Planetside, now with less NDA!

From the official beta testers website: “As of Friday April 11, 2003, the PlanetSide beta tester non-disclosure agreement has been lifted. Testers, feel free to tell friends, family and neighbors about the game and your experiences.”

Setting aside my frustration with all the crashing (it is a beta after all), I currently hold the same opinion of Planetside that Gertrude Stein had for Los Angeles: “There’s no ‘there’ there.”

They have tweaked the game some in the last couple weeks, but the game still lacks any sense of urgency or accomplishment. You create your character, walk to another building to pick some certifications. You then buy equipment, run out to the vehicle pads to buy a vehicle if needed, then head to the warp gates and some anonymous battle. You can also take the shuttle and drop into any spot from orbit, but the shuttles only depart every 15 minutes now. From spawning to any useful fighting takes at least five minutes, more like 10. Get killed and you are looking at another five minutes unless your team holds the proper equipment facilities nearby. Even if they do, it just cuts down on your travel time some.

I haven’t noticed much ebb and flow to the battles. Usually one team has the good fortune to have more soldiers and weaponry in one place, and they push out the other team. Very little strategy, just a big meatgrinder.

Once you take a base, your team must keep it powered up by periodically running energy trucks to it. So, even if you have managed to pry a base or a continent away from another team, you won’t hold it by morning unless your team takes the time to babysit it. Throw in stealthsuit-wearing hackers cruising around in your territory, and garrison duty becomes a necessary evil. They expect FPS fans to play a slow, low-action game?

Graphically, it looks very much like Tribes2. Less vertical, since there are no jetpacks.

Finally, the lack of locational damage bothers me, especially when sniping. It seems very dated to not have it. Even if there is some bandwidth or game balance reason to leave it out, it has become such a standard feature of FPS games that its absence seems like a failing.

There’s no bandwidth issues, especially if it uses hitscanning as opposed to the, well, older methods. And seeing as how everything has used hitscan for a handful of years, I don’t see why Planetside/any generic online game would be any different. Locational damage would add only one more factor (basically) into hitscanning, so bandwidth is hardly an issue.

And with a game like Planetside, well… any game with sniping… not having some damage system would be stupid. Surely they at least have a damage system that determines whether you just got a headshot—and possibly an insta-kill—or just a bodyhit. If I were sniping, and I got a headshot, and he didn’t die, I’d be pissed. Inversely, if I were being sniped and got shot in the leg and died, or were damaged severely, I’d be just as pissed.

It rightfully should bother you, but I’d be willing to bet it’s not bothering the beta testers right now as much as it will the general public when they experience the flaw first hand. Add in the other problems and it’ll end up being really messy.

I prefer the relatively confined battles of a game like Tribes. You know where the fight is and it’s easy to get there and the players can’t move to a different base. I didn’t play PS enough to experience the hook of persistent characters, which is really what will sell the game if anything does.

The game needs more of a dash of EQ. You need something fight besides other players. You need to be able to get a group together and go hunt. It needs some kind of alternative experience besides the PvP action.

Man, Supertanker takes his NDAs seriously. He hasn’t even mentioned at Shoot Club that he’s been playing Planetside. Must be because he’s a lawyer.


Stein’s famous reference was to Oakland. There is indeed a ‘there’ in Los Angeles. In fact, there are several, although they’re all associated with the entertainment industry, so I’m not sure they count.


D’oh, it is Oakland. That’s what I get for posting late at night.

I played Planetside for a little while a couple weeks ago. Here’s my quick and dirty first impression type thing:

It’s needlessly complex. Why the hell do I have like this inventory with a bunch of slots, and I have to equip grenades from it and change weapons with it and stuff, and I search fallen bodies and see their inventory boxes and stuff… Jesus Christ I’m gonna run into battle and probably die in a hurry. And even if I kick ass, my life is going to consist of shooting guys in intense combat (or that’s the IDEA) until I DO die. Why all the inventory bullshit? scrap it.

There are too many buttons, icons, and features on the HUD. Half of that crap could go.

It takes too long to get to where the fun is. I wanna hop in, meet up with my buddies on the field of battle, and kick some ass in a battle with 40 guys who have pulse rifles and futuristic vehicles. Not run 200 yards to the dropship, pick a drop point on the map, watch myself fly there, then run 200 yards to the battle. Only to die relatively quickly and have to run back again (not so far, just from the drop point).

The problem with this game is the existence of Battlefield 1942. What Planetside was supposed to satisfy was the need to be in huge battles with vehicles and stuff, capturing objectives and watching a war go on around you. But BF1942 does all that and it’s got no monthly fee. And unlike Planetside, it’s got a very simple and intuitave interface that needs no explanation. So I would be playing Planetside for it’s persistant elements, which seem to be of dubious worth to me - they assure us that people who are “high level” can’t imbalance the game and that skill will always win, so umm… why do I want to achieve high level again? Bragging rights? I’ll keep my $10 a month and let some other guy brag about his rank in an online shooter, thanks. :wink:

If you play long enough to get “used to” it all, maybe it kicks ass. I dunno. My patience for games that I have to invest time in learning how to play is growing shorter with my old age.