On April 27, Daybreak Games launched the long-anticipated Base Construction update for PlanetSide 2. Players can now construct bases using a new resource called Cortium, which is harvested by a new vehicle called The Ant. This resource can be utilized to build new structures called “hives,” which generate Victory Points. The Victory Points once needed for locking the map and declaring victory have been increased from eight to fifteen. Along with these new mechanics, Daybreak has also implemented a much improved continent balancing system for curtailing overpopulation and trying to keep maps and opposing forces more even, thus allowing for more enjoyable fights. Other tweaks and additions have also been implemented, making this patch one of the most significant patches since the game first launched in 2012. To read more about it, check out Daybreak’s website.
New Mechanics / New Meta
With the implementation of base building, the current meta of PlanetSide 2 (which is heavily based around zergs and abundant mobile spawn points) will most likely remain the same in some sense; however, rest assured, it will certainly get tweaked. How much? That remains debatable. While there will be new opportunities for players to go hunting the Cortium-harvesting Ants and the bases they construct, no one has quite figured out how to best utilize them.
Grab an aircraft and take a quick flight over any battlefield in the next few weeks, and the evolution of base building will become more evident. Some bases are massive, sprawling complexes, but they are completely isolated from strategic points, while others are placed directly on roadways or in mountain passes, creating choke points for enemies to have to deal with. To put it another way: the real estate market on Auraxis is booming.
Talking to long-time Planetside players like streamer and self-described “directive junky,” Maldrasou, the latest patch’s changes have been a relief, especially in terms of what it has done for population control. Speaking primarily as an infantryman, he says, “I’m just happy people are cooling down playing with the new toys and infantry fights started to pick back up.” From time to time Maldrasou or “Mal” has stepped in to teach Imperators (TMC’s PS2 Outfit) a thing or two about Planetside, but he admits with this patch, “Noob or not, it’s new content, we are both on equal footing when theorycrafting on how it will play out in the end.”
Veteran streamer and PS2 enthusiast Sazzypazz is a bit more reserved, and while acknowledging the current patches successes, he states: “I would love to see construction fleshed out a bit more with further optimization and objects added to create more variety within base design. This is the first week of release and I can proudly say DBG did fine work,” Sazzy has some great guides for getting into Ps2 (I especially recommend his graphics optimization guide) you can check them out here.
The Sandbox of Unintended Consequences
Shortly after discovering this mechanic with the PS2 crew, IMPxSpanks and MacCloud, I sent this video to Daybreak. While the development team is not ready to make an official comment as of yet, they are aware that the issue of AWOXing exists, and are reviewing it.
One of the best parts about video game sandboxes is the amount of player-driven content or “emergent content,” which players create and that the developers did not think of. By giving players the tools and freedom to build and destroy each other’s assets in a virtual world, entirely new mechanics can arise. One such mechanic might not be intended to work as intended, which is the ability for players to take out friendly silos (silos are what players create using the Cortium they harvest in order to gather victory points) and by doing so, potentially ruin hours of work by players who were involved in creating the structure and harvesting the cortium. A well-timed act of “sabotage” could be the decisive moment in allowing one faction to swoop in and steal victory from another. By simply rolling alts on an enemy’s team, on the same server, a small group of players can have a large effect while helping their home faction win via subterfuge and guile. While this type of gameplay may suit the environment of EVE Online, it’s discovery is already calling for its removal.
Tweaking any game that is the size and complexity of Planetside 2 is not easy. Veterans like Maldrasou were also pointing out a potential oversight in how reinforcement mechanics should get updated to meet the new reinforcement spamming that comes along with base creation, citing,
“Last night for what seemed like at least 20 mins, all reinforcements [were getting drawn] into fights that were not happening, as in it would drop friendlies in a base whose hex had an enemy vp gen but they didn’t want to attack it so they kept redeploying out and the base kept on requesting troops that would leave as soon as they got there because there was no fight”
While some bugs will continue to exist and mechanics that worked well before appear to show a different purpose when contrasted with newer mechanics, the game will change and adapt to it. If there’s anything to gather from Daybreak, it is the company is not afraid of embracing change and improving upon design decisions, as evidenced by its acknowledgment that H1Z1 needed to be split in two and given a separate team for its “survival” mode, which many found lacking when compared to its “Battle Royale” mode. It’s not a common thing to see a gaming company split a property in half like that – in fact, it hardly ever happens – and it’s refreshing to see new approaches being tried.
There’s no better time than the present. Talking to the various members of the Planetside community, it becomes evident that the game needed this new patch and a new shake up. The population balancing mechanics were sorely needed and has perhaps become one of the unsung heroes of this patch. For too long there would be one overpopulated continent surrounded by two or more completely underpopulated continents. While folks are still undecided as to how to deal with the new base building mechanics, over all, the community is positive that this direction was certainly the way to go.
In looking around the pile of open-world FPS-style MMO games, Planetside 2 stands alone. It’s a beautiful game with some complex mechanics and elegant flaws. It has a passionate community, energetic developer team, and a new CEO to helm everything (Russell Shanks). With future iterations on base building being the centerpiece of game design for the foreseeable future, everything looks very promising.
Shamless plug: If you are on Emerald and want to fight for Papa Vanu, join the “Imperators” outfit and get started today!
Update: The game’s launch date was originally printed inaccurately, and has been corrected.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Porkbutte.