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PlanetSide 2 Previews: Taking a FragTour with the NC

By Michael Bitton on August 30, 2012

Let me come out and say it: I’m a Barney at heart. The Vanu Sovereignty will likely be my faction of choice whenever PlanetSide 2 goes live, but in the interest of seeing how the other side lives, I recently got together with the good folks at SOE and other members of the press for a New Conglomerate ‘FragTour’.

If you’re unfamiliar with the New Conglomerate, or NC, it’s a faction that believes in brute force and heavy armor above all else and this is reflected in its armaments. Each faction also features a number of unique vehicles and as an NC you’ll be able to take control of the heavy Vanguard tank and the versatile Reaver air vehicle.

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Our adventure began aboard PlanetSide 2’s workhorse troop transport, the Galaxy, a massive air vehicle that can hold up to 12 occupants when fully upgraded. The Galaxy is no slouch in combat, either. It’s heavily armed and armored and can thus hold up under and return fire when flying into a hot landing zone. The Galaxy also serves as a mobile spawn point, a significant asset that ensures soldiers can get back into a tough fight as long as it remains in play.  Flying high above the map, I was immediately wowed by the game’s stunning visuals. Even though I’ve seen the game in action multiple times already, I’ve always come away impressed. This is especially true for the amazing lighting capabilities of the game’s proprietary ‘Forgelight’ engine. Put simply, if you’ve got the machine to crank this game to the max, you’re in for a visual treat.

We first raided Vanu Sovereignty controlled Tech Plant for a bit of an introduction to capturing a major outpost. It’s important to note that the Galaxy we flew in on only spawns at Tech Plants, so being in control of these facilities is crucial to your faction’s capabilities. Unfortunately, no one showed up to defend the base once we began our assault (we came in through the top via the Galaxy), but this gave us the time to clearly examine the layout of the place and get the gist of taking a facility. Generally, a base consists of a number of points that must be controlled in order to flip control of the base to your faction. But there are other elements to consider as well. For example, bases also feature spawning stations which can be used by the controlling faction to rapidly respond to the attack by spawning in to defend the base. There are also shield generators that control the shielded ground entrances to the base.  PlanetSide 2 designer Adam Klegg noted to us that the shields were still up since we inserted into the base from the top level. If we were to come in via the ground level, the shields would have had to be disabled first.

Later on in our tour we assaulted a Vanu controlled Bio Lab, though we were largely unsuccessful in this effort and our Galaxy was destroyed. Fortunately, this gave us an opportunity to try out some other tactics, including putting together a tank column of heavy Vanguard tanks, and eventually another column of fast-attack light Lightning tanks. Grouping together with other players and rolling into a base in force with a bunch of tanks is a thrilling experience for sure, but planning is important, as all vehicles feature both a resource cost to spawn and lengthy cooldowns (though the latter can be almost removed outright through use of the game’s Certifications system).

As our tour winded down to a close, most of us decided to break up a bit and just explore some of the game’s other options. I opted to give the heavily armored MAX suit a spin, equipping it with dual scattercannons for infantry destroying fun. While playing in a MAX suit you move significantly slower than any of the other infantry classes, but you do have access to a Charge ability that allows you to cross short distances quickly. MAX suits are also tough to kill and feature modular weapon systems attached to each arm. As far as controls go, right clicking fires your right arm while left clicking fires the left arm. Both arms can be fired simultaneously, too, and this is particularly fun when using the scattercannons and waltzing down a hallway full of Vanu troops. I felt like the suit dished out enough damage to kill the poor bastards 12 times before they hit the floor.  The MAX suit can also equip flamethrowers (among other things), but alas, I didn’t have enough points to unlock them in the game’s store. I’m generally more of an Infiltrator player, but playing the MAX suit really hit the spot when it comes to throwing caution to the wind and going in guns blazing.

I’ve seen and played PlanetSide 2 a number of times, but my participation in this recent ‘FragTour’ really opened my eyes to the potential for the ‘PlanetSide 2 moments’ I’ve fantasized about in my head. As a long time Battlefield fan, PlanetSide 2 really excites me for its potential to meet and exceed the Battlefield experience as an MMO with its persistent qualities and three-faction warfare.

PlanetSide 2 is really coming along at this point and it’s abundantly clear to me that SOE has the potential for a real winner on deck with this free-to-play MMO shooter. Be sure to stay tuned to MMORPG.com as we’ll be covering the game (and streaming!) as we draw closer to the game’s (still unannounced) launch date.

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