Alas, we come to their end of our seven-part F2P feature. So far we’ve trawled across six instalments and 18 unique glimpses into the world of quality freemium gaming. To round the series off, we have one last trio of heavy hitters from Sony Online Entertainment, CCP Games, and Valve, all of which should be on your radar as we tread slowly towards the latter half of 2012. We’d like to thank TSA contributor Matt Wingler for his input on Counter-Strike: Global Offensive.
Icelandic developer, CCP Games, has built quite an empire for itself thanks to the insanely popular (albeit rather niche) EVE Online. Looking to expand its influence, during the firm’s 2008 Fanfest CCP announced DUST 514, an online first person shooter with unprecedented implications. Completely free to play and accessible via the PlayStation Network, the game will not only offer what promises to be a AAA multiplayer experience, but one that also exists in the same universe as EVE Online.
In a nutshell, the wealthy PC-based space-farers of EVE will be able to initiate campaigns in order to gather resources. Along the way they can enlist the help of mercenary groups consisting of real PlayStation 3 players, looking to wipe out the enemy for fame and funds. From what we’ve seen the gameplay is far from revolutionary; you’ll still be mowing down swathes of enemies and capturing objectives, though the cross-integrated features make DUST 514 worthwhile.
Information can be relayed to and from the battlefield between clients and their ground troops, EVE players being able to initiate orbital strikes that will have devastating impact in DUST 514. Though we have a general idea of how the game operates, there are still plenty of features lacking detail, something CCP hopes to address comprehensively at this year’s E3 expo.
PlanetSide 2 isn’t a completely different kettle of fish when directly compared to DUST 514 as both share the same ambition; to make players feel as if they are part of a actual war, not just a ten minute skirmish. However, the way in which SOE will deliver this organic sense of player agency can be described as more self-contained and liberating at the same time.
Instead of being staged across multiple planetary system and game platforms, PlanetSide 2 will take place on the planet Auraxis, and will be exclusively available for the PC crowd. Auraxis itself is portioned into dozens of regions, each of which will forever be contested for by PlanetSide’s three returning factions: the Terran Republic, New Conglomerate, and Vanu Sovereignty. Battles for territories can last for hours if not days, players having a real stake in the PS2’s ever-changing world. Invading and holding down a region of Auraxis will allow a faction to extract resources which is then fed back to each player.
The game also boasts a dynamic class progression system. Almost every aspect of the game has its own skill tree (including abilities, weapons, and vehicles), each of which can be gradually upgraded, allowing the player to craft a character that suits their exact needs on the battlefield. Customisation is also a key feature, with over 20 basic weapons and 10 unique vehicles for each faction as well as appearance options. SOE has also touched on a mission system that will allow more experienced players to relay commands to newbies.
Counter Strike: Global Offensive is the fourth game in the Counter Strike series – a franchise that has sold more than 27 million units thus far. It was announced last year right on the heels of the original Counter Strike’s 12 year anniversary and is being developed by Valve, along with help from Hidden Path Entertainment.
Global Offensive will be a mixture of old and new, with reworked classic maps from previous iterations existing alongside brand new content. Something included that CS fans will be familiar with is the money system to purchase guns and equipment, as well as the squad-based gameplay fans have come to love from the series.
Something to note about CounterStrike: GO is the gameplay seems to be largely untouched from previous titles, although there has been some minor tweaking. Granted, it is still in beta right now but gamers involved in testing have been vocal about how pleased they are that the core gameplay has remained intact. What’s interesting about that is so many other multiplayer centric franchises have been tossed under the bus by gamers for not bringing any innovation or new experiences to the table. It speaks volumes to just how loved this franchise really is and how happy gamers are just to get another slice of CounterStrike pie, even if it’s a piece they’ve tasted before.
Although cross-platform play between Mac/PC and PS3 has been axed since the game was first announced, PlayStation gamers will have the extra options of playing via a standard controller, the PlayStation Move, or even a keyboard and mouse.
No launch price has been announced by Valve just yet and there has been a lot of chatter on the internet that gamers would love to see it go F2P on day one but, again, mum is the word from Valve. You can expect Global Offensive to launch as a downloadable title later this year on Mac, PC, PlayStation 3, and Xbox 360.