Exclusive press tour of Planetside 2

Planetside 2 Press Tour Review thumpnail
9 Overall Score
Graphics: 9/10
Gameplay: 9/10
Story: 5/10

We were invited to an exclusive in game press tour of Planetside 2 where we were introduced to Maggie Krohn, Game Designer at Sony Online Entertainment and our personal guide for our journey into the world of Auraxis.

We were guided from our Skype conference call to hook up into game and hang up, why? Because Planetside 2 has its own built in VOIP channel where players are able to speak to each other directly, proximity chat and also private squad voice chat. After a little organization (or disorganization to be more accurate) we finally had all our characters together in the same faction (Vanu Sovereignty), on the same server and hooked up in a squad.

After picking our own classes we were guided by Maggie (‘SOEMaggieK’ in game) to take a ride in her Dev haxxed indestructible Galaxy aircraft as she drove us from outpost to outpost to bring some Vanu pride. As you will see from the video we failed impeccably, but with a team of players that have barely played the game this was hardly a surprise (though as you can see in the video half of the deaths I suffered were from being run over by my own factions’ tanks…).

The whistle stop tour gave us an insight of various aspects of the game, first and foremost was flight as we took to the skies it really is the only way to get around the sprawling map. Having tried beta prior to this and trying to get around just on my flash (the quad vehicle) going by aircraft is a lot easier. A little gunfight as we were landing at our first outpost showed a little air to air to ground combat, though the area had pretty much been cleaned out already so we took off once more (after some technical issues and losing one of our squad members to a disconnect).

We were quickly off again and came in to a hot zone where Maggie acted as our Squad Leader with us following her instructions; running into the building I was run over by my first Vanu tank as I was entering a building. I was resurrected and continued into the building, came out the other side and I was run over and killed by a second Vanu tank as I left the building…. Remember kids, look both ways before you cross the street.

We got resurrected by Maggie (who wisely had chosen a medic class) then jumped back into the Galaxy and flew off, then returned as we hadn’t noticed one of our squad hadn’t got into the ship. Landed, then took off before he got in, then returned once more. Finally with a full squad in our Galaxy we took off to go to the next hotspot; then one of our gunners went to hit “R” to reload his gun, accidentally hit “E” and jumped out of the ship. Hilarious. If the game would have been in black and white you could have sworn it was a Charlie Chaplin slapstick comedy.

We got to an enemy occupied facility and made our way to the control room to take one of the points, watching us all move as a squad it’s very easy to see how fun the game will be with an organized team, moving under instruction with people knowing how the classes work . We managed to take the point with no interference and then were attacked by a small wave on a counterattack, I managed to do a little healing before being taken down and then one by one the squad fell.

Respawning back at a friendly base we all got on our Flash quad bikes and formed our own biker gang, driving away we realised that one of the party had already died smashing up his quad. Out in the desert waiting around while Maggie went back to get him an enemy airship flew overhead dropping an airstrike on us, doubling back and getting another shot, overall killing another three of our squad.

The base we’d just come from had already been taken so we all had to commit “/suicide” to regroup at a different base, this time trying out the Magrider Tanks, most people jumping in their own tank whilst I manned the turret of the two person vehicle. A little organization later and we moved on to a nearby outpost that was under enemy control. There was a lot of action going on up in the skies with dog fights and enemy ships flying overhead, the perfect opportunity for me to rack up some kills. Unfortunately this proved extremely difficult due to not being able to identify enemies quickly enough (I had no idea if a ship was enemy or ally from just looking at its shape) combined with a really bad frame rate from my end. Whether this is my medium specced machine or the server itself I’m not sure but FPS is something they are constantly trying to improve, which is only a good thing. Regardless, we went in and did what our squad does best, we all died. Again.

Next up was trying the Sunderer, a heavy truck with two manned turrets and Maggie at the wheel, where this time I played passenger. As we reached the enemy outpost the vehicle started taking heavy fire and so with little else to do I bailed out and went on a mission with my engineer who I didn’t really know how to use and had a go with the turret and almost nearly killing someone. Moving on I started to scurry across the battlefield… as an ally Magrider backed up over me.

Respawning we then made another attack and headed straight to the enemy spawn point location (unbeknown to me) and start taking heavy fire on our vehicles, I quickly bailed from the Magrider turret and tried to head into a room that had a blue forcefield. I realised a little too late that this is where the enemy was spawning from and was promptly killed. Thankfully for our God-like developer Maggie she did a ranged resurrection on me and I was quickly up and away, taking a knee at the top of a hill I was almost once again ran over by a friendly tank, fortunately that didn’t happen, instead I was killed at long range by an enemy heavy assault and his rocket launcher.

Inspired by my last death I made a switch to heavy assault though going off on my own proved unsuccessful (meaning I was killed), and so for my next class I switched to light assault under Maggie’s guidance with the intention of jumping over a forcefield wall with our jetpacks. Everyone seemed to be waiting around for a little too long and so I decided to charge in like a one man army (one surrounded by the rest of his faction though) and charged the wall leaping gracefully like a gazelle and clearing it with ease….Then I was run down by an enemy tank.

It was round about here that time was almost up, and so before she departed we got to ask a few questions before Maggie called it a day:

Me: Do you guys have any idea of a release date?

Maggie: No, we have not released a release date. We’re really using beta to allow us to figure out when we’re going to be at a state that we feel we should release. So we’re really using this to test things out, try new things, figure out when the game is going to be good. Right now we have a lot of things to fix and work on and hopefully we can make the game a little more fun for people.

Me: Any fundamental issues you think are slowing a release down? What’s the “big thing” that you guys think needs fixing?

Maggie: Nothing really. There’s nothing huge right now. I think performance is something that we want to continually progress so that we can get more people into the game since we are free to play. I don’t think that we have any huge hurdles right now, obviously as you can see this is a game, you can play it. There’s nothing big I would say, there’s just little things we want to polish. Balance, lots of balance stuff that we still need to do.

Me: How much of the decision making is done through the play test by players v’s testing by the company?

Maggie: We have a build process so a lot of the play tests that we do internally we do test things out and we change things. So you guys in beta are always going to be a week or two of what our actual build is. So a lot of the bugs that you are seeing we already have fixed, things like that. Definitely using a lot of the feedback from players on the forums as well as just seeing what’s going on in game. We’re changing the map; level design has changed a lot drastically based on just watching players play and going “Oh that just doesn’t work, there are a lot of people dying in that one place and that’s not really where we want them to be killing each other”.

Me: With the purchases in the shop can I buy a high vis jacket so people stop running me over?

Maggie: As far as the vehicles running you over….

[At this point as I was poised for some sagely advice to stop my constant demise my game actually crashed and I never found my answer!]

I managed to log back in and thank Maggie for the experience, showing us around and having the unparalleled patience. As much as I died in the game and managed to kill no one (Zero Kills: 10 Deaths – 5 of which were friendly kills) I actually had a really fun time. There was quite a bit of waiting around while meeting up with other people and waiting for them to get in the vehicles, but all in all Planetside 2 is definitely a game that I’ll be getting involved in.