Planetside Arena, featuring battle royale and a 250v250 mode, arrives in January

Daybreak Game Company, makers of the Planetside games and H1Z1, has announced Planetside Arena, a match-based multiplayer FPS that will release January 29 on Steam. At launch it will feature two modes: a 150-player battle royale for solos and teams of three, and Massive Clash, a group versus group battle with 250 players on each side. More modes are planned post-launch, like team deathmatch, capture the flag, and others. You can peep the announcement trailer above for a look at the sci-fi shooter.

Planetside Arena isn't an Early Access game and it isn't free to play. It'll sell on Steam for $19.99 (there's a $39.99 edition detailed below as well), and will feature seasonal content and a battlepass structure.

I talked with Planetside Arena's lead designer Tony Morton and executive producer Andy Sites last week about the battle royale mode while they showed me some gameplay footage. You play as one of the three available classes, each with its own unique ability, utility, and passive skill. The assault class has a dash move, can sprint faster than the other classes, and has a passive skill that heals teammates while damaging enemies. The engineer has a placeable cover wall and spitfire turret, and they also regenerate shields more quickly. The medic has an area of effect healing ability for friendlies, a shield regeneration utility, and a passive skill that allows them to revive teammates and open airdrops faster than other classes.

At the start of the match players are carried over the map in a bastion fleet carrier—which will be familiar to fans of the original Planetside games—then eject from the bastion in drop pods, landing on the surface only equipped with a knife, a jetpack that allows for boosted jumps, and a small personal quad vehicle that can be summoned at any time. Other vehicles that can seat a full team of three can be found on the map.

As players move across the map they'll find a variety of weapon pickups and upgrades. Your jetpack, shields, and class abilities can all be upgraded during a match, but Planetside Arena isn't handling weapons in the usual battle royale fashion. Rather than finding mods and attachments and cobbling together more effective weapons from them, higher tier weapons will be found with attachments already included.

"What we didn't want players to do was pick up a weapon, pick up attachments, open an inventory, [and] have to worry about managing all that," said Tony Morton. "We really like the idea that you can get down, pick stuff up, and go, and this goes back to double-down on the freedom of movement and exploration."

Players will earn XP during matches which will unlock weapon and equipment blueprints in the battlepass. They'll also earn currency for performing kills and assists, as well finding it in pickups, crates, and from other non-combat related accomplishments. This currency can be spent during the match at terminals to gain access to the blueprinted weapons players have unlocked in the battlepass. The currency, Daybreak says, is in-match only and isn't purchasable with real-world cash.

Unlocked blueprints will be available across all other game modes. "We don't want you to feel like if you want to progress in solo battle royale that you have to play that and only that, and then if you go to a different mode you can't use any of your stuff," Morton said.

Daybreak says future seasons of Planetside Arena may incorporate new player classes, vehicles, map updates (and potentially entirely new maps) and new weapons. "So what we can do for season two is we can take the battle pass weapons from season one, put those in the map for everybody to pick up," Morton said. "So even if you didn't get all the way through the battle pass you can still get to see the weapons at some point. And then we can bring in a whole new set of weapons into the battle pass for season two."

With the main focus on battle royale, we didn't talk much about Massive Clash, though I hope we'll learn more about it soon. And while Massive Clash is a 500-player mode, Daybreak also told me Planetside Arena is capable of supporting 1,000 players in a single match. Maybe that's not a surprise: Planetside 2 broke the world record for most players in a single FPS battle in 2015, with 1,158 players.

Planetside Arena will release on Steam January 29. In addition to the $19.99 edition, which includes the season one battle pass and an armor set for the assault class, there's a $39.99 edition with the season pass, additional armor sets, and an M-20 Tempest Pack. You can visit the official site for more information, and have a look at a few more screenshots below.