In 2003, PlanetSide represented a rare moment in the gaming industry when a fledgling genre was shown at its purest, most effective form, granting definition to something that once lacked it. The MMOFPS, as defined by PlanetSide, put more stock in player skill than stats and allowed then-unprecedented numbers of players to fight among themselves to control segments of an entire planet for their force. PlanetSide 2 reimagines the world of the original (taking place in the same timeframe) and is primarily defined by one word: more. At the E3 demo, Sony Online Entertainment proved that it had a very large amount of "more" to show off.
The story of PlanetSide 2 is more or less a rewrite of the original. After the discovery of the planet Auraxis by an isolated flotilla of ships under the control of the oligarchic Terran Republic, the highly developed planet was rapidly settled. Over time, it became split between the pro-unity Terran Republic, the democratic New Conglomerate, and the Vanu Sovereignty, who research and worship the potentials of ancient technology found on the planet. Amid this backdrop of war, players step in, choosing and fighting for resources on their faction's behalf.
The first big "more" is the number of players who can be on any one field at once. Literally thousands of players can shoot at one another in one region. Territory control has grown more fine-grained as well, providing more objectives at almost all times. An automated system will provide objectives, so players can get right into the action.
The second big "more" is in vehicles. There are 11 of them so far, split between air and land, with more detailed physics than have previously been seen. All represent powerful tools for enforcing control over a map — and they're also tasty targets for foes.
Then there's the class system. There are six classes, each with two specializations. Engineers can repair vehicles, Heavy Assault can carry multiple big guns, Infiltrators can cloak, Light Assault gets jetpacks, MAXes wear mechanized armor suits so they can take and dish out intense amounts of damage, and Medics heal. Players may freely change between these classes, and skill progressions earned by gaining experience are not tied to a class.
Then, there's the customization. There are many camo designs, including some cash-shop-only options. When building a squad (party), the leader may set the entire team to the same camo design for solidarity.
If this weren't enough, the game also integrates significant out-of-client features, including an API-provided Web site for viewing game-wide and personal statistics, the ability to voice chat by mobile device with in-game players, and live maps to provide out-of-game analysis of situations.
PlanetSide 2 came in with a specific goal, and it appears to have met it. Beta invites are starting to go out, though the actual release date remains TBA. Once it hits store shelves, it will likely claim the throne among MMOFPS games from its predecessor.
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