I wanted to write about PlanetSide 2, which just released yesterday, and I had originally penned quite a lengthy fan letter about it, but ended up trashing it because I recognized it as having been written during the “honeymoon phase”. Knowing me like I do, it’s a crap shoot as to whether or not I’ll enjoy the game by this time next week, so here’s a post that’s as objective as I can manage.
PS2 is a FPSMMO. You join one of three factions, and you’re unceremoniously deposited in the worst possible location for a player who knows nothing about the game to be dropped — a “hot” war zone There’s action all around: explosions, death, tanks and transports rumbling by, fighter craft and gunships overhead, and a metric fuck-ton of other players, both with and against you.
Your job in the game is simple: capture enemy-held points, and defend your own. And stay alive long enough to hopefully make a difference. That’s the game, in a nutshell, but it’s the road you travel that makes the experience. That experience is measured in terms of points (it’s more like an FPSRPGMMO in that regard), but PS2 is a sandbox FPSRPGMMO: you’re given the tools, and some high-profile options, but it’s up to you to create the stories. Will you be the sole defender of an outpost, sniping enemies from a secure location? Will you spawn a tank and and suppress the enemy defenses? Or will you be a grunt, charging across the field with 50 other players towards an onrushing force of 50 opponents? When all is said and done, the purpose of PS2 is to give YOU the experience that you can tell your friends about, whether you are beaming over a victory, or simmering over a defeat.
I like FPS games OK. I’d pick other genres over them when given a chance, and I usually avoid multiplayer FPS matches because of the reputation of their constituents as being difficult to enjoy. The good thing about PS2 is that the jerk quotient is diluted through sheer numbers (you’re actually more likely to encounter a d-bag on your own team than you will as an opponent). There’s so many people shooting at you or around you that nothing is personal. You’re just another target. On the flip side, though, everything is personal because downed players want revenge. Each knockdown is another mark in the rage column that fuels a greater desire to get back into the fight. Some folks may be coldly calculating the objectives as their goals, but I’d bet that for most, it’s the opportunity to reciprocate an untimely death that keeps people re-spawning.
So, some boring technical details, based on what I sussed out during my time last night.
As a new player, the key thing to remember is to stick with a swarm of teammates. There are so many opponents that lone-wolfing it will result in nothing but a quick trip back to the reformatter. Before you head out, though, check the loadout machines (the pistol icons) and study each option. Each class has it’s strong and weak points, naturally, so find a class you’d like to dedicate yourself to because as you progress, you’ll earn commendation points which can be used to grow your character. These point buckets are divided by class, and also by vehicle, so if you prefer to do nothing but buy vehicles all the time, that’s an option.
I played a medic for a while, and as much as it pains me to say it, medic is a good first choice for a new player for a few reasons. First, medics are essential. Second, medics get XP for healing and getting people off the ground (skull and crossbones), so you’ll be doing this a lot. You don’t have to worry about your accuracy at a distance, because medics work up close. When you see a team member with a green health bar over their head, they’re hurt — undamaged players have no visible health bar. I’d like to say that targeting a medic is a war-crime, but there’s a voice emote to call out enemy medics, so it’ll make you a prime target. Be warned!
I’d advise folks to check the game, even if you’re not a hardcore FPS junkie. Yes, there’s no tutorial. Yes, there will be people who play a lot, who level fast, and who are simply better than you, but I think the selling point of PS2 is in it’s population. When you’re in the middle of a group of other faction members, they’ve got your back: it’s in their best interest to keep one another alive because it’s more guns to lend to the cause. They’re also your meat shields (as you are theirs). Where they go, you go. Where they shoot, you shoot. And when the point soldiers explode in a fountain of rubble, you know to pull up and find cover. If you manage to get a kill, or even an assist, it’s a fantastic feeling…which is usually followed by a bullet to the head, but even that can’t take away how awesome it feels to be part of something on this scale.