I wasn't too into it playing it alone in the beta, but when it released and I got all my friends hopping on with me, well, it changed everything. Sony Online Entertainment has taken the free to play genre to a whole new level. When we run through all the free to play shooters out, they're generally simple games that can be compared to Call of Duty. But then there's PlanetSide 2 with incredible graphics and ginormous warfare you won't get in any other game. So good that you'll find yourself feeling the need to put down some money, maybe even more than the price of a standard game.
PlanetSide 2 gives us a generic class system when we hop into the game and to figure out what works for you, you'll probably have to toy with each one. In most games I play a medic class, so I tried the Combat Medic and enjoyed it, but after a while the Engineer grew onto me. But the thing is, you don't need to focus on one class and only play that one for the rest of eternity. When I play I tend to select whatever class is right for the current situation. If there's a ton of enemy tanks, hell yeah I'm pulling out my rocket launcher. If everyone is dying, Combat Medic is the way to go. And so on. There's a good balance of classes which everyone will find a class they enjoy, if not several.
With every free to play game we have to deal with item shops, how else would companies make money? PlanetSide 2 treads lightly by pulling the play to win method. You can spend money and get equipment faster, while you can also play for a long time and purchase them with in-game currency(certificates). With over 50 hours clocked in PlanetSide 2 playing with friends we all ended up putting a bit of money down for station cash. Granted I managed to get abilities and attachments with certificates, but with PlanetSide 2, it's good enough that you won't feel bad putting money down. But in the end you won't feel forced to pay at all. Even with default equipment you can still make a big impact in every battle you participate in.
Loyalty Beyond Death
The biggest thing about PlanetSide 2 is just the battles to be honest. Whether you're part of a giant outfit or just hopped into a platoon of several squads steamrolling the map, it's a ton of fun. Earlier today I found myself in a platoon with 40 players that were all synchronized in working together. One moment we'd be mass attacking a facility with armor. When I said armor, I mean 30 tanks, a few Sunderers, and maybe a few people flying. Another time we'd be defending an outpost for a half hour as we're getting hammered by everything the enemy has, yet we'd still hang on. Even if it was just by a thread. There are giant battles all over PlanetSide 2 on each continent between the three empires.
Sony Online Entertainment has created a game that we're able to hop into for half an hour or half a day. You may hop in for one of those battles or you may get fully immersed into the atmosphere and feel the need to really fight for your empire. With three continents constantly fighting, once you conquer one, you move onto the next one. The fight never ends and is never entirely won. As they say, you may have won the battle, but not the war. The main problem with giant battles is that if it's a facility it can end up being a grind or a zerg if you will. People like to defend and attack a facility for hours just going back and forth killing. Sometimes it's alright, but after a while it can get kind of boring. Well, at times there will be no advances or changes in the fight and it will in fact become a huge zerg. You'll die a lot, you'll kill a lot, but nothing will change until a well organized outfit or platoon hops in.
I can probably fly this upside down
Let's take a moment to look at the vehicles in PlanetSide 2. For starters, we've got armor and air. The nice thing about both sides is that they can be used for a variety of purposes. SOE gives you a variety of vehicles for transportation, killing air, killing ground, etc. Then you've got upgrades you grab with certificates to give you special abilities or more armor for however you want to tailor it. Take it a step further and get a new weapon so you can focus on a certain type of enemy. Sometimes it's just even entertaining to fly around in a Mosquito, I happen to know that very well. Let's just say a picture can tell a thousand words. Something cool you see every now and then with platoons when flying is escorting. As if it's something out of a movie or something you'd see Blue Angels doing. Not always, but sometimes you'll have a Galaxy flying a squad of people to a base to reinforce with several Mosquitos or Liberators flying alongside. Honestly, it looks really cool.
Personally I've gotten the most use out of the Sunderer vehicle which can transport units on ground as well as deploy. See now when a Sunderer deploys, they're a spawn point wherever they end up deploying. Even if it's in the middle of enemy territory, you can now spawn there. In every big battle there's at least one or two of them nearby right up against the enemy's wall waiting to be spawned on. Something that needs to be mentioned about deploying overall though is that you can only deploy into select areas. If you die you'll be able to spawn at nearby spawn points or all the way back at your main base generally. But if you wanted to entirely change your location and go to the other side of the map where you do in fact have territory, you can't. Unless your squad leader puts a spawning beacon down or you take a vehicle. I wish there was maybe even a small feature that would allow you to click the territory and then it'll give you spawning options in that area.
The joy of fighting at night
How could I not discuss the graphics that the ForgeLight engine does a great job of creating. While you can tweak the graphics down, if you take to the max, you're in for a heck of a visual experience. When you start to look around and realize the lighting between night and day time, it's amazing. Playing PlanetSide 2 at night in-game is another extremely awesome part of the game. The way a tech plant lights up and then just seeing tracers and Vanu weapons being fired. The sky lights up as weapons are fired and explosions appear. You'll need a powerful system if you plan on running PlanetSide 2 on high settings, but if you can it's certainly worth it. The PlanetSide 2 review over on MMORPG just reminded me of a video showing off the graphics in this and I'm going to link it in as well. Just for an idea of the environments and combat you'll get into at the highest settings, check it out. Did I mention this is free to play?
I've mentioned a few things that bothered me in PlanetSide 2 but let's dissect it a little more. In terms of bugs, the only issue I've come across since launch is falling through the map. It doesn't happen often or even easily. It's something that you got stuck trying to sneak under a stair case and moved the wrong way that you manage to fall out of it. Next thing you know you're falling for 15 seconds to your death. Otherwise, I haven't come across any bugs and that's great I'd say. As mentioned when discussing the graphics, running PlanetSide 2 without lagging is a feat alone that you should be awarded for. Some of us can run it fine while others are struggling even with low settings. PlanetSide 2 is a little rough on performance, but it's not impossible to play.
Those annoying pet peeves!
After bugging people that have played PlanetSide 2 with me about what they thought was wrong, I came up with this. My brother feels that there's no incentive to team up. In a game like this, if you don't cooperate with your empire, you're screwed. This isn't the type of game to lone wolf, everyone needs to work together in order to conquer a continent. There needs to be leadership and strategic thinking to get things rolling. It's not even just all about the guys in a private leader chat talking, it's about the grunts, the squads, and platoons all working together. Platoons and outfits coordinating together are when things really happen. Otherwise, it's going to be a long zerg at a facility or you're going to lose the fight entirely. Cooperation is needed everywhere whether it's with the few people in a squad or the 48 in a platoon. It has to happen. My other buddy doesn't quite like part of the spawning system. When a base is being taken over to the point that you're locked in one of those small buildings with a bunch of team mates, it gets annoying. You'll have shields so enemies can't shoot in, but you can shoot out. Granted, you can choose not to spawn there, but when you don't know how things are going and end up there, ouch. He feels that when your base is getting taken over and you're stuck their grinding while people watch your spawn, it's pretty damn annoying.
Overall, Sony Online Entertainment shows that the free to play genre doesn't just need to be a bunch of simple games or something for us to resort to if we can't afford a game right now. PlanetSide 2 has revolutionized the free to play genre and will continue to. It has few issues, but in the end they barely even affect your experience. I never played the original PlanetSide, but easily I can say this is a successor to it.
Which empire will you fight for?