E3 2012: Planetside 2 hands-on

After I dropped from orbit in a robotic mech suit to unload a heavy machine gun and flamethrower on the enemies supressing my buddies, I remember how much I missed the original Planetside.

As you can likely see in the above video, Planetside 2 is a first person shooter that works vehicles into its formula of choosing and customizing a class – classes like the healing medic, the jetpack toting light assault, or the plodding mech behemoth MAX suit user. Being a persistent MMO, the world is persistent; that means that territory you and your buddies conquer can be overtaken in the next hour when you aren’t playing.

Those ideas from the last Planetside in 2003 have been modernized as developer Sony Online Entertainment has brought many contemporary touches to their old formula. Like most modern shooters, aiming down the sights is possible and so is being able to sprint.

While the last Planetside forced you to be locked into your chosen path as, say, a pilot or long range specialist, Planetside 2 allows you to switch between loadouts and classes between each death and at in-game terminals. Sure, you can still use experience points to specialize in one given area and open up your options, but that won’t stop you from giving all of your options a try.

Each class has its own abilities, from jetpacks to armored mech suits

I almost entirely missed an appointment at E3 while playing Planetside 2. In case you missed the point in that last sentence, Planetside 2 feels really good.

Automatically being put into a squad, I was able to spawn on my allies and stay close to the front lines to keep our points defended. Our job was to control as many of the three points as we could and prevent the other two factions from doing the same. Being part of the futuristic “Vanu Sovereignty” our team medic kept us healed so I could charge forward as a jetpack using light assault trooper. I kept getting nailed by tanks and the bombers that started bombarding us once our point was almost secured, so I switched out to a heavy assault class – the only trooper capable of carrying two big primary weapons – and shot the fighters out of the sky with a rocket launcher. Seconds later, I customized an ATV with a grenade launcher and began e-braking and sliding around tanks while lighting them ablaze with explosive rounds.

The vehicle and infantry controlled extremely well, with responsive controls and smartly placed hotkeys adding a lot to the approachability of what initially seems like a complicated game. The aircraft controls left something to be desired when using a mouse and keyboard, so hopefully the final version of the game allows for swapping between a joystick and keyboard.

Vehicles and weapons are specific to each faction and have their own feel

I spent an hour with Planetside 2, much of it being consumed by my time in a mechanical MAX suit. This is probably because of a 10 kill streak I maintained while defending a post after I explored the customization options. In addition to cosmetic changes to armor pieces and color patterns, each weapon and piece of kit can be swapped out for different components that can have a dramatic change; a slow firing assault rifle can help with ranged combat, while an anti-air cannon on a tank sacrifices firepower for ground combat in order to defend yourself against air bombardments. Very cool.

Unlike its predecessor, Planetside 2 is supposed to be free to play. As of this writing, there’s no word on if that means there’ll be microtransactions for new weapons and the like, or if there’ll be a divide between hypothetical free and subscriber memberships.

Registration for the beta has started already here, and I’d definitely recommend giving it a try from what I’ve seen. Check back on Vagary.TV for more coverage when we get our hands on the beta and, eventually, the full game.


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Author: Kyle Baron View all posts by
It all started with a 30+ page FAQ on Mechassault back on his high-school lunch breaks. Since then, Kyle has graduated from the award winning journalism program at Humber College and has written for and managed several game editorial/news publications.
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  • William

    Been watching the live streams from E3 and joysticks will be supported. There will be micro transactions but mostly for cosmetic things like camo patterns, there will be guns for sale but it should be noted that these guns can be bought using in game currency. Matt Higby has emphasized multiple times that Ps2 will not be a pay to win game.

  • Outstanding news, thanks William.

    I almost missed an appointment for a good reason, I can’t wait for this one.

  • Man, I am bummed beyond words I can’t play this game. Might have to invest in bootcamp and Windows 7 for my Macbook and even then I doubt it’ll run. Good preview!

  • William

    No problem i’m a PS1 vet and been waiting for a squeal for a very long time. I’ve been keeping an eye on PS2 since it was announced so if you have any more questions i could try to answer them as best i can.