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A Veteran’s Comparison – Part Two

Derek Czerkaski Posted:
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Capture vs. Capture and Hold (Experience Points Gain)

There are 2 entirely different philosophies in effect for PS1 and PS2. PS1 utilized the approach of "If you can hack it, you can have it". Essentially, if you were able to clear the enemy out of their control console, and a hacker could hack the base, then it became yours the second it finished the hack. PS2 utilizes the approach of "Not only do you have to hack it, but you have to HOLD a majority stake of the base for at least 5 minutes". In other words, merely hacking a base/waypoint isn't good enough; you're going to have to lock it down after you're done. There are multiple problems with this philosophy, especially in regards to the way that it has been implemented in PS2.

A) Base-owning isn't absolute.

Being on the attacking side in PS1 meant you were as good as your offense's ability to disrupt and disable the enemy spawns. To explain this better, you were only as good as your team's ability to quickly and mercilessly destroy the enemy team's vehicle pads, respawn tubes, and mobile spawn points. This was a very important feature, because a well-planned attack would allow multiple approaches to capturing bases. You could have a forward squad of hackers head out to the next enemy base, and start blowing up their respawn tubes and their respawn stations in advance. This way, after you captured a base, when the enemy got pushed back, they'd be at a serious disadvantage. You could MAX crash a base, and destroy everything in it, and lock down a respawn room. You could have have a series of Engineer-like players move ahead and lock a base down with traps (mining the terrain, claymoring the hallways). This was all possible because you could absolutely destroy and disrupt an enemy's spawning.

In PS2, Spawn rooms are locked down. Yes, you can camp doors with snipers, explosives, traps, etc... but if that's possible, why not just make it so tubes are able to be destroyed anyway? There's legitimately a force-field blocking you out of the respawn room in PS2. This makes successful offensives THAT MUCH MORE DIFFICULT! Not only do you have to enter heavily fortified bases, and then manage to clear out additonal waves of enemies, you have to capture a base (when your nearest respawn point could be anywhere from 50-500 meters away) while enemy defenders are popping out every 3 seconds, from 10 meters away, for 5 full minutes. Does this seem like a problem? It is. It's because there isn't a respawn timer penalty in place yet; which gives the already-advantageous defenders an even bigger cushion.

B) The base-capture timers ruin the game and the immersion factor.

Planetside is a PvP based game. There are no NPC's, no quests, etc. So why in God's name are there time limits?

Yes, that's right, there are "base capture time limits" in PS2. The second you successfully hack a waypoint of a multi-waypointed base, it starts a timer. The timer, effectively the "hold these points for 5 minutes" indicator, starts ticking up slowly, based on how many of the said waypoints you have and can hold. As if offense isn't incredibly challenging as it is, navigating through fields of tanks, invisible snipers, range-less and accurate assault rifle fire, and near-instant respawns, now you have to do it all within a few minutes. What happens if you don't successfully hack and hold a majority claim of the waypoints? All the hard work you put in is instantly negated! The defending team is instantly and immediately returned ALL captured waypoints, and the hack has to start over again entirely.

This concept not only destroys intense fire-fights, it destroys the in-game immersion. There is absolutely nothing less satisfying in the game than being in an intense and heated firefight, which you've battled for an hour to make headway, only to finally capture that first waypoint... and realize you just started a timer. Congratulations! Your hour-long effort to get in hasn't been in vain... so long as you capture and hold all the other points in the next few minutes. If you don't succeed in this, you'll be promptly "kicked out" by the system, throwing all the waypoints back to the defending team, and effectively resetting the fight. It's an awful concept, and in my strongest opinion, is a game-breaking feature that should never have been implemented in the first place. Battles don't need time limits.

C) Fixed experience point gain vs. Escalating experience point gain

This is another large philosophical difference between PS1 and PS2. In PS1, if you were in a large-scale battle that raged on for hours upon hours, the experience point bonus for a "capture" would slowly scale upwards. I am not a mathematician, nor do I have the algorithm used, but let me provide an example. If you were fighting a small-scale, 20 v 20 battle for 50 minutes, you might acquire 2000 experience points for the capture of that base in Planetside 1. By that same token, if you were in a 4 hour, 300 v 300 fight that had raged on all throughout the night, and you captured that base, you might see a 20,000 experience point gain reward for the capture. In a sense, this mechanism passively encouraged players to get involved with the large-scale fights, leading to some truly epic and memorable battles at bridges, towers, etc.

In PS2, experience rate is fixated at 500 exp for a capture of a facility, and 100 exp for a waypoint. It doesn't take into account how much activity is happening at the facility, and the rate is always the same. In other words, you could fight a 500 v 500 fight for 5 hours, and you're still getting 500 experience points. Or, you could go and back-hack a base that is deserted, and assuming you're not detected or interrupted; you'll also get 500 points. While this isn't necessarily a terrible way to make sure the population spreads out, what I've noticed is that there aren't as many large-scale conflicts going on as often. Why get involved in 1, 500 v 500 fight for 500 exp when you could go backhack 5 enemy bases with light resistance for 2500 exp?

In my opinion, these are 3 major gameplay changes that should be potentially reversed, because PS1, while not perfect in its implementation, did it better than its successor has thus far. Timers in particular no business in the game! Players are supposed to feel like they're in a war, not doing a time trial (a la Goldeneye) for clearing a base. To me, war needs to feel like war; absolute. Not only did the above features make sense, but it created a sense of immersion that you were in a real battle, and it rewarded your participation and involvement in the battles of the war.

In Closing...

While there is still plenty more to discuss in relation to the game, these were some of the major comparative points I wanted to illustrate for the potential playerbase. I'd like to reiterate yet again that the game is still in beta, and many points made here are likely to be negated and changed in the next few months!

In a matter of personal opinion, having played the game for around 3 weeks now, I'm actually not sold on it yet. Having played the original Planetside for 4 years, while also including in my top 5 list for favorite all-time online games, PS2 is missing something. I could pick up PS1 and play it for hours at a time, literally melting hours off the clock without even realizing it. With PS2, I'll play it at most 2 hours a day. I don't agree with many of the conceptual changes at all (most notably, the base-capture timers) and feel like they've detracted from the game rather than enhancing it.

It reminds me, in its present state, of a plain hamburger. It's still a hamburger, and a delicious juicy one at that, but it leaves me wondering "...where's the cheese and the ketchup?" It plays similar to most shooters out there, which isn't a bad thing, but this is an MMOFPS, not an FPS, and as it stands, it just feels like it's lacking in a lot of different areas. However, this game is one of just a handful of MMOFPS to ever be produced, and it needs to bring more to the table than your run-of-the-mill FPS. I think something that should be particularly mentioned is the lack of emphasis on community, which is more of an MMO aspect than the FPS aspect, but important nonetheless.

That being said, I'll continue to play the game! I have enjoyed myself for the most part, and it's still a sequel to one of my most beloved franchises. I think that the devs are doing a good job of listening to player feedback, and that as the game continues to tighten up, a more solid base of players will enter and stay with the game, effectively creating a community. If you haven't given it a whirl, or would like to get into the action, head on over to their official website. You can sign up for the beta, or if you've got an itchy trigger-finger, buy access to the beta (which actually rewards you with $40 in Sony Cash anyway!). I highly recommend that all Planetside veterans give the game a look, and I'd love to hear your feedback on some of the changes discussed in this article!


Derek Czerkaski