What is the game about?
There you are strapped in along with ten of your other comrades in one of four massive Galaxy air transports. The anticipation is palpable amongst the squad as you jet towards the battlefield, listening to your commander give last minute orders before you drop right behind enemy lines.
The ship is suddenly rocked to the side; the opposition has formidable anti-air defenses. As the craft spins wildly, your commander gives the order to bail, and forty well equipped future soldiers jet down to the battlefield as the wreckage of their transports fall around them.
Thankfully you’ve reached your destination and have deployed right behind the enemy armor. Explosions rock the ground as you decimate the remains of the enemy defenses from the rear. A shout of victory echoes over comms as you watch the rest of your platoon move in, a fight hard won and territory well captured.
It’s a typical scene in Planetside 2, Daybreak Game Company‘s (formerly Sony Online Entertainment‘s) massively multiplayer online shooter; one of many that takes place over its eternal three-way territory wars that wage all day and all night. An ambitious title, thus far Planetside 2 has gained the unique distinction for being the only persistent online shooter with such scale, done with such style.
New players will choose one of three factions, each with their specific traits, strengths and weaknesses to do battle on the four continents that make up Auraxis. With access to five different specialized classes, tanks, aircrafts and an Edge of Tomorrow style EXO-suit there’s no shortage of ways to wage war. So full of content, it’s set up as potentially one of the most grandiose shooter experiences ever. For the most part, it delivers.
Planetside 2’s shortcomings come largely in part to its key feature; being always online. The consequence to this 24/7 nature of gameplay is that varying factions will inevitably suffer as the majority of their players retire for the night, leading to a rather quiet and especially un-action packed experience. Depending on where you play from, if your online hours happens to coincide with the server’s primetime then you’ll be in for some of the most epic moments ever, particularly if you get involved in the game’s many outfits (guilds).
As a new player you’ll be mostly confused at the rather barebones tutorial system. The interface is barely intuitive; throwing a barrage of information in your face while you’re trying to navigate a furious firefight. A small issue, but potentially a turnoff to neophyte recruits looking for a good time. Also, Planetside 2’s only game mode is territory capture, executed as a form of capture point domination. There’s precious little variety here, as most of the entertainment value will undoubtedly be derived from the antics of your squad and platoon.
But what antics these can be. Players are given a fairly open license to wreak havoc, thus it’s completely up to player creativity to set the stage of battle. Covert sniper deployment behind enemy lines, kamikaze fighter squadrons, massive tank invasions and a quadbike assault are only some of the experiences I’ve had whilst at war on Auraxis. You might have to battle through a rather tedious new player experience to get to the real war, but it’s most definitely worth it.
How free is it?
Technically, most things apart from cosmetics can be acquired in Planetside 2 completely free of charge. Players earn certification points whilst completing objectives and killing players, and these in turn are used to unlock new weapons, upgrades and equipment. However, the acquisition rate for these points are painfully low and with prices set at a rather unreasonable rate, it’s often much more viable to just pay some cash for an easy unlock. There is a subscription plan available, but for $14.99 USD a month a small experience boost, increased cert point gain and login queue priority seem a little meager. There’s a smattering of other benefits, but nothing really justifies the cost of subscription.
Those willing to pay real money will put down a hefty amount too, as guns cost $7 USD for a single weapon, for a single character. It’s saddening as well that many of the weapons don’t differ that much in appearance either. A single default model for each weapon type, slightly retextured and altered for each variation. Somewhat of a slap in the face for your hard earned dollars.
While I hesitate to use the term ‘pay to win’ in this scenario you’ll often face player rage if your vehicle isn’t equipped to their required advanced spec and you definitely won’t have much fun flying around in a default fighter getting decimated by older, more well-equipped players or those who have paid for their weapons. Pea shooter machine gun vs hellfire rocket pods? Please.
Despite this, it’s worth it to note though that player skill does still trump over any mass paid unlocks. Superior weapons might narrow the gap a little, but an experienced newbie will have no problem decimating better equipped but lesser skilled foes. Taking this into consideration, you’re not so much paying for strength but another outlet of enjoyment as firing off volleys of guided missiles will be undoubtedly more entertaining than a single barreled cannon, though for most part, the end result is the same.
Planetside 2 is advertised as completely free to play. For the most part, it fulfills this statement well. The game simply has some very strong incentives for you to spend money. Still, it’s possible to experience most of the game without laying down any real world investment. Just be prepared for a rather tedious grind to better gear.
Is it worth it?
Absolutely. Whilst its freemium plan might feel a tad restrictive and prices may be set a little on the high end of the spectrum, the game is still one of the most enjoyable and full featured MMOFPS titles on the market right now, if not the only one out there. Simply put, there’s no substitute to some of the battle experiences that might come while you’re gunning around the continents of Auraxis, no matter what some other rival titles might say. Planetside 2 recently achieved a world record of having the largest FPS battle with 1158 concurrent players. That fact in itself should speak volumes for the game itself. Visually spectacular, content packed and packed with “you should have been there” moments, there’s no reason not to give it a go. Enlist now! And I’ll see you in Auraxis.