PlanetSide 2 is building on its predecessor's reputation of being one of the first 'true' MMOFPSs. Let's see how SOE brings this classic into 2012.
Check out ZAM's other Top Five Most Important MMOs of 2012:
If 2011 was the year of blockbuster RPGs and FPSs, then 2012 will certainly be the year of MMORPGs and online games. With almost a dozen highly anticipated titles confirmed to launch in 2012, there can be no doubt that this year will be a revolutionary one for MMO gaming. That being said, not all of you will have the time to check out all of these big releases, so ZAM has compiled a list of what we consider to be the Top Five Important MMOs of 2012. In this top five series, we'll be looking at some of the most innovative titles of 2012 and why you should keep a close eye on them. Today ZAM Editor-in-Chief Chris "Pwyff" Tom will talk about... PlanetSide 2!
As far as MMOFPSs go, at some point or another, everyone has to look back to the granddaddy of them all… SOE's PlanetSide. PlanetSide was a remarkable game for its time, and it continues to be a rarity, all the way to 2012, as it is one of the very few large-scale MMOFPSs that truly showcases the MMO part of its name. Where most first-person shooters were opting to scale battles to 6v6s or 12v12s, PlanetSide threw all of that out the window and decided to shove up to 399 players onto a single map at a time.
In terms of overall scope, PlanetSide remains the only MMOFPS to employ a truly living, breathing world. No other MMOFPS had you walking away from the game, still wondering how your squadmates would hold up while you were gone. In PlanetSide, battles could extend into sieges that would last hours at a time, where pushing for faction dominance meant staying vigilant for enemy intrusions while still being aggressive at all times.
Perhaps the only thing that really held PlanetSide back from its original vision was, unfortunately, the technology behind it. While it was an admirable attempt by SOE to make an FPS capable of so much, PlanetSide is one MMO that is really showing its age. Compared to modern shooters with their tight controls and smooth graphics, it's nearly impossible to jump back into PlanetSide without feeling like you've crossed some huge generational gap in gaming technology.
In this way, PlanetSide 2 promises to be everything that the original PlanetSide was lauded for, but brought forward into modern day technology. We got the chance to fire a few questions to the team before they got back to work and, when we got to talking about their key focus in transitioning from PlanetSide to PlanetSide 2, the team noted that they wanted to "push" the PlanetSide experience forward in "every possible way." In terms of technology, their ForgeLight engine allows them to present the "epic, massive combat scale that PlanetSide is known for while, at the same time, supporting incredible modern graphics and real time physics."
As well, given how fast first-person shooters have advanced through modern engine technology, SOE notes that they're aiming to bring the "feeling" of PlanetSide 2's combat up to the "fast-paced, visceral standards that today's FPS gamers expect." Throw in a new, deeper character customization system for players to fine-tune their weapons, vehicles, and class load-outs, and you have a modern FPS on a scale that others can only dream of.
SOE is also aiming to address some key problems they saw in the past with PlanetSide; most notably the gameplay pacing, downtime, and accessibility for new players. As someone who tried to get into PlanetSide a few years after its launch, I can agree that it was nearly impossible to get into the game by just trying to figure things out on my own. SOE has created a brand new mission system for PlanetSide 2 that will allow them to better guide newer players to their objectives while also helping veteran players and commanders create custom missions to assist in executing an overall strategy.
PlanetSide 2 will also be pursuing a microtransaction-based free-to-play revenue model that, as of yet, has not yet been fully elaborated upon, although SOE's John Smedley once noted that he was a "big fan of League of Legends." For a while now, since the launch of Free Realms and DCUO going free-to-play, SOE has been making great strides in experimenting with different revenue models, and PlanetSide 2 promises to be a culmination of those efforts.
Ultimately, a "culmination of experience" is why PlanetSide 2 is going to be an important MMOFPS to watch for 2012. As one of the reigning champions of MMOFPS development, SOE has one big chance in PlanetSide 2 to prove that being one of the oldest MMO development teams in the industry means they've achieved a level of experience and knowledge that nobody else can match. In other words, PlanetSide 2 will be a real demonstration of SOE's cumulative development expertise up to 2012, and I don't think this is something you'll want to miss.
Christopher "Pwyff" Tom, Editor-in-Chief.