Sorry if that previous post sounded angry somehow, it wasn't, but it might've been the disillusion that I will have to wait some time before experiencing something like Starsiege: Tribes or Tribes 2 again. I have yet to really try out Tribes Ascend but from the few hours I played on my previous computer it felt more deathmatch-oriented than I care for in a Tribes game (it may have been my playing at 20fps more than anything else though, I'll have to try again when time allows).
The problem for me with Planetside 2 wasn't that I got my ass handed to me though (obviously the first few hours running around familiarizing myself I did die a lot but that's to be expected). After that I stuck with a group mostly and tried out various roles and died a lot less (I also tried a little solo exploration, but it's not that fun or rewarding). No, the problem I have with these games is the pervasive feeling that the game is having more fun with me than I am with it. I don't really feel like I'm playing a game, but rather feel like I'm getting played. Not in an interesting way, mind you, but in a real "fuck you, pay me" kind of way.
I should maybe have added that I don't feel there's that much difference between having to play 100 hours or pay 10$ for an unlock, and it seems sadly that this is now the basic philosophy of most free-to-play games. If we're discussing pay-to-win it helps to recognize the fact that time can equal money, because SOE certainly does. And I completely understand that this game needs to make money, but it's quite a shock for me to go from games where you know you're paying to have a fun challenge, to a sort of game where the objective of game is no longer to have fun or be competitive, but rather the game is designed to get players to buy it, subscribe, or spend more real cash. In a game like Starsiege Tribes everything was just there, and the fun of the game was getting better at everything and learning (to make use of) the environments, whereas here, I will have to put in some 40 hours before even discovering if this game is for me or not, if it offers the sort of complexity I thought it offered. I'm not sure this makes it a skill-based game, it seems more important to just put in time than to discover new ways of playing (obviously you discover more ways of playing as you put in more time, but a major part of the incentive seems lost). Personally I would much rather spend those 40 hours of discovery on actually having fun with other games I have yet to play, instead of gradually falling out with the game's mechanical qualities. To compound matters I think the environments can look stunning, but as you'll find out when using a jetpack (or even any bouncy land-based vehicle), they're more form than function at the moment.
The more of these types of games I play ("MMOs" by which I really mean compulsive games, which is different than games so fun or interesting they're addictive), the more I'm seeing that while free-to-play makes (a lot of) sense from a business and revenue point of view, it can conflict with and mess up gameplay in really serious and jarring ways. And really that sentence is just a nice and euphemistic way of saying that compulsive gaming is probably one of the most lucrative and completely unchecked ways of capitalist enterprise. Hey, of course, it totally beats people getting addicted to heroine but that's in all likelihood one of the very few good things there is to say about it, I think.
In story-based games this usually means content-lockout (as in, not all of the story is accessible) but in competitive and cooperative games like PS2, free-to-play shifts the focus of the game from "getting better at it" to "playing more to unlock more so you can play more and spend more" (all the while hopefully finding out if the game is up your alley). Consequently, "getting better at it" doesn't really matter that much any more, or at least plays second fiddle. It used to be; if a game is fun, you enjoy playing it. Now with this it's more like; play the game to discover that it might be fun if you spend a lot more time and a little money on it. I haven't played many free-to-play games, but I'm beginning to understand the grievances people seem to have with the mechanics it usually brings to the table. I guess also I might just be getting old in my twenties.
Long story short, this game is not for me, and it's almost the polar opposite of what I hoped it'd be from reading RPS. I also have some other irks with it; the "flight-model" is non-existent (and ground vehicles aren't any better, in fact vehicles are fairly horrible) the occasionally beautiful environments are mostly for show, everything feels like an amalgamation of stuff I've played before (but had fun with) like Tribes, Unreal Tournament, Battlezone etc. but without a cohesive core. It doesn't help that it's effectively all a big circle-jerk, there's no feeling of reward in victory (or defeat or anything in between) but the apathetic sigh of perpetual battle simulation where players chase XP. I wish I'd have found a redeeming quality but the only thing that comes to mind is; different people, different strokes. Though if compulsive games rub you the wrong way, this perhaps isn't for you. It's easy enough to try out so don't let this post stop you.