|Developer(s)||Daybreak Game Company|
|Publisher(s)||Daybreak Game Company|
|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 Daybreak Game Company and released on November 20, 2012. It is a sequel of PlanetSide which originally was released in 2003. Officially announced on July 7, 2011 at the Sony Fan Fair, the second installment used a new game engine, supported thousands of players in continuous large scale conflict, and featured in-game integration with Twitch.tv. 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 released for the PlayStation 4 in North America on June 23, 2015. PlanetSide 2 holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest first-person shooter battle with 1158 players recorded in a single battle.
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. Former SOE (now DBG) took 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 offer different advantages over enemies in battle. The game also features a day and night cycle, meaning that battles happen in different times of day, which affects gameplay, as night time provides excellent cover for coordinated attacks.
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 such as killing enemies, healing or repairing allies, or capturing bases, they will earn experience, which will increase their character's "Battle Rank," or level, and reward them with certifications or "Certs." 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 reduce damage taken from infantry weapons. 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, such as the ability to give the vehicle the ability to repair or restock the ammunition of nearby allied vehicles and aircraft.
Continents can be captured, or "locked," by a specific faction. This is done by linking a faction's warpgate with the other two factions' warpgates simultaneously, capturing all major facility types at once (Amp Station, Bio Lab and Tech Plant), gaining 15 Victory Points on pc and 10 on ps4 or by controlling 90% of a continent's territory. Victory Points are a way of scoring for each faction. There are two types of Victory Points; "Flux" Victory Points can be obtained by owning more territory, and "Permanent" Victory Points can be obtained by performing a specific action, such as capturing all of a same type of base (e.g. Bio Labs). Victory Points can also be converted from Cortium with a HIVE.
An update was released in late April 2016 that allowed players to construct their own bases by harvesting Cortium, a new mineral that appears throughout the world. Using a vehicle known as the ANT (Advanced Nanite Transport), players can harvest the mineral and can deploy a variety of structures, such as bunkers, rampart walls and Sunderer garages. Players can also deploy turrets, silos (where players can store their Cortium) and modules, which include adding AI to friendly turrets and generating shields. Hardline Interference Volume Emitters, or HIVEs, can be deployed, which are structures that become active when any of a faction's two Victory Cores are available. HIVEs convert Cortium to Victory Points, and become more efficient when placed closer to an enemy faction's warpgate.
Characters are able to choose from a total of 6 classes, each with their own traits, abilities, and skills.
- Heavy Assault: The Heavy Assault class specializes in front-line combat. They have access to a wide array of weapons, including both the Light Machine Gun and the Rocket Launcher, two weapons that only they can use. Heavy assaults also have a shield ability that can effectively increase their health by 50%. Their raw combat ability comes at the cost of having no support capabilities. According to a report released on Reddit by Daybreak staff members in June 2015, the Heavy Assault class is the most-played class in the game.
- Light Assault: The Light Assault class specializes in flanking and surprise attacks. Their special ability is a jetpack, which allows them to circumvent rough terrain, climb hills, and hop over walls and buildings to drop down behind unsuspecting enemy forces. Combined with their ability to drop C-4 charges, Light Assault are devastating against enemy tanks and other vehicles. Light assault can carry carbines in addition to the standard shotguns and SMGs allowed to most infantry classes.
- Engineer: The Engineer class is a support class, having the ability to repair vehicles and MAX units, broken terminals, and disabled base generators. They are the only class to have access to anti-tank mines and can place manned turrets that either specialize against infantry or vehicles as well as automated anti-infantry turrets. For equipment, they can use carbines, SMGs, shotguns, and battle rifles.
- Infiltrator: Infiltrators are a covert stealth class that can use their sniper rifles to attack from a distance, or, as their name implies, infiltrate enemy groups for closer engagement of targets. With the ability to move stealthily using a partial cloaking device and plant motion detectors or recon probes, Infiltrators are well suited for reconnaissance. They also excel at disrupting the enemy through sniping enemy soldiers from a distance, remaining cloaked in close proximity to the enemy and stealthily taking out targets, or by hacking and hijacking enemy vehicle terminals and base defenses. With their access to SMGs, infiltrators are great for quick hit and run situations. However, Infiltrators have less health than other classes and cannot fire while cloaked.
- Medic: The Medic class is also a support class that has the ability to heal and revive teammates, which is very valuable in battles where spawn points are not nearby. They are the only class that uses assault rifles. They may also use sub-machine guns, shotguns, and battle rifles. Like other infantry classes (except the Infiltrator), they can also plant C-4 explosives. According to a report released on Reddit by Daybreak staff members in June 2015, the Medic class is the least-played class in the game.
- "MAX": The MAX, which is short for Mechanized Assault eXosuit, is a specialized class that is essentially a blend of vehicle and infantry. MAX units take several of the advantages of infantry, such as small size, the ability to jump, and the ability to enter buildings, and combine it with the durability and firepower of a lightweight vehicle. MAX units are highly specialized, and possess two arm-mounted weapons which can be either anti-aircraft, anti-tank, or anti-infantry. These weapons can be mixed and matched by placing a different one on each arm, which allows for either tight specialization or more generalized diversity. However, MAX units cannot operate defensive turrets, throw grenades, pilot most aircraft, or use med kits, and they must be repaired by an engineer rather than a medic. Medics are able to revive a MAX, but their health will be low and will require an engineer for further repairs.
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. There are also many lore videos on YouTube that can provide some insight on how the war for Auraxis came to be.
There are currently five continents, as well as some battle islands in development.
- Indar: A desert continent with grassy highlands in the southwest, rocky canyons and dry lake beds in the east, and a vast ancient seabed in its north. It was also the first continent that was created for Planetside 2, and was featured in the trailer.
- Esamir: A polar continent made up of immense dry tundras and cold deserts, rocky hills, and gigantic, violet crystalline formations.
- Amerish: A continent featuring lush vegetation and beautiful landscapes. Its rolling green fields and forests are routinely broken up by tall jagged rock outcroppings.
- Hossin: A swamp continent coated in dense tropical rainforests with mist shrouded undergrowth and a dark, shaded forest floor inhabited by bioluminescent flora and insectlike fauna.
- Koltyr: A grassy continent similar to Amerish. It is used to help train new players up to Battle Rank 15 get used to the game before jumping into the main four continents. After a player reaches Battle Rank 15 Koltyr will be locked off to that player.
- Terran Republic: An authoritarian colonial government that leverages military might to maintain strict control over the colonial citizens, ostensibly on behalf of the mother Terran Republic back on Earth. The Terran Republic is obsessed with the preservation of law and order, and see the insurrectionary war against themselves as all the more justification for strong-armed countermeasures. They are thus seen by their opponents to be an oppressive and dictatorial force, but many also view the TR as the only hope for lasting security and peace on Auraxis. Their colors are red and black. TR forces are distinguished by their use of rapid fire conventional weaponry, large-capacity magazines, high speed medium tanks and fast flying fighter aircraft.
- New Conglomerate: The New Conglomerate operates as a loosely organized band of self-proclaimed freedom fighters. Viewed as corporate-backed terrorist guerrillas by their adversaries, they violently oppose the stranglehold that the Terran Republic has on Auraxis. Led by an unusual quorum of outcasts, frontier industrialists, pirates, and turncoat military leaders, 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 electromagnetic weapons such as gauss and railguns that are devastating at short and medium range, but are bulky and unwieldy with moderate reload speeds. They utilize durable heavily-armed shock troops with slow, well-armored heavy tanks and heavy fighters loaded with arrays of crushingly powerful ordnance.
- Vanu Sovereignty: The Vanu Sovereignty are a secretive and cult like group who believe that only through the untapped power of ancient alien technology can humanity truly evolve towards the next phase of its existence. They are a technologically advanced and cunning faction, employing powerful reverse-engineered alien technologies on the battlefield. Their singular purpose is to uncover the secrets hidden away in ancient artifacts scattered over the surface of Auraxis, and as such they view the war with its shifting territories and militarized zones as a pointless impedance to their infinitely more important work. They fight only to seize and retain uninterruptible, or exclusive, access to alien artifacts, research and dig sites, and other scientific materials. Their colors are violet and cyan. The Vanu use advanced plasma and laser weaponry on the battlefield, characterized by lack of bullet drop, high accuracy, low recoil, and quick-re-loadable energy cells. They deploy highly maneuverable, levitating battle tanks known as Magriders capable of efficiently traversing almost any terrain or incline, as well as wraith like anti-gravity fighters known as Scythes capable of inertia-defying breakneck aerobatics.
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 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 Chain gun, 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 13 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. For example, a player can purchase camouflage (paint) for their weapon or vehicle. 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 changes have since been 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. After the console launch when the game was not released, players learned that the launch has been rescheduled sometime in late 2014. Sign ups for the PlayStation 4 version's beta began on the game's website in December 2014, and was launched on January 20, 2015. The PS4 version officially released on June 23, 2015.
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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