Have You Played… Planetside 2?

Have You Played? is an endless stream of game retrospectives. One a day, every day of the year, perhaps for all time.

Pew pew pew. Zap zap. EXPLODE. Those are the sounds of Planetside 2 [official site] which is a videogame you may have heard about.

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.


  1. CMaster says:

    Well err yes:
    link to rockpapershotgun.com

    It was both a great game, and a massively disappointing one.
    The scale is in many ways unmatched (sure, EVE, but ti-di and spreadsheet combat) and the FPS was actually pretty decent for 2011. But it never really had anybody involved with it (or at least, not with enough power) who thought about the game design at all. So it had some massive flaws baked in to it from the start, and later changes to try and fix other issues were always half-baked and considered in isolation. And, as can be the case with F2P games, as populations dwindled, the monetization thumbscrews were turned tighter.

    I played a lot of it, and enjoyed the vast majority of time. But it was always something a case of glimpses of what could have been great, rather than a great game itself.

  2. brucethemoose says:

    Yes, and I still do. Bloody brilliant game!

    Biggest problem is the skill cap, IMHO. There’s no matchmaking like a normal FPS, and pretty much all current players are old vets. So you’re basically cannon fodder until you put hundreds of hours into the game.

    “But often I would just find myself wandering the huge map”

    There are lots of hidden nooks and crannies that make great base spots. So roaming around in an ANT and soaking up all the scenery is a totally viable way to play now (though, unfortunately, you need to invest a ton of certs into construction or make a high level friend to use them).

  3. Eleven says:

    Because of this game, I will never feel the same way about giraffes again.

  4. BooleanBob says:

    It was an incredible game to be a tourist in. I spent a few days on the servers, accomplishing little, performing woefully, but just happy to drink in the sheer spectacle of it all. Battles look and feel just like you stepped into one of those sci fi book covers.

  5. geldonyetich says:

    I liked Planetside, which was based on Tribes’ mechanics, but could not really get invested in Planetside 2, which was based more on Modern Warfare/Battlefield 3+ mechanics.

    It’s downright mean-spirited how heavily it incentivizes shooting people in the back. It’s a balance where you either lay in wait from an unpredictable location to gun down unsuspecting passersby, or you’re fodder. I won’t argue the realism, but I play games to escape the harshness of reality, not become an epitome of it.

  6. aircool says:

    Have I ever!

  7. Inu says:

    The battles too chaotic, too long to organize with often very little effect.

    Not to mention extremely poor FPS.
    I gotta say i love their support for voice chat though.

    The mega-balance patch on the horizon could shake things up enough to give it another shot though.

    I’ve always felt this game has simply needed “Arena” modes, that essentially were more classic Battlefield 2 style maps / matches.
    This would provide those who find it a little chaotic to have some semblance of structure or control in their gameplay.

    But it would be heavily incentived to only do 4 matches a day maximum, so the world battles would still be the main event.

    The matches would be limited to 2 factions and 64 per team. This allows for proper flow, and MUCH better FPS performance.

  8. Sin Vega says:

    One of few MMOs I adored with few reservations. It’s great for solo play too, although that may depend on what you like to do, and how good you are at it. I was never world class but I became a skilled solo infiltrator, playing not as a boring killcount chasing sniper (although I got damn good at both popping people and vanishing for a while, always with the default New Congomerate sniper rifle, the best in the game) but as a sneaky distraction, spotter, and occasionally pivotal saboteur/sudden opener of a second front behind enemy lines.

    I’ll get back into it sooner or later, though I doubt I’ll ever regain my skills. Some of my fondest game memories came from Planetside 2, and some of those were spent simply watching events unfold from miles away, as scouts became skirmishers, then strike forces, then entire armies swarming over a vase in the distance, while vehicles spiral in and out, trailing smoke and fire, and thin lines of semi-organised reinforcements peel along darkening roads in the dusk, unaware that I was lurking in the shade of a nearby tree… but not, this time, interested in delaying them.

    It’s sort of empty of stuff to do once you get far away from the action, but it’s sometimes still lovely to wander round and simply watch.

    • aircool says:

      Can’t remember the name of the base, but on the southern slope of the eastern edge of the ridge on Indar. The wide open spaces made for a beautiful spectacle during large night fights.

  9. aircool says:

    I was quite happy to play solo most of the time, either with an AA-Lightning (with which I became quite skilled with my finest moment taking out FOUR Mosquito’s that were trying to kill me), or the little quad bike that had a stealth cloak, where you’d search out the enemy Sundies and do invisible drive by’s, running over the poor, unsuspecting bastards.

    Occasionally, I’d run into one or two familiar faces and group up to do all sorts of horrible things such as hacking enemy base weapons to shoot their own vehicles, or setting up MANPADS pickets close to where enemy aircraft spawned.

    I really miss that game… I really do :(

  10. MikoSquiz says:

    Like that popular Left 4 Dead knockoff I can’t remember the name of, this is a game I tried because a lot of my friends were actively playing it on a regular basis, and bounced off because I thought the baseline movement and shooting functions felt egregiously terrible and unpleasant to use.

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    subdog says:

    No other game has really captured that massive scale, with hundreds of players fighting over the same base with aircraft, infantry and land vehicles. It’s pretty awe-inspiring to take a dangerous waypoint while a dogfight blazes just over your head.

    If you want to see videos of someone who has complete mastery of a game, check out Elusive1’s PS2 videos. It’s insane how good he was. Aspects of this game had an enormous skill ceiling (ESF pilots in particular), and he definitely reached the top of the infantry ceiling.

    My dream is that one day a big, reputable AAA dev like Blizzard or Valve will make its own polished and perfected version of the PS2 formula. But I won’t hold my breath.

    • brucethemoose says:

      Yeah, the MMOFPS just sounds like a genre begging to be exploited, yet no-one else has really done it.

      Maybe the technical aspects are more difficult than we give SOE credit for.

  12. haldolium says:


    Overly promising game, fantastic atmosphere, fantastic sound design, overly disappointing game desing.

    There is no combined arms in Planetside 2, only grind with CoD-like emphasis on kills, kills, kills.

    Could’ve been much more, but screwed up from the start with wrong focus on core dynamics.

    And still I do miss it often, since even in its flawed way, PS2 was and remains unique.

    And again, *over the top* sound design. I really cant stretch it enough how well they managed that part. Despite DICE maybe, no other FPS delivers that kind of high level spatial awareness while maintaining a great feeling to way over 100 different weapons, vehicles and players.
    If there are a hundred players fighting, it does sound like there are a hundred players fighting. No lags in it, no horrors like overlapping, it is very well done and will not stop to amaze me.

  13. poliovaccine says:

    Only ever played a handful of games, but I admire it. I loved the sheer scale of human involvement – I saw jets swooping over charging fieldsful of mans, I saw dudes jumping off high shit and futurejeeps plowing thru crowds of infantry – it felt like a first person RTS, in the best possible way..

    And it was stressful as hell being bad at it, so I dont play it often..

  14. fish99 says:

    Played it quite a bit in its first 6 months, enjoyed it a bunch but felt like I’d seen everything it had to offer, at least to a mostly solo player.

    I feel like the game was doomed from day one though due to poor optimization and lack of a meta-game, and that basically comes down to poor design and releasing it too early. I also came away with the opinion that SOE had some poor programmers since every update would break a bunch of stuff and it took them ages to add new features. Playing H1Z1 only confirmed this opinion.

    FPS-MMO is a genre which could be amazing though.

  15. mejoff says:

    I’m a bit confused by the tone of a lot of the comments on here,wistfully reminiscing about the Good Old Days in that game that doesn’t exist anymore?

    Like, it’s still running, still gets enough players for constant enrmous battles, updating, improving and fun.

    Or have I missed some bad news?

    • termit says:

      Nah, it’s still running, but with monetization changes, some stuff changed/added due to PS4 support, etc… the playerbase has dwindled. I personally stopped playing after one of the updates due to the aforementioned PS4 support, as the movement on my PC started feeling.. floaty for a lack of a better word.
      But I enjoyed my time in it greatly, both with my C4 Necromancer (C4 fairies are for babies ;)) and plinking at MBTs/Sundies from miles with an AT lightning. Also, giraffes!