Daybreak Game Company
Here’s a recent discussion I had with a friend concerning PlanetSide 2:
“You should try it, Ian. It’s really good and a lot deeper than most people give it credit for,” my friend said, almost pleadingly.
I sighed. “I don’t know—I hear it’s just more or less a Battlefield game with laser guns and stuff…”
“Not at all. It’s a whole lot more advanced than anything like Battlefield, and especially the Call of Duty series, which looks like Counterstrike comparatively speaking.”
“Hmmph. Well maybe I’ll try it,” I concluded.
“And, it’s free. You can’t go wrong there, nothing to lose.”
Except my time—I thought to myself. Well, I did end up trying it and whoa, I’m glad that I finally did.
The original Planetside game came out way back in 2003 for us gaming PC folks. I’ll admit that I did try it but didn’t really care for it. It had clunky controls, bland graphics, and some pretty glaring balance issues. Needless to say, it didn’t last long on my hard drive. I did, however, appreciate the concept; massive full-scale military conflicts between three distinctive factions vying for territorial domination on the planet Auraxis, the game’s main setting.
When I’d heard that Planetside 2 was announced back in 2011 I was mildly intrigued but had so many other games to play on my plate that I never got around to trying it. Now that I logged some time on it I have a new perspective on the series as a whole.
The three same factions are duking it out on the planet Auraxis in massively multiplayer online first person shooter-style (try saying that three times real fast). These conflict have a sort of ebb and flow to them and usually take place across smaller regional engagements as teams of players attempt to invade and take over enemy territorial zones.
The three factions are the Terran Republic, a highly militaristic and expansionist empire who rule their territories with an iron fist, with a very hierarchical, top-down, law-and-order perspective. The New Conglomerate, a loosely organized band of smugglers, outcasts, bushwhackers, and other scurrilous characters (along with some ex-military types) who don’t like authority figures and are therefore are naturally at odds with the Terran Republic. And lastly we have the Vanu Sovereignty, a cabal of religious zealots armed to the teeth with alien technology and weaponry (isn’t that just great?) who are hell-bent on grinding everyone else out under their gleaming heels.
As stated previously, the tide of battle can change over the course of time as games are played across four different continents. Amerish, which is the standard rolling hills/lush vegetation realm. Indar, which is more desert-like. Hossin, full of tropical and jungle environs. Esamir, a Hoth-like expanse of wide open tundra and frostbitten hills. And finally (as of September 2015) Koltyr, which is more or less like Amerish, and was previously available only on the PlayStation 4. As teams of players come to dominate the territories spread across a particular continent they will gain access to a wide variety of bonuses, until one of them have it completely locked it down. Once that happens, play shifts to the next land mass which suddenly comes up for grabs.
Each of the factions can be played across six different classes, including the Infiltrator, Light Assault, Heavy Assault, Medic, Engineer, and Mechanized Assault eXosuit AKA MAX, which is sort of a mini- walking tank. As combat is on a much more massive scale, players who are used to playing larger individual roles in other FPS games may at times feel slightly dwarfed by the sheer enormity of PlanetSide 2’s conflicts.
I was reminded of this several times as, over the course of several large raids, there were so many players involved in the battles that I felt rather insignificant at times. I welcomed this style of play, as it mitigates the amount of glory hounds who like to claim all of the credit for themselves, and also forced team play, as opposed to running off like Rambo and going it alone. The latter would just get you quickly killed. It was times like these, when massive, simultaneous coordination and communications took place, and everyone was working together as they assaulted or defended a position, that PlanetSide 2 really shined. There is nothing like pulling off a well-planned operation, and having succeeded, patting each other on their virtual backs and recounting some of the hairier moments of the battle. It really makes you feel a great sense of mutual comradery and respect, and can deliver a great sense of achievement and payoff.
The graphics have also seen a fresh coat of paint and fully utilize modern gaming PC technology with its powerful Forgelight engine. Missiles streak overhead and bullets and lasers whiz and flash through the air all around you. Character models are suitably detailed and distinct from one another throughout the factions, and you can really set everyone apart by their individual uniforms and stylings. The environments are also very pleasing to look at and each continent has its own distinctive topological characteristics, flora, and fauna. The sounds are also well designed and further help to draw you into Auraxis’s violent proceedings.
In the course of one match, a gamer friend and I joined a twelve man squad and helped to repair vehicles, flew transports operations for teammates, revived friendlies under fire on the battlefield while watching each other’s backs in hot zones, joined in on massive dogfights above the ground action in fighter jets, and stealthily infiltrated an enemy base after sabotaging its defenses and eliminating its guards. At its best points, it felt like we were playing in a science fiction film, only we had a hand in how the movie turned out. That is a rare thing for a game to do; transport you to a different world where you help to dictate how the conflicts are resolved, and have a blast doing it.
Overall, PlanetSide 2 is a real game-changer within the gaming community as a whole. With its sumptuous sound and visuals, engaging gameplay and squad mechanics, thrilling and harrowing, grand-scale combat, and reliance on teamwork, Planetside 2 is a unique experience in gaming, and also has a very helpful community of players willing to teach newbies like me the ropes.
It’s also free, which shouldn’t be the only reason that you play it. There’s nothing like being in the afterglow of a titanic battle that sees your teammate’s hands raised high into the air as you look around and realize that you just won a closely contested, bloody conflict, and that you came out on top…this time, and your expectations for the next one giving you a tingle down your back with anticipation. Moments like these are hard to duplicate, and PlanetSide 2 has them in spades.
Although PlanetSide 2 is already a few years old, it’s truly massive scale can make low to mid-range gaming PCs chug. Show it off to your friends on a new gaming laptop:
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