Months after launch, ‘PlanetSide 2’ still rocks

by Cody Franklin

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Courtesy of Sony Online Entertainment

When writing about video games, one of the most heated topics is massively multiplayer online games. Far too often, developers opt for the MMO route for the easy cash grab; adding in often abused free-to-play business models that are increasingly prevalent in the genre, making it easy to become disenchanted.

When a truly unique MMO such as “PlanetSide 2” comes along to break the mold in an all too carbon-copied-filled genre, one would expect more fanfare from the press. Alas, the gaming media rarely write reviews about revisited MMO games to see how things have progressed.

Long-time readers will remember Aztec Gaming’s past coverage of “PlanetSide 2” before its release. Yet, several months have passed and, in that time, a plethora of changes and new components have been added to the already-strong MMO first-person shooter. Best of all, many of these changes are the result of a top-notch relationship between fans and developers.

Indeed, the connection between players and creators is something “PlanetSide 2” does better than the vast majority of developers today. Many of the changes already made and the many more on the way, have come from the “PlanetSide 2” Roadmap. Players are able to vote and provide feedback on a variety of potential changes in the coming months, helping developers build products the fans want, rather than simply forcing their own views upon the player-base as so many other developers do.

The game has seen five major updates in just four months, along with numerous smaller changes and additions. Many New weapons have been added—from rocket launchers to assault rifles—providing an ever-increasing arsenal for players. Critical game systems, such as base capture mechanics and experience points, have seen major overhauls.

Although the free-to-play game relies mainly on microtransactions for profit, Sony Online Entertainmnet hasn’t been afraid to make changes that benefit the customers even when they may detract from profits.  A virtual reality training area was added, giving players access to essentially everything in the game, and providing them the opportunity to try out new weapons and unlocks without being forced to plunk down cash first. Account-wide unlocking was recently added, allowing players with multiple characters the same item on each character.

However, SOE has no plans to slow down its seemingly break-neck speed of additions to the game. Several writers from Aztec Gaming had the pleasure of chatting with creative director Matt Higby and senior art director Tramell Isaac about the future of the game, and I was very happy to hear where it was headed. New tanks are being designed that will put the main cannon in the hands of the co-pilot, similar to the original “PlanetSide.” More empire-specific weaponry is on the way, including the newly-added anti-armor weapons such as the Lancer. Hossin and Searhus are coming along nicely, which will bring the total planet count to five.

During its visit to Sony, Aztec Gaming asked about a possible appearance of “PlanetSide 2” on the PlayStation 4, but all we were able to confirm is that the directors were “very excited” about the new console. They were also quite enthused about the new partnership with Major League Gaming to introduce eSports-level competitive play with teams of 48 duking it out.

It’s been a breath of fresh air to see a developer working so hard to bring continuous new content to players, especially while upholding such a close connection with fans. If you’re looking for something different from the usual fantasy-based MMO market, “PlanetSide 2” might have what you’re looking for. If you’re tired of games with miniscule battles in cramped quarters such as “Battlefield” and “Call of Duty,” this may be your ticket to paradise. In a world full of MMOs, it can be hard to distinguish yourself from the competition, but “PlanetSide 2” has done a lot to make itself shine and that glimmer doesn’t look like it will be fading anytime soon.