First Impressions of Planetside 2
Good games require solid gameplay, engaging design, and/or memorable characters…but let’s move beyond the obvious. The difference between ‘good’ and ‘great’ has little to do with the game itself. A great game needs a community. While a good game can keep your attention for so many hours, you will eventually finish it (or just get bored; it happens to the best of us). A great game, on the other hand, gives you a platform to socialize with others by giving you a basis of interaction, and it is this extra aspect that keeps you playing again and again. Internet forums and communities are filled with arguments about optimized builds, guides to teach you better strategies, or conversations about how awesome that level was.
Planetside 2 has all of the fixings to be a great game, because the idea of community is a core and irremovable part of the gameplay.
Planetside 2 is going to be big in every sense of the word. Customization options will take hundreds of hours to complete — each of the three game maps are about 64 square kilometres, and the gameplay will have you charging down the front lines with hundreds, if not thousands, of other players. All at the same time. But let’s skip the ‘good’ and get to the ‘great’.
When you first start the game, you will have to make a vitally important decision. Who are you going to fight for? Three empires battle for supremacy in the game: the heavily militarized Terran Republic, the rebellious New Conglomerate, and the sleek Vanu Sovereignty. The three factions have remained the same from the first Planetside, and I encourage you to listen to past players talk about their experiences. When reminiscing, they not only hype the greatness of their respective group, they also vilify the other two. In other words, who you fight for quickly becomes who you fight with — it will be your emotional identity.
The battles aren’t just going to be big; they’ll be long. In fact, they’ll be too long for any player to fight from beginning to end. There is no “Game Over” screen. The ongoing war is persistent and unending, with the three factions battling one another in eternal tug-of-wars. Each wants to possess territories (which divide the massive maps into easier-to-handle sections), and to reap the resources. Every player will be able to track how many regions his or her empire has captured in real time. This can be done not only in-game, but through Planetside 2’s website or smartphone applications (both Android and iOS). The players from the first game will tell you the goal isn’t just personal glory, but glory for your empire, so new members of an empire will want to track how it is doing.
In addition to the community that the empires form, players can also trade strategies online and off. Which gun works best with which set of skills? What’s the best way to storm a heavily fortified bunker? Planetside 2 will also feature specialized clans: Covert ops, fighter pilots, tank cavalry, and green-beret infantry will all, eventually, have their own groups dedicated to perfecting their own preferred way of fighting. Within all of these different facets lies a single idea: Community. You’re not just playing a game; you’re interacting with other people.
Look at successful games like Minecraft, League of Legends or Starcraft. All are good. But now look at the groups built around them, where players socialize using the games as a basis. Look at the passion these people have when they talk about how much they enjoy these respective games. You’ll quickly realize that these games have pushed past ‘good’ into greatness. They’re ‘great’ because they’ve become the backbone for social interaction and to communities. These ideas are built into Planetside 2. Loyalty to one of three empires and tracking how well it does is the beginning. Yet, the communities will become more refined when more groups and clans are formed.
Planetside 2 will be entering beta soon, and you’ll be able to judge for yourself whether the title is destined to be great. You can sign up for free at http://www.planetside2.com.
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