Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming MMO/FPS hybrid Planetside 2 is aiming to shake things up a bit. Taking a Halo-esque approach to its sci-fi universe, it aims to combine the persistent world of an MMO with the visceral, responsive mechanics of a first person shooter. As part of our six page preview in issue 233 of PC Gamer UK , we spoke to Planetside 2's creative director, Matt Higby about the staggering size of the new battlefields.
“We have enormous, enormous gameplay space,” says Higby. Planetside 2's settings - continents on the planet Auraxis - measure an epic eight kilometres square, with weapons capable of firing a full kilometre in distance. "One of our largest development efforts on this project has been hand crafting every single area of those eight-by-eight kilometre continents," Higby told us. In this vast space, three factions fight it out: The Terran Republic, The New Conglomerate and The Vanu Sovereignty. And those fights can become pretty vast.
"You're going to be fighting in battles sometimes when it's 200 people fighting against 30 people,” said Higby. “Because there's only 30 people defending that base and then suddenly 200 people log in from the other group and go do it."
According to Higby, the key to making these battles even lies in the way the tactics of the game are designed. He illustrates with the example of the American Revolution using guerrilla tactics to defeat a larger, more powerful force. “If you use the right tactics and you do things the right way you can still have fun and enjoy yourself as a group of 20 people defending against an onslaught,” Higby says. “But that's something we have to take into account when we do our level design, so we've been spending a lot of time whiteboxing bases, figuring out what we want specific areas to look like.”
At one point during the demonstration, Higby shows us around one of Planetside 2's “facilites”, city-like structures where combat takes place in individual “courtyards”. Higby indicates one of those spaces. “Just this area back here, this is the size of a Modern Warfare level,” he says, casually.