Once a thing relegated exclusively to PC and mobile gaming, high-profile free-to-play titles are quickly beginning to make the jump to consoles and none more so than the PS4. Heralded as one of premiere titles to help lead this push onto the console, PlanetSide 2 offers a massive experience that makes large-scale shooters like the Battlefield series pale in comparison. Can this intricate sci-fi shooter successfully make the transition from PC to consoles? Judging by our hands-on time with the title, it’s well on its way.
Promised to be as close to a one-to-one translation of the PC version as possible, Sony Online Entertainment plans to provide PS4 players of PlanetSide 2 with all the same content as their PC counterparts. From release and into the future, the game’s console version will receive all the same updates as PC, albeit after a short delay due to development differences between the platforms. As such, PC and PS4 players will find themselves playing on separate servers.
Without a doubt the most noticeable and striking change present in the console translation of the title is that of its menus and interface. While the PC version and its use of mouse and keyboard can easily sustain dense amounts of information on screen at once, the PS4 version sports a sleek new interface that presents only the most essential information like class boons and loadouts.
As can be expected from a one-to-one translation, drastic changes are not a central focus. In its current state, the demo was primarily focused on gunplay with the vehicles still being tweaked for optimal play with a controller. In the case of the gunplay, the game already feels as responsive as one might expect from a AAA console title. It is a difficult task translating something from the precision of mouse and keyboard, but SOE is assuring gamers that making the game “feel right” is one of their top priorities.
If there is one argument that the brunt of new gamers levy on PlanetSide 2 though, it’s that players’ first steps onto the planet of Auraxis are not beginner friendly. As a game that has countless complex gameplay mechanics at work from spawning vehicles to finding contested regions of your given continent, learning how each system works can be daunting.
The developers at Sony Online Entertainment are aware of this issue and are looking to introduce a more fully-featured tutorial. Rather than simply explaining each of the different systems at the outset and confusing the player, they want to introduce new and complex concepts and elucidate them as they encounter them in their travels. This way, the learning experience matches the pace of each given player and hopefully doesn’t overload them with information.
Easing players into the game’s mechanics also involves the developers guiding them onto the appropriate battlefield. In its current state, the game boasts three different continents to wage war across as well as one battle island. Alongside the development of the game’s PS4 version, they are working to release another continent although its finer details have not been revealed. If the current offerings are any indication though, the scope of this new battlefield will no doubt be staggering.
On the server side of things, SOE has also expressed an interest of structuring their future PlanetSide 2 updates so that they are more modular. Rather than releasing massive updates at a low frequency, they are looking at the option of releasing smaller batches of content more frequently so that they can better receive the public’s input and tweak it with less delay.
One of the smaller-form updates that SOE is currently exploring is the inclusion of “outfits” which will function like smaller groups or squads within a given faction. This will allow players to team up with their friends and better track them in the heat of conflict. It will also allow SOE to recognize talented groups of players easier. Should an outfit take over an enemy base, their custom flag will be displayed alongside the faction’s flag in that base to signify their contribution to the war.
For PC players who are intrigued about the game’s console developments, sadly, stats will not be transferred between the platforms and will instead represent different profiles. This is quite a disappointment and a problem EA’s Battlefield games inexplicably suffer from as well, not allowing players to continue or share progress between different platforms, despite all running on the same online Origins service under the same profile. SOE does not want this hurdle to dissuade players who are interested in making the jump though, and have explained that they are exploring options for incentivizing the move. As of yet, nothing has been decided upon.
While it may not be the most accessible game to grace the market, there’s no denying that PlanetSide 2 will be a great addition to the PS4’s line-up of titles. The game is steeped in PC history and the team at Sony Online Entertainment is working hard to make it as satisfying to play as possible. With the word “port” instilling fear in may gamers, the developers behind PlanetSide 2 are doing everything they can to ensure that it is more translation than port and if their E3 offering is any indication, they’re well on their way.
Would you rather play a title like PlanetSide 2 on PC or consoles? What would you like to see Sony Online Entertainment implement in future updates to the title?
PlanetSide 2 is is out now for PC users but will be releasing as a free-to-play title on the PS4 in 2014.
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