As the battlefield falls into darkness, the combat doesn't cease, though the infantry become at less of a disadvantage. The lightning and sound effects are still placeholder, but this night scene is pretty spectacular to watch, lit by the particle flare of Vanu lasers and NC tank fire. He tells me that they're also planning on introducing a satellite system, including stars and multiple moons. Higby performs a few more stunts, using the new PhysX real physics to good effect to barrel-roll narrowly around foliage, before flying to a new area.
This is a more desert area, complete with canyons, and is much less ground vehicle-friendly; the base here is smaller, mounted atop a mesa, with a road snaking down a ridge to another base. "It blows my mind how much effort it takes to make just a rock in this game" says Higby, "we're doing the exact same process that DICE uses to make Battlefield."
This time, when the column of tanks heads out (with Higby now driving a Vanguard) they have to be very careful not to topple over the edge. The column encounters light resistance as it pushes through a giant natural stone arch, before emerging on a plain with a Terran base in the distance. A few outnumbered Prowler tanks make a last stand, before the tank column rolls up to the base.
As an infantry-only area, the column dismounts and starts fighting from room to room. Higby hits the Auto-Join squad button to get in on the action, and immediately starts earning squad XP from his teammates involved in combat deeper in the base. Higby explains that they've tried to make the close combat as modern as possible, matching the advances of the last ten years of shooting games. True to his word, the combat is rapid and the base is laid out perfectly to allow flanking, and varied levels of combat. Higby, like many of the other drivers, is wearing light armour, which gives him access to jump jets (part of the special functionality unique to the new classes), so the NC spread themselves around the buildings and rooftops as they advance.
There's only one working Max in the game, the dreaded Terran Max, but the team feels he's far too powerful at the moment, so he doesn't feature in the base defense. "They're incredibly powerful, not balanced at all. One Max can kill eighty people... obviously, we're going to fix that." What does feature, though, is the Heavy Assault class, one of whom kills Higby several times while we're watching - Higby later admits to me that the Heavy Assault class is also unbalanced. "I hate it." he says.
Thankfully, a pilot has landed a customised Galaxy nearby, complete with respawn point and weapons terminals, so Higby doesn't have to fly back over from the base, eroding the defender's spawn tube advantage and meaning the NC finally push through the Spawn room and capture the base. The battle is won, temporarily.
"It always blows my mind that there aren't more MMO FPSes" says Higby afterwards. "I think you're going to see a renaissance of MMOFPSes, similar to after EverQuest shipped and there was new generation of MMORPGs... MMOFPS will be the 2013 equivalent of MMORPGs in 2003. Everyone will be making them... and they're really difficult to make, so good luck"