I hadn’t thought about Planetside 2 much since my trip to SOE Fan Faire in July, but I was reminded of it while watching last week’s TWIMMO (not to be confused with the TWIMMO of two weeks ago which featured yours truly wearing a mixing bowl on his head). My skill in shooters is legendarily bad, but I can at least put on the illusion of being skillful in a game like Team Fortress 2 or Global Agenda, where “twitchiness” isn’t a required skill for certain classes. I’m deadly as a medic or heavy, pretty good as an engineer or pyro, and don’t ever, ever ask me to play a scout. Planetside 2, from what I’ve heard and seen, seems like about as hardcore a shooter as I’ll be able to enjoy, for several reasons:
1) Like TF2, PS2 will have multiple classes, including support classes and, if I remember my conversation with lead designer Matt Higby correctly, a buffing class, who doesn’t need to be the most active character but makes everyone around him better. You know, kinda like me in real life. As an added bonus, you can switch classes pretty much at will and, theoretically, a single character could obtain every skill in the game.
2) Matt also told me that power in the game will come more from versatility and skill than from sheer time spent in the game improving your character. His exact quote — liable to change by launch time, of course — is that a maxed-out, top-of-the-line character will be about “15-20% better” than a completely new, wet-behind-the-ears character. That’ll be nice for semi-casual players like me so they can jump in the action right away without getting mercilessly gunned down by the hardcore types.
3) Vehicles! Bad as I am at shooting, I’m an excellent driver. Raining death from above in a flying machine or rushing the troops to the battlefield… yeah, that sounds more my speed.
Several other aspects of the game sounded cool, too. The first planet featured will be a wide-open map, and while you can go anywhere and fight anyone, you’ll be encouraged to take territory that gives your faction the resources it needs to build bigger and better stuff, giving the map a kind of Civilization-esque territory-control feel. Further, players of a certain rank (or maybe the commander class — again, my memory is a little fuzzy) can assign missions that offer greater rewards than doing random stuff, and if there aren’t any active at the moment, the game will create some automatically. In a sense, it’s like LOTRO‘s Ettenmoors, which is a decent concept but has few goals other than killing the other side and all too often degenerates into one huge stationary battle — that is, when you can work your way around the NPCs, of which there will be none (at least combat-capable) in PS2.
Now, it remains to be seen how “free” the F2P game will be. Cheapskate that I am — and yes, I realize I can get pretty much unlimited “points” or whatever the real-world currency will be called — if Matt’s statement is true about the power differences between beginning and advanced characters, then I might not worry too much about pumping my character up with cash-shop goodies.
The games I’m most looking forward to in the coming months is Guild Wars 2, followed by The Old Republic. I’m mildly interested in The Secret World, but Planetside 2 could push it out and take over the #3 spot on my list. Also, while I never played the original Planetside, I got inside info from the PS2 lead artist, who told me that the Vanu are the best. Take that, Terrans and NC-ers!