Planetside 2's new robotic mercenary faction, Nanite System Operatives, will officially join the fight tomorrow as part of what developer Daybreak Game Company said is the biggest update to come to the game since 2016. The update will also implement long-awaited support for DirectX 11, which Daybreak said "will provide dramatic performance improvements for PC players," add a new vehicle-based event, and make "major quality of life upgrades including a completely overhauled spawn system, new mentor squads, UI improvements and more."
Nanite System Operatives are the first new faction to be added to the game, but they don't operate in quite the same way as the others. They have the same health pool, movement speeds, hitboxes, and animations as characters from other factions, but are automatically assigned to whichever faction in the zone has the lowest population. They can reside in outfits, even when contracted for opposing teams, and can join and lead squads for whatever faction they're currently fighting for; they're restricted to Nanite Systems weapons only, however, and have their own unique Directive lines.
Daybreak hopes the NSO faction will help address population balance issues without having to rely on a "faction queue," which isn't much fun. It's also a nice bonus for players with active subscriptions, and it marks a new dive into Planetside lore and storytelling: The studio said the arrival of the NSO is "the true beginning of a larger story arc surrounding Nanite Systems, and some hero characters you may (or may not have) heard of just yet."
The "Refine and Refuel" event will see two refineries spawn near the center of the map, which players will have to fill with harvested Cortium. When full, it will launch into orbit and another will take its place; the faction with the most refined Cortium at the end of the event wins.
That doesn't sound like the most exciting competition ever, but the reward might make it worthwhile: The Wasp Prototype air vehicle is a Valkyrie variant with a hybrid mining laser, anti-vehicle machine gun, afterburners, and rocket pods that will be spawnable at the winning faction's Warpgate until the continent locks.
But the most significant part of the update, according to producer Nick Silva, aren't the new gameplay bits but the move to DirectX 11. "DX11 will significantly boost FPS performance on modern hardware and will give us a path for further optimization in the future," Silva said. "This is not a visual or gameplay update, so everything should look and play the same as it always has—just with better performance."
The development team will focus on tutorials for new players in the next update, because "PlanetSide 2 can be a challenging game to get ramped up on," Silva said. But the best way to get into the game, he continued, is with "the helping hand of an experienced player," and so with this update developers made changes to Mentor squads that it hopes will encourage them to more actively assist newcomers.
"One of the small changes we’ve made will automatically add low BR players to Mentor squads when they enter a zone. We’d love to see seasoned players start Mentor squads and be ambassadors to new players. Show them where the fights are, what to spend their first certs on, and how to drop in behind enemy lines from a high-flying Galaxy," he said. "We'll be keeping track of who runs great Mentor squads and creates upbeat, informative, and positive experiences for new players. We plan on reaching out to some of these all-stars for community spotlight features."
The Join Combat and Spawn systems will also be significantly modified in the update, and the UI has been improved as well. The full list of changes will be available in the patch notes when the update goes live.