When I initially played PlanetSide 2, I wasn’t that taken by it. Servers were always nearly empty, the in-game economy was non-existent, and the dreadful, on-screen furniture was overwhelming and simply unnecessary. But back then it was a closed beta, and developer Daybreak Games have promised that the final version of the game will be much more polished and approachable. And in some ways, this statement became true, but PlanetSide 2 is still not a game that many wanted and expected it to be.
My first three days with the game were tremendously lackluster, as European servers were offline for most of the time. And even when they all became available, waiting queues were so long that I just gave up. However, now that the dust has settled, and many have already abandoned PlanetSide 2, I was finally able to join the frantic, large-scale battles that the developers are so proud of.
Before the final release came out, servers were, at times, completely empty, but now I struggle to join a game that is less than half full. The influx of players is impressive and have significantly improved the experience that PlanetSide 2 delivers. Before I had to spend minutes looking for someone to shoot, and now I have to constantly watch my back as to avoid getting killed in a cheap way. Futuristic battlegrounds that previously were eerily empty, are now a host to a multitude of online battles that allow players to settle out their in-game differences in accordance to the faction they support. But before you can do so yourself, you’ll have to spend a while getting from your spawn point to the battle zone. However, the game later allows you to spawn on your companions, taking away the trek that was essential within the confinement of the closed beta. And by doing so, it improves the overall experience as you don’t have to tread through poorly textured and lifeless environments only to get killed by an APC the second you arrive.
In PlanetSide 2 you might be accompanied by ten teammates and outnumber your opponents 2:1, but the second an APC or a tank enters the battle, strength in numbers becomes irrelevant. Sheer power of either of the combat machines cannot be simply subdued by the machine-gun fire of hand grenades. And even if you are in possession of a rocket launcher due to right class selection, you can’t just stand with it face to face as it is capable of wiping out entire squads within a single shell. And in order to take care of it, you’ll need to apply the right tactic and co-operate with the others, as approach of a lone, rabid wolf will not get you far in this game.
The current version of PlanetSide 2 is, as stated, much improved, and validates majority of the statements that the developers have made prior to the release. However, the game itself is still not perfect. While constantly strategizing and planning your approach, you’ll surely indulge yourself into the game as it will require from you more to just mindlessly shoot at the moving targets. However, in its core, PlanetSide 2 is an FPS, and in order to be successful it needs to fulfill certain criteria when it comes to gun-play, and combat physicality. And unfortunately these are both PlanetSide 2‘s weakest points.
Initially you might not notice it, in fact at the start even I haven’t noticed it. But once you put in good few hours into the game you’ll realize how soft and weightless the combat truly is. Every fire arm with no exception feels more or less like a toy, as every projectile that leaves its barrel carries no weight what so ever. And this is mainly due to the fact that firearms themselves are poorly animated. The knock-back that you would expect from any fire-arm is minimal, and at times completely nonexistent. And therefore it feels like you are firing plastic pellets and not live ammunition capable of taking another’s life.
The effect of it wouldn’t be as dramatic if the man/woman at the other end of the projectile wasn’t so unaffected by the round piercing his/her body. However, in-game troops absorb them like sponges water, and this further damages the illusion of hard-hitting combat. And you can both see and feel that you projectiles are contextually meaningless. Because your opponents always march valiantly through the onslaught of lead without flinching. And this persists until enough damage has been done and their corpses fall to the ground just like plastic carrier bags, with no actual weight.
When in-game, the on-screen HUD takes nearly one-third of the entire screen. Nearly everything is on it. Map? Check. Objective? Check. Ammunition? Check. Jet-pack? Check. You name it, it’s on it. In fact some parts of the on-screen HUD are on it twice, as things such as jet-pack fuel or amount of remaining ammunition show up right in the middle of the screen when being depleted. And to make things worse, main objective is always visible on your screen, and at times it can cover entire buildings and shield enemies who can take you down without your knowledge of their existence. And this is simply infuriating as nine out of ten times it will give the defending team an advantage over you, as their vision is not obstructed by an overly large and opaque objective marker.
The entirety of on-screen furniture contributes towards masking of the poor animations. The crescent that represents the state of the ammunition within your gun is so large it easily hides the weightless bodies of your foes. And allows you to disregard the fact that if not for the gravity, the sky above your head would be riddled with corpses. Whereas objective markers allow the game to camouflage awkward movements of your opponents as they attempt to end your life with their pellet rifles.
PlanetSide 2 is an average game at best, and its gameplay mechanics are archaic in this day and age. Its soft gun-play, limited catalogue of animations, and last but not least tremendously oversized and overly complicated HUD take away from the overall experience. And make the game feel inconsequential, and at times even infuriating as it gives some players an edge over the others. Also while being ‘free’ it might discourage some people as it features a multitude of micro transactions which include Daybreak Cash, Starter Packs, and last but not least Premium Memberships. And these range from £3.99 all the way up to £79.99, and give their owners an advantage over other players who has decided not to spend their hard-earned money on digital currency or a membership. We were provided with a said membership by the developer, however, in order to provide a most honest review of the game I’ve played it like anybody else would, without spending a penny. And more than once I’ve encountered an opponent who was in possession of a rife that took care of me within a couple of bullets, and the guns which I owed at the time were no match for his when standing face to face.