First of all, I want to give a shout-out to a few other bloggers who are joining me on what a commenter called a “speed-dating” trip through MMOs. Why I Game, Mama Needs Mana, and Nerdy Bookahs are also trying out 10 MMOs they’ve never touched, so give ‘em a read!
So next up on my 10/10 to do list was also the most recently released title that I picked: PlanetSide 2. It’s at this juncture that we must discuss my history with FPS games. I got hooked early on to Wolfenstein 3D and Doom, enjoyed Duke Nuke ‘Em 3D for a good while there, and even gave Unreal Tournament a run for its money. But for me the FPS was never about PvP, just a different form of PvE, and as the online world started skewing more toward PvP in this area I gradually lost interest. The last online FPS I played seriously was Battlefield 1942 (egads, was that really 11 years ago?), so if you’re assuming right now that PS2 has an uphill battle with me, you’d be right.
And I’ll go ahead and spoil the ending: My general lack of interest in FPSs and PvP led to a somewhat unenjoyable evening. That’s why I give you the background first, because I don’t feel like this is a judgment against PlanetSide 2 at all. In fact, it looks like a very polished (and pretty) shooter that gets you into the action quick and provides infinite scifi PvP. It just wasn’t for me, and that’s OK. My curiosity was sated and I’m glad I gave it a try.
So unlike most MMOs I’ve played, PlanetSide 2 isn’t big into (a) character customization and (b) tutorials. I got to pick my faction (I went Vanu Sovereignty), one of like four heads, and a name… and was instantly thrown into the action. And here I’m not talking about a “dip your toes into the water” type of action; it was more of a “two seconds after I poked my head out of the safety chamber I was fragged.”
The lack of overt instructions and weird placement of the UI (the map is on the lower-left corner? Okayyy…) meant that I started floundering from the start. But hey, mouse button means gunfire, right? Might as well start spraying at everything that moves!
Well that did not end well, no it did not, not one bit. Apparently friendly fire is a thing in this game, because PS2 started yelling at me to cut it out or it would lock my weapons. “I’m not a griefer!” I yelled at the screen. “I’m just an ignorant newbie who can’t tell the difference between all of the armor-clad goons running around in the dark!”
I guess you had to look for the (very tiny) symbol over the heads or the style of armor, so I stopped firing and just followed my teammates around while aiming in corners to put up a good front. What were they doing? I don’t know. Were we capturing objectives? I don’t know. Why did we lose the facility? I don’t know. Did I just kill a bad guy? I guess so. Yippee.
So an average round for the game would be me running like a maniac, trying to kill someone, and almost always getting killed myself. One of the reasons that I severely dislike FPSs is the first-person view. It feels stiflingly claustrophobic, since you miss that peripheral/back view that you get from third-person perspectives, and I had to keep whipping the camera around like a jittery bunny to see around me. That didn’t help with my nausea any. Again, it’s a hazard of the genre, not PS2’s specific fault.
I did eventually jump on top of a tank and enjoyed a ride out into the middle of nowhere, at which point my driver disconnected and I realized that I wasn’t sure how to exit the tank. After a quick trip to the keybindings menu, that got sorted out, and I took Mr. Tank for a joyride myself. I definitely liked the feel of being in a vehicle versus on foot, although I couldn’t find any targets to shoot.
I wish I had better stories from this session, I do. Truth be told, I just felt lost and dead. I admired the visuals, the music, and little moments like air dropping into a facility, but I never felt like I was making a difference.
Will I play it again? Nope. Wasn’t expecting to, but always willing to be surprised and all that. I’m sure this is gangs of fun for FPS fans, and SOE did seem to create a nice F2P title from the ground-up.