The last time I went to SOE Live/Fan Faire, in 2011, PlanetSide 2 was all the hotness. We got our first look at screenshots and in-game footage utilizing the Forgelight engine, and there were tons of eager questions and savory answers.
This time around, things were a little more subdued. It's the Year of EverQuest, after all, and the EQ properties, especially Next and Landmark, definitely seemed more prominent, and much of the information covered in our presser was already covered in our group chat from last month.
One thing that was made officially official was that we'll be getting PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4. Early access is scheduled to commence before the end of the year, and, if SOE can translate the success of DC Universe Online (the #1 revenue-generating F2P title on PlayStation Network) to PlanetSide 2 on consoles, it could be a huge it.
Just don't expect to play in any PC vs. console wars in PlanetSide 2; the two games will be separate. That's not because of any inherent technical incapabilities, but because, as Creative Director Matt Higby put it, because approval of content patches for PSN have to go through a separate process that could take days or even weeks if something isn't quite right. This process isn't needed for PCs, which means that SOE can patch the game whenever they want. Introducing a delay – even a short one – would potentially make the two versions of the game incompatible with each other.
Many of the other conversation topics, like the Squad Mentoring system, meant to encourage people to play with low-BR players and enhancements to the mission system, such as letting leaders create their own missions, are on the Roadmap. That's part of what Higby said is the focus on making the game more approachable and accessible.
There are a few things, however, I learned about that I couldn't find the Roadmap. We'll be getting three new empire-specific buggies, the Thresher (VS), Marauder (TR), and Enforcer (NC), giving players more ways to get around in style.
Another cool upcoming addition to the game will be the implementation of objectives separate from the base capture points that can be attacked to deprive the controlling empire of resources and starve them into submission. As Lead Designer Luke Sigmund told me in our one-on-one, “There are going to be objects out in the world that you can assault and they'll give you resources that you can transfer to another base to drop off... We're talking about having them out in the world and making them a more vehicle-centric objective.” So, as it's currently drawn up – and it was stressed that this is all just on the drawing board right now – it would be a way to contribute to your empire through skilled driving more than through twitchy combat. Neat.
As for the recent direction of the game, you might have noticed that it's a little less “open” than it used to be. Sure, you can still go anywhere, but with the lattice system and continent locking, it seems like there's a conscious attempt to funnel players into battles at various locations.
Sigmund agreed. “We got a lot of feedback early that it was too hard to find a good fight. So all the stuff we've done is just to get people in an area together so that it's easier to find those big fights that make PlanetSide fun.”
As a player since beta, it's not hard to see how the game has developed. From the start, it's been better than most any MMO in that, even when it's a big 50 vs. 50 (or more) fight, there's often room for individual heroism. Sure, you sometimes just get into a tank zerg that's farming the spawn point, but the wide areas and huge bases generally allow for players to spread out more and engage in a bunch of small-scale battles, rather than having a hundred-plus players clustered around a single point.
“I think that's because of our level design, to be honest,” Sigmund said. “We build every base, every level to facilitate that number of people. We've done our best to learn lessons of what just doesn't work [from other large-scale PvP games] and do things that work instead.”
Novel concept, that. So crazy, it might just work.
About the Author
Jason Winter is a veteran gaming journalist, he brings a wide range of experience to MMOBomb, including two years with Beckett Media where he served as the editor of the leading gaming magazine Massive Online Gamer. He has also written professionally for several gaming websites.
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