I keep forgetting that Planetside 2 is in closed beta. It's so big and busy that my brain tricks me into believing it's been launched. But there's still a lot to do, and SOE have shared the more immediate fixes with the players. SOE President John "Smed" Smedley took to the forums to outlay a bunch of upcoming changes, including some dramatic changes to the in-game economy, the announcement of another continent, and he even teased when the release date would be announced.
According to Smed, the most important area is performance. I've not suffered any problems myself, but I'm special: "As it stands now we know the game needs improving in all areas. We are currently CPU bound which means it's more important what kind of CPU you have versus what kind of graphics card. As I said we have major improvements coming. This isn't magic. It's hard work. Planetside 2 is always going to have a higher end requirement than other similar games because of the scale of fights we have."
But that sort of fix is a given in a beta, especially in a game as demanding as Planetside. Interesting fact regarding performance issues: the Planetside 2 beta has already had more people playing it than ever played the original.
Next up is the metagame. This is more of a problem for me than the performance issues, with the continent being too easily gobbled up by a single empire, leaving sides with barely resources to claw back. I'm not saying that it shouldn't be possible, just that there should be something to fight over if the continent is fully locked down. There was an underlying cause that I hadn't thought of: Planetside 2 was designed as a three continent game. Indar was recently launched as a foil to Esamir, but Smedley announced that Amerish will be added for launch.
The economy will be simplified. Right now there's Auraxium, Cert points, and Station cash. Auraxium, which was earned through healing, capturing and kills and was used to buy guns, vehicle weapons and upgrades, will be phased out, with all its purchase power transferred over to Cert points. To that end, according to Smedley, "we will be dramatically increasing the speed at which you gain certs. Something like 4x."This is particularly good news. There was too much going on in the economy in a game about manshoots, and keeping track of what unlocked what was getting annoying. Standardising the system clarifies the upgrade paths. The costs of weapons will soon be set, and all the unlockable certifications will added within the next two weeks.
There's a real push to simplify the game in time for launch. There's going to be a tutorial, and in another post Lead Designer Matt Higby went into specific details of squad enhancements that simply team play.
Spawn beacons will no longer cost resources or use up a tool slot.
Squad leaders who are actively leading a squad and have unlocked the beacon cert will be able to place a beacon on a timer.
The nearest "hard spawn point" to your squad leader will be available to all squad mates to spawn at regardless of their location on the map
Squad vehicles like Sunderers will be available to be spawned at regardless of distance.
Players will be able to "Instant Action" to their squad leader as long as the instant action timer is available.
The most frustrating element of the game, finding a fight, is slowly being fixed. With these tweaks, and a working 'Instant Action' mechanic (currently it's pot luck if you end up where you clicked on the map), getting into battle should be a lot slicker. They're aiming to have it tweaked before the game opens up to the masses, a date that'll be announced sometime tomorrow evening. To whet your appetite, there's some classy machinima below.