The PlanetSide 2 beta approaches. If you gaze off into the distance, you can see it lumbering our direction - largely because the more-massively-multiplayer-than-every-other-massively-multiplayer shooter looks to be bigger than Earth. SOE's officially rolling out the red carpet in the form of a conveniently organized what-you-need-to-know list, and - as it turns out - it translates roughly to "a lot of things." Let us slip into our most comfortable sifting gloves and have a go at it after the break.
First up, when's it kicking off? Well, there's still no official date for you to fantasize about, but an external tech test is slated for any second now, and not long after that, the games will begin. SOE explained:
"Our external testing will be kicking off sometime this week (to be totally clear, I mean the week of July 9th - July 15th) with the technical test that we've been talking a lot about. This test will let us make sure the game runs across a variety of hardware configurations and the people invited will be hand picked based on the requirements in our hardware matrix. We're currently internally evaluating the build we expect to be used for this test and those players who have been selected will be receiving invites as soon as we're ready."
So that takes care of when, but how about who? Initially, PlanetSide 1 vets will be first in line. However, SOE notes that "we're not going to be opening the floodgates by inviting all of the thousands of PlanetSide veterans on day 1, but you are still the highest priority to get invites as we expand the testing circle out." After that, priority beta keys - ala those handed out in a recent PC Gamer competition - will be your golden ticket into SOE's magical murder factory, with basic keys from devs or E3 unlocking shortly after.
Also, in case you had any doubts, this isn't a glorified demo. It's an honest-to-goodness bug-squashing beta, so expect a few hiccups along the way.
"Beta testing is a critically important part of our development cycle on this project, we may be asking you to only play on tanks for a play session, or only play aircraft. We are doing true beta testing, not just a game demo and we implore those of you who are invited to understand and respect that. Things will break, the server will be unavailable sometimes, we will cancel scheduled tests when we find something that breaks before the test starts. All of this will help us make a better final game."
Which is good news, seeing as these things are incredibly valuable tools that have, in recent years, gotten chewed up and spat out by the marketing spin cycle. I'd be lying, however, if I said my motivations for wanting in were entirely altruistic. Say what you will about the industry's glut of shooters, but PlanetSide 2 looks totally bonkers. Sure, the central action I'm performing is about as sophisticated as swinging from monkey bars, but I don't mind so much seeing as I'll be on the biggest playground ever.