Magnificent And Important Advent Calendar: Day 18

The heavens align on the eighteenth day. So it was written, so it shall pass. And when the great conjunction occurs, then the enpurpling of the world shall be complete. And no-one shall say that dub-step is over-used in trailers. Because it will be the music of the heavens, and the angels shall open their mouths to utter “Wub Wub Wub”. And we will shall be merry.

Yes, the eighteenth day of the ultimate calendar speaks of infinite conflict. But what is it?

It’s… Planetside 2!

Jim: The most thrilling thing about 2012, for me at least, was that this wasn’t my top multiplayer experience. While much of my time is spent playing and thinking about single-player games, it’s always the games where I am up against other people that really engage me. No matter what other games and game designers accomplish, there still remains the unyielding fact that working with and against other people – especially when games are complex and intricate – heightens much of what gaming means to me. To duel and defeat other human intelligences (and to co-operate with friends and strangers in doing do) remains the most rewarding aspect of gaming for my psyche. Consequently I had firmly anticipated Planetside 2 being the game that took the largest part of my attention in 2012. But that wasn’t to be.

Nevertheless, what SOE have done here, in what is largely an overhaul and remake of the original game for today’s market (F2P) and today’s gaming PCs (lots of demand on both CPU and GPU, and a beautiful, enormous world that I’ve used to awe and shame console-owning chums) that is faithful to the original vision of a true MMOFPS. And that has disappointed some – they have pointed to the lack of real change between this game and what we had in 2003 – and perhaps the naysayers are right. In terms of providing something More and New for the MMO world, it fails, at least for now. But I don’t or can’t care. I am too busy indulging my love of imaginary space war on the fine vitas PS2’s three lavish battle-continents.

It’s a game that only rehashes a vision, but it’s also a game that actually seems to wield the technology to draw and deliver the game we’d originally seen hinted at.

That vision, of course, comes with numerous problems. Not least of these is that so many people bounce off the game entirely. It’s unforgiving, complex, and without a real win condition. It’s better thought of, I think, as a giant deathmatch/objective-based FPS server. But when it’s understood like that, we tend to imagine we can solo, tend to imagine that we can “win” a game, or something. Planetside doesn’t work like that. And that will cause some people to argue that it doesn’t work at all.

But it does. At least when it gets things right. When the pieces fall into place. That’s not necessarily what you want to hear, but I think this is one of those games that plays a good tune most of the time, but just occasionally improvises its way into the sublime. To understand that, you have to be there.

The point about this game for me, though, is in the spectacle, and in the vast array of tools that are laid out for battle, and the ways in which they can interlock in an vast alphabet of possible engagements. The experience of attacking a lightly defended base with a few infiltrators is so different to a battle between two tank-columns in a mountain pass, that they could almost be different games. The palette here is broad unto breaking point, and that means it’s going to be a fount of stories and anecdotes as the soldiers of Planetside come up with battles which defy expectation.

I’ve not yet done a WIT for the game. And that’s because I know that, in part, I’d just end up reeling off battle stories. Viewing closely, at a purely mechanistic level, so much is broken or wrong. There are features which just don’t function as intended, a myriad of skills which are not working or are unworkable, UI issues, “feel” issues, readability issues, all kinds of problems. None of that has mattered to me because of the “OMG this happened!” factor of it. Balancing that in a review is probably what I should be doing, but I’d rather just push this one at people and say “try it!”. You know, that’s going to be the issue with free games, isn’t it? That it’s too easy for lazy writers like me to suggest you should at least try it out. But in this case I think it’s valid. If you don’t like it, fair enough. I love it.

Planetside 2’s evolution will define its legacy, but its launch has been enormously entertaining.


  1. P7uen says:

    Thank the gods I got a friend addicted to PS with me this time, makes for huge amounts more fun. And thank the gods he was sensible and chose TR.

    • Phantoon says:

      Yes. Vanu are a less acceptable, but stomachable option.

      NC are scum.

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    • Machinations says:

      The game is absolutely stunning – an amazing accomplishment, the game we have all been waiting for. Work remains to be done, howver. More vehicles, more continents and a better metagame are all required.

      Beware as well; lots of children particularly, though some adults, seem to think they are FPS gods because they get killstreaks in CoD or a collection of hats in TF2 (mind, I have about 400 hours logged and bought TF2 day of release)

      So, expect to run into a lot of whiners and complainers who, basically, suck – and instead of facing that fact, trash the game. It seems the whining goes on about everything, from the fact that an aircraft killed them (THE HORROR!) to the fact the enemy has bullets and fights back.

      If you ignore the poor sports – and especially if playing with friends or an outfit – it is a terrific game.

  2. mpk says:

    I tried, I really did, but it just didn’t grab me.

    • xavdeman says:

      I think that’s because of the feeling of detachment the game has.
      There are two elements to this:
      Firstly, your character and other characters feel detached from the game world. This is in one part by the static animations. Look, we’re not expecting Eurphoria engine stuff here, or Frostbite 2.0 style FIFA-esque animations. Even good precooked ones like CoD would be a huge improvement, because they are much more diverse than the ones in PS2.
      Secondly: you are detached from your character. This is in part because of the overal detachment of your character with the world of the game, but also by the sluggish nature of the first-person view, that conveys an overall feeling of slowness both in the way your character moves, and handles his tools (guns, mostly). The kickback, sounds, etc. all feel very… muted compared to other games. Not once will this suspend your disbelief, or dare I say it, yes I dareth: immerse you in the game world.
      Overall I must conclude that the gameplay mechanics, mainly controls (as in: how your character is controlled and reacts to you and what happens in the world of the game) are just not up to par.

      • Koozer says:

        I must disagree with every one of your points. I don’t see how the animations are off at all, but I can’t argue with more variety, whatever that would mean. It’s no Unreal Tournament, but movement feels a hell of a lot less sluggish than the likes of Battlefield 3, and the gun sounds and recoil feel meaty enough for me. I don’t know what you mean by a feeling of being disconnected from the world though.

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        gritz says:

        Mmmmm… nope, not really.

    • Cooper says:

      If you want immersion or the game to grab you, then think about joining the RPS outfits.

      It is said a lot about so many games, but in PS2 it has never been more true: The game is vastly, vastly better played as a part of a group. Played solo, or part of a public group that’s not being ocmmunicative / friendly, and the game is alienating, cold and awkward. But the shoddy animations and massive barriers to entry that are a shit UI and poor communication of what’s going on just disappear as issues when rolling about with others.

      We’re a friendly bunch that don’t take things too seriously yet are more than capable of incredibly impressive feats:
      link to

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        I wonder, is it a design issue when your game basically requires you to join a structured group just to enjoy it? I don’t think so, but it’s a thought. I think it’s more a choice, really. It aims the game squarely at a specific sort of social gamer, and basically does nothing to draw in folks like me who actively dislike joining a guild/clan/squad.

        See, my problem is that due to my personality, if I join your guild I feel *really responsible* to be a good member, to be on when I say I will, and to stay on late into the night when I really have other stuff to do. The end result is that I find the whole experience stressful and an imposition.

        On the other hand, I really like being part of a loose community, say by frequenting certain FPS servers, because there’s never that feeling that I need to be on at this time, or that by logging off I’m letting the team down.

        In short, I don’t think I’ll ever enjoy PS2 because I refuse to engage with the most fundamental component of its social game. On one hand that sort of sucks for me (and SOE will never get my money), but on the other hand I respect them for making a game that doesn’t cater to people who fundamentally just aren’t a good fit for the game.

        • Kuraudo says:

          Yes, because singleplayer mmo’s don’t hold people for long.

        • Machinations says:

          I play with a group of friends.

          That said, I often lone wolf. You don`t need a group to enjoy Planetside2, you just need to know what you are doing.

          I don`t get this attitude – i am playing a MASSIVELY MULTIPLAYER game – but I don`t want to play with others..

          logic error

  3. Celt says:

    My main issue with PS2 is just…it’s lack of scope. There doesn’t seem to be anyone who created the game who actually tried implement some sort of overall design to the game. Balance (generally) seems good, the continents seem pretty well crafted, but there’s no overarching design vision. It’s just instant action over 3 continents (except it only ever seems to be bloody one!).

    For an MMOFPS, it fails at the MMO part and feels more like a linked series of Tribes battles. PS1 was more than this, and PS2 is a lesser game for me. More technically advanced but lesser in every other way.

    Shame :(

    • Jhoosier says:

      Not having played the first one, could you elaborate on this?

      Occasionally I wish there were a way to push a faction off a continent by taking their warp gate, or perhaps ‘win’ a server by conquering everything. But then I’m off again having too much fun to think about it.

      • Celt says:

        Without writing a (pointless) essay, it’s easiest summed up this way:
        In Planetside 1, the game was built and balanced from the ground up on the idea that battlegrounds were vast, mobile and shifting. That a battle would begin on one continent, slowly lock it down and progress through that continent on to the next. The differing respawn timers, being much harder to spawn vehicles/aircraft, having ‘home’ continents etc :> all designed to make each battle and each victory important.

        In Planetside 2, it seems to be balanced and designed to make each fight as ‘fun’ and easy to get to as possible. There’s no layer above that. Sure you move on to the next outpost or whatever, and sure you need to link up territory, but the focus is always on the battle.

        So, as I said, I feel like they lost the MMO but improved on the FPS.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          Interesting. I never played the first game, but the pattern you describe (downplay potentially “frustrating” macro level mechanics in favor of those which enable immediate gratification) is common enough in contemporary game design that it makes sense. “We need to make it easier for player to just drop in and play, if it’s too hard to spawn vehicles they’ll get frustrated,” etc.

          The one similar point I noticed during my time in PS2 is that it felt like an extremely “game-y” world. There were no mechanics which implied that there was a war industry supplying these materials I was using, or that there was any sort of non-military activity at all (scientists, farmers, administrators). While this is often par for the course in shooters, I found it galling that this virtual world had so little “world” to it.

          A more robust macro level ruleset would have certainly helped with this.

    • Randomer says:

      Lack of scope? Just right-click when you have the sniper rifle!

    • LionsPhil says:

      I find it suffers for just all feeling so futile. There’s never any real closure, just a constant back-and-forth push for no-man’s-land.

      • mouton says:

        Yes, this. Either you get steamrolled, you steamroll someone or there is a long trench warfare that lasts until someone gets tired or gains numerical advantage.

        I like the idea of “eternal war”, but for that the combat would have to be much more fun. Like, including chainswords, bolters, dreadnaughts, powah klaws, and a lot of dakka.

      • Machinations says:

        legitimate complaint – the metagame needs a lot of work

    • Cooper says:

      Except the last two Wednesdays when the RPS Vanu outfit rolls out, we’ve managed to lockdown a whole contient.

      Last Wednesday we started on Amerish with 6 territories. By the end of it our platoon had forge our way through to the TR warpgate, working along with other platoons who were alongside us, pushing together.

      Along with a few suggestions in the “orders” channel from myself and the other platoon leaders we directed the zerg and in the space of three hours moved from 6 territories to total continent ownership.

      Those final moments, surging onto a small outpost, the massive TR warpgate looming in front of us as we pushed back a column or armour that numbered over three dozen tanks. That moment was so far from futile.

      Sure, the continent had been conquered by another faction a day later. But this sin’t EVE; there’s no a galaxy to carve up here; with three continents it’s always going to be back and forth. But that does not take away from the majesty of those final pushes, those last stands, those tooth-and-nail fights in the trenches for inch after inch. Even if the ultimate purpose is not eternal, moment to moment fights have so much more meaning than a round of Tribes or pushing a TF2 payload. There’s always a bigger picture, always something so much bigger than you are, that, neverthless, your own actions are part of.l.

      What the game does sorely lack, however, are the tools to communicate this. Inside a platoon owrking together, working with other platoons, there’s context. What we sorely need is the ability to pass on that feeling of being part of something larger that is more than icons on a map or lines of text in yellow as they are now…

      • Brise Bonbons says:

        “Even if the ultimate purpose is not eternal, moment to moment fights have so much more meaning than a round of Tribes or pushing a TF2 payload.”

        Do they, though? I certainly never felt that way. There were some fun “emergent set pieces” when a group of transports thundered overhead or a line of infantry came over a ridge, but I never felt that individual fights had this great meaning to them other than “OK push the point so we can make the map more our color”.

        Put it this way: I personally have a stronger feeling of camaraderie and accomplishment when I cap last point on Gravel Pit with 30 seconds on the clock, or when my team pushes the final point on a Red Orchestra 2 map with 0 reinforcements and time running down. To *me*, the drama created by carefully structured round-based rules is unmatched by the arbitrary (and often poorly contested) flipping of colors on the PS2 world map.

        But I don’t play with a group, as I mentioned elsewhere, so that might be part of it.

        Anyway, I don’t mean to invalidate your experience, I just think it’s slightly more subjective than you’ve presented it.

        • Machinations says:

          Of course its subjective.

          You enjoy Red Orchestra 2 – which is a TERRIBLE game. The tanks have autoaim AI gunners that annihilate anything. I would simply park a tank in front of the enemy spawn and literally walk away to have a smoke. When I returned, I would inevitably be top score on the server.

          That of course ignores the unbelievable latency, thrown-together SHAM of a single player `campaign`or the awful ahistorical weapons given out in order to make RO2 appeal to CoD children.

          I believe that a restricted map with limited access routes to the enemy – aka a corridor shooter – appeals to a type of player who appreciates simplicity, over a player who appreciates epic scale battles, applied tactics and flanking.

          Also – as you say, you do not play with a group, so I am trying to understand the sense of cameradeie you get when playing with 15 randoms on some FPS server..

    • Feriluce says:

      I agree, but I think you’re looking at it wrong. Look at this like minecraft instead. They released a basic game to begin with. It was fun, but there wasn’t much to it. SoE released an MMOFPS with a strong focus on the FPS part with the plan to expand the MMO part in the future.

  4. Jackablade says:

    So is it still in development? Are we likely to see the issues ironed out at some point in the future?

    • MiniMatt says:

      There’s definitely still a lot of optimisation work to do to actually make it look as pretty as Jim describes on a wider range of PCs. My admittedly very average PC (i3-530 CPU, ATI HD7770 GPU, 4gb RAM) really struggles with it, almost all settings turned to low to keep the thing running at >25fps in large firefights (can hit 50-60 in more sedate settings). Now that is arguably at the low end of their recommended specs but still, Skyrim and Witcher 2 can make the most exquisitely pretty pixels with that set up.

      They’re saying it’ll be around for years and years – but then they would say that. I guess SOE are still running the first Everquest, so perhaps there is hope that it’ll see constant attention.

      • FriendlyFire says:

        My i5-2500K with two HD6950s 2GB struggles to keep the game above 50FPS as soon as there’s a little bit of action. I’m sorry but while the game is pretty, it’s not so pretty as to warrant making such a computer kneel.

        After the rather noob unfriendly start, that’s easily my biggest problem with the game.

        • Kuraudo says:

          To be fair, no other game manages to cram 300+ players into such a tiny space. Think about how CPU hungry dwarf fortress gets when you get over 100 dorfs; there’s a lot of calculations that only our processor’s can make for games like this – graphics cards become largely irrelevant after a certain threshold.

    • darkChozo says:

      It’s totally still in development, and theoretically the devs are on bugfixing duty right now. Not sure how much better the performance will get, though hopefully some of the issues will be smoothed out (ie. people with similar setups will no longer get horribly different performance).

  5. MikoSquiz says:

    I bounced off pretty hard because it just feels so shoddy. It’s kind of ugly, the weapons ‘feel’ gutless and anaemic (which I guess is mostly down to sound design), the interface is all kinds of awkward and hard to read, and even if I could ignore or deal with those (let’s face it, ‘ugly’ is not a big deal) the moving and shooting – the core gameplay elements the game is founded on – are clunky and unpleasant.

    It made me think of the Star Wars prequels: Those have great visuals and sound design, huge ambitions, and then the dialogue and story – the core elements a work of fiction is founded on – stink. A colossus built upon feet of wet toilet paper.

    • Dilapinated says:

      Same. I found the core FPS gameplay lacklustre and without spark.

      • Vorrin says:

        My 2 cents: I totally disagree.

        I think the feel of weapons and impacts is pretty well done (ok, not maybe quite as heavy-feeling as bf3’s weapons), the netcode is surprisingly stable and reasonable, and all in all I was really surprised they managed to get something this large, to feel so good from an fps point of view.

        Even the vehicle physics I found pretty good , given what we have seen so far, about vehicles in fpss.

        • LionsPhil says:

          The netcode means I can play with my American chums, so it passes the “copes with transcontinental lag” test. (Quite a lot of games [except MWO] are doing well at this recently, which may be in part improved infrastructure underneath—200ms ping? Crikey, I remember when that was what you’d get in the same country on dial-up.)

      • felisc says:

        I sadly agree. I was waiting impatiently for that game, but the feel of the gun, or even the jetpack… Didn’t like it. Still a great impressive game, but shooting just doesn’t make me smile. I don’t think sound design is to blame, i’ve found the soundwork good and nicely implemented.

      • mouton says:

        Yes and no. One one hand, the guns are nothing to write home about and the massive scale makes the individual effort irrelevant. On the other hand, I like how every class is useful and has a distinctive role. I also like the limited mil-sim-like mobility, where you have to move tactically, utilize cover and cannot run in circles gunning people wildly, like in COD.

        • Brise Bonbons says:

          I found this aspect somewhat lacking, but my go-to FPSs right now are ARMA and Red Orchestra 2, so that’s not surprising. More to the point, I think if PS2 had the ability to go prone – or even simply offered more foliage-as-cover – I’d have gotten into it more. It feels like the sort of game where I might want to hunker down on a ridge or in a bush and just take potshots at people for a while, but I felt like the controls were gently nudging me into a slightly more run & gun style.

          Hmmm. I hadn’t thought of it before, but it is somewhat odd that two of the three continents are basically entirely barren of foliage and cover of any sort other than rocks. Maybe a concession to performance? In hindsight this might have been one of the reasons I didn’t feel especially immersed in the world itself… Simple actions within the virtual physical space – like hiding in a bush – are usually the most effective tools to make me feel grounded in a world.

      • darkChozo says:

        If you’re going into this game expecting a superb FPS (from a mechanical perspective), you’re going to be disappointed. The game’s not trying to compete on those grounds, for good reason; not only is there a lot of money in that area (COD, BF3, TF2, only slightly related but FC3 has ridiculously good feeling guns), it’s evidently technically unfeasible to combine small-scale gunplay with large-scale combat. PS1, WWIIO, and MAG all have below-average shooting, presumably because it would take a ridiculous amount of resources to get both the macro and micro polished to the point where they rival multi-lots-of-money franchises for quality.

        • FriendlyFire says:

          Sound design and gun design isn’t affected by a game’s scale. The quantity of sounds in a game like Battlefield 3 versus one in a game like Planetside 2 is roughly on par, though PS2 has a lot less voice acting.

          I’m not expecting ultra realistic ragdoll physics for all bullet hits or anything like that, but the guns sound really average and that’s one of the most important elements in making a shooter feel meaty.

          • darkChozo says:

            While that’s (for the most part) true, it takes a fair amount of effort to get good gun feel into a game, particularly if you’re using a new engine. If you’re using all your resources trying to solve the technical problems of scale (and obvious PS2 is having some issues doing even that, given the performance problems), you’re not going to be able to spend as much time or money getting the basic mechanics polished, and I’d be willing to bet that less money has gone into PS2 than what went into BF3.

            It’s basically the same issue that something like Skyrim suffers from; you sacrifice some mechanical depth in order to get the epic scope. If you’re more interested in the mechanics than the scope, then of course you’re going to be disappointed, but expecting a game to have the mechanics of BF3 but the scale of an MMO is a bit unrealistic.

      • Machinations says:

        translation: I was bad and got killed a lot so went back to a game I could do better in

    • Vorphalack says:

      I disagree with the Star Wars prequels having great sound design. The iconic Star Wars music is heavily over used in the first film at least (haven’t and will never see the other two), so much so that it looses all of it’s impact. There is literally no scene without music playing for the 1:30 hrs of CGI fail, and it quickly becomes an irritation that you cannot escape. Great sound design is not just having a good score to work with, but knowing how to use it in moderation.

    • ZephaniahGrey says:

      Agreed. I really tried to get into this game. All the hype and raving convinced me that I was just missing something. But after several hours of seemingly aimless running around, fighting to capture things with no real goal, and respawning miles away from any kind of action, I gave up and went back to playing better games. Also, the game’s just plain ugly.

      • Machinations says:

        Well, the game certainly is not ugly for me, running in buttery-smooth 100 FPS on ultra settings (use the INI file)

        “after several hours of seemingly aimless running around, fighting to capture things with no real goal, and respawning miles away from any kind of action, I gave up and went back to playing better games“

        Meh, I think that people used to simpler shooters, and more casual players will enjoy it less. If you did`nt figure out the redeploy button or how to locate the enemy, I can understand you found it frustrating.

        What`s worse though, is playing with people who are completely clueless as to what is going on and completely unwilling to learn anything. So..

        There are plenty of FPS at the moment, but none is better than Planetside 2. Have fun playing those games.

  6. Mathute87 says:

    I like it.

    Those who haven’t tried it out shouldn’t take advise from whatever they read anywhere. It’s free, so there’s no excuse to form a personal opinion.

  7. MiniMatt says:

    The thing I really love about this game is that being crap at it doesn’t matter.

    Smaller scale, even 32v32 battlefield experiences always seem to discourage learning, experimenting and just having fun. Don’t take the jets if you can’t fly them you noobs, god damn it, you screwed up holding that command point and now we lost the round, your kill death ratio sucks and so we lost all our tickets and lost the round you noob.

    Planetside bypasses all that. You can experiment and it doesn’t matter. Part of this is the scale, in that one person flying into a tree doesn’t matter in the context of a thousand plus soldiers; part of it is as identified there is no real win or loss, just ever changing winning and losing so you don’t feel personally responsible for screwing up a game; and part is the design in that the person with the 1/5 kill/death ratio is quite capable (indeed arguably more likely) of being more use to the team than someone with a 5/1 kill/death ratio.

    Whilst being crap at it doesn’t matter it allows you the time and freedom to get good at it in your own way. The downside I guess is that being good at it doesn’t really matter either – you can have great runs where everything just flows (I’ve had precisely two such experiences!) and it results in gaining a bit more land or holding off a superior attacking force with the help of similarly lucky or skilled compatriots – but in the end that land will switch sides in an hour or so anyway, as will hundreds of other hexes and it won’t actually make any difference.

    • mouton says:

      This is both good and bad. Good, because of what you mentioned, you can do whatever you want and it doesn’t matter. On the other hand, it won’t matter when you are good at it either and thus the game has a big potential to get boring soon.

      Still, you seem overly self-conscious about not being good at a game. It only matters to me when player count is at or below 10vs10 or so. Above that, I have fun regardless of my skill level.

      • MiniMatt says:

        Yep you’ve hit the nail on the head on both counts. Being bad doesn’t really matter, being good only matters a teensy bit.

        And yep, I do find myself overly self concscious of my skill/contribution. Either that or I have gotten good(ish) at a game and find myself (internally) quite grumpy at the skill level/contribution of random teammates. It’s either “bugger, I’m really screwing this up” or “feckin hell, he’s really screwing this up for us” going on in my warped, twisted and insecure little head :o)

        It’s that scale I really like in PS that allows personal learning not to worry my delicate psyche and allows one to very easily hop around and find a squad that knows what it’s doing so you’re not internally berating the learning of others. There’s basically never a feeling of “that round was a complete waste, let’s hope for a better one next time”, whether that be self blame or projected blame.

        That really does make me sound like insecure and angry little bastard :o) I’m not quite that mental :o)

      • FriendlyFire says:

        I’d argue that being “good” at Planetside 2 is different from being good at arena shooters or even more open shooters like BF3.

        Being good in most shooters mostly sums up as being able to shoot at a lot of targets really quickly while avoiding getting shot at.

        Being good in Planetside 2 involves more tactical thinking and especially the ability to recruit and coordinate people. The most valuable person in a PS2 engagement is not the sharpshooter, it’s the commander.

      • Machinations says:

        A lot of people are coming from other, simpler games like TF2 or CoD and seem to think they are amazing FPS players, which of course is not the case.

        These same players place inordinate amounts of concern over their Kill-Death ratio and are usually the people complaining loudest and most illogically about balance – which is very good at the moment – and the game generally.

        I for one could care less. The game is excellent, and people who refuse to practice to get better at it are quickly replaced. In a battlefield of this size, noone cares if you take your ball and go home in a pout.

  8. Stuart Walton says:

    No MMO is ever ready when it launches but PS2 has more than its fair share of bugs and poor design choices. The menus for buying and equipping stuff are a mess. The joystick sensitivity curve is either too steep near the deadzone and if you change the sensitivity in the ini file (The lowest menu selectable setting of ‘1’ is un-usable) then you begin culling the maximum possible turn rate.

    How to offer joystick sensitivity in a game:
    -Let the user change the deadzone
    -Make sure max input equals max output
    -Start the curve at the end of the deadzone (don’t just chop it off)
    -Let the user choose the linearity of the curve
    -Let the user tweak how steep the deadzone end of the curve is

    Or you could just make the default something sensible.

    Still, it is jolly good fun.

  9. orionite says:

    I have to agree with most of what was said. It has some serious issues, but at the same time is a lot of fun. Once you roll with a squad or ideally and outfit using voice communication, the feel of combat is just so immersive.

    While it’s a shame that there are some features that are not working as intended and others we are still waiting for, there is one issue that to my mind is unforgivable in a game like this: The lack of new player experience (aka The Tutorial). Even as a PS1 player, I still find myself asking my outfit mates (who are much more pro than myself) or scour the internet to find out how things work or why (moving continents, deployments, certifications, etc.). This is the one thing that in my mind should have delayed the release, since it creates an unnecessary barrier of entry to players new to the series.

  10. Schiraman says:

    I loved Planetside, despite all its flaws (and there were many) the amazing, innovative game design made it clearly, obviously the future of FPS gaming. And then it wasn’t.

    PS2, sadly, isn’t the rebirth of Planetside that most veterans wanted to see. SOE have abandoned much of what was unique and best about PS1 in order to make PS2 closer to the more established franchises of today – and so it feels a lot like a giant version of Battlefield or CoD with a sci-fi skin.

    That said, after bouncing off PS2 repeatedly during beta, I’ve finally managed to get some friends to play – and playing with them transformed a frustrating, confusing disappointment into something like the joyful Planetside experience I remember.

    So yeah, learning curve like a cliff: check, lots of niggling issues: check, truly wonderful game lurking under all of that, if you have the patience to find it: check. So… actually a lot more like PS1 than I thought ;)

  11. Dog Pants says:

    It’s true that it’s easy to bounce off PS2, and some proportion of people disliking it may have gone on to love it given more time. It needs time to learn the language of the game, to interpret the map in order to find the battles, to read the battlefields, to understand the flow of combat in such a huge environment. It doesn’t take more than a few hours, but a few hours is a long time when you’re repeatly dying in confusion.

    • Stevostin says:

      Map was the easy part. What was difficult was just to aim right and not only kill but have fun in the process. A dodgy aim on a pew pew gun just doesn’t cut it;

      • Dog Pants says:

        I wonder if the faction you choose has any effect on our differences in opinion. I’ve not had any aiming issues, but I play Vanu who have (I think) better accuracy and less bullet drop. on the other hand the Vanu guns also feel like Quasar guns, while I’m told the TR and NC have much more meaty firearms.

      • Machinations says:

        perhaps that is your failing and not the games – I dont have issues aiming..

        try burst fire, precision, etc

  12. Stevostin says:

    I tried just yesterday. For an hour, I felt how great it could be. But then I tried to play in squad and the whole experience was so obviously pointless (the guy leading was doing great but just synching to regroup was a PITA ) I quitted and uninstalled it. There are several big big flaws in the design

    – the FPS mechanics are unforgivable. Mouse cursor is unrepsonsive – just switching to TF2 after reminded me what kind of aim I want from my FPS. This alone is a game killer for a FPS.

    – I needed at first 5 sec, right in front of a player, to decide if he’s in my team or not (TF2: 0.1 s). Even now I just can’t tell what’s the team of everything that’s 50+ yards from me. This alone is a game killer for a FPS.

    – basically it’s a large open space battlefield that can generate, at any moment, somone poping right behind you and one shooting you. If it was only grounded units, that would be manageable but an aircraft can just popup from anywhere, anytime. OTOH sniper doesn’t OS. I can get the idea to nerf sniper, but what’s the point if you give flying engine the same role of ‘took you off guard now you’re dead” ?

    – Having tojust figure out WTF is everything in your own base is just dumb annoying as hell. I don’t mind walking a lot knowing where I am, but seeking for a way to go up or down or get a bike is just boring and kill the pace. I quicky realised that at least 50% of the players are just lost.

    – you don’t do a game that ask for strategy & tactic without providing a way to just do that. NS2 has a commander view. It’s obviously lacking in PS2

    Too bad. That could be such a wonderful game. But it’s not.

    • MiniMatt says:

      At the risk of sounding like a sony employee, I have a different take on much of what you’ve posted. Bear in mind that I am woefully new and still quite bad at Planetside, and only ever attain mediocre skill levels in most FPS.

      Mouse responsiveness I’d suggest might have something to do with framerate. It’s woefully underoptimised at present and most rigs will benefit from turning settings down far more than you’d normally feel the need to do so. It’s not an issue I seem to suffer from once everything’s turned down to a level where framerate remains reliable.

      Deciding whether that moving blob is friend or foe is something that gets *much* quicker with practice. With only one weekend in I can now reliably identify foe at range more or less instantly (if there’s a blue triangle over their head they’re friendly – this will appear at any range if your crosshairs are over them), if not they’re one of those bastard purple space elves and need shooting. I *think* I’m responsible for 3 friendly deaths so far, one to a badly timed grenade, one to my reversing an ATV over someone’s soft and squishy parts, and only once to emptying a clip into their face. In very close quarters it takes a little more getting used to but it really is just learning the visual clues and taking in the whole picture – this is different with every FPS and I’d suggest you can only do it in other games because you’ve gone through that learning process with them. If I can do it reasonably reliably in a weekend then I’m damn sure anyone else can.

      Suprise death from above/over a mountain ridge/behind you is again something common to all, and something which is mitigated by experience and warning signs. Jump into any FPS and it’s the same at first, and even after much experience you will still be suprised from time to time. But after a while you mitigate by guessing approximate battle lines, learning likely sniper spots, listening for approaching aircraft, spotting shadows on the ground, and just general knowledge of what vehicle spawn areas the enemy currently holds nearby.

      As to WTF is going on, you’re dead on the money. The lack of a decent tutorial and the pretty woeful official training videos is a serious oversight. I was still making, ahem, some blundering errors on how to deal with enemy generators until the RPS forum set me straight.

      • Stevostin says:

        “Jump into any FPS and it’s the same at first”

        It really isn’t and that’s the point. I expect to get killed a lot and then less and less in any new fps. And that’s what happened here. Getting my ass kicked wasn’t the issue – actually when i left I was getting close to a 1:1 kill/death ratio.

        If that was one of the rare multiplayer options avaialable, I’d be all in for it, I’d take the time and get the best out of the game. Thing is, there are plenty of options. How can I justify playing this rather than Tribes Ascent, for instance ? Or NS2 ? Sure, the MMO factor is neat, but the most important thing is to get good game. When you have design issues in such a game, learning to deal with them isn’t enough, because no matter what you do, you’ll be constantly playing with people still battling with those, and who win and who loose generally ends up to who has the most noob ration in his random team.

        It has yet to be proven that you can make a really interesting game with huge number of players. Seing a moving battlefield sure is cool, but it gets old. Good gameplay, ie interesting and efficient decision making and skill celebration, comes first. I didn’t find it in Planet Side 2.

        • MiniMatt says:

          “Jump into any FPS and it’s the same at first”

          It really isn’t and that’s the point.

          I guess that’s a subjective experience then; I just know that every FPS I start playing I’m faced initially with the same two problems. First is friend/foe recognition and second is “wtf, where did that come from”. And on every FPS I find I get much better at the first problem quite quickly and slowly bit by bit better at the second.

          I suppose in many regards it’s the MMO factor that I find the draw, and in that regard there isn’t a whole lot of competition I’m aware of. It does do the squad sized sized battles and small infiltration battles pretty well but I agree certainly nothing like as well as titles designed as such. What it does spectacularly well, and where I believe there’s far less competition is that feeling of entire armies fighting eachother. The thing it brings most to my mind is Warhammer 40k games with the Imperial Guard – thousands of grunts, armor, and air thrown into the meatgrinder, and you’re just a grunt running alongside a tank half terrified, half exhilerated.

          The other upside I like in the scale is that makes for an easier learning curve (hampered horribly by the atrocious new player experience) – the scale allows for the freedom to experiment and learn safe in the knowledge you won’t screw things up royally if it all goes pear shaped. The downside to this being that staggeringly l33t moments of individual/squad skill and heroics don’t make a whole lot of difference either.

          • Stevostin says:

            I admit it’s by far the best MMO FPS and that it’s by itself a great incentive. And I am pretty sure it’s a good game. Unfortunately, in 2012 good games doesn’t seem to be enough. So unless you’re really after huge battles, PS2 doesn’t top the minimal threshold level to get played for real. And I think it could have. Art Direction is average (look at DUST or W2K for identity). Code is average (aim has to be smooth, sorry, although netcode seems to be strong). Game design is probably the weakest point (not simplifying what doesn’t need to difficult, hence not letting room for the part of complexity that’s actually interesting to be enjoyed, and not getting that if you have an open space gameplay design decision about how easy it is to allow to fly it by are very sensible things.

        • Machinations says:

          “It has yet to be proven that you can make a really interesting game with huge number of players“

          Sorry, I think you mean YOU have yet to find a game that really interests YOU with a huge number of players.

          Myself and a large circle of friends plus randoms I have met in game are having a blast. PS2 is heads and shoulders above anything else in the FPS space.

    • darkChozo says:

      A question for you: do you play much in the way of modern military-type games? A lot of your complaints could apply to Battlefield/COD/et al. as well. For example, if anything PS2 does more to differentiate teams than your average “realistic” shooter; each empire has a fairly distinct design that’s rather easy to spot if you’re not focusing on color (class differentiation, on the other hand, is rather terrible). The getting shot from behind issue is, if anything, a lot better that in BF3 or COD because the player density is often much higher, there are no (few, if you consider instant action) random spawns, and there are often rather well defined battle lines.

      Also, while the new player experience is admittedly rather terrible, I’m not sure if that actually ultimately makes the game any worse (besides potentially hurting player count). It doesn’t really take much to figure your way around a base after playing around a bit; all of them are constructed kinda similar, and it’s usually a matter of finding the one or two consoles/important features of the base, which are called out on the UI. Bigger bases are more complex but are also close to cookie-cutter, so once you figure out how the three base types work it’s rather easy to find your way around.

      • Machinations says:

        I agree the new player experience is horrible, but consider it a test: those who have the gumption to stay, tough it out and learn the game are rewarded.

        Those who rage in frustration at the tiniest setbacks are not particularly fun to play with anyway, so it is better that they leave.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Snipers actually do have one-shot kill capability, as long as they headshot with a bolt-action rifle.

    • Machinations says:

      – the FPS mechanics are unforgivable. Mouse cursor is unrepsonsive – just switching to TF2 after reminded me what kind of aim I want from my FPS. This alone is a game killer for a FPS.

      I don`t know what is the cause of this – the FPS mechanics are really, really solid. Could it be your rig, or latency- I don`t know, but no-one I play with has said anything about mouse responsiveness. Pretty sure the issue is yours alone.

      – I needed at first 5 sec, right in front of a player, to decide if he’s in my team or not (TF2: 0.1 s). Even now I just can’t tell what’s the team of everything that’s 50+ yards from me. This alone is a game killer for a FPS.

      Im sorry you dont want to have to think – thats why TF2 and CoD are there. I dont see how much more obvious it could get, seeing as how all factions have destincitve colours, weapons and sound sets to the point I can tell if it is a Reaver or Scythe flying overhead.

      – basically it’s a large open space battlefield that can generate, at any moment, somone poping right behind you and one shooting you. If it was only grounded units, that would be manageable but an aircraft can just popup from anywhere, anytime. OTOH sniper doesn’t OS. I can get the idea to nerf sniper, but what’s the point if you give flying engine the same role of ‘took you off guard now you’re dead” ?

      Oh, you dont like air. Again – corridor shooters are there. The game is balanced around cooperation and team work.Situational awareness is important, because the game just doesnt throw you into a tiny map with a tiny number of players and two or maybe 3 ways to reach each other. You need to consider position -decisions like these are tactical, and I find leading a platoon we are extremely effective.

      – Having tojust figure out WTF is everything in your own base is just dumb annoying as hell. I don’t mind walking a lot knowing where I am, but seeking for a way to go up or down or get a bike is just boring and kill the pace. I quicky realised that at least 50% of the players are just lost.

      I doubt it, I think you expecting to just pick it up instantly. There is a learning curve as with any game of this complexity, and there is virtually no tutorial. You do know you can redeploy anytime, right – didnt think so..

      – you don’t do a game that ask for strategy & tactic without providing a way to just do that. NS2 has a commander view. It’s obviously lacking in PS2

      NS2 has a commander view – PS2 has a map that you can see all friendly units on, anywhere on the continent. Strategy and tactics come from thinking, not from a waypoint system (which PS2 has) or other elements in game.

      I`ll agree that the metagame needs work, but the game is excellent. Your points are objectively incorrect. I find a lot of people used to simpler shooters don`t like it – I, on the other hand, who played the original and probably close to 700 hours of Battlefield 2 – find myself at home. FINALLY – a hardcore shooter that rewards thinking over twitch skills.

  13. Squishpoke says:

    The one time I did shell out cash for this game was for the anti-air rocket launcher because some jackass liberators were happily spawn-camping a contested area.

    So, yeah, this $7 rocket launcher. It’s shit. Takes 6 and a half seconds to lock on, and only when the plane is about 300 meters away! And when it does let off a rocket, it’s ludicrously easy for the enemy pilot to dodge. Whenever the rocket actually DOES hit, it does a whopping 1/10th of the damage towards the weakest plane in the game (Galaxies and Liberators are basically invincible towards these rockets). And then you get a 5 second reload period on top of that.

    And of course don’t forget that there’s some ships with flares that force your missile to veer off course, and the special buffs that INCREASE your already pitiful lock on time.


    • Jenks says:

      Air is definitely overpowered right now, the only thing that can take air out right now is a dual burster max, or other air. Skyguard lightnings and HA G2A missiles are flat out bad, and ESF rockets are insanely good vs anything on the ground. It’s broken, but I trust they will fix it.

      I too bought the G2A launcher and yes, it’s terrible. I’ve also bought many other weapons, some are fantastic, some not. For example, I found the starting medic gun on NC to be awful, I unlocked the DMR with certs and that was worse. I purchased the NS-11 and now my K:D is soaring. Another good purchase was the rocket launcher on the gunner seat of my Vanguard. I was already winning most of my vehicle fights, but now with any mediocre gunner I’m dominating. The Dalton also completely transforms the Liberator into a killing machine. Not all purchases right now are created equal.

      Three more tips:
      Use the trial feature. If the loss of $7 is going to completely sour you on the game, trial the weapon first. They give you 30 minutes to try out weapons every 8 hours I believe.

      Use the forums over at Look for threads where people are bitching, and you will know what to do. I wasted my money = don’t buy. This shit is broken OP, take it out of the game = buy.

      This Friday is triple station cash, so all those $7 weapons will be effectively $2.33, a much easier cost to swallow for a mediocre weapon.

    • Spider Jerusalem says:

      that’s what the trial button is there for, i imagine.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      G2A missiles take an unarmored fighter below 50% health, not “1/10”.

    • Machinations says:

      A single ground to air rocket takes over 50% of an ESF health. The rockets need a speed increase, but by no means is air overpowered.

      Thinking is overpowered.

      “the special buffs that INCREASE your already pitiful lock on time“

      The flares are the countermeasure against lock-on rockets. They can be fired every 30 seconds by default.

      There is no `special buff`that increases lock on time. After firing flares, there is a short period where you cannot lock onto that plane.

      If the rockers were much stronger than they are, air would be useless.

      Protip: check out a burster MAX, as those are how you down airplanes.

  14. airtekh says:

    I wish SOE would fix the crashing bugs, then I might actually be able to play the game for more than 10 minutes at a time, and actually form an opinion of it. :(

  15. Lone Gunman says:

    I’m guessing the game that beat PS2 was Dayz.

  16. The Random One says:

    I don’t like Planetside much and I don’t know why. It looks and plays a lot like Battlefield and Battlefield 2, which I played a lot and enjoyed, but on a huge area and simpler vehicles. I should enjoy it a lot. I don’t.

    I keep coming back to it though.

  17. McDan says:

    I don’t think anyone would complain about an article that was just battle stories from various RPS’ers and friends about Planetside 2.

  18. addam666 says:

    I Vanu play it all day long!

  19. Jenks says:

    I think that anyone who “gets” Planetside 2 knows exactly what Jim is conveying here – and I’m not saying that as some pretentious jerk with my nose in the air. When I first logged in, in the beta, I didn’t get it. I played for hours having an ok time, but nothing special and I was probably close to exiting the game for good. Then, I had a moment that changed my opinion on the game forever. I met up with my first truly massive offensive. It was night, I was running across one of the green fields of Amerish towards a TR tech plant. Suddenly tank shells were lighting up the sky over my head. A dozen Reavers shot over me, rockets plastering an enemy sunderer before they knew what hit them. The tanks caught up and Vanguards and Lightnings flooded past me. Sunderers veered off and deployed, and when I looked up again infantry was dropping out of a galaxy in the plant. It was amazing.

    After that night, I subscribed to the game, dropped $25~ on weapons, and joined an outfit.

    There is an aspect to PS2 that reminds me of Eve – the downtime between the big moments. It’s not as extreme in PS2, but it is there. I know that will turn off some people (looking at you, ritalin generation), but to me capping a few empty bases in a row before your armor column smashes into the enemy’s makes it that much sweeter.

    TL;DR To understand why PS2 is great you have to get past the tedious phase of not knowing where to go or what to do, but if you stick it out, it will click and you will be hooked.

    • MiniMatt says:

      That is exactly the impression I’ve gotten from it. My best stab at wordy-eloquence I’ll repost from a reply above:

      What it does spectacularly well, and where I believe there’s far less competition is that feeling of entire armies fighting eachother. The thing it brings most to my mind is Warhammer 40k games with the Imperial Guard – thousands of grunts, armor, and air thrown into the meatgrinder, and you’re just a grunt running alongside a tank half terrified, half exhilarated.

    • Lord Custard Smingleigh says:

      Yes. Planetside 2 can spontaneously give you moments that Call of Duty scripts.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      Yep. I soured on this game early, my first experience was participating in a lemming meatgrinder trying to take the Crown, dying repeatedly and accomplishing nothing, at about 12 frames per second.

      I gave it another try, and helped a small force assault a base as a MAX. Half way through the battle, massive zergs from both sides showed up and turned the skirmish into a major battle with air, armor and infantry. Right after we won the hard fought but evenly matched battle, I logged out and signed up for the Alpha Squad.

      • meatshit says:

        Here’s a hint for newbies: never go anywhere near The Crown. It’s always an awful meat grinder that chews up and spits out anything resembling fun.

  20. Shooop says:

    Only one problem with this game – you can’t play it with complete strangers.

    Otherwise you will be lost 99% of the time and simply not have a good time. It’s an absolutely massive world out there with so many different roles you have to be able to fill trying to do it alongside people who don’t speak a word to you is just not possible.

    But it’s the first and only game so far that suggests F2P may not be such a terrible thing after all. Not when handled this competently.

  21. darkChozo says:

    Just to note, there’s a 3X Station Cash sale this Friday (the 21st). If you’re going to be spending money on this game in the near future, that’d be a good time to do so (if you buy a 2000 SC bundle using triple station cash, you’re effectively getting 6-7 weapons and some cosmetics for less than the price of one weapon).

  22. AlexHeartnet says:

    The stupidity of some of the players in the game never ceases to amaze me. I can understand being a terrible player, but how dumbed down does one have to be to forego a 1 certification point zoom lens upgrade in favor of a 1,000 cert weapon for an entirely different vehicle?

    I facepalmed when the response I got was ‘You aren’t that good of a player if you need a zoom lens to hit anything’. At least this guy bothered to type back to me, I’ve had vehicle gunners that refuse to say anything even when I type to them directly.

    • MiniMatt says:

      I facepalmed when the response I got was ‘You aren’t that good of a player if you need a zoom lens to hit anything’

      It’s like I tell that noob Brian Cox – you can’t be that good an astronomer if you need a telescope to see anything.

    • Premium User Badge

      gritz says:

      If you got into my magrider and whined about how I decided to cert it, especially about the lack of a 1.25x zoom on the Basilisk of all things, I would lock you out and spend the next hour teamkilling you.

      • LionsPhil says:

        And that’s why playing multiplayer games with random Internet people is a lousy experience.

      • AlexHeartnet says:

        Which could easily start a teamkilling war with both individuals blaming each other if I wasn’t the sort that turns the other cheek to people teamkilling me.

        Or you could indeed spend a whopping 9 cert points to get that zoom lens on the passenger turrets of every vehicle, making your Basilisk slightly more awesome then one without zoom. Gunners tend to be more eager to operate awesome non-stock vehicle turrets, so that zoom lens gives you a tangible benefit even if you never use it yourself.

        Of course, a lot of players don’t quite think that way.

        • Premium User Badge

          gritz says:

          TBH, I lock out 9/10 gunners who randomly jump in my magrider because they decide to start spraying bullets at everything (and nothing), especially the enemy aircraft I’m trying to avoid. Giving them a half-assed zoom is not exactly a priority when I could be putting those certs towards another brick of C4.

          • Machinations says:

            If you didnt bother to get the 1 cert upgrades, namely ammo increases and the slight zoom, you have made bad choices – that is all.

            The first tier of these certs is the best `bang for your buck`- you can upgrade the guns with the results of about 5 minutes play.

            Lucky for me, most players are dumb, hence you get lots of stupidity – stock lightnings trying to engage a stock sunderer, for instance.

  23. says:

    “the fine vitas PS2′s three lavish battle-continents.”

    This had me wondering if there were a Sony handheld version in the works.

    You meant “fine vistas,” surely? Regardless, nice write-up!

  24. Premium User Badge

    Aerothorn says:

    Any North/South Americans looking for some good casual play should join Rock Paper Scythe! link to

  25. Ayam says:

    We’ve massively enjoyed things in the NC RPS contingent, I would quite like to bring to your attention to my greatest hits on PS2: link to

  26. rapier17 says:

    The biggest problem in PS2 is the general ‘zerg’ tactic.

    The zerg arises from one big problem – the mass availability of vehicles & aircraft. It will start off innocently enough, with a few people taking a zone or two, more people join and the race is suddenly on! Everyone’s either in a tank or aircraft and zipping along to the next base, saturating it with fire, cutting off the defenders spawn areas from the main zones (when the spawn is outside the base), a few infantry go in and cap and once it’s theirs off they go once more! The zerg runs out of steam once the other factions start cutting it off and taking zones behind it. Then they inevitably end up with zergs and off they go!

    In comparison to the massive infantry battles of the beta, the release version of PS2 is a different beast entirely. During the beta we had massive infantry fights, occasionally involving all three factions when a single tank would cause trouble for the opposing faction(s) but they’d either overcome it or be overwhelmed. When you saw a big tank battle kicking off it was “WOW! That looks so awesome!” because it didn’t happen that often. All change in the release of PS2.

    The other issue is the terrible power aircraft have. Not over tanks, or turrets, or other aircraft but the poor infantryman. Aircraft have greater firepower & mobility (far easier for them to negate an infatrymans cover) but also have upgrades which render infantrymen as little more than a shooting gallery – the ‘scout radar’ thing that lights up enemies near friendly units & their various vision aids (like infra-red). Even as an infiltrator with your cloak on you’re visible to pilots with those upgrades who just have to hose you with their guns or with rockets and you’re stuffed – nothing you can do to retaliate, you’re just dead. You can hide, if you can find cover, but the aircraft just has to nose round it and boom, boom, boom. Tried shooting them down but you don’t get that much firepower with a bolt-action rifle against a hovering Vanu craft thats pumping shots at you. Explains why when I died to infantrymen they were often under level 20 whereas pilots who shot my avatar were nearly always over level 30 (often in the 40s).

    Maybe once there are tighter restrictions on aircraft & tanks I might be more interested in playing again but as someone who far prefers being an infantryman in games, I really do not like the tank vs aircraft fest that is PS2.

    • Machinations says:

      Its a combined arms game – you cant expect to play infantry in all scenarios and be effective, though you can – but marginally.

      I don`t understand people who have gone into the game, where aircraft, tanks and other vehicles are featured prominently, then complain about those elements.

      If you want an infantry only game, there are plenty of FPS corridor shooters that accomplish that. CoD and TF2 come to mind, TF2 actually being good, as well.