering performance. The abundant use of this feature during platoon-size engagements reduces render distance of players to below 30 meters.
PlanetSide 2 is free-to-play and 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 aircraft, 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, which are used to acquire things such as grenades 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"
A PlayStation 4 version of the game has been said to be released alongside Sony's new console November 2013, PlanetSide 2 Devs have said that the PS4 Version will be exactly like the PC Version but with Maxed out settings. After the console launch when the game was not released, players learned that the launch has been rescheduled sometime in early 2014.
Critics praised the large scale battles, impressive graphics and free-to-play model. GameSpy stated that, "PlanetSide 2 shows the PC off. From the gorgeous lighting and huge draw distances, to the intense, multiplayer battles." IGN gave the game 9/10 praising the battles, "The scale of PlanetSide 2's battles is often breathtaking, as lines of tanks fire at bases while aircraft light up the sky and hundreds of players fill the scene with healing beams and lethal weapons fire." Criticism for the game includes the steep learning curve, lack of balance across classes and high system requirements.
PlanetSide 2 won several awards at E3 2012. IGN awarded it "Best MMO Game" and "Best PC Game"; GameSpy awarded it "Best Shooter", "Best Free to Play" and "Best PC Exclusive"; and from PC Gamer, "Best Shooter", "Best MMO", "Best of Show" and "Most Awards Received". PlanetSide 2 received numerous other awards and nominations from several critics.
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