PlanetSide 2: A new front in an unending war

Since PlanetSide 2’s launch in 2012, PC players have been in a constant gridlock over control of the war torn planet of Auraxis. Four expansive, open-world continents house player counts in the thousands, while difficult skill-based gameplay and a reasonable approach to the free-to-play business model ensure enlisted soldiers keep coming back for more. The recent sale of Sony Online Entertainment hasn’t stopped the now-rebranded Daybreak Game Company from charging ahead on the PS4 version of PlanetSide 2.

The sci-fi MMO shooter has been in closed beta since January 20, and unlike many betas nowadays, it isn’t just a glorified demo. “This is a true beta,” executive producer Clint Worley says. “We’re actively working with the players on testing for bugs, getting player feedback, and making sure the game that we made on the PC really carries over well for the console crowd.” Player reception has been encouraging, and Daybreak has already released a massive update in response to community feedback. With a second content drop already in the works, we spoke with Worley about what console gamers can expect from the PS4 version.

First and foremost, nothing about PlanetSide 2’s ambitious size and scope is changing. Although the beta has been limited, the three-sided mega-wars should be just as daunting at launch, with the same player counts, continents, vehicles, Classes, and weapons that are available on PC. “The code base between the PC and the PS4 is extremely similar, as in the exact same code base,” Worley says. “When we do a PS4 update, we’re basically branching off of the PC build and we’re putting that out. While it’s in submission…the PC [version] is still moving forward, but once it gets approved, we merge them back together.” While not implemented in the beta, this parity will also eventually include user skins and items submitted through the Player Studio.

While Daybreak is keeping the PC and PS4 builds as close as possible, there are some core differences. Servers on PS4 are region bound, and Daybreak isn’t sure if it will offer an optional premium membership like on PC. Worley says that even though you don’t need a PS Plus account to play PlanetSide 2, the team is aware that most players are already paying for one, and they want to respect that.

Balancing microtransactions the core of PlanetSide 2’s revenue is also currently up in the air. Worley says there are still free and premium currencies, but they are being tuned specifically for console players. “We have an established business model on the PC, and that’s great, but we’re evaluating how a typical console player interacts with content, and making sure that the way we offer it to them is appropriate.” Daybreak is keeping PlanetSide 2’s economies platform independent, so any purchases you made in the PC version won’t carry over.

As you might expect, the biggest changes come courtesy of the DualShock 4. “The issue that we’re really spending the majority of our time on is player controls making sure the moment-to-moment gameplay feels like an FPS that you would expect on a console,” Worley says. Daybreak is still nailing the control scheme down with help from the beta participants, and plans to offer a variety of modern shooter configurations. The UI is being completely revamped for controllers as well.

Rest assured, PlanetSide 2 is still as punishing as ever new players can expect to die a lot as they acclimate to the pace of combat and start climbing the progression ladder. However, Daybreak is crafting a new, more concentrated tutorial map for teaching players the ropes, complete with a “smaller” player count of around 300 players. “[The tutorial] gives players a chance to try out all the different content in the game, go through tutorial instructions, and understand what they’re getting themselves into,” Worley says. “That way when they step into their first 200-on-200 player fight, they’ll have a basic understanding of their role in the chaos.” Once players rank up enough to “graduate” from the tutorial battlefield, they’ll be ushered into the sprawling theater of war that has entranced PC players for years.

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