By: Jeff Cater
A war has long been fought exclusively on PC, but now it has spilled over into PlayStation 4 territory. Planetside 2 is a highly ambitious, albeit stunted massively multiplayer first-person shooter. With an entire planet to wage battle on, players are able to choose to fight on any of four huge continents (and a fifth noob- friendly training ground, exclusive to the PS4) in a constant, thunderous war between three factions. Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) invite you to the planet Auraxis, so tap your mags and button up, it’s time to
meet shoot some friends.
By far, this is the area that holds Planetside 2 back. Any new player will find little-to-no explanation on any of the workings of the game, causing YouTube to once again be your best friend. The game simply doesn’t do a good job (or even make any discernible effort into) explaining a single thing.
For example, usually in a first-person shooter throwing a grenade is one of the features they shove down your throat from the start. Here, however, it took me several hours to figure out that pressing both R1 and L1 simultaneously would make my solider chuck a ‘nade.
The controls, while on foot anyways, are pretty uniform to the standard: left stick moves, right looks, triggers focus aim and fire. No matter what you set your sensitivity to, though, it just never feels comfortable, and you’ll likely have to find a setting for each class you select.
As there are four main continents to pick from and three opposing factions, you can definitely expect some visual variety. Maybe you’re locked in a cold war on Esamir, watching the purple-laden Vanu Sovereignty flood through the cracks in the ice. A battle on Hossin can make things difficult, just telling friend from foe in the pea-soup fog of the swamp, and so on.
Each team’s visual motif is just different enough to be declared different, though. The Terran Republic (in red) and the New Conglomerate (blue) can be easily mistaken for any Vanu soldier (purple) in low-light settings, which you’ll often have to fight in because there’s a real-time weather and day/night system in place.
Vehicles are far easier to differentiate, as most Vanu craft look very Tron-like, with the Terrans looking bulkier and the Conglomerates maintaining a sleek, professional look. Unfortunately, the guns all suffer from a case of “sameness,” save for the Vanu guns that all look like newer Volkswagens.
Each team has their own fanfare that plays during deployments and victories, but the soundscape is pretty barren aside from the proximity and squad chats. Most of the guns sound pretty chunky and raw, but the Vanu guns have a terrible “pew pew” complex and sound pretty silly most of the time.
Audio is placed very well though, and you can definitely tell exactly where that enemy soldier dawning the Max armor is, because you can hear the thumping, heavy footsteps around the corner, powered by an assortment of gears and actuators. Very cool.
Planetside 2 is essentially a gigantic game of Capture The Flag, but you must capture several of them. Starting at your home base and working outward, you take over territories and focus on pushing your frontline ever further. How you decide to go about this is up to you. Are you up in the guts of the battle with your Heavy Assault machine gun and overshield? Or are you camped back a little bit, repairing retreating tanks so that they can get back into the fight faster?
Whatever you decide to do, do not be discouraged when it comes time to figure out how to most effectively utilize your class’ talents. Yes, an Infiltrator may be able to snap your head in half from a mile away, but he might be more useful cloaking himself and sneaking inside the enemy fortress to disrupt vehicle production or shield capabilities.
There’s really not a lot to each class, and they all are capable in the hands of the right player, but the lack of explanation on certain gadgets or bonuses will leave many feeling that they aren’t quite getting something.
After several hours in the game, I still felt as though I did not fully understand the spawn system (Instant Action is easy enough to figure out, but each time I used the Squad Spawn function it would always send me to another continent every time I respawned) and didn’t quite get how to drain the shields of certain bases. Turns out most of the time the answers were either “Bullets!” or the Repair Tool.
There’s so much fun to be had in Planetside 2 that it’s kind of silly. The only things about it that bugged me were the inconsistent spawn system and lacking tutorials, but with a little practice and maybe even a few friends to team up with, Planetside 2 shines on all of its horizons and will provide an experience unlike any other shooter currently available. Plus it’s free and has about 2,000 people per server. WHAT!