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PlanetSide 2 (PS4 Port) Review: Large Scale, Small Scope
At long last PlanetSide 2 has finally launched on the PS4, all it took was over a year and a half of delays and for Sony to sell off the company. The sizable delay is fitting in a way for a game that is all about scale. PlanetSide 2 is a free to play, online massively multiplayer shooter, which can fit up to 2000 people at once per continent. In this game people will have to work together to attack and defended bases in battle to gain ground on your opponents.
As soon as you boot up the game the first thing you are asked to do is pick a fraction in the war. But the game does not explain anything to you, so your choice becomes do you want to be a red, blue, or purple guy. But from reading about the game online I found out that each of the fractions has a slight difference in weapons, which the game does not tell you about. After that you pick which sever you want to play on, they do a nice job of that by showing you what percentage each fraction makes up on that sever. Then they just throw you in the new player zone, which is a small continent that you can play on until you are level 15, but you can also leave it at any time. And when I mean they throw you in, I mean they just throw you in. This game has no kind of tutorial to teach you how this game works, what your goal is, nothing. There isn’t even a help section in the menus. So to learn about the game I had to go to the wiki and read about the different aspects of the game. The fact that I had to do that is huge failure by the developers.
After you find out what you are meant to be doing its time to go out and start playing the game and taking bases. Before you can start to attack a bases first you have to get there, and if you are not using a vehicle running all that way could take a bit. The running at first felt a bit sluggish and slow to me, but over time I got used to how it felt and it rarely was a problem. The shooting felt pretty good, not the best around but still enjoyable. And you don’t go down too quickly or slowly. The melee however is not good, it lacks meaningful feedback, so at times I could hit someone and not even know it. Most of the default controls are the normal FPS we have used time and time again. But there are a few strange differences that don’t feel good, such as the having to press L1 and R1 to throw a grenade, I had to look up the controls in the options to figure this out. One other strange choice is having the spot command on R1 instead of a stick. This is a problem because if you see an enemy you want to shoot at them or spot them, but you cant do both at once easy, although if it was on L3 it would be more efficient So outside of those few problems the game controls pretty well and felt good.
Now let’s get down to the meat of the game, taking bases. Each base has 3 control points, and to take the base you must control at least 2 of those points for an extended period of time, if you have all three it go much faster. But even with all 3 it can still take around 5-10 minutes to capture the base, and if there is no major enemy presence trying to defend the base you could just be sitting there waiting for the clock to tick down until you can move to the next base. Also to take a control point you first must control a base that is adjacent to the base you are attacking. And you better enjoy the fight to take a base because that is all you will be doing in the game, there is no “winning”, you can never wipe out the other fractions. The best you can do is get up to their main base and just stop them from taking anything back, but while you do that you are likely losing bases on another front.
Scale is the main draw of this game, but you won’t be seeing the true scale of this game until you leave the new player zone. In the new player zone there is only 9 bases (which includes the home bases which you can’t take over), but in the main continents there is many, many more. On one hand the scale of it is great, but on the other there is so many bases to capture it might feel a bit meaningless unless there was a hard fought battle for it. While each base taken in the new player zone felt important and meaningful because of how few there were. But fighting in a battle with literally hundreds of people is awesome. In no other game could I have experienced a battle where my team was charging down a hill with men in large numbers, alongside tanks and other vehicles attacking a single base. And the defending team downing most soldiers before they could even reach the bottom of the hill. With the attack failed, the defenders went on the offensive and pushing us back to our base. Where we put up a valiant defense, until the third fraction decided to join the fun and attack us from a different side and ended up taking the base for themselves. No other game could have gave me that kind of experience, and it was great if not a bit aggravating at the time.
However what was not great was the frame rate during that battle. Scale is all well and good, but if the game can’t handle maybe they should scale it back. That battle I believe was the only one where I suffered meaningful frame rate problems, although the game was still playable during that time. The game is also fairly glitchy right now, I had one glitch where the game would not let me out of my map until I hit my back button almost 20 times. The most problematic glitch was when one of the menus would stay on screen even after I returned to the game, so I had to fight with a list of titles on the side of my screen until I restarted the game. This next problem is not a glitch, but it is very annoying. The game does not use the whole TV screen, there are sizable black bars around the whole screen, which bringing me out of the game and makes it look bad. This game still has some work to do to fix its glitches and bad decisions.
Because this is a free to play game I should take about how its monetization works. The game has 3 different kinds of currency, resource to summon vehicles, cert points to buy new guns and other gameplay related items, and then daybreak cash. I had to look up how you get the first two because the game doesn’t tell you, I just knew I was getting them. You get 1 cert point for every 250 experience and you get 50 resources every minute with a cap of 750. The most expensive new weapons cost 1000 cert points and attachments can cost up to 200 points. By level 11 I was able to buy a new gun and an attachment for each slot. But if you want to use multiple classes then getting new guns may take a bit, unless you choose to just buy them with daybreak cash. Everything can be bought with daybreak cash, from guns, to new cosmetic only armor, to a new voice packs, one which to uses Arnold Schwarzenegger. There are some guns that can only be bought with daybreak cash, but they don’t appear to be better than the other guns, they just look different. So if you stick to a class or two you will be able to stick with cert points only and be just fine. The game did not feel pay to win at all.
Scale is the name of the game with PlanetSide 2, and it does it well with the exception of some frame rate problems in the massive battles. There are some weird control choices going on, but for the most part it’s the same ol’ FPS scheme we have all use time and time again. The shooting feel really good even if the movement doesn’t feel great at first. And make sure to read up on the game before you jump in so you don’t feel lost and overwhelmed right away as the game won’t tell you a damn thing. Now get out there and start taking some bases in this endless war of theirs.
This game was played on a PlayStation 4.