PlanetSide 2 Review

War in PlanetSide 2 is a real hell, but only if you are not an experienced player who has already become accustomed to the battles here. You create a character and choose a side. Then you are unceremoniously thrown out of space into the very depths of a battle of incredible scale. Everywhere there are only enemies, tanks, and everything you can imagine, and the average lifespan of a soldier is no more than a few milliseconds.

Armored tanks roll into the fray, their cannons poised for action

Sometimes you manage to make a couple of successful moves, but overall one death follows another. There is chaos all around, unfamiliar icons flash on the screen, and you, not being some elite legendary soldier, but just a small frightened piece of flesh, endlessly spin in this planet-sized meat grinder. It may happen that a tank runs you over. And someone from your own team will be behind the wheel.

As they say, nothing personal. Soldiers in PlanetSide 2 are too busy to apologize. In most online shooters, only 16 people play at a time. Although there are some where this number goes up to 32 or 64. But in this free-to-play MMO from Sony Online Entertainment, the number of players on just one continent reaches 2000 (thankfully, not all of them flash on the screen at the same time), and they all participate in a three-sided conflict together. PlanetSide 2 not only borrows some elements from COD or Battlefield, but also aims to provide gamers with the same level of excitement from the game.

Soldiers, fully geared, demonstrate precision in their formation

In the end, those games win by sensations, whereas PlanetSide 2 is a game that tries to match its older brothers and, in addition, is a stunning achievement compared to the standards of modern MMO shooters. Even considering some launch issues, it is one of the most ambitious online games, renowned for its ability to bring even the most impossible ideas to life.

The sensations from battles in a large and open world are quite strange – it’s not as scary as expected, but definitely more than just a marketing trick. Mostly, all the standard rules of first-person shooters are present. The effectiveness of shooting depends on the player’s own skills, not special abilities. If you don’t want to get shot, it’s better to take cover. You can shoot back from the hip, but it would definitely be better to use sights or sniper scopes for more accurate shooting and the ability to hit the enemy from a distance. It’s a shooter after all. Have you played them before? The highlight here is that the battlefields constantly change depending on the location of the borders, unlike other games with separate maps. Today, this bridge across the canyon is just a convenient route between two outposts. Tomorrow, there will be an army of tanks and countless infantry crawling everywhere, like ants.

The setting sun casts an eerie yet captivating glow over the battlefield

Here, anyone can participate in the battle. There are no lobbies, no queues, no time limits, and no arbitrary restrictions on the number of players. At least not explicitly. For those who want to jump into battle right now, there is an Instant Action button, but at the same time, you can independently find a conflict location and go there.

The longer the battle lasts, the more players participate in it. Sunderers are mobile respawn points, aircraft bombard the ground and fight for airspace, tanks hold positions, in general, there is a hellish chaos going on until one side wins. If you are in the minority, consider yourself unlucky. War may be fair, but not always.

A colossal weapon looms ominously, promising devastating firepower

The scale of the battles is staggering. To such an extent that it takes a lot of time to realize the obvious and even sensational fact: PlanetSide 2 is a free-to-play game. Sony does not throw its creation into the bear’s embrace of FTP in order to squeeze all the juice out of it. On the contrary, sometimes it seems as if PlanetSide 2 repeatedly offers a little mini-game called “What’s the catch?” In other words, without paying a penny, you get full access to (deep breath) five soldier classes, a “mech” suit, all vehicles, any point on three continents, freed from equipment restrictions, can fight as much as you want, as well as join other and create your own guilds (which are called Outfits here).

Here you feel more than ever a part of that gaming minority whose members never pay a subscription fee and accumulate in-game currency to buy some new little thing. In general, the same system was in League of Legends and Tribes Ascend, only with adjustments for the scale of MMO and fewer possibilities for character customization: no new equipment for you, no rocket backpacks.

Wreckage from a recent crash site illustrates the intensity of the warfare

As always, the most important purchases are “boosts” to increase the speed of resource generation within the game and barrels that allow you to shoot a guy in the head who dared to wear clothes of the wrong color. The barrels are quite expensive. For example, new weapons cost $4 each (500-700 Sony “fanbucks”), while each class has several slots for new weapons.

The starting ammunition can be considered quite decent. It is also worth noting that any wild desire to spend a fortune in the local store immediately disappears as soon as you familiarize yourself with the assortment. Most guns are almost indistinguishable from each other, being slightly upgraded versions of assault rifles, pistols, and other basic types of weapons. There is no epic weapon here, like the spinfusor in Tribe, or, figuratively speaking, sexy. Unless “sexy” means “effective” to you. But what is pleasing is the ability to take any weapon and test it in field conditions for half an hour before buying it.

The battlefield bathes in the hues of a fiery sunset

If two players of identical level, who also play PlanetSide 2 for approximately the same amount of time, come face to face, the victory will go to the one who invests real money into their character. This is at least one reason why upgrades can only be purchased with in-game currency, and buying guns for “real” money will cost a decent amount. However, the scale of battles in PlanetSide 2 largely negates such an advantage. Regardless of the quality of equipment and the number of upgrades, you are just a lone soldier participating in the deadly game of “rock-paper-scissors,” where “paper” is a sniper hiding behind a hill, and “scissors” is their friend driving a tank from the same hill.

But no matter what role you play, the combat component of the game is at a very high level and… Sorry, but let’s pause for a moment and touch on a slightly different topic. The armor on the soldiers in PlanetSide 2 is like paper fabric, and at the same time like mithril mixed with adamantium to the most suitable condition. And the only significant drawbacks of the game are its lack of accessibility and clarity. For example, there is no tutorial in PlanetSide 2, only a few links to YouTube (where videos about an hour long are located) in the launcher and the user interface, which is filled with randomly flashing icons, colorful lights, and emblems – apparently, one of the developers had a grudge against colorblind people for some reason. This is a completely unfriendly approach to newcomers, but to be honest, learning the basics is not very difficult.

A similar confusion is observed in the graphics, as often textures also become full-fledged participants in the game. Due to the fact that the palette of local landscapes overlaps with the colors in which the uniforms are painted, it can be quite difficult to distinguish an opponent even at medium distance. The Vanu faction is the most notorious violator in this sense, as their purple uniform literally blends in with the planet’s landscape, although Terran Republic soldiers, dressed in a mixture of red and dark gray, lag behind them only slightly. Also, if you play as Terran Republic, you can get bonus “confusion points” by using the red color of your suit to lure the enemy (cognitive dissonance is dangerous for your health!). I also seem to have noticed some similarity between PlanetSide 2 and Tribes Ascend, and even Team Fortress 2 in terms of clarity, color palette, and silhouettes of some characters.

Aerial combat paints the sky with streaks of smoke and fire

Although let’s go back to the war. The gameplay style predictably changes sharply depending on the class, which can be changed while stations are reloading or during respawn, if you suddenly get bored or the team requires it. The Heavy Assault class is responsible for explosives and a hot lead rain, while the stealthy Infiltrator is skilled with a sniper rifle, and the Light Assault jumps around the area with a rocket pack. Many points can be earned by playing any of these classes, the main thing is to focus only on one of them.

There is almost nothing for proud loners in PlanetSide 2, but playing solo is, of course, not prohibited. You can join a randomly encountered squad as a simple companion or become a full-fledged fighter by simply pressing a button to contribute to the attack on an outpost or the defense of a height along with everyone else. The scale of PlanetSide 2 imposes strict limitations on the achievements of an individual player, but even being a small cog in a large mechanism, you slowly move forward on the local career ladder. To fully experience the emotions of the game, you need to gather a few friends using voice chat and set your own tasks. When your group delivers a blow to the enemy at all levels of battle, both in the air and on the ground, you will not only enjoy capturing a base. You will feel like a participant in a real military history.

Dedicated medics rush to aid the wounded in the heat of battle

Of course, over time the scale of PlanetSide 2 may become boring, but it is too early to speculate on how this game will develop and adapt to current FPS realities. Currently, players are leveling up their characters to be able to take on leadership roles, but it remains to be seen to what extent these new leaders will be able to command their factions rather than just fight under their banners. As the action gradually moves away from massive confrontations, a more interesting meta-game or development system should emerge, rather than just an endless war for hexagons with no end in sight. Because there is clearly a limit to meaningless victories, after which players will want something new.

PlanetSide 2 is similar to Guild Wars 2 – the viability of both games depends on their ability to sustain a virtual population in constant motion. But now, apart from some unpleasant server hiccups, such fears should take a back seat. We still have plenty of time to worry about the future of this great game.

The combination of a shooter and MMO, which has become a true triumph, is what should concern us right now. Yes, not the best aspects of both genres were taken, but this is definitely the best attempt ever made. All that’s left is to experience these epic scales for yourself. But before venturing into the world of PlanetSide 2, don’t forget to bring along loyal friends to make the gaming experience even more unforgettable.

PlanetSide 2
Action, MMO
Daybreak Game Company
Daybreak Game Company
Release Date:
Editor's rating:
Is it worth playing? (If the score is more than 70%)



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