Have you ever jumped into a TV series halfway through the season, and found that you kind of know what's going and who the major players are, but you've got a lot of catching up to do to understand the nuances of the show? That's how I feel when playing the PlanetSide 2 beta, having a general sense of what to do and where to go but lacking the hard-fought allegiances and knowledge of gameplay minutiae sported by veterans of the original PlanetSide. Granted, PS2 is pretty easy to get into for anyone who plays modern FPS games, and the game's main objective - take over and defend locations in the game's persistent world and troll other players while doing so - is pretty straightforward. Still, the deeper aspects of gameplay, such as tactical squad considerations for attacking a base, best use of vehicles, and small things like the ability to teleport to "hotspot" contested locations for instant action, take some time to get used to.
But I'm learning. New Conglomerate and Terran Republic beware, for the Vanu Sovereignty's newest recruit has a twitchy trigger finger and doesn't like surprises. Actually, the Vanu should be careful as well, because he's a bit liberal with grenades too.
For those who are also new to the game, PS2 is an MMOFPS that features three factions duking it out over controllable territories on huge, persistent maps. There are six classes to choose from, including Infiltrator, Light Assault, Combat Medic, Engineer, Heavy Assault, and Max, each of which having their own approach to gameplay and loadouts to unlock and customize. Also, the game features ground and air vehicles, adding a fun and epic dimension to the FPS combat and a stylish way to get around PS2's massive continents, of which there are three.
The game's first continent, Indar, has been playable in the beta for some time, and has already received some coverage, so I'd like to give an overview of the newly added continent of Esamir. We were invited by Sony Online Entertainment to take a tour of Esamir, which is much more expansive and incorporates a lot of more open areas than Indar. It also has a more consistent environment than the varied regions of Indar, and features a desolate, snowy and rocky terrain with giant crystals and military bases poking through the fog. Esamir is definitely unique from Indar in its landscape, and the SOE team is working on making the continents' capturable bases distinct as well.
We first started out at the Vanu Sovereignty's Warpgate in the northeast corner of Esamir, and were given an aerial tour of the continent in the devs' bulletproof airship - much to the chagrin of other faction members who were hot on our trail and foiled by our invulnerability. Roughly 95% of the map was controlled by the New Conglomerate, which we were assured was due to the beta nature of the server and that we could expect more balanced fights in the launch game. Not to be outdone by an overpowering faction, we decided to make a bid for the North Point Station, and spawned vehicles to make our way across the jagged landscape. Let me tell you, there's nothing quite like rolling six deep in tanks, ATVs, and flying vehicles to take over an objective.
The journey was quite more glamorous than the takeover, however, as we quickly drew the attention of enemy forces in the area, and were beset upon all sides within North Point Station. Rather than enact a drawn-out siege, our tour guides teleported us behind enemy lines in the New Conglomerate territory of the Elli Amp Station, where we proceeded to take down shields and take over the region. It took roughly two minutes for enemy players to recognize the new threat and come after us, hopefully bewildered and wondering how we had gotten so far behind their defenses. What ensued was a tremendously ridiculous and fun firefight where we became ensconced in the station while the shields came back up, allowing New Conglomerate players to enter the building but preventing us from leaving it. I suppose that's fair, considering that we cheated our way into the region.
Overall, Esamir feels a lot more spread out than Indar, and will likely provide a very different pacing to battles and require alternate tactical considerations to those used on the more densely populated continent. Coordinated vehicle attacks are going to be a must, and players might find better opportunities to explore the merits of the game's different classes. Esamir is poised to add more variety to PlanetSide 2's territorial battles, and I'm looking forward to seeing what SOE's third continent will bring to the table as well.
Thanks again to the Sony Online Entertainment team for showing us around Esamir!
On any continent, my favorite thing to do in PlanetSide 2 is take a Flash ATV and barrel through opponent's bases while avoiding enemy fire. What's yours? Let us know in the comments below!