Planetside 2 Review: The Most War-Torn Planet On Earth
Within the realm of grander strategy, Planetside 2 attempts to bring a little more depth to the battles players will be engaging in. Each army must capture regions on each continent, giving themselves resources and bonuses as long as the region is connected to their warpgate via a chain of controlled regions. This mechanic is easy to grasp, instantly accessible, and conveyed to the player immediately upon opening the map screen. Furthermore, the push-and-pull between factions feels satisfying. There’s nothing quite like a long, dogged defense of a vital point that fails, only for the faction to come back half an hour later to smash the invaders to pieces. Battles can last for hours and you always feel like you are part of a larger conflict as you participate in them. You can also join squads and platoons that allow you to coordinate your assaults and defenses, and it is very much recommended that you do so. Running lone wolf is a very quick way to piss yourself off.
Once again, though, the experience is dragged down by minor problems. The two difficulties in this area — both of which lead to the current issue of defense being too weak — are continent zerging and rampant spawncamping. In regards to zerging, there is nothing in place to encourage players to resist a faction sending most of their server population to one continent and stomping it flat via sheer numbers. Defense bonuses are minor (+15 percent), there are no bonuses to a faction for playing on a continent they have a low population on, and enemy players still get the normal amount of points per kill. This leads to the factions grouping up and taking one continent and simply holding the majority population there to quash any sort of pushes outward. While this fluctuates as server populations change (people getting offline to go to bed, etc.), it’s definitely the most common behavior seen on the strategy scale. As for spawncamping, it discourages players from engaging in defense at a point that is being hotly contested. Oftentimes enemies will simply set up outside the spawn doors, wait for a player to run out, and gun them down. It’s extremely prevalent and hinders an effectual defense.
If you aren’t too critical about minor gameplay nuisances, and are more interested in just killing different-colored men in cool-looking environments, Planetside 2 definitely delivers. It is a visually stunning game, with excellent design of both environments and objects. Many regions look like natural constructions given the topography of the landscape. Massive girders and walls give the tech regions a sense of scale, both as to how big the region is and how important it is to the war effort. Atmospheric effects and a day-night cycle means that you will never feels like you are fighting in an empty, perpetually-lit wasteland. If you crank the settings to max, some of the vistas are simply spectacular.
Likewise, faction designs are very good. The VS are very alien and sleek in appearance, with all of their faction-specific gear focused on smooth outlines and flashy lighting. Conversely, the TR and NC are a little more utilitarian, with the TR being more militaristic and the NC being a little more homegrown. This visual uniqueness is a bit harder to notice than that of the Vanu, however, and is the only real faltering point in the visuals. NC and TR are so similar that it is, for example, very easy to mistake a Reaver for a Mosquito. While this obviously stems from their common technological base, a little more differentiation would have been nice.