It would be an understatement to say that many hopes and expectations are riding on the shoulders of the folks working on PlanetSide 2. As a sequel to a game that to this day remains entirely in a league of its own, I, for one, expect PlanetSide 2 to be to MMOFPSs what World of Warcraft was to MMORPGs. In fact, I’d stake my reputation on and state up front that once this game goes live, I fully anticipate that it will redefine the way we, as gamers, look at MMOs as a whole, and for the better. PlanetSide 2 will show that MMOs can be about more than simply chasing after bigger and better gear in private, secluded instances, and it will also show that conflicts between players can take place on a scale vastly larger than 16v16. Most importantly, PlanetSide 2 sounds like it will create the sort of epic, persistent conflict that many of us, both shooter and MMO fans alike, have dreamed about for over a decade; the kind of conflict that involves not dozens, but thousands of players working together and competing against one another in a world that never sleeps, and a game that never ends.
Until recently, very few details regarding PlanetSide 2 were available to the public, forcing us PlanetSide veterans into speculation over what PlanetSide 2 will be like. All of that changed during the recent SOE Fan Faire, where John Smedley and Matt Higby revealed a veritable cornucopia of information during their PlanetSide 2 presentation, community panel and Q&A. Before we get to what I hope about PlanetSide 2, this is what we know about PlanetSide 2:
Having said that, these are the things that I as a veteran PlanetSide player hope to see in PlanetSide 2:
Integrated Command Structure
During the SOE Fan Faire panel on PlanetSide 2, Matt Higby mentioned that the game will have an automated factional mission system, which will help direct the flow of combat. He also hinted that player commanders will be able to interact with this system, providing some degree of control. I can’t stress how much of a relief this is to me, personally, since one of my biggest gripes with the original PlanetSide has always been with its absolutely horrid command system. For years now many players have demanded some form of integrated command system, and it sounds like we’ll finally get it in PlanetSide 2. I just hope that the developers don’t pull any punches with the new system and actually give us the tools we need to create own missions for outfits, squads, players and classes, ensuring that the flow of combat is directed largely by the minds and actions of the actual players. After all, how awesome would it be if a commander could issue an order for all available Reaves pilots in an area to bomb the ever living hell out of a specific hex, or request armored support in a region that needs stronger defense? The very thought sends shivers down my spine.
A Stronger Sense of Prestige
While Higby and Smedley have spent a great deal of time emphasizing the fact that outfits in PlanetSide 2 will have more tools at their disposal to distinguish themselves in terms of capability, such as one outfit defining themselves as an air cavalry outfit and another as an infiltration outfit, they didn’t really discuss plans to give outfits the ability to flaunt their prestige in-game. I think I speak for the vain out there when I say it’d be great if PlanetSide 2 had some way for us to strut our stuff in game by hanging our outfit banners from the walls of facilities we’ve captured. It would also be great if high-performing outfits could unlock special uniforms and vehicle paint jobs to further distinguish themselves from other players in the field. Special trophies or pieces of visual flair for achievements earned by individuals could go a long way to boosting egos as well – after all, in a game that won’t have leet epics, you need to have something for people to lord over others, right?
The phrases “sandbox” and “like EVE” were thrown around enough times during the Fan Faire to nearly put me in a pleasure-coma. However, one of the things that really defines a sandbox game in many cases is the ability for players to create and enjoy social content. We know without a doubt that PlanetSide 2 is going to be an action-oriented game, so I don’t exactly expect to see people hanging out in a cantina playing music or getting drunk. However, it’d sure help drive the sandbox theme if players could have more interaction with social content, such as the ability to create, capture, upgrade and destroy outfit facilities or player-controlled structures. Some form of player economy would also help drive this theme home, and while I don’t anticipate the addition of crafting to the game, it might be nice if players could use resources to upgrade facilities with manufacturing plants so that they could then produce goods to trade with other players. Anyone that’s played Starwars Galaxies or Shadowbane should know what I’m getting at here, and it’d add just one more thing for players to fight over.
Matt Higby briefly mentioned that the number of continents available in PlanetSide 2 will be smaller at launch than what we currently see in PlanetSide. The reason for this seems to be so that the developers can put more effort into making every inch of PlanetSide 2 enjoyable. Hopefully the result of this will be that each of the continents available will not only have different terrain layouts, but also different structural themes as well as different resource availability. Furthermore, it’d be great if each continent not only offered a different set of resource densities, but also one or more unique resources that could not be found on any other continent. This would make factional control of a given continental region even more important, further distinguishing one continent from another.
Incentives to Defend Territory
A big issue with the original PlanetSide game was that most of the focus was on capturing new territory, but there wasn’t really much incentive to hold onto it once you’ve captured it. With the revelation that territory control will yield resources over time in PlanetSide 2, I expect there to be a drastically renewed interest in actually maintaining control of territory that’s been captured. However, it’s my hope that the player will have a strong incentive to keep a territory for a longer period of time not only due to the sheer value of the resources obtained for each extra moment the territory is held, but also by some sort of increasing value of the holding. For example, perhaps the rate at which resources are granted could increase as time goes by, or maybe defending a territory for a longer period of time could confer some sort of defensive benefit to nearby territories. One way or another, I hope that defending a territory in PlanetSide 2 becomes just as appealing as conquering a new one.
A Way to “Win” A Continent
“Winning” is a somewhat touchy subject in MMOs, especially sandbox ones. Obviously in an MMO you can never really “win” the game, since you can’t defeat your enemy utterly, and there’s never a match-reset like what you see from non-MMO shooters. However, one hope I’ve seen expressed by many players is that there’ll be some sort of specific goal for each continent – a central area that all factions can fight towards, and something that evokes a sense of winning or losing when it’s captured or lost. This would give the game a King of the Hill type of mechanic, where each continent has a massive central facility providing a unique benefit to the faction that controls it. While controlling the center wouldn’t actually mean winning the game, it would scratch the I-wanna-win itch.
Naval & Aerial Assets
Last, I would frigging love to see Air & Sea bases. PlanetSide players have asked for years for the inclusion of some form of naval gameplay, and while I don’t anticipate seeing boats right off the bat, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see islands that could be attacked and captured via aircraft or hover tank. Furthermore, with the removal of the massive HART ships, the developers have a unique opportunity to include either orbital stations or massive aerial ships that could be used as contestable forward bases, perhaps granting the controlling empire either some form of air superiority or a new method of pod-dropping their soldiers into combat. Either way, both naval bases and aerial platforms would add extra dimensions to the gameplay – and extra dimensions that I think any PlanetSide fan could appreciate.
But enough about my opinions; what do the rest of you hope to see in PlanetSide 2? Now’s the best time to brainstorm – after all, who knows who’s reading?