One of the most fascinating aspects of warfare is terrain. Planetside 2 takes their maps very seriously and the new continent of Esamir is an incredible site to behold. Snow and ice is the best way to describe this landscape. It offers players a much different experience than the other zones and brings out the true feel of warfare on a frozen continent. With fewer resources for the players to fight over and some amazing art and graphics, Esamir will challenge the players to some serious tests when making choices in PvP combat.
First off, the landscape itself is a challenge. Snow and ice create a very difficult landscape to fight over. We spoke to Tramell Ray Isaac about the design and he was very excited to point out the challenges ice can bring to combat. I asked right away how vehicles will be impacted and he explained that with tanks you should be fine; however other land vehicles may run into some issues. The ground impacts how you drive and how you approach targets. There are plenty of roads through and bridges over frozen lakes. Trammell feels that these will be choke points on the battlefield. He did say that you can cross the frozen lakes, but you take a risk each time. This feature really makes players think about their attacks.
We then asked the team about camouflage and how that will play into the map. They are working on snow designs for the continent and players will be able to access them and take advantage of them in Esamir. The key is that the landscape doesn’t offer too much cover. There are frozen wastes and mountains to fight over and but not a lot of cover. To compensate for this, the team designed a lot of trench warfare around objectives. The trenches are set up like mazes around the main points and players will have to fight through them to claim the few resources the zone offers. So with the snow blind effect, the mountainous terrain, and the trenches players will find themselves in a very different environment to do battle. Not to mention the ice causing the vehicles issues.
The other part of Esamir’s design that is so critical is distance. Like in the actual north things are sparse. So resources are plotted out in different locations, but the map is larger than the other zones. Players will have to make use of vehicles and figure out the best travel routes to get to where they need to go. The main objectives in the zone are broken out and further apart than in the rest of the game. Tramell explained that while other zones have seven or nine objectives, Esamir will only have about five. Because resources are so scarce in this landscape, they wanted to show that in the gameplay too. With less resources and further distances to travel, it will be very tricky to make decisions quickly and then travel to the areas you need to defend or attack.
I was very impressed with the artwork and ideas that the PS2 team came up with for a zone like this. I asked Tramell how easy it would be to go from zone to zone and he said you can gate around as much as you want. So if the north gets too cold for you, you can always go to Indar or one of the other continents to fight.
Another issue that was address on the call was why the team only chose one planet to start with. PlanetSide is all about starting small and growing big. The idea of terraforming one planet allowed the team to focus on continents and zones more carefully. It also made the game easier to control from a design standpoint. The team does have big plans for the game’s future after launch and looks to continually grow the universe for years. Eventually there could be new planets to terraform and battle over. This is something the team is looking forward to down the line, however for now they are focusing on the specifics of this first world and the detailed maps for players.
We cannot wait to see what else the team comes up with for Planetside 2. Have you been in the beta? What do you think of the game so far? Leave us a comment and let us know!