Taking The First Steps In The PlanetSide 2 Beta On PS4

The trailers and screenshots made PlanetSide 2 looks like my kind of game, a typical sci-fi shooter with a heavy focus on PvP combat. As a fan of Killzone and Destiny I signed up for the beta, ready to delve in to a brave new world of shooting people in the face and at last that beta has arrived in Europe having been available in North America for quite some time. Would this new(ish) offering from Daybreak – formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment – drag me away from Destiny’s Crucible?

After loading it up, the first thing you must do pick a faction and it is here that PlanetSide 2 stumbles for the first time: it is severely lacking in-game documentation and instruction. None of the factions are named but each has it’s own theme; there is Tron-esque faction which has a theme that sounds like Daft Punk doing the Gladiator soundtrack, a Red Bad Guy faction with an imperial style theme, and Space Marine faction with an obligatory rock soundtrack. Then you choose a server and your gender, which does little beyond narrowing your character’s shoulders, pick one of four very ugly faces and, finally, name your character.

It turns out that I had bungled my way into Terran faction and was heading to Koltyr, a training area for new recruits. After a slightly length loading time the screen reveals what looks like, well, a PlayStation 2 game. Koltyr is a huge, mostly textureless map, the character animations are terrible and if there are any lighting of special effects, I didn’t notice them, probably because I was squinting so that I wasn’t blinded by the sub-par visuals. The upside of low polygon count and featureless expanses is that the frame rate zips along and I would guess it was near 60fps in the open areas. That said, some areas on Esamir (one of four maps you can battle one) almost come up to the standards you would expect and the game does look pretty at night when glowing ships streak across the sky.

The first job on Koltyr, which as you may recall is the training area, is left very vague. Again, there are no instructions, no obvious way points and the map seems to be completely empty. PC owners are but a click away from browser page full of documentation and story, but PlayStation 4 owners are going to have to have a second screen handy whilst they acclimatise to the game.

After a little wandering about I found some terminals which allowed me to change class and summon a vehicle. Though trial and error I manage to select a small buggy and start to race across the vast map, before I found myself dead in a matter of seconds through ploughing head first into the first enemy that I come across. They were in a tank.

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Rather than wander around the empty training area once again, I decided to head to the battle areas and at last found some team mates to play with. I also located a screen with the controls on, but to be honest it wasn’t much help as the controls are not very intuitive – press R1 and L1 to throw a grenade, for example. I did eventually work out how to place turrets and heal my team mates so that I could be some use in the battle.

As with most games, adding human team mates brings PlanetSide 2 to life and within moments of spawning I was gunning down the enemy from a turret on a dropship which was transporting troops on their way to attack the enemy. Below us, a convoy of tanks and support vehicles raced across the landscape, while the turrets of our base blasted out support fire in support. All that was missing was having “Ride of the Valkyries” thumping out of the speaker, as it did feel like we were one team rolling out to engage the enemy.

Ten or so troops hurriedly disembarked as we landed a little way from an enemy control point, but they were quickly cut down by defensive fire. Thankfully you can then respawn at a support vehicle rather than back at home base – Sunderers are armoured personnel carriers that also serve the dual purpose of portable Infantry Terminals. With such huge maps, it would take over five minutes to run to the action without a vehicle, but tapping triangle for “instant action” drops you into a battle somewhere on the map.

Over the course of a few hours I experimented with various classes which include the usual medic, sniper and assault types. There is also the “Max” variant which places your character in a small mech suit with a chain gun and is all sorts of fun, but you do need to spend credits to unlock the suit.

ps2

The vehicles range from annoying and difficult to control tanks, to aircraft that are incredibly easy to crash into a cliff. Again, an informative and engaging tutorial would help to no end, but even then, the pitch controls in the aircraft but they don’t seem to do much and the craft only banked sporadically. Playing as infantry can be frustrating too; there is no health regeneration (unless a medic is nearby) and before a few shots, you are dead. The weapons seems like pop guns compared to the thunderous racket that emits from the weapons of Destiny, and the grenades are similarly feeble. Everything just feels a little weak and underpowered, though that didn’t stop me dying many, many times.

The battles naturally centre around the built up areas of the map which contain the capture nodes, and once captured, it’s your team’s job to defend them from enemy attack and push forward to capture further nodes. However, after three days in the beta, it does seem to me that the battles don’t seem to have much effect. At no point was there an “endgame” situation where a team won and that can be rather demoralising.

Destiny, Killzone and the like have a finite end to PvP, you have a goal to reach, here the maps are so huge and the battles so endless you could play for a week and probably not make much of a difference. What actually happens is that by capturing various buildings and generators, you increase the resources available to your faction, with more resources meaning that you can spawn more vehicles. Yet within the endless churn of warfare, it’s practically imperceptible.

PlanetSide 2 comes alive when you add friends, but that could be said for any situation, game or not, so I wonder if that’s a good enough excuse these days. In terms of graphics, sound and gameplay it really does feel like a PC game from 2012, which may put off PS4 gamers. I am aware this is a beta, but the PC version already looks pretty basic by today’s standards, so I doubt the PS4 version will be much improved as it heads to a final release.

The lack of instructions can severely hamper progress (the PC version has also been criticised for it’s steep learning curve) and navigating the menus is overwhelming, but persevere and find some people to play with and it’s fun for a few hours. However, after playing the game for about eight hours by myself I don’t have any urge to play the game any further, which is a real shame.

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26 Comments

  1. I loaded this up, walked for about 10 minutes, found no enemies (only teammates), turned it off, deleted it from my PS4. Sadly it cannot be deleted from my own memory. I cannot imagine this doing well at all when there is something like Destiny on the market. Would be best as a Free to Play imo.

    Menus were awful, and didn’t appear to follow any kind of format.

    • I’m pretty sure it is going to be Free to Play unless they’ve changed their mind.
      Luckily I saw some feedback from a few of you guys before I decided to download the beta. Looks like I did the right thing by not bothering.

      • Yes it is F2P, with ingame purchases for cosmetic stuff.

      • Since quite a few people, including the reviewer, seem to have got the wrong idea I’ll try to clarify.

        TL:DR Planetside 2 has been out for 2 years so there is already a lot of material on it, as well as PC reviews. It’s a very PC game, which means console specialists need to look deeper than first glance to get an idea. It’s responsible journalism as well as being efficient to have a look through existing material to see if anything has been missed.

        ——————————————

        > “the screen reveals what looks like, well, a PlayStation 2 game.”

        PS2’s graphics are what they are because that’s the best the hardware can support. Planetside involves huge maps you can zoom across at jetplane speeds or inch forward. The battles can be a 500 man furball on foot, in ground vehicles and in the air over a tiny area.

        Planetside pushes the PS4 to it’s limits in terms of GPU power and uses the PS4s 8 cores.

        As for graphics quality Koltyr is a new training continent done quickly. See the newest Hossin.

        On PC PS2 looks pretty good for what it does. I hear PS4 has similar quality. See these videos for how good it can look https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aQ65goFZ-64 , https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7gyCGwRPMQ. It’s not Battlefield 4 or the latest Crytek engine, but it can’t be with the scale and amount of action it has to show.

        > “but you do need to spend credits to unlock the suit”

        You need to spend resources which get replenished every few minutes. This ties into the resource game and prevents spam.

        > “The first job on Koltyr, which as you may recall is the training area, is left very vague”

        Koltyr and its new player experience is in development, by the time Beta ends it will have improved. Pplanetside 2 did have a brief in-game tutorial which got scrapped in favour of the training continent.

        > “there is no health regeneration (unless a medic is nearby) and before a few shots, you are dead.”

        There is shield regeneration. Shields account for 50% of hitpoints. There are also medkits you can unlock by spending certs you get as you rank up. There is also a health regen implant.

        > “The vehicles range from annoying and difficult to control tanks, to aircraft that are incredibly easy to crash into a cliff.”

        Vehicles have chases/frames which change certain aspects of manoeverability and allow tradeoffs/tactics, these have to be unlocked with certs. Vehicles can be unfriendly at first.

        Flying is a unique, powerful and deep mechanic, with a learning curve. It’s there by careful design, whether good or bad. The PS4s control scheme is still being developed, and I can’t comment on that.

        > “The weapons seems like pop guns compared to the thunderous racket that emits from the weapons of Destiny, and the grenades are similarly feeble”

        Planetside 2 does warfare on an incredible scale, with 100s of players in each battle. Part of the issue is that to depict this scale legibly induvidual guns have to not be overpowering. Unfortunately the beta has had small battles. They actually reduced the bass in gun and weapon explosions so players could identify weapons and follow the battle. While the weapon model art could be better, there’s nothing wrong with the scale and power of Planetside’s actions.

        Destiny on the other hand, has laughably tiny battles so each weapon has to sound like a war.

        > “PlanetSide 2 comes alive when you add friends, but that could be said for any situation, game or not”

        No, Planetside 2 offers the type of cooperation and coordination other game’s can only dream of. Only EVE online is better, and that’s not first person, or a shooter. This video was made to introduce newcomers to the scale of organisation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmWghVjTAFY.

        > “However, after three days in the beta, it does seem to me that the battles don’t seem to have much effect. At no point was there an “endgame” situation where a team won and that can be rather demoralising.”

        Alerts which allow players to lock continents and gain resource bonuses are disabled on the PS4 to my knowledge, this puts a ‘win’ condition. The resource system is undergoing an overhaul and is in a Phase 1 stage, phase 3 will add resource harvesting and transportation. There was also a continental lattice in development.

        With a MMO that is being ported, you have to check what has been happening and where its going.

        > “you have a goal to reach, here the maps are so huge and the battles so endless you could play for a week and probably not make much of a difference.”

        Alerts are won or lost in 2 hours. There is faction coordination using orders and command chat channel, and your squad or platoon will take on specific tasks, in coordination with others.

        > “However, after playing the game for about eight hours by myself I don’t have any urge to play the game any further, which is a real shame.”

        You can’t make a judgement based on a closed beta with a handful of players, over a couple of hours. Try playing the PC version with a couple of friends for a quicker assessment. Or read in depth PC reviewes, that’s what they are there for. I recommend in-depth articles at RPS or PC gamer.

        24/7 there will be action on your server, its like playing in an action movie, but with more variety. A lot of players say they can’t go back to Battlefield after this, because the scale of action has just been ruined.

    • Oh fair enough, might do ok then! :)

    • You are giving up way to early imho. My advice is squad up immediately or “Instant Action” drop.

      My experience is the complete polar opposite of what you state. Firefights are EPIC in scale, you just need to either squad up or use “Instant Action” which drops you immediately into the a contested region within the continent you reside.

      Once you understand the mechanics of the game, e.g. spawns, map, vehicles, weapons, unlocks etc you REALLY begin to appreciate it. This you cannot do if spawning and uninstalling the game because you couldn’t find anyone to pew pew! :D

      • You’re probably right, but the first 10 minutes didn’t leave me feeling I wanted to even bother trying. I know it’s only a Beta but there were at least 10 people on my team and no enemies – surely they shouldn’t have thrown all 10 players into a game, on the same side!? I guess it doesn’t help that they sci-fi shooters aren’t really my thing, and the graphics but me off. I know it’s a F2P so can appreciate it won’t have the production values of an AAA title, but I’d rather pay £40 for a game that looks the part – just my preference of course. I’m sure a lot of people will enjoy this, particularly if it’s free!

    • You dont seemt to grasp the idea that this is a true MMO (more like WoW than Destiny). Not an instanced lineair fps like Destiny. (Destiny is not an MMO imho). Its kind of hard to grasp for console players, because there is nothing like it out there yet for consoles.

      There really are 1500vs1500vs1500 people on a single map. (well now they are 100vs100vs 100 because its beta.) But you get the point. I higly doubt you where playing with 10 people. Its probably just 10 people which made up your squad. Which there can be 30+ of in a single battle. There are massive fronts which shift constantly. You could be 5 bases and 4 kilometers away from where the fighting happened. So the map isnt empty, you are just in an empty base which is located far from the front line army.

      Your: Put 5 people of your 10 man squad on the opposing team comment below, doesnt even make sense when you take this into account.

    • I’ve put over seven hundred hours into the PC version and one thing you cannot do is compare it to Destiny or any instanced multiplayer.

      Planetside 2 is a 24 by 7, jump in jump out game.

      But to be fair it is always been known to be hard on new players. You need to know how to locate the fights etc.

    • I only compared it to Destiny in the sense it’s a sci-fi shooter, but take your point in that they’re totally different – Destiny is linear and this is an MMO – so the comparison is unfair, you’re right. (I thought Destiny – the beta at least – was incredibly dull, and as such didn’t buy the final game).

      However, it may be hard to draw-in people like me who don’t really play MMOs and get so bored after the first 10 minutes and fail to give it another try. Regardless of the genres, where’s the fun in running for so long and finding nothing? If the first thing I’m going to find I 4km away, then it’s worse than I thought – not for me I’m afraid.

      I’ve been playing games for 25 years and I certainly wasn’t able to tell where the nearest fights were (if there were any as you say), so I’m afraid that shortfall is on them, and there should be sufficient instructions to assist new players.

      • Each continent is 64 square kilometres, you don’t run that distance, you can redeploy to another base, or take a vehicle.

        I agree SOE (Daybreak) has done a really poor job on teaching players the game. I have made a 10 minute Planetside 2 for Beginners Cram Session video to teach new players the essentials. Before giving up, please watch it. PS2 is really unique when it comes to combined arms games and I’d hate to see anyone miss out on the joy I’ve had playing it.

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VWoPgvDS3a4

      • I struggled like hell when first starting out by myself as it has a steep learning curve in respect to understanding the mechanics of the game. I basically stuck with a few platoons and listened in on their conversations which helped a lot in outlining objectives and reasons. As with any team based shooter, it is an ENTIRELY different experience when playing amongst friends or a strong squad/team. If ever you are willing to give it another go feel free to add my PSN (same name here). My headset is borked atm although will gladly squad up.

  2. After putting about hrs into Blacklight Retribution, the devs other F2P FPs on PS4, the gameplay felt similar but ona much larger scale. I agree, there is no explanation of anything whatsoever. It feels somewha like MAG was on the PS3, pick a faction from a choiceof three, jump into a server etc. I hope it gets improved as there are a few issues that could break the game epxerience for a lot of people.

  3. Same, I spent 5 minutes shooting some equipment with my pea shooter a it looked like it might blow. It did. That is all.

  4. Seems like it could be entertaining enough for a couple nights if you can get a group of friends together (which shouldn’t be too difficult seeing it’s free-ish), but as a solo-project it’s not particularly interesting. I’ve played the PC version before, but not this beta on PS4.

  5. You really can’t compare a f2p beta game to a AAA title. Yes the beta has alot of problems, but I’ve played ones much worse. The graphics is what you get they won’t change,this game is from the dev of mag so what you get is mag on steroids. How many games can you play with over a 1000 people on one continent and yes not yet because it’s a closed beta. When it releases it will be three frations of about 750 per fraction. So graphics will suffer which is fine. End game you talk about it’s a mmo game and it runs at 30fps with no lag!

    • Daybreak were formerly known as Sony Online Entertainment, who previously developed a number of MMOs such as Everquest, Star Wars: Galaxies and the original Planetside. MAG wasn’t part of that though, and was instead developed by the now defunct Zipper Interactive, who were otherwise known for the SOCOM series.

      • Wasn’t SOE made up of the crew of zipper to make the first planetside, that’s what i was referring to on they did MAG.

      • Most of the dev crew were from the original Planetside as far as I can remember.

        Some of the zipper names are formed a studio doing mobile titles.

  6. I kind of like the traditional inaccessibility of PC mmos like this.

    There’s always extensive guides online, but if you dive in don’t expect to be spoonfed like most modern “AAA” games.

  7. is this in open beta now?

  8. Koltyr isn’t finished yet, it wil have tutorials and stuff for new players. (beta duh)

    You need resources not credits (certs?) to use the max.

    There is health regeneration if you use the regen implant, medkits or restoration kits.

    “At no point was there an “endgame” situation where a team won and that can be rather demoralising.”
    That’s not entirely true, capturing and defending bases are small victories, if your faction captures 90% of the continent or there’s an alert and your faction has biggest % of territory at the end of it the continent gets locked and you recieve a bonus.
    The almost infinite gameplay is a big + for me. I’m tired of all the instanced small scale shooters like cs go and bf.

  9. the author is a noob. that is all.

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