Thus far, PlanetSide 2 has proven to be pretty great, but it's definitely not perfect. The main issue, as I see it, is that it's not currently being played by everyone on Earth. But then, it is only in beta, and that's simply the nature of the beast. It doesn't have to be, though. Not anymore. SOE, you S-O-see, just kicked off a new "Alpha Squad" program. Yes, it'll run you $40 for a planet-sized shooter that is - technically speaking - free-to-play, but this is actually a pretty nice deal. Allow me to explain.
In short, Alpha Squad's a founder's program. Happily, in addition to immediate beta access, you'll also pocket the Sony Spacebuck equivalent of - yep - $40. On top of that, you'll nab a special title ("Founder" - imagine that), a six-month 10 percent XP boost, and 12 weapon unlocks. Admittedly, it's still something of a leap of faith (I mean, how are you to know whether or not PlanetSide 2's items will even be worth purchasing?), but you've got a pretty solid safety net beneath you, all told. Also, SOE Starbucks (note: maybe not their real name) can be spent in any other SOE game as well, so that's always an option. And if you're still not feeling it, the page notes that PlanetSide 2 will officially launch "on or before December 31, 2012."
The program's available in both North America and Europe, with one weapon for each combat class (per faction) rounding out your arsenal. So basically, you get three assaults rifles, three carbines, three LMGs, and three snipers. That's nearly enough guns to stack on top of each other and build a gun fort.
Even if you're already in the beta, you can still snag an Alpha Squad membership. Unfortunately, you can't give away your extra beta key. Everything in this package goes straight to your account, and none of it is transferable. Sorry, friends. But here, I got you all these rocks. You can pretend that they're - I don't know - Vanu space artifacts or something. Or, yeah, I suppose you could raise them in a very threatening fashion, as if to pelt me relentlessly. In retrospect, I suppose rocks weren't the best idea for a consolation prize.