If the prospect of three futuristic factions butting military heads in a frantic, planet-spanning land grab sounds appealing you’re likely either a standing fan of Sony Online Entertainment’s 2003 effort Planetside or soon will be one of its burgeoning sequel. Embracing the ever-popular free-to-play business model of many modern MMOs, SOE has revealed it’s well into production of online sci-fi FPS Planetside 2.
For those unfamiliar, Planetside features three military organizations possessing their own unique units with varying strengths and weaknesses, forming a sort of rock-paper-scissors relationship that flows both ways so no one faction has a specific innate advantage over another. These groups fight for control of a planet’s worth of land, dividing battlefields into continents and then again into regions. Gaining control of enough points within a region nets a group with possession of the area as well as rewards for their army, making victory more than just a matter of pride.
SOE has watched the development of the FPS genre online carefully since the original Planetside and are working on implementing what they see as the best of the crop into their new work. Player progression is a natural must-have for a modern game like this, and it borrows just as much from the likes of Battlefield as it does from EVE Online: Players choose their characters from several specialized classes and profile management allows for weapon customization and individual performance tracking; But balancing this out is a system that lets the player accrue skill progress over time, aiming to give the casual player more of a chance of competing on equal footing with more serious competitors. A prospect like this sounds iffy, but considering the concern SOE voiced with success depending on personal merit when detailing their microtransaction system as largely cosmetic it sounds like they just may be able to create a system that works for everyone.
Between all of this, building a brand new graphics engine and the promise of supporting 1,000 players simultaneously on a battlefield it’s easy to assume SOE is biting off more than they can chew, but with no release date yet they appear to be giving themselves plenty of time to iron out the wrinkles and avoid issues like the ones that plagued the original.