The word for the day was “Hossim,” a portmanteau of “awesome” and the new continent of Hossin, which was released for PlanetSide 2 last week.
Well, it was mostly released. That was the first topic of discussion during a livestream Q&A with the PS2 devs that we sat in on Tuesday. Labeled as an “Early Expedition,” Hossin is a work in progress, a kind of early access expansion for the game that still needs a fair bit of work.
“With Hossin, we actually decided to release it a little bit earlier than we normally would,” said Lead Designer Luke Sigmund. “We wanted to get players’ feedback as soon as possible.” It’s not surprising, given SOE’s stance on getting frequent and early feedback from players on in-development games like Landmark and H1Z1; they’re just extending the concept to new content for existing games.
“It takes us probably two to three good weeks just to get a basic outpost created,” said Creative Director Matt Higby. Several outpost designs on Hossin are duplicated, and the team hopes to introduce more variety in the coming months, but, seeing how long Hossin has been promised, they didn’t want to hold back the entire continent while making final tweaks to the outposts. “But one of the cool things,” Higby added, “is that since we’ve released this, a lot of people have said they actually like these bases that we thought we were going to completely re-do!”
In the same way that Amerish, with its many hills and rough terrain, is a little tougher on ground vehicles than Indar or Esamir, Hossin requires greater skill from air vehicles. An extensive canopy of trees helps hide and shelter ground targets, forcing Liberators and other planes to take greater risks to be able to rain down their usual copious helpings of missiles and bombs. And, contrary to my first impression, Hossin isn’t dank and sullen and utterly devoid of sunshine. It’s “moody” and “atmospheric.” Sure, we’ll go with that.
Continent locking was also a major addition in the Hossin update, and the team plans to expand in the system further by introducing “adversarial alerts,” which will introduce a scenario where one empire is tasked to capture a continent while the other two are required to stop them.
The last significant additions with the update were outfit-related, with players now being able to use an in-game tool to search for an outfit to join and outfits being able to claim bases they capture by virtue of their members outscoring all other outfits during the capture. Right now, the benefits to base capture are just having your outfit’s decal show up on the flags deployed on the base, but the guys are in talks to provide in-game benefits for the capturing outfit.
Hossin’s a big update, but there’s more to come. The July roadmap has plans for directives, a kind of achievement system that rewards players for diversity. “It’s going to really enhance our current medal system,” Sigmund said. “It’s going to track your medal earnings on each of your weapons [and other stuff, like vehicles, base capture, etc.] and give you new goals for each of your classes.” He gave the example of getting top ranking on six different assault rifles that would unlock “a pretty awesome reward.” It’s a long-term goal that’s designed to get people to try out (and purchase, of course!) a variety of different items.
The July update should also buff Sunderers, making them more survivable, both in terms of armor/weapons and options like stealth, while also introducing the “respawn at last location” option. August brings the Valkyrie aircraft, a.k.a. “the Harasser of the skies,” which has room for a pilot, gunner, and two passengers in exterior seats who can fire hand weapons.
Weather or not?
Yesterday, John Smedley posted an intriguing Tweet and screenshot from H1Z1 that hinted at weather effects coming not only to the zombie-survival game but also to PlanetSide 2.
yeah. snow too. also weather is coming to PS2 as well as H1Z1 pic.twitter.com/3LIUJ5ph41
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) June 30, 2014
I wasn’t expecting much, but when I asked about it, Matt Higby confirmed it as something they’ve been “really excited about for a long time.” He gave examples such as sandstorms or fog banks that affect visibility, volumetric clouds or smoke rising up from big battles, or electrical storms that might disrupt your minimap or make shields less effective. They’re committed to not letting the pretty effects override the need for a smooth ride, though, and don’t want to implement weather until they can make it work and not be detrimental to the vast majority of players’ performance. Optimization is a priority, to the point that they’ll soon have “a dedicated group of coders who are always going to be 100% dedicated to solving performance issues,” Higby said.
PlayStation 4 development is also coming along, as was discussed at E3. “The iteration that we’re getting on the user interface is really exciting,” Sigmund said. “We’re starting to get real usability, and that’s, to me, the biggest piece for us to get PlanetSide 2 on the PS4. Of course, everything we’re doing for the PS4 translates over to the PC. As we’re making improvements to performance [on PS4], the PC game is benefiting from that as well.”
It may never be sunny on Hossin, but at least PlanetSide 2’s future direction is a few degrees less murky.
By Jason Winter