New PlanetSide 2 Progression Won’t Involve Gear Or Power

It will instead focus on unlocking all portions of the purple color spectrum, making your purple even purpler than your purplest of compatriots.

A modern first-person shooter without a slow-burning, arsenal-amassing progression system is like a clown without big, poofy pants. The absence is glaringly noticeable, and then someone gets arrested for public indecency. PlanetSide 2‘s equivalent of that is the cert system, but in a game that’s just as much an MMO as it is a shooter, that poses some continent-sized content issues. This isn’t Call of Duty. There isn’t a new treadmill to hop onto every year. SOE, then, wants to get off the oh-so-trendy gear-and-guns train entirely with additional, entirely separate means of progression.

Creative director Matt Higby explained in a Reddit AMA:

“This is a tough design challenge, we want to provide meaningful character customization, long term goalsĀ andĀ maintain a fair environment for new players who aren’t ‘geared out’ as well as not having too severe of a ‘grind’. Right now the cert system is basically THE thing we have to provide for that, which is problematic. At a certain point people will run out of things to unlock; we’re not trying to run a non-stop gear treadmill game.”

“One thing we’re working on is adding additional personal progression systems that aren’t tied to gear or player power – this will allow us to provide those long term ‘reach’ goals without having to either price new players out of important gear, make a punishingly steep grind for advanced upgrades or continuously inflate the number of upgrades at the end of the treadmill like most MMO games do.”

It’s an incredibly lofty goal, but PlanetSide 2 isn’t exactly an unambitious game to begin with. In the near term, however, SOE is still grappling with basic issues (that, frankly, should’ve been addressed ages ago) like optimization for all PC spec ranges. The first patch came out a few weeks ago, and a second is set to launch soon.

In light of all that, how are things going for you on the inside of PlanetSide’s planet sides? Did the first optimization patch do its job? And are you inching ever closer to running out of enticingly shooty bits and bobs to unlock?


  1. trooperwally says:

    I play PS2 quite a lot (with the awesome [RPS] giraffes – recommended!) and there’s still plenty to do. The optimisation patch was definitely welcome and their plans for the next year sound pretty solid (see the rest of that AMA).

    The cert system provides plenty of scope for gear grinding (800+ hours in and I’m about 40% of the way through the level progression and have lots of gear that I want but still want for much more). The thing that I like about PS2 though is that I never feel like I’m playing purely to get gear. The game is fun to play and the gear is a nice bonus.

    People complain that PS2 has no meta game which I think does a disservice to the significant out of game cooperation and theory crafting that goes on. Now, more than a year from release, the game feels really different. Not because of the new toys but because of the way people play. Much more organisation, much more defined play styles. Given that the game provides such scope for massive battles I can’t help but be optimistic that the best for PS2 is really still to come. We’re starting to see battles develop in a more organised way as the server wide alliances clash and I reckon this will develop further, particularly when they start giving more long term meaning to the game. Things that SOE have talked about for long term meaning include cross continent lattice system and outfit progression (e.g. outfit specialisation and base capture). Both of these could be brilliant for the game.

    tl;dr I think it’s looking good for PS2’s future. Come join us in game!

  2. Viroso says:

    Even though I don’t play or spend enough to get anything other than the standard gear, I find the game can still be lots of fun. Sure I’d be killing more and dying less if my stuff didn’t suck, but then again a lot of deaths and kills in PS2 happen during chaos and you’re lucky if you know who shot you.

    Then, there’s the fact that the most thing to do for me isn’t necessarily to around shooting people, sometimes it’s awesome to just watch it. Wish there was a war journalist class or something. Neutral faction and you basically capture footage and then have like a system where it gets updated to youtube or something.

    • Aardvarkk says:

      I love this idea. You could use certs to upgrade your camera and lenses, as well as a point system maybe like Beyond Good and Evil where you get points for the quality of your photos/videos.

    • jaguar skills says:

      Nah, that class already exists. It’s called turning off the HUD and I’ve been playing that class since launch;

      • Wedge says:

        How did you record that exactly? Looks amazing, I swear it’s not nighttime often enough in the game.

      • Niyeaux says:

        How are you doing this? I know how to turn off the HUD, but how are you getting a free camera like that, with no weapons in your FOV or anything?

        • mormomboy says:

          Ctrl+F11 will hide weapon
          Ctrl+F10 will toggle the Hud off and on

  3. Gap Gen says:

    Here’s my interpretation of this – the game stays mostly the same, but you get a chance to flesh out your civilian life prior to the war. You can build long-distance relationships with people of whom your only memory is a crumpled photo by waiting in long lines for staticky skype booths with long pauses in transmission times. Each week there’s a random chance that the game will decide that they left you mid-campaign and took your dog with them, but the news won’t reach you on the distant planet, and as they lie in bed with another lover, when you get hit you can call over a nearby comrade by pressing F2 and splutter a final farewell to them as you bleed out on an alien world. At least, this is why I’m not working for SOE.

    • LionsPhil says:

      And then you respawn.

    • Saul says:

      Where’s that Like button, RPS?


    • MrUnimport says:

      Fun fact: the war has been raging for 200 years and is being waged entirely by immortal soldiers who haven’t known peace their entire lives, assuming they’re not the same recycled soldiers from all the way back at the beginning of the conflict, grinding out meaningless petty victories and defeats one after another without any real hope of securing victory.

      It’s pretty meta like that.

  4. JustAchaP says:

    Thanks to the optimization patch I am playing the game way more than I originally did during the beta.

  5. Conehead The Barbarian says:

    I’ve really enjoyed my small amount of time with planetside 2, however that was cut short due to hitting issue after issue with the launcher. The overall performance of the game has been really good, if only that launcher would work.

  6. Commissar Choy says:

    The last optimization patch boosted my frames from ~15 at the best of times to a nice consistent ~45 even in intense bio battles. And I run a shitty AMD 1035.

  7. Commander Gun says:

    Question to those who know: I actually want to start playing this game. How is the game’s learn curve? Is it as steep as Eve online or somehwat easier? I have lots of experience both with MMO’s (Eve online, WoW) and shooters (Tribes Ascend mostly), but it has been some time since i played either and i sucked at both to begin with.

    • Commander Gun says:

      Editor doesn;t work, it should have said “question to those WHO know”

    • Asurmen says:

      Nothing as steep as EVE, but more to learn than your average FPS. There is a tutorial. After that I’d join the RPS clan and tag along with us while asking questions. Best way to learn!

    • Rizlar says:

      The learning curve is probably very steep. There are a lot of things to learn about, lots of vehicles, gear, base layouts that interact in different ways. I’m still learning new stuff a year in.

      *However* if you are happy to dick around, enjoy the spectacle and gradually learn to kill people in amusing ways, the barrier to entry is very low.

      If you want to get into strategic teamplay and actually making a mark in huge battles then you should join one of the many outfits who do that sort of thing and learn as you go.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      One thing you need to keep in mind is the large scale strategic aspect. If you’re repeatedly dying in the doorway of the spawn room and it feels unfair, it’s usually because the enemy has all but taken the place you’re in, the rest of your faction has fallen back and you shouldn’t even be there anymore. Alternatively if you’re on the attack and just aren’t making any headway, it’s probably because the rest of your faction is focused somewhere else, perhaps even on another continent. Being in a platoon that’s coordinating with others should keep you where you need to be, but otherwise, the map clearly shows force distributions in each region and where your faction is taking and losing ground, and you should refer to it frequently.

    • Koozer says:

      Have you played Battlefield? It’s just that, but in space, with 3 huge maps. Everything else you pick up along the way.

  8. varangian says:

    So is PS2 worth a re-visit now? Got my character up to a decent level and rather enjoyed the basic game, even joined a clan for a bit but they weren’t up to much and about then various patches seemed to turn the game into a slideshow or BSOD creator so I left to catch up with various sp games that had been languishing in my Steam library. Also got fed up with the usual arseholes who’d tk you with a backstab whilst you were teleguiding a missile (I was NC and that was one of my favourite weapons) anything done to inhibit that?

    • Asurmen says:

      Client is more stable now and most people’s fps are up.

    • Rizlar says:

      Don’t see that many arseholes. Normally it’s a newbie accidently shooting me in the face because they thought I was a giraffe. There is the ability to report players for griefing, as far as I know it works.

      Client is definitely more stable post-OMFG.

      • varangian says:

        Yeah, I know you could report people though I’ve yet to hear of any actual action resulting from that. I was hoping SOE might introduce something I saw in another co-op game (can’t remember which one now) where you had an option to ‘forgive’ or ‘punish’ people who tk’d you. Meant that the accidental ones (of which I perpetrated my share in PS2) could be let slide whilst doing it deliberately allowed the victim some measure of justice – in PS2 something like nulling any certs the perp held and stopping them earning any more might be the kind of thing.

    • Leb says:

      I hopped on yesterday since the first time since around release.. its beautiful!

      The performance update is really noticeable, and the changes they made to the map and the fact that players are now experienced and there are players with certs in the commander tree dishing orders, the battles are much more organized even when just messing around on your own.

  9. chris1479 says:

    Unfortunately when I play PS2 I feel like it’s for nothing, sure I might capture a base or hold the enemy of for an hour or so, but ultimately there’s something lacking from PS2 and I haven’t quite put my finger on it.

    I understand that it’s supposed to be more about shorter battles, easier drop in/drop out gameplay, but even as someone who has uninstalled and reinstalled this game probably more times than I care to remember since I was in Alpha, I have to say it fills somewhat… aimless.

    I don’t know what it is exactly, obviously I didn’t start playing under the assumption that this was basically Battlefield 3 with less loadtimes… but this is the feeling I’ve been left with:

    I feel like I’m playing a map of Battlefield 3, except instead of a nice summary and round-up of stats and details at the end of a round… it’s all been replaced with: Nothing. I spawn, I run, I die. Now, I don’t intend this post to be a criticism of running/spawning/dying gameplay per se – many games play in such a way. The problem I have with PS2 is that it all feels like it’s all for…


    Yes. Nothing. I have no idea why I’m assaulting a base, I don’t communicate with my fellow PS2’ers as to which/why/wherefore we are attacking said base, we just do so. And in addition to that I don’t even need any particular skills prior to said assault in order to contribute as much as anyone else, that is to say, nothing in particular. The feeling can be summed up as sort of like a game of hockey, but instead of one team winning and another losing, all teams are winning all the time for no reason in particular. In fact you could drop in either now or seven days from now and the feeling would be exactly the same: You are fighting for nothing. There is no larger purpose, no overarching storyline, no aim, no depth to the gameplay, I simple spawn, I run, I die.

    I love this game. I love this game so much. I spend hours playing it.


    I do not play Planetside 2 in order to play meatgrinder 5000.

    I played PS2 in order to play an MMOFPS that might have a level of depth to it, that I might stick with it for several1years and feel like I’d made a contribution. But no. Instead of that I feel like I’m playing one endless game of ice hockey except no one wins, no one loses, no one is keeping score and ultimately my logging in is only prolonging the torture.

    Please, please, someone at SOE fix this game. It has such huge potential, such a huge array of ideas and tactics that could be put into play, but instead of any of this I feel like I’m playing Battlefield 3 Conquest mode on repeat. Needless to say, if I wanted to play Battlefield 3 Conquest mode I would simply playing Battlefield 3 Conquest mode.

    This game is disappointing, it is a mile wide but less than an inch deep. Where is the depth? Where is the replayability? I feel like I’m playing the same subpar below-average game of Battlefield where instead of there being a kind of summing up or conclusion at the end of the round at least, I played a game which has all the ingredients of a good FPS but instead of padding it with interesting gameplay and tradeoffs, I played something akin to Doom with less multiplayer and even less team cooperation.

    FIX THIS GAME SOE. I want a game. I don’t want fluff and filler and ********, I want a game I can actually spend time with and eek results from. Even Planetside 1 had more depth than this. Is this really the progression players were looking for?

    I am severe disappoint.

    • exogen says:

      tl;dr: “Planetside 2 doesn’t have an end of round summary, so Battlefield is better.”

      p.s. you can push tab and view a very detailed stat report for your current session, as well as a scoreboard for those in your squad.

      just because the game doesn’t force you to sit down for 5 minutes once every 10 minutes and view the scoreboard in between gameplay, you feel it has no depth. I guess you should probably just stick to battlefield, then.

    • hotmaildidntwork says:

      If you can’t put your finger on it, then you can’t very well expect anyone else to do it for you. I mean if you feel compelled to include that then your statement could be considered equivalent to walking into the lobby at SOE HQ and yelling “I don’t know what’s wrong, but somebody had better fix it pronto or I am OUT!”.

      I’m feeling some of the same pain and I’ve come to the conclusion that I’ve let myself be too trained by the mile a minute candy shell coated inanity of modern shooters. All the same information from those end of round summaries is at my fingertips any time I want it, all the strategic objectives are present and sometimes even announced. The marked difference seems to be simply that the game does not at any point slap my hands away from the keyboard and go:
      The elements are there, but I’m expected to decide for myself what is important and when I should be concerned with it. The game starts and ends when I say it does, and the score screen displays when I decide to see it. And apparently the result of this expectation that I can act like an adult is that I don’t feel like I’m accomplishing anything.

      In my case I’ve decided that I need an outfit. Last night I went into the game and started looking for any open groups that were talking in voice. Before I realized that it was 2 a.m. and I should probably sleep or something I’d hotdropped into an enemy held facility from which we stole an entire column of tanks which we then used to “capture” an entirely unremarkable hill from which we spent the next half hour interdicting reinforcements to most of the map until Vanu got so fed up with us that a sizable portion of the population came to pry us out. In short, I think I’m onto something with this idea.

    • MrSean490 says:

      So I guess the problem you’re having is the game seems too temporary? Like you don’t really have any lasting impact on the game, and the motivation behind taking over bases just doesn’t seem very important? I think I know what you mean, if that’s what you mean. I figure the devs are going to add more to the game overtime , add metagame etc.

    • L3TUC3 says:

      This is why I stopped playing too. On Mattherson there was some glory in having the Indar lock but with the 60/40 removal that’s gone. Now it’s a fight to see who can herd cats around slightly better if all sides have the same amount of cats during an alert. There’s no real reward for keeping territory save for a little bit of increased res gain which doesn’t matter. The only reason I kept coming back was because of my outfit, but even that seems to be slowly bleeding out members.

      It’s an endless battle with no clear end-state. The problem lies in the lack of continents as currently there’s no incentive nor ability to push a faction clear off one. There’s no incentive to keep an animosity save for xp gain. The guns are just fluff.

      SOE deliver meta naow!

  10. kevinspell says:

    Love the idea behind the game, but if failed the grind test I use on F2P games. I takes way to long to unlock at least the very basic equipment I, imho, need to be useful in every situation and have fun all the time. And no, I will not buy that stuff. I am ready to invest my money in a F2P game only if it passes that test.

    • MrEclectic says:

      IMHO, having unlocked the majority of the content, the starting infantry weapons are great, and in fact the most versatile. And having used every weapon, most are truly sidegrades. Level-ups sure unlock more options for more specific situations, but that doesn’t mean that you need them, especially as a new player who is not yet familiar with the battle flow. As you progress, and gain a better understanding of what’s going on, you’ll unlock what suits your playstyle.

      Positioning and situational awareness are the most important things in PS2. That’s why most veterans advise new players to start as Combat Medics or Engineers: just behind the first line of contact, so you can support your team, but also observe the flow and learn.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      After a year of experimentation, I’ve settled back into using the default NC6 machine gun for my Heavy Assault. Meanwhile, I’m still routinely dying to players with single figure battle ranks.

      None of the vital equipment lies behind a paywall. You start with perfectly competitive examples of most of it and specialist class upgrades like C4 and improved med-guns are largely marginal and aren’t purchasable with cash anyway.

      If I were in a squad of nothing but lvl 90 Heavy Assaults, I’d swap a bunch of them for lvl 1 Medics and Engineers in a heartbeat.

      • MrUnimport says:

        That’s a bit of an overstatement, the level 90 heavies are going to have maxed Nanoweave Armour and Resist Shield, the tankiest combo in the game, not to mention owning conc grenades and Decimators for an easier time dealing with MAXes, not to mention having CQC and long-range LMGs for a minor edge in those situations. Medics with uncerted healing abilities have drastically limited healing powers, and level 1 Engineers aren’t going to have the AV Mana Turret unlocked and so are going to be less useful against enemy tanks.

        Your overall point is correct though: starter equipment isn’t nearly as limiting as the accompanying lack of experience. Most of the starter guns are great all-rounders, the unlockables are generally a minor advantage at best, and SOE has thankfully reduced the cert prices for many weapons to make starting out less painful, the best example being the anti-air and anti-ground lock-on rocket launchers which are now 250 certs apiece.

  11. Cooper says:

    The current player-progression system is fairly grindy, and it really isn’t helped that it’s much easier to get XP playing lone-wolf than as part of a team actually working together towards goals. One thing that might help is outfit (clan /guild) progression.

    • Celuden says:

      That’s not even remotely true. Between savior and vengeance bonuses, plus the obvious healing/repairing of medics and engineers, and the fact that literally anybody can pull a sunderer for people to spawn at, it’s significantly more profitable playing with a team. Maybe the teams you play with are just bad?

  12. TheRaptorFence says:

    I love Planetside 2 but have given it a break. I cannot stand the terrible forums or Reddit sections, the developers aren’t connected well with the community, and with the lack of new content (OMFG was a nice FPS boost, but it’s been 3 months since any new content has been released) and with the constant breaking of developer dates I feel like I’m being used by SOE for money without much of a good experience (beyond the gameplay itself, which is wonderful but needs some spice to it).

    • Celuden says:

      They’re still working on OMFG. There’s no need for new content when that’s literally all they’ve been producing since the game launched over a year ago. Optimization is way more important than that. If the game doesn’t run well, there won’t be anybody to buy their new content.

  13. Joc says:

    I wonder if it will progress into a game in which innocent players won’t be permanently banned without a proper explanation.

  14. davemaster says:

    Love it, so much fun.

  15. DigitalSignalX says:

    One of our outfit leaders is battle rank 100, and still routinely uses the first default weapon you get as a heavy assault. Like all the class defaults, it’s not perfect for all situations, but the balance across all scenarios is unmatched among any other weapon – which makes it perfect, a testament to PS2’s care in making newbies effective against veterans.

  16. huldu says:

    I didn’t like PS2 “f2p” system at all. Played it for a couple of weeks and never looked back again. This is from a guy who played PS1 for quite a few years. The game itself just felt clunky, the gear grind was beyond bad, they could have done it so much better than that. I’m not going to “pay” to unlock a certain weapon, that’s not going to happen. At most you’ll get $15 a month out of me, that’s it. If that’s not good enough then, so be it. There are other games out there.

    • Asurmen says:

      I think a year long membership works out at that much per month, while shortening the grind. Problem solved.

    • Celuden says:

      I have 2000 certs just lying around while I’m still buying everythign I want on PS2, and I’m only rank 30. Maybe you’re just bad? It’s not an easy game, and it takes a while to get used to. But ultimately there’s no reason you shouldn’t be getting a cert per minute at least.

  17. DXN says:

    Well, the optimization patch turned the game from unplayable to playable on my mid-powered PC, so that was nice. Since then I’ve had a lot of fun playing NC on a US server (tend to be more, and more talkative people there), usually rolling with the VCO outfit who are a good bunch.

    And it’s a lot of fun! Sheer scale and a fairly nicely balanced flow of battle helps a lot with that. In particular the new grid matrix(?) system that links territories together and funnels the direction of advancement somewhat, and the grouping of territories into larger, interdependent areas. If you’re on your own or with a small squad of randoms it can be easy to lose that flow and feel like you’re just wandering around aimlessly, although there are a lot of tools to counteract that once you get to grips with them. But with a decently organised outfit who can keep you moving along the rolling frontline, there’s a more interesting sense of push and pull, of setting goals and fighting your way through to them, or if the tide turns, then holding it back and hoping for reinforcements. Of course it’s all ultimately just a big stalemate, but as long as you can feel that you and your teammates did well at what you tried to achieve, it can be nicely gratifying. Oh, and the periodic alerts (capture a continet, or 9 biodomes, etc) make for a nice medium-term goal to work towards and coordinate with other outfits on.

    The fundamentals of running even a full platoon aren’t ultimately that complicated – keep everyone together, set markers, keep spawnpoints up, organize the occasional gal drop, max crash or armor column, and occasionally redirect everyone to a more interesting or useful fight. That and a bit of banter is really all that’s needed to bring out what the game was supposed to be, what leads to all the cool battle anecdotes and scenes.

    And the scenes are frequently rad. I don’t want to get all “attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion”, but when there’s a flood of tanks rolling down a steep valley as rockets rain down on them, or a flight of fighters swooping overhead as your squad crests a gully and swarms a hidden sunderer, or a flurry of attackers in a shimmering biodome meets a wall of defenders blasting away with gunfire, or a triplet of gals thunder down and belch out an army of max suits on your heads — all with battles just as awesome or even cooler happening all around you, feeding into eachother and swelling across the landscape.. well it’s just badass. :P

    I’m not usually a fan of F2P, but this one isn’t so bad, though definitely a bit more pushy and less equitable than in TF2. There are plenty of things that are cash-only including apparently *all* cosmetic upgrades, and although the default weapons are mostly pretty useful, there’s still a fair amount of basic equipment and upgrades which you need to grind for before you’re really on an equal footing with the average player/group. Well, I say grinding, but it’s only a few hours — maybe 10? — and it’s still fun to tag along with things as a basic, low-level grunt until then, and you get to the point where your playstyle can open up more. Anyway, it’s the core gameplay that’s the appeal for me, so I’m not too fussed by the idea of maxing out on certs. Having said that, a more interesting/meaningful way of progressing is definitely a welcome proposition.

  18. SuicideKing says:

    Well, i jumped in a bit after quite few months, definitely smoother and higher frames. Want to play with RPS’ NC group but that’ll mean starting my NC character on Cobalt from level 1 again. Only on 13 or something so no real biggy.

  19. Celuden says:

    All this means is that after they’re (finally) optimizing the game to be in a playable state, they’re going to (finally) add in some of the extremely rudimentary features that the first Planetside had to keep people playing. That means things like bringing vehicles to other continents through warpgates and therefore actual continent locking. Some people will say that Hossin is an important part of this, but Amerish doesn’t even have a lattice system yet (not to mention the lattice system is kinda stupid right now. There’s no reason that every single base on the continent needs to be part of the lattice, there should be freely capturable towers for flanking and stuff), and the population is such that if you play on the US East server at any time past 1AM (most of the time I’m playing) there are barely enough people to keep Indar populated, and Indar is ALWAYS the populated one, leaving Amerish and Esamir as ghost continents. Adding a fourth continent would be utterly disastrous to the population of the game.