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PlanetSide 2 is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online first-person shooter developed and published by Sony Online Entertainment (now Daybreak Game Company), which released in November 2012. It is a sequel of PlanetSide, which originally released in 2003. PlanetSide 2 uses the Forgelight Engine, which is able to support thousands of players in continuous large scale conflict on a single map. As in the first PlanetSide, PlanetSide 2 chronicles the efforts of three factions as they fight for territorial control of the planet Auraxis. PlanetSide 2 was released for the PlayStation 4 in June 2015. PlanetSide 2 holds the Guinness World Record for the biggest first-person shooter battle, with over 1158 players being recorded in a single battle.
|Developer(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Publisher(s)||Sony Online Entertainment|
|Platform(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 4|
|Genre(s)||Massively multiplayer online first-person shooter game|
PlanetSide 2 is a re-imagining of PlanetSide, featuring the same world and factions, and taking place at roughly the same time period. As in the previous game, it features territory control in open-world, large battles featuring up to 2000 players per continent on foot or in land/air vehicles. The territory system differs greatly from that of the original, being more free-form and based on a hexagonal territory control system. Former SOE (currently DBG) took into account balance issues from the first game. As stated by creative director Matthew Higby, the developers created a system to reward combatants on lower population empires through mechanics such as proportionally increased advancement rates and resources to aid the balance of overall empire saturation on each server as much as possible without force-restricting players from being able to play with their friends.
PlanetSide 2 is a faster paced game than the original Planetside and holds the ability to feature potentially thousands of players. It also features typical first person shooter elements such as sprinting, iron sights, and regenerating shields. An important aspect is that player skill and teamwork are major determiners when it comes to being able to kill other players and overcome opposing teams. Unlockable skills are available and offer different advantages over enemies in battle. The game also features a day and night cycle, meaning that battles happen at different times of day, which affects gameplay, as night time can provide adequate cover for coordinated attacks.
Combat takes place on the continents of the fictional planet Auraxis, which are broken up into numerous territories. Control of territories provides bonuses to a faction in adjacent sectors. The mission system is partly automated and partly controlled by players. It provides focal points for players to attack and defend and helps players get into the action quickly.
As the player participates in productive activities such as killing enemies, healing or repairing allies, or capturing bases, they earn experience, which increases their character's "Battle Rank," or level, and rewards them with certifications or "Certs." Certifications allow the player to specialize in certain roles by allowing them to improve weapons, vehicles or tools they use. Many certifications require the player to invest in multiple upgrade tiers of the certification, which increase the certification's efficiency. For example, the player can purchase five ranks of Nanoweave Armor, which when equipped reduce damage taken from infantry weapons. Using the certification system, the player is able to customize how they play using different classes or vehicles. For example, the player can purchase certifications to alter the main function of the Sunderer vehicle, such as the ability to repair or restock the ammunition of nearby allied vehicles and aircraft. Another currency, called "ISO-4" is used for "Implants" which resemble Perks in Call of Duty.
Continents can be captured, or "locked," by a specific faction. This is done when a faction takes about 41% of the continent's territory, triggering an "Alert", which lasts for 90 minutes. Whichever faction controls the most territory by the end of the alert locks the continent and gets rewarded with Certs and ISO-4. A combat advantage is given to the faction that locked the continent, such as decreased cost on aircraft, or less overheating on turrets. Another continent opens up immediately afterward. There are other types of Alerts that are done at random times which involve capturing different kinds of bases and facilities.
An update was released in late April 2016 that allowed players to construct their own bases by harvesting "Cortium", a new mineral that appears throughout the world. Using a vehicle known as the ANT (Advanced Nanite Transport), players harvest the mineral and deploy a variety of structures, such as bunkers, rampart walls and Sunderer garages. Players can also deploy turrets, artillery, silos (where players store their Cortium) and modules, which include adding AI to friendly turrets, automatically repairing nearby structures, and enabling orbital strikes within a certain radius.
Although the story is very similar to the original, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) announced that award-winning author Marv Wolfman has joined the SOE team to write the ongoing historic fiction for the game. This is the first time the PlanetSide franchise narrative has been detailed. There are also many lore videos on YouTube that can provide some insight on how the war for Auraxis came to be.
- Terran Republic: An authoritarian colonial government that leverages military might to maintain strict control over the colonial citizens, ostensibly on behalf of the mother Terran Republic back on Earth. The Terran Republic is obsessed with the preservation of law and order, and see the insurrectionary war against themselves as all the more justification for strong-armed countermeasures. They are thus seen by their opponents to be an oppressive and dictatorial force, but many also view the TR as the only hope for lasting security and peace on Auraxis. Their colors are red and black. TR forces are distinguished by their use of rapid fire conventional weaponry, large-capacity magazines, high speed medium tanks and fast flying fighter aircraft.
- New Conglomerate: The New Conglomerate operates as a loosely organized band of self-proclaimed freedom fighters. Viewed as corporate-backed terrorist guerrillas by their adversaries, they violently oppose the stranglehold that the Terran Republic has on Auraxis. Led by an unusual quorum of outcasts, frontier industrialists, pirates, and turncoat military leaders, the New Conglomerate is unwavering and prepared to achieve freedom from oppression by any means necessary. Their colors are blue and gold. NC forces use hard hitting electromagnetic weapons such as gauss and railguns that are devastating at short and medium range but are bulky and unwieldy with moderate reload speeds. They employ durable, heavily-armed shock troops with slow, well-armored heavy tanks and heavy fighters loaded with arrays of crushingly powerful ordnance.
- Vanu Sovereignty: The Vanu Sovereignty are a secretive and cult-like group who believe that only through the untapped power of ancient alien technology can humanity truly evolve towards the next phase of its existence. They are a technologically advanced and cunning faction, employing powerful reverse-engineered alien technologies on the battlefield. Their singular purpose is to uncover the secrets hidden away in ancient artifacts scattered over the surface of Auraxis, and as such they view the war with its shifting territories and militarized zones as a pointless impedance to their infinitely more important work. They fight only to seize and retain uninterruptible, or exclusive, access to alien artifacts, research and excavation sites, and other scientific materials. Their colors are violet and cyan. The Vanu use advanced plasma and laser weaponry on the battlefield, characterized by lack of bullet drop, high accuracy, low recoil, and quick-re-loadable energy cells. They deploy highly maneuverable, levitating battle tanks known as Magriders capable of efficiently traversing almost any terrain or incline, as well as wraith like anti-gravity fighters known as Scythes capable of inertia-defying breakneck aerobatics.
The first official indications that a PlanetSide sequel was in development appeared in 2009. On September 25, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) sent a mass e-mail to current and former PlanetSide subscribers, asking to fill a survey that would help SOE design the next generation PlanetSide. "We plan to expand the PlanetSide universe with another game and we need your help with the design. After all, who knows the game better than you, our customers, the people who actually play it! Don't worry about the original PlanetSide, it isn't going anywhere." In addition, SOE registered the domain www.PlanetSide2.com on September 21. On October 11, SOE president John Smedley posted on his LiveJournal account that the sequel's working title is PlanetSide Next.
Little was revealed about the sequel until December 2010, when Smedley said that SOE would be launching a first-person shooter in March 2011, which was soon confirmed by Paul Williams of SOE as referring to PlanetSide Next. On March 31, 2011, SOE announced that it would be ending development of their spy-themed MMO The Agency and refocusing efforts on EverQuest Next and PlanetSide Next. Smedley confirmed that PlanetSide Next had been delayed – the result of recently switching to a new game engine – and would be available later in the year. The working title was later changed to PlanetSide 2. The official website was later updated to show a video trailer of the upcoming game. Many interview videos were taken after that showing sections of gameplay, but the biggest off-screen game play video was shown at 2012's GDC, showing most of the game aspects.
SOE President John Smedley announced that a closed beta test would begin July 30 or 31 2012 "barring any unforeseen circumstances.". On July 30 Smedley announced that the beta testing would be delayed until at least August 3 "to make sure some stuff is awesome.". On August 3 Smedley announced that the closed Beta would commence 2pm PDT (GMT-7) Monday 6 August. The beta closed on November 17, 2012, pending the game's official release November 20, 2012.
The game uses SOE's Forgelight Engine which in turn uses Nvidia's PhysX API for its physics engine. This enables more realistic vehicle handling compared to the previous PlanetSide. Weather and day/night cycles are also possible as well as volumetric fog and clouds which players can hide in. Bullets are also simulated by the physics engine so players (other than the Vanu Sovereignty, whose projectiles are not affected by gravity if using some weapons) will need to compensate for gravity while aiming.
Another improvement over PlanetSide is the introduction of locational damage (hitboxes) for soldiers and vehicles. This is customizable by the developers so that a sniper rifle shot to the head can have a huge bonus while high rate of fire weapons, such as the Mini Chain gun, and vehicles have small to no bonus.
PlanetSide 2 is free-to-play and includes a cash shop for players to purchase in-game convenience items and cosmetic changes using real money. For example, a player can purchase camouflage (paint) for their weapon or vehicle. The developers have indicated an admiration of League of Legends's freemium business model. In 2011, SOE CEO John Smedley said the cash shop "will not sell a more powerful gun or vehicle." During the beta for the game, Rock, Paper, Shotgun's Nathan Grayson noted that the cash shop sold secondary weapons for aircraft, but changes have since been made to the game before it left beta.
The game also offers a subscription which provides players with increased experience, cert points, and extra resources, which are used to acquire things such as grenades and medical kits. Grayson said that goal of these benefits were convenience rather than making subscribed players more powerful than other players. However, Grayson noted that people purchasing these offerings might then be able to quickly acquire a large number of powerful items. Creative director Matt Higby said, "success on the battlefield is still entirely player skill based, [players purchasing cash shop offerings will] just be less impacted for re-deploying to the battlefield. That is a huge benefit, no denying it. Is that 'buying power'? Well, that depends on your definition."
People are also able to create cosmetic items for the game with the Player Studio which are then sold for cash.
PlanetSide 2 launched November 20, 2012. European players were initially unable to play due to an incorrect game launcher on the Steam platform in addition to EU server issues.
Sony Online Entertainment's President John Smedley mentioned that a Mac version might be planned for PlanetSide 2. Smedley said: "I absolutely strongly share that view. No you aren't going to see PlanetSide 2 on Linux. You will see it on Mac though". The official PlanetSide 2 Twitter account responded to a question on the topic of a Mac version as "Stay tuned for all potential updates. ^Spoiler".
A PlayStation 4 version of the game has been said to be released alongside Sony's new console November 2013. After the console launch when the game was not released, players learned that the launch has been rescheduled sometime in late 2014. Sign ups for the PlayStation 4 version's beta began on the game's website in December 2014, and was launched on January 20, 2015. The PS4 version officially released on June 23, 2015.
Critics praised the large scale battles, impressive graphics and free-to-play model. GameSpy stated that, "PlanetSide 2 shows the PC off. From the gorgeous lighting and huge draw distances, to the intense, multiplayer battles." IGN gave the game 9/10 praising the battles, "The scale of PlanetSide 2's battles is often breathtaking, as lines of tanks fire at bases while aircraft light up the sky and hundreds of players fill the scene with healing beams and lethal weapons fire."
PlanetSide 2 won several awards at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012. IGN awarded it "Best MMO Game" and "Best PC Game"; GameSpy awarded it "Best Shooter", "Best Free to Play" and "Best PC Exclusive"; and from PC Gamer, "Best Shooter", "Best MMO", "Best of Show" and "Most Awards Received". PlanetSide 2 received numerous other awards and nominations from several critics. In 2015 Planetside 2 broke the record for most players in a single FPS battle on the Jaeger server, where 1,158 players simultaneously took part in a battle.
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