With Planetside 2 currently in the tech test phase, and the Beta release creeping closer and closer, we seek to answer many of the questions we frequently hear on the forums as well as give an overview on the factions and their reasons for being involved in the conflict. Also included is some media, some gameplay mechanics, and some attempts at unbiased faction lore! Just what is Planetside 2? Will it be for TG? Will it suit YOU? Read on to find out why I think Planetside 2 is the best game to fit the TG players playstyle in the last few years..... Yeah, and did I mention it was free?
What IS Planetside 2?
Planetside 2 is a free to play, persistent, day/night cycling, multi continent, command structured, massively multi-player online first person shooter. Now, just what the heck does that mean? Well, it sure does NOT mean a button bashing, save-the-epic-sword-of-victory-that-will-slay-the-ancient-evil teddybear. No, what MMO in this case means is a MASSIVE online FPS. Think a 64km squared continent, then think 3 of those. With more to be added after launch. THEN think 2000 players per continent. Think persistent, like DayZ, just because YOU log out does not mean anything changes, the fight still rages on 24 hours a day. And speakling of 24 hours, there is a fully functioning night day cycle again like DayZ. Finally, think THREE factions, because two is just SO overdone. This adds balance, no more one faction banging the other into the corner. Actually, did I mention the crazy vehicles, the scale of which makes BF3 looks like a toy? Did I mention the working VoiP, the 10 men squads, the 30 men platoon, the outfits, the command structure? Man, there is a lot going on....So why have you not heard of this? No matter! This article is set to address all of that.
That's pretty sweet right, but what of these 3 factions?
First some back story. Go forward about 500 odd years, and humanity is doing pretty good. Technology makes the iPhone look dumb and there has been peace on earth for many years. So naturally, a wormhole decided to open in the Solar system. The Terran Republic, the Government on Earth decide to send through a fleet of ships, I mean what could go wrong. So of course, as half of them pass through the worm hole collapses trapping half the fleet somewhere in the far reaches of space. They search for a planet the can make liveable, and happen upon Auraxis.....
The Terran Republic
These guys form the legitimate government on Earth, with the massive efficient military that goes with it - they are powerful and oppressive.
They fire faster than all other factions, and move quicker.
Commonly referred to as Elmos, when on earth these guys were responsible for an age of peace and prosperity. However, to maintain that peace they have been accused of being heavy handed, cracking down on propaganda not to their liking, oppressing freedom of speech. Once the wormhole closed behind the fleet, they started to consolidate their power. They are merciless and ruthless, and have the equipment and training to push their oppressive regime onto the people of Auraxis.
Loyalty beyond death!
The New Conglomerate
These guys are the freedom loving revolutionaries.
They hit harder than any other faction, and have more durability and armour, like the mean Vanguard tank.
Their equipment is both experimental and a hodge bodge of what they can throw together. Called rebels by some and freedom fighters by others, and smurfs by most the NC are former colonists who have had enough of their freedoms being eroded by the TR. Once employed by the corporations hired to help explore the wormhole, now trapped on Auraxis they consider all previous obligation nullified. Their request for independence from the TR ignored, they are forced to take up arms to protect their population from the TR oppression. They specialise in hit and run tactics and are the faction for freedom loving people.
Revolution is the path to Freedom!
The Vanu Sovereignty
These guys are the alien tech loving transhumanists.
They make use of alien technology to allow their tanks and air vehicles to hover and strafe, meaning their aircraft are more like a helicopter than a VTOL jet.
Their weapons are the most accurate with no bullet drop, however they lose power over range. Zealots, cultists, barneys, they were formed by the Scientists from the fleet, who discovered alien technology and wanted to use it for the benefit of man kind. The TR wanted to police this technology and keep it out of the hands of the population. The VS broke free of them, set up a cult, and now are in open war with the other factions. They want to use the technology to leave the human race behind, and form a new super-race, leaving most of the humans to perish, only the worthy can be chosen.
We are tomorrow!
Pretty cool, but who do I choose?
Well, how do you like to play. If you like to fling a lot of lead but do less damage per hit, and like to move fast go TR.
If you like to hit very hard and take a decent amount of punishment, go NC.
If you like accuracy and purple lazers go VS.
If you are still not sure think about their ideology and look at the lore linked at the bottom of the page.
OK, so about these 3 continents?
Each continent can hold 2000 players, which mean 666 vs 666 vs 666. Yeah I know, right? Each continent is one area, so no load times, it is a seamless 8km by 8km arena of war. The map itself is divided into hexes, which are all capturable. A hex may be small and have one capture point, or may be huge, bigger than a regular map in any other FPS, and have 7 capture points and be spread out over a biolab or tower.
By capturing these hexes you gain resources. You need these resources to purchase items like grenades, aircraft from hangers and vehicles from vehicle terminals. So essentially you are fighting for resources and territory. Rounds never end, the battle rages across the map, on a moving front line, and behind the lines with special forces. You capture a point? That stays yours until some other faction loser comes along and takes it off you. No resets, no peace. If a faction captures the entire continent and pushes the other 2 back to their warp gates, it is up to them to get out of that mess.
So, free to play you say?
It IS free to play. You don't buy the game just download it. You don't pay to play. There is however an online store using Sony's online currency called Station cash. However all you can purchase are cosmetic upgrades, camo for you and your squads, some bull horns for your jet, that kind of thing. They have went to HUGE pains to balance the game, so anything you can unlock for your weapons like a new scope or bigger magazine can be unlocked in game with the ingame resources. And there are no pay-to-win plans. Any and all purchases no matter what currency used are simply side grades. Everything has a trade off. You carry more ammo in your magazine? You don't hit as hard per round. All these things have consequences and it allows you to customise your style, not be a level 80 aardvark mouse hunter that is unstoppable. So:
Weapon 1 - Average rate of fire, average damage, average accuracy
Weapon 2 - High rate of fire, average damage, low accuracy
And so on. However this is not to say that those longer playing veterans will not be more specialised for the task in hand, and specialised is the key word. The maximum discrepancy between statistics is 15-20% between a 5 years vet and a day 1 player. So any newbie with the common sense to aim can still cave in an old veterans head if he knows what is what. Items that give you an actual advantage like grenades, medkits etc are all exclusively bought with in game currency.
So how do I level up and be 1337?
You progress with battle ranks much like any other game, and also CERT's. Battle ranks so far seem to only show how much you have played and have no in game relevance. Real progress is made with the CERT system. Every weapon, item and vehicle has a CERT tree that allows you to customise its play style. However so far many of these are unannounced.
But for example, in the Liberator the medium bomber aircraft, you can have the pilot equip missiles to help in bombing run, or go with flares for self defence, that sort of thing.
You gain CERTs by playing, capturing territory and winning battles. You also gain certs over time, to ensure you are always rewarded. You can also pick a speciality tree that you fancy and gain CERT's on it slowly over time even when you are logged off so you can gain your goals, and keep up with the 24/7 players.
So apart from all that, what makes this different from a regular FPS?
Tough crowd. Massive combat on a global scale, not a subway scale. Hundreds of vehicles supporting at once. Proper squad mechanics, and a command structure that escalates higher. The ability to assign missions from a commander. The new and very beautiful engine, Forge Light, check out the screenshots here. Working VoiP, map markers, different styles to master per faction. Different classes of Soldier:
- Light Assault - a jetpack trooper, can deploy their own ammo and is armed with a carbine
- Heavy Assault - heavy anti-infantry unit and anti-vehicle unit, can equip their faction's machine gun or anti vehicle weapon
- Medic - a class responsible for replenishing players' health and reviving them on the field, armed with a rifle
- Engineer - a class responsible for vehicle repairs as well as fortification, and is a handy anti-infantry class with its rifle or shotgun
- Infiltrator - a saboteur or a sniper, capable of cloaking, armed with a Sniper Rifle
- Mechanized Assault Exo-Suit (MAX) - an operator of the powerful armored robotic suit, capable of sustaining and dealing heavy damage, the only class that will require Engineer's attention along with Medic's
The Ability to specialise even further using CERTs. All these things combine to create a truly unique game on a scale never before seen.
OK this sounds sweet, how do I play, and what will TG be doing about it?
The game is currently in the tech test stage, with the Beta going live before the end of July. Use the TG Planetside 2 forums for more up to date info and to try and get your hands on a beta key. You can do that by following the devs on twitter. The PS2 devs are amazing, by far the best dev team I have ever seen for community involvement. As for what TG is doing about it, come and check out the forums and say hello. There is lots of information there. And stay tuned for the official TG outfit(s) information coming in the not so distant future!
Wow wow, slow down there skippy, what about this Planetside Lore you mentioned?
Glad you are paying attention.......
The Rise of the Republic
In the year 2426, acting upon intelligence that suggested imminent and simultaneous attacks, the Earth's six greatest nations declared war on one another. By all rights, the war's senseless violence should have been stopped by its effect on the human population, which would be cut in half within the first decade of fighting, or by its wanton consumption of the Earth's limited resources, which were all but completely extinguished by the production of weapons of war. Instead, it was something different—something potentially larger than humanity itself—that ended the cycle of destruction. On March 16th of 2444, a great rift in space appeared in the far reaches of the solar system. Though it only remained open for several weeks, reconnaissance probes were successfully dispatched to its location, where their scans discovered something unexpected: More scans. Scientists were shocked to discover multispectral transmissions emanating from the wormhole in the precise direction of Earth, as if something on its far side was scanning the planet. Their shock was turned to terror mere days later when, as the rift destabilized and closed, the dwarf planet Pluto was instantly and inexplicably destroyed.
When the scientists' findings were made public in December of that year, peace talks between the Earth's remaining major powers began, spurred on by the threat of a greater enemy that threatened not one nation, but the entire planet and human race. Within six months, on May 13, 2445, the Armistice was signed, bringing to an end nearly two decades of war. The ensuing decades were ones of unparalleled peace and cooperation that ultimately led to the unification of the world's disparate governments into a single entity known as the Terran Republic, signed into existence under the Declaration of Constancy. Featuring a senate consisting of all of the Earth's former world leaders and a President elected to 4-year terms, this new government was to be voted out of or back into continuing power every ten years. For centuries, the Terran Republic would be voted back into power as worldwide peace and prosperity brought rapid advances in every area of science and technology. Even large-scale and affordable space travel became possible, but Pluto's destruction left few with the boldness to explore the solar system in person, and Earth's newfound golden age left even fewer with the desire to leave its surface.
The Explorer & the President
It was on July 3rd, 2582 that the worst fears of many came to reality: The wormhole responsible for a century of fear and the destruction of an entire planet reopened. But amidst the questions of what the rift's appearance could mean for Earth—amidst the collectively held breaths the entire Terran Republic—probes dispatched to the site reported nothing. No emissions. No invading alien fleets. And, when days turned to weeks and the rift finally closed again, they reported no world-shattering after effects. The wormhole had come and gone for another 100 years, and had taken with it humanity's fear of the universe. Indeed, by the end of that century, mankind established cities and industries on every major world and moon in the solar system.
In 2615, a space explorer named Thomas Connery and his crew discovered the Moon Belt, a sparsely populated sub-section of the Kuiper Belt made up of the fragments of hundreds of destroyed moons—and the shattered remains of Pluto—extending from Neptune's orbit to beyond. They also discovered a strange signal emanating from a particular mile-long moon fragment, but without the proper equipment to pinpoint the signal and investigate it they instead returned to Earth, where the discovery of the Moon Belt and Pluto's remains made Connery a household name. Three years later, the Terran Republic's Vice President suffered a heart attack and the charming and charismatic Connery was asked by the President to fill the role for the remaining six months of her term. Not expecting famed explorer Tom Connery to lay down his mantle so easily, many were shocked when he accepted the position. Even more were shocked when he then ran for the Presidency. None were shocked when he was nearly unanimously elected into office. Connery served three successful terms as one of the Republic's most beloved heads of state before retiring in January of 2630 to return to his passion of interstellar exploration.
Shortly after Connery's retirement from the Presidency, a summit was held by a group known only as Business Forward. A private alliance between the CEOs of the solar system's largest corporations, Business Forward was created with the intention of navigating the increasingly treacherous waters of Terran Republic restrictions on private business. Though not by any means totalitarian, the Republic had progressively been involving itself more and more in the private sector, heightening standards and intervening in business practices, all—it assured its citizens—in the interest of the people. At this summit, the members of Business Forward agreed it was in their best interest to monitor the activity of former President Connery in order to benefit from his explorations. The group of CEOs suspected that Connery's sudden political ambitions were little more than a means to an end—an end that Connery had left safely hidden in the Moon Belt, where neither he nor anyone else could recover it without the resources only a former head of state could reasonably be expected to have. In order to not only force Connery's hand into requiring their help for his mission but also to create an entity capable of resisting the Terran Republic's mounting pressure on private businesses, Business Forward negotiated backroom deals with major banks, private security firms, and powerful labor unions across the solar system. This multi-industry consortium—dubbing themselves the New Conglomerate—would prove to be very effective in their aims, though not in a way they would expect.
Connery's return to the Moon Belt was not made alone. With him, he took a discreetly assembled team of tech experts, engineers, and scientists—chief among whom was the young but brilliant xenobiologist Henry Briggs—who were told they would have a hand in changing the course of human history. And while Connery may have had a penchant for hyperbole, he was no liar: When the crew returned to Earth, they did so with the first alien artifact ever discovered in hand. The very existence of this delicately carved alien figurine was the catalyst for a far-reaching space exploration boom; but after scouring the Moon Belt and exploring the solar system up to twice the distance of Pluto's former orbit, no additional artifacts were found.
Though some took this as an opportunity to question the original artifact's authenticity, there was never any doubt in the mind of Henry Briggs. Standing beside Connery when it was first excavated, he had been the first to touch the artifact after it was located in the mile-long moon fragment Connery had left behind more than fifteen years earlier. When he picked it up, Briggs, who suffered from an anti-social form of autism known as Asperger's, was given a vision; a vision of his past, his future, and the effects of his actions on others. For the first time, he felt the sensation of empathy for those who had tried to care for and about him, and when he snapped back to reality, he was left with only a single word ringing in his ears to explain his newfound awareness: Vanu. In Briggs' mind, it was Vanu who had shown him this vision—who had changed his life for the better—and it was Vanu, not the team who discovered the artifact, that would fulfill Connery's promise of changing the course of human history.
The Wormhole Expedition
In 2636, two years after the artifact's unveiling, Tom Connery approached the Terran Republic Senate and petitioned them for the funds to mount an exploratory mission through the wormhole, which, now predicted to open for about two weeks every 98.3 years, was scheduled to reopen on October 20, 2640. Though they doubted his ability to prepare for and reach the rift within four years, and even the wisdom of such an expedition at all, the Senate agreed to pay for the reconditioning of up to 200 ships—if Connery could produce the signatures of at least 75,000 volunteers for his mission within three weeks' time. More than a week ahead of schedule, Connery walked into the senate with over 300,000 signatures. They were the signatures of Terran Republic military enlistees looking for adventure; New Conglomerate executives, enforcers, and laborers looking for fame and fortune; and tech experts, engineers, and scientists—including Connery's close friend Henry Briggs—looking for the truth about alien life. On May 13, 2638, the anniversary of the Armistice that brought about the Terran Republic, Mission Commander Tom Connery and his fleet of 128 ships crewed by 75,000 volunteers launched from Earth, bound for the far side of the wormhole.
As predicted, the wormhole did indeed open on October 20, and Connery's expedition fleet was expecting it. What they weren't expecting was the wormhole's massive gravity well—as it took shape, the rift pulled the the fleet's first wave into its depths and deposited them on the other side before its ships could even engage engines. As subsequent waves attempted to follow, however, the rift began to destabilize, and only some were able to pass through safely before the gravity well, closing completely, destroyed those ships still near it. In all, only 40,000 people of the initial expeditionary crew survived the ordeal. It didn’t take long for the survivors' relief at being alive to be quickly overshadowed by the realization that they were trapped on the far side of the universe with a mere fraction of their original supplies. And the wormhole, if it was to reopen at all after the stress placed upon it by the fleet, was not likely to make a return for another 98.3 years.
The Stranded Fleet
Connery and his fleet immediately set out to find a habitable planet on which they could seek refuge, but weeks gave way to months as scans of nearby star systems revealed no planets suitable for the terraformation process. Within six months, an increasingly frustrated population gave birth to an insurgency movement; first supplies and weapons began to go missing, and eventually deadly fighting broke out between the mercenary and civilian labor forces of the New Conglomerate and some of the Terran Republic military patrols tasked with the order and security of the fleet. Not all aboard were complicit in the violence, however. The more intellectually minded crew members—like Henry Briggs and his associates—generally involved themselves with their own, scientific pursuits. Henry in particular spent much of his time studying the artifact that had spoken to him so many years earlier, though he seldom mentioned that particular fact to anyone else aboard the fleet, and discussing it with his fellow enthusiasts. Tom Connery, meanwhile, was dealing with the delicate balance of security versus freedom aboard the fleet, strengthening curfews and intensifying military patrols against his own better judgment and desire to not control his already beleaguered people too tightly.
The fleet's dire political situation boiled to a head in January of 2642, when more than fifty insurgents assaulted the weapons depot aboard the military vessel Explorer-5 and then stormed and captured the bridge. Unable to negotiate with them, Connery issued the order to retake the bridge by force. The fighting was short, but intense; 70 people lost their lives, with all but a few of the insurgents killed in their desperate assault on the military vessel. It was unclear why, exactly, the insurgents chose to take the bridge of the Explorer-5. With the arms stolen from its weapons depot, they could have easily captured any smaller vessel in the fleet—but they instead chose one of the garrison ships for the fleet's military peacekeepers. Whatever their reasoning, the effect of their actions was the declaration of martial law, and an emergency vote on security measures. To Connery's dismay, he watched as the terrified denizens of the stranded fleet voted away their few remaining freedoms to secure themselves against the insurgency: Meetings of more than three non-family members were banned, and military presence was again increased aboard all ships. Determined to end the senseless violence, Connery called a secret meeting with representatives of the New Conglomerate aboard the Discovery-7 to discuss a path to peace.
The meeting took place, but what exactly was discussed—or whether a settlement had perhaps been made—was never found out. As Mission Commander Connery and the other participants prepared to disembark the Discovery-7, a massive explosion tore through the ship and killed all 592 people aboard.
In the wake of the disaster, Lieutenant Commander Brent Waterson was declared the Provisional Commander of the fleet, and another vote was put to the people: Investigate the disaster on a ship-by-ship basis, or form a fleetwide investigation that entitled the military to full emergency control of the fleet until those responsible were brought to justice. The vote was close, but ultimately those desperate for justice prevailed. The fleet was now under the unmitigated authority of Brent Waterson and the Terran Republic military.
Though most of their freedoms had been taken away, the security offered by the military's control was appreciated by many. The New Conglomerate—never officially linked to the insurgency—was begrudgingly compelled to cooperate or have its members shown to the nearest airlock. Scientists aboard the fleet were worked endlessly under the constant supervision of the military who, by the end of that year, felt justified in its methods: They had discovered a planet suitable for terraforming within range of the fleet's sensors. Charting a course for this world, which they tentatively dubbed "New Earth", the fleet began to return to a sense of normality and stability. Though the peace was kept under the watchful eyes of expert marksmen, it was a peace nonetheless, and the stranded survivors of the wormhole catastrophe, now numbering around 60,000, would eventually disembark on the surface of their new home.
The New Earth
Details on the period between the landing of the fleet and the current conflict are currently scarce. The planet, eventually re-christened Auraxis, proved to be a hospitable new home for the wormhole refugees, with varied climates and ecosystems not unlike those of Earth. It would prove, however, to not be without its secrets: Alien ruins were uncovered on the planet, and sometime in the year 2650, Henry Briggs discovered an artifact identical to that which he and Tom Connery had found in the Moon Belt sixteen years earlier. When he did, he received another vision—this time hearing the voice of Vanu speaking directly to him. Though what Briggs heard remains a mystery, it nonetheless caused a full-scale movement to form behind him and his research. Incredible technologies would come from the dedication of his followers; Briggs himself, however, would not be around to see their achievements. For unknown reasons, Henry Briggs took his own life in 2560, on the tenth anniversary of the second artifact’s discovery. In the wake of his death, the Vanu movement would flourish, keeping its discoveries secret from eyes it deemed unworthy of Vanu’s gifts. Increasingly obsessive over their research, the movement’s members were ostracized by much of society.
Meanwhile, the autocratic Terran Republic—now resembling the transparent democracy of Earth in name only—failed to rescind the curfews they had claimed would be only temporary aboard the fleet. Though forced, the security and stability the Republic provided did help to bring peace and prosperity to the fledgling Auraxian colony. In the eyes of the New Conglomerate, however, this was not enough. The ideals of free enterprise and open markets espoused by the former executives of Earth and their hired guns and workers changed over generations into a general desire for freedom from the iron rule of the Terran Republic, which grew stronger and more possessive with each passing decade. Towards the end of humanity’s second century on Auraxis, the New Conglomerate’s unrest began to take the form of worldwide protests against the Republic.
Eventually, what began as protests evolved into riots, armed skirmishes, and finally all-out war. On June 21, 2845, peace talks between the Terran Republic and New Conglomerate fell apart amidst conflicting reports of attacks in the Kaorr desert region of Auraxis, and armed conflict broke out. The Vanu, having long watched the two factions bemusedly from the sidelines, suddenly found themselves in a dire position: Wedged between two warring empires and on good terms with neither. With their options fews and their allies fewer, they declared their independence as the Vanu Sovereignty and took up arms against their long time persecutors.
Conflict has now consumed the surface of Auraxis, where each faction’s control of territory and resources is tantamount to the destruction of its enemies. With no clear advantage going to any one side, the future of the human race on Auraxis has become as unclear as the planet’s all-too secretive past.
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