The latest major update to PlanetSide 2 has landed, bringing some sweeping changes to the balance and design of the game. The most significant overhaul for "GU09" is the trialling of a new map system, that replaces the previous Hex-based conquest path with a "Lattice Link" of criss-crossing attack avenues. So rather than expanding out in any direction, now your invasion is going to rely on somebody in your squad being able to read a map.
A series of tweets by SOE's president John Smedley have revealed an imminent promotion for PlanetSide 1, offering players of PlanetSide 2 - and former PS1 recruits - six months free membership to the original MMOFPS, ahead of an eventual plan to make it fully free-to-play. I'm guessing age will play a large part in whether you react to the sight of the 2003 shooter with a new-found respect for its many achievements, or recoil in horror at its graphics and creaky netcode. It was the best we had, damn it. Don't judge us.
When you hear the words "fast-paced arena" or "adrenaline-pumping action," you don't typically think of a 16th-century cultural movement, but that's why Renaissance Heroes caught our eye. The newest free-to-play FPS on the scene mashes the two together in an elegant ball of alternate history, and it actually seems to kind of work.
The S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series (and its excessive period use) has remained regretfully dead, despite whatever internet voodoo tricks its fans have tried in attempting to revive the series. Meanwhile, the developers' new project, Survarium, has become something more and more myth-like over the months, with its initial news fading into obscurity. But no more! Survarium's finally burst out of the fog with details on its alpha phase, which has just begun, and there are a couple of sweet screenshots to match.
Planetside 2's test server has been updated with some big additions and overhauls, ahead of their eventual introduction into the main game. It's also good news for fans of tooling around a battlefield on bouncy buggies, with the introduction of the three-man Harasser. It's also good news for fans of giant stompy robots: the MAX suits are being buffed with faction specific abilities. And that means bad news for fans of not getting blown up by giant stompy robots.
S.T.A.L.K.E.R and GSC may have long fallen to the harsh nuclear winter of game development, but some members of the team managed to crawl out of the wreckage. Their new studio, Vostok Games, is now set to emerge from their emergency bunker with the free-to-play MMOFPS Survarium. First though, diligent testing is required to ensure the multiplayer shooter has got what it takes to survive. That process is now open to applications - with alpha test sign ups now taking place.
February was a difficult month for the battle-locked soldiers of Planetside 2's Auraxia. During the four week period, over 100 million soldiers fell in glorious war - before subsequently respawning and presumably dying again. And SOE have provided a slew of other stats celebrating their bloody conflict. Among them is the revelation that 42.31 recruits are dying every second. If that rate holds steady, it means 380.79 players saw their end while I typed that last sentence. Only a sentient torso remains.
If the latest trailer for Firefall seems particularly inspirational, it's because they've cheated. You can make anything sound poignant when you include the rousing oratory of Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt. Even an enjoyable looking free-to-play sci-fi MMOFPS, filled with plasma weapons and jetpacks.
The reason for the historical pep-talk is Firefall's latest development milestone, released during PAX East. The update brings, among other changes, new dynamic and local events, a tweaked progression system and better crafting. I'm not sure Churchill had enhanced Battleframe crafting and deeper customisation on his mind when he delivered his "This was their finest hour" speech to the House of Commons, but then I wasn't there.
Sure, the March update for Planetside 2 brings plenty of features and adjustments - there are new rocket launchers, increased cert points for members and adjusted interface options. Clearly though, the ability to zoom about the continents of Auraxia on your Flash quad bike with a buddy riding pillion is the most notable. Of course, this being a world at war, the extra seat isn't designed purely for BFF hijinks. With their hands free, your passenger can use their weapons to protect your rear flank. Fun and practical.
It's been a while since SOE provided a big update for PlanetSide 2's ongoing war for Auraxis' precious resources, so it's filling the fourth major patch with an extra armory's worth of re-balances and additions for release on Wednesday. Creative Director Matt Higby outlines the patch's contents in a forum post, and some interesting features are set to arrive after the base-tweaking focus of the last update.
In an address to Reddit, SOE's John Smedley explained some of the methods and miscommunications behind their continued efforts to ban cheaters from PlanetSide 2. It's clearly an issue that Smedley feels strongly about, and he doesn't pull punches when describing the team's attempts to track them down. "It's a constant effort," he writes. "We just want you to know we hate them just as much as you do and we're busting our asses to get them out of the game. Do we do it as fast as you might like? Not all the time no. But we also don't want to falsely accuse people without solid proof."
Do you know what the ever-wars of Auraxis needs? More wars. SOE seems to think so, at least, and Creative Director Matt Higby posts word of a few server merges taking place next week to help supersize battles raging in low-population realms during peak hours.
"For too long man was trapped, chained to the ground," laments the narrator of this latest Firefall trailer. Don't worry, there's a happy ending: jetpacks! And glowing wings, rocket shoes, and other inventions that let you hover ever so slightly above the things that want to eat you. It's full of acrobatic aerial displays, teasing the MMOFPS's promised vertical exploration.
Whenever something big happens in PlanetSide 2, you'll probably hear a dramatic score swelling beneath the bullets, bombs, and aaarghs of combat. That's thanks to SOE's audio team and its efforts to pack an aural punch into the super-scaled battles of Auraxis, as shown in this brief behind-the-scenes look at the game's soundtrack.
Soldiers of PlanetSide 2's Miller and Connery servers might've noticed they're spotting other mudfoots at a greater distance. Though we can't totally rule out the possibility that everyone's goggles received a secret spit-polish overnight, the more likely explanation is that SOE is testing out a range increase for infantry rendering.
The war for glorious balance continues in PlanetSide 2: the latest major patch released on Friday Gal-dropped new fixes and adjustments first outlined by the team last month. Among the significant changes are the addition of a few precious seconds of invulnerability when spawning, defensive boosts for bases, and a finer-tuned spotting system.
SOE care what you think. (Well, if you're a PlanetSide 2 player - they're probably not too bothered otherwise.) They care so much that they've implemented a new section on their site called the Roadmap. As the name suggests, SOE are using this space to outline their future plans for the game, with the next six months currently laid bare for all to see. The difference between this and a regular forum, however, is that's a bit more democratic, with users given the ability to up- and down-vote specific features and changes, giving the development team the chance to gauge their popularity before they've gone to the trouble of putting them in the game.
In a pair of tweets (via VG247), SOE President John Smedley triumphantly announced the banning of "a whole bunch of idiots" caught hacking in PlanetSide 2, including one player who apparently spent $230 on in-game items.
Three unspoken bylaws lie at the heart of PlanetSide 2's army-against-army battles: Always wear arctic camo for added coolness. Thou shalt watch where you drive that thing. And lastly, whoever controls The Crown controls the fate of the universe.
Perched atop a rocky outcropping square in the middle of the arid canyons and blasted deserts of Indar, The Crown is Auraxis' version of a quintessential fortress. It's prime fodder for last stands, blazes of glory, and intense stalemates lasting weeks at a time. Many avoid it for its costly price of victory. But despite a pursuit that inevitably involves funneling into a rocky rampway for vehicles or a precarious switchback path snaking along the base's rear, many more flock to The Crown for the advantageous position it bestows upon its victors, who are able to then strike outwards in every direction.
We wanted to find out more about The Crown's genesis and future, so we got in touch with SOE Facilities Designer Corey Navage and Creative Director Matt Higby for some answers.