Posted by: markfender | January 25, 2012

Planetside 2

With all this talk of MMOs, I thought I’d talk about another MMO I dedicated way too much time to, Planetside.

Planetside was an early MMO dedicated to first person shooting. Of course, all the FPS games that come out nowadays have 16-player online play as their primary draw, but in the bad ol’ days, that wasn’t so true. Planetside was unique in that it was persistent and allowed for much larger crowds of people to play. It’s strangely been unequaled since.

In many ways, it was a noble failure. Allowing that many people on at the same time didn’t do much for framerate and made it kinda frustrating to play. The graphics were deliberately bad for the day, just to minimize lag. It took too long to cap bases (Typical mission: Play for an hour or so against hordes of people until the base cap becomes inevitable. Defenders go somewhere else and play, while the attackers spend fifteen minutes shooting at each other in the courtyard as they wait for the base to cap). And they royally screwed up the balance by adding the mechs later on (Typical every game: Run to base. See mech off in the distance. Pull out Rocket Launcher. Fire its 3 shots at mech. Go back to base to get another one. Repeat five times until the mech dies. Begin to run to that first base you’re still miles from, only to see that another mech has spawned. Rinse. Repeat.). But it still did so many things new and interesting that it demands a sequel, at least from me.

The certification system from Planetside was one of its outstanding features. As you earn XP (for killing people, capping bases, and leading squads), you’d earn certifications. These could then be spent on different equipment loadouts. Want to drive the planes? Get the right certs. Want to run around in power armor? Get the certs. All of these things provided different gameplay without necessarily making one player better than another. Sure, if you’re in your stealth suit, you’re probably not going to do much against the power armor-clad guy, but you’re going to be able to kill the guys with the right equipment taking down your own faction’s power armor dudes, right? Plus, there were engineering certs, which let you fix turrets, set up turrets, and plant mines; first aid certs which let you heal people, and hacking certs, which made base caps faster (and let you steal enemy vehicles). So there were lots of ways to diversify gameplay without necessarily making the guys with more playtime “better” than you.

With the success of the Battlegrounds series and CoD, it’s a damned shame Planetside hasn’t been around. These games have shown that the market exists for that type of game. And Planetside did so many cool things that these games have yet to duplicate. I, for one, am looking forward to the new game and only hope that I can maintain a positve K/D ratio.



  1. Ah planetside, I miss you. Many fun times were had. Come back….

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