Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.
I never touched the original PlanetSide, but I always liked hearing its veterans go on about the Vanu and such as they talked about the (over)ambitious MMO shooter. Planetside 2, however, I did touch, carefully and only for a short time, like a dangerous animal. Putting aside the free-to-play junk, it is an improvement on its forbearer’s ambition. It generates rivalry and conflict on a huge scale and there are levels of play unknown to the humble shock trooper who just pops in for a firefight or two.
I learned about some of those higher levels when I went for a ridealong with some of the Generals and soldiers within all three of the game’s factions. There were leaders of huge groups of “pubbies” who would corral and herd their noobish soldiers into “zerg” rushes for supremacy, using sheer weight of numbers to win territory. But there were also smaller, specialised units, who would show up and demolish anyone who came by, despite often being outnumbered. Then there were brotherly gangs who fought for any side, and rolled around in armoured vehicles, shooting and laughing at everything they saw. It was a strange ecosystem made almost exclusively of mans with guns.
And it’s still going, even if its numbers are not what they once were. More than that, it recently added some light base-building features. As a shooter, it’s solid enough. But often I would just find myself wandering the huge map, poking at the lines as a lone wolf, doing nothing for the war effort but peeping at distant enemies running into their base. As a world soaked in conflict, it can also be oddly peaceful sometimes.