Planetside 2 has quite a learning curve and does almost no system explanation, so I thought we could use a thread for facts, tips, tricks, issues, and so on that were learned the hard way or researched.
The first time logging in with a new character, prepare to be spawned directly into a hot-zone against your better judgement while being lectured to. This is a bit stupid, and very dangerous, so do be more careful. Using the instant action redeployment is basically the same thing, minus the lecture, but you can pick your destination.
You're allowed 3 characters maximum across all servers and can play for only one faction on each server. Character names must be unique.
Weapon certification costs are insane and the system is designed so it's effectively impossible to unlock everything. Sony desperately wants you to spend cash on weapons or buy monthly memberships or boosts. Things you pay cash for are not unlocked globally, only on that specific character! There is no transferring characters between servers.
You get 1 cert per 250xp, and some passive income when offline (Edit x2: up to 8 per day per character, but you have to log in). Loadout slots are unlocked at Battle Rank's 5 and 15. You need to equip suit and vehicle weapon upgrades to your loadouts. Grenades cost infantry resource points and must be purchased in the loadout config. There are lots of 1 and 10 point certs you can pick up right away for the class perks and vehicle weapons.
You can get a free 1/2 hour trial of any weapon, once every 8 hours, by going to the class loadout, weapon select, "get more" button, pick a gun, unlock, select trial, and finally equip it to a loadout. You cannot re-trial the same weapon for 30 days. A trial is lost if the server restarts, but the cooldown timers still apply.
The Sunderer APC deployable spawn mode is a 50 point cert, squad leader spawn beacon costs 30, and Galaxy transport "force drop" that ejects all troops is 300.
Learn the map icons and control points -> influence -> capture system. This guide to the basics is handy, but also dated (the resources section is inaccurate). Things like teleporters can be captured, shield generators disabled, and terminals hacked. These are important for big base assaults.
The deployment menu does not show influence levels or vehicle spawner locations, so use the big map for intelligence before heading out. If you can't spawn with your squad, make sure you're on the right continent. The minimap is hard to read, but you can zoom it, and red dots will appear where enemies are spotted or noisy.
The MAX suit can only be equipped from an infantry terminal, and not from the deployment menu. There is a free right-handed Anti-Air cannon for the MAX, so equip a second loadout with this.
There are no other free AA weapons available at the start besides the MAX one, but some bases have AA turrets you can use. Flying a fighter is useful once you learn the controls, and it helps to be an engineer (to repair it) or a Light Assault (to jetpack safely if you have to bail).
The default enter/exit key "E" can be re-bound on air vehicles so you don't accidentally jump and plummet to your death while trying to dogfight.
Friendly fire is always on, and friendly ID popups are sometimes slow, so pay attention to model appearances and use the spotting key (Q by default).
Spawning a vehicle will force it to self-drive off the pad, and FF roadkills will happen as a result. Please be tolerant if this happens to you. Destroying my tank and killing me for spite does not help. Don't walk in front of vehicle spawners when someone is at the terminal.
Headshots are double damage. The knife takes 2-3 hits to kill, but may be more lethal from behind. I don't know if knife hits to the head are better. Tanks are vulnerable to side hits, and especially vulnerable to the rear.
The Light Assault's jetpack will break if you die while holding the jump/fly button. The only fix is to logout.
You must invite a player in order to form a new squad and can't start one solo.