When Planetside 2 launched last week, like many MMO launches, it was a bumpy one with the majority of players unable to log into the servers for hours, myself included. However by the end of the day the bugs were fixed and I was ready to deploy, I just didn’t know I would be deployed straight into a warzone.
My first life was unfortunately a short one being killed within 5 seconds of deployment and my second life wasn’t much longer. For some reason SOE thought the best way to teach players how the game works was to put them directly into a active combat zone. After a few more respawns and a few more deaths I got the basics of what was going on and managed to get to a safe area where I could finally figure out what the hell I was doing. The controls are very similar to any other FPS you might have played, but the UI is very overwhelming with lots of icons all over the screen. I couldn’t tell if the icons were pointing out allies or enemies so I had a few incidences of friendly-fire in the beginning, but soon figured things out.
After about an hour of examining the classes, item shop, upgrades, the map and everything else, I got a pretty good feel for the game and was on my way.
For those wondering why I skipped character creation it’s because there is none. You’re character is covered in armor, which can be customized in-game via the item shop and unlocks, so there’s really no reason to have a character creation.
Planetside 2 is pretty much exactly what you would think it is. Take any FPS game, increase the map size 100 time, add a few thousands players and make it persistent and that pretty much sums up the game. Outposts and command centers are scattered around the map allowing factions to control them and gain resources from them, although this system seems to be flawed.
In order to use vehicles such as gunships, tanks, quads and even to restock your characters grenades you need resources. The issue I find is that I never run out of resources, even when I empty them out, a few hours later they’re full again. An example is of the resource used for grenades. You can only carry 1 grenade at and time and can hold 40 in reserve, which I’ve maxed out and now can’t use grenades fast enough to ever run out of the resource for it. The same goes for tanks and air vehicles. Unless you’re horrible and die constantly, you’re just not going to use the resources fast enough.
I suppose if a faction is being dominated and they don’t hold many control points, resources come into play, but at this time it seems like they’re unlimited.
Moving on to combat and gameplay, it’s shocking how many players can be on screen at the same time and how well the game still runs. In other MMORPGs hitting under 10 frames-per-second is not unusual, but in a shooter like Planetside 2 where aim is everything, a frame-rate like that would be devastating. While Planetside 2 does run great, it’s still doesn’t run at an acceptable frame-rate. I’d categorize my PC as medium-high end and I’m averaging about 25 FPS with peaks at about 40 and lows at about 15.
To me anything below 30 frames is unacceptable because it makes aiming too difficult and with Planetside 2, when I’m in combat, my FPS are about 15-25. I’ve tried tweaking my settings by turning everything off and running on low, but I saw no noticeable gain in FPS and went back to med-high settings.
Frame-rates aside, combat is outstanding; the game really makes you feel like you’re in a real warzone. Planes are constantly flying over head, tanks are rolling over hills and down roads, platoons of players advancing on enemy locations and snipers are everywhere. This isn’t just a shooter, this is war!
I will say I wish the terrain offered a bit more foliage for snipers to hide in as there is very little to be found, but I suppose that’s one of the trade-offs for better framer-rates so it’s acceptable.
Next I’ll discuss the progression system, which sadly in my opinion is the worst part of the game. As with many of today’s first-person shooters, characters can level up and unlock new weapons, skills, skins, attachments and other cosmetic enhancements. Planetside 2 unfortunately offers almost no new skills to earn. Comparing it to a game like Modern Warfare where players can gain better aiming, faster movement, faster reloads, radar invisibility and lots of other perks, Planetside 2 offers none of that, with the vast majority of unlocks being different weapons, scopes, attachments and skins, which makes progression a little lack-lustered.
I’ve been concentrating on the sniper class and have been unlocking as much as I can and while switching to a different rifle or scope does change things up a bit, I’m unable to customize my character to my play-style. I’d would be nice if I could trade off armor for faster running speed or an increase in aim skill. I know SOE didn’t want high level players to be able to dominate low level players and I’m not suggesting that. Interchangeable skills or perks that are available to everyone at level 1 would give players the ability to customize classes to their play-style and no one would have an advantage.
Lastly I’ll discuss the feel of the game. When I original logged into the game, I couldn’t get enough of it, just ask my wife as I was up to 1am Saturday night. However the more I played, the less I felt I was apart of anything. Taking over outposts and command centers doesn’t feel like an accomplishment, half the time I’m outside of the zone sniping away and don’t even get the rewards when the outpost goes down, which is discouraging as a sniper. The reason it doesn’t feel likes it’s an accomplishment is because of how often these hold points exchange hands; since the control points ARE the entire game they flip quickly.
Logging into the game, I don’t care what factions are winning or losing and the game doesn’t seem to make it a point to show me anyway as that info is buried in the world maps. I just look for where the fighting is and jump in. This leads to a sense that nothing I do in the game is of any real importance to my faction. My main motivation at this point is not helping my faction take over control points, but to beef up my own personal player stats.
What would be nice if some smaller outposts were added that could be taken over by 3-5 players. Like I said before, when you’re fighting along side 50-100 other players, you don’t get any real sense of accomplishment for participating in the battle, unless you happen to be amazing and managed to rake up a massive kill count. By adding these smaller objectives it would create a better feeling of contribution for solo players or those who don’t get that feeling from massive battles.
Overall, I’m completely mixed about Planetside 2. On the one hand you have a great looking persistent MMOFPS that’s fun to play, but on the other hand you have issues with low frame-rate and a below average progression system. Lucky the game is F2P, so while I don’t see myself continuing to play it as my primary game, I will be checking in from time to time to see how the game evolves. I would give the game a score of 78 for those of you looking for a number.
Planetside 2 Review Score: 78