The way PlanetSide 2's Galaxy dropships work is set to change in coming patches - just one of a large number of improvements born of beta feedback, detailed below. As you'll know if you've been listening to the PCG UK podcast , there are doubters among our ranks, who cite the way Galaxies can be used as mobile spawn-points as a major game breaking bugbear.
And though I personally think PlanetSide 2 is the most exciting MMOFPS to be found this side of Barnard's Star, the beta's certainly not without flaws: it can feel a bit incoherent, neither clarifying how all its systems interrelate nor placing your actions in the context of a meaningful global strategy. But we have good news! Our chat with hirsute lead dev Matt Higby addresses all of these exact issues.
“Initially we thought the Galaxy would make a really great spawn point. People could move it around, they could land it right where they wanted to, they could bring a squad with them and it'd be th place they'd respawn if they were doing field operations.
“And we were right, we were completely right, it works awesome. It works too awesome. It was allowing people to bypass ground base combat. They could just fly a Galaxy to where they wanted to go without having to push through the front line. So it was creating this disconnect between the vehicle gameplay and static defences. You could just go drop a Galaxy at the other side of the base and never have to go through the cool chokepoint that the players created.
“So what we're doing with the Galaxy right now is we're moving the primary spawn vehicle over to the Sunderer, our ground-based transport vehicle. Right now it repairs and rearms friendly vehicles. We're going change it so that it can either be a repair vehicle, a rearm vehicle or a respawn vehicle. So people will have to actually push forward with armour, secure it with ground troops and then be able to deploy as a spawn point, instead of just landing one up on top of a hill.
“But we're going to continue to allow the Galaxy to serve as a spawn point, it's just going to be a more limited spawn point. We're still trying to figure out exactly what we're going to do. What we know right now is that we're going to put it behind a certification that is pretty far down the list of certifications for Galaxies. So only really dedicated Galaxy pilots are going to even have access to it. And then we're probably going to put another limitation on it, because being an MMO game, eventually everybody will unlock that ability, even if we use a really high cost on it. So, potentially, we might make it so that only your squad can respawn on the Galaxy, or some other type of limitation, such as a really long spawn timer.
“The Sunderer won't have those kinds of downsides, so the Sunderer will still remain kind of the primary logistical respawn vehicle.
“We're still playing around quite a bit with the way that the base capture routines work. Base capture right now... Starting off as a defender is kind of fun, and when you're finishing off as an attacker it's kind of fun, but we want to make it more active and fun throughout the entire base capture routine.
“Right now there are generators throughout the map that control things like shields. So if you want to get into the courtyard of a base, you have to disable this generator that's powering the shields across the gate. You can use one of our transport vehicles, the Sunderer, with a special attachment on it that lets you breach shields: you can just slam into the shields and unload a bunch of guys into the middle of base. Or you can bring light assaults with you that can jump into the base, or you can do Galaxy drops to get behind the walls.
“What we're doing is we're changing those sub-objectives, like the generators, to being something that you arm. Then, after thirty seconds or so, they explode. Right now they just take damage and they explode, but we're going to give defenders a chance to respond and try to disarm it. And if it does blow up they can send engineers over to try and repair it afterwards. So there's going to be a much more active back and forth.”
“We don't have commander level stuff yet. What we have is a lot of different pieces of the player command structure. So you can be a squad leader and target objectives, set them as the primary objective, things like that. That squad leader cert tree is going to get expanded quite a bit.
“What you're going to be able to do with the mission system is say, 'I need air support in this location,' and you can drop a beacon. Then any player who's on your empire who has opted-in to receive air support missions will see that somebody is requesting air support in this area. So they can hop in their aircraft and fly over there and hopefully have something really cool to do.
“It's kind of a hint/direction tool that allows commanders to call in reinforcements for specific things that they need, and allows players to find where to go to participate in the kind of activities that they've self-selected as wanting to participate in.
“Planetside 2 is a game that is hundreds of times more fun when you're playing with people with teamwork, real teamwork. If you're playing in a big platoon or a big squad that's working together really well, it's significantly, significantly more fun. So what we want to try to do is give as many tools as possible to be able to get these groups of people to coalesce. So guys who are just jumping into the game and might not necessarily be involved in strategic thinking or how to join an outfit yet, are still able to use these tools to quickly find a battle and become part of this big team-based gameplay without really having to have all the burden of the MMO side weighing it down.”
“One of the things we're really actively working on is surfacing all this stuff a little bit better, and letting people know: here's why you should care about resources, here's how they're relevant, here's how you're earning them, here's how you can earn more. Making that a little bit more obvious to new player. Because you can happily play the game for months and probably never even pay attention to the fact you've earned all these resources.”
All promising stuff, addressed with unflinching candour by the lead dev; SOE seem totally open to looking at their game critically and discussing how to fix things. Colour us impressed. We'll be bringing you more Planetside 2 flavoured treats soon.