PlanetSide 2 (PlayStation 4) Review

By Leo Epema 20.08.2015

Review for PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4

PlanetSide 2 is a free-to-play first-person shooter that is, in some ways, reminiscent of Battlefield 4, combined with an Unreal Tournament 3-like graphics style. Sony referred to it as essentially a free-to-play Halo game for the PS4. It is obviously being compared to high-quality games, but is it really as good? Is it even worth playing if unwilling to pay real money? Cubed3 finds out.

From the get-go, PlanetSide 2 is interesting, providing a choice of three different factions, each with their own ideology. This is refreshing, because most shooters force a switch to a different faction each match, and it is arbitrary; all that's necessary to know is that one faction is friend and the other is foe. The countries never provide weapons exclusive to them, meaning the core gameplay does not change. In PlanetSide 2, it does; each faction has different weapons and vehicles with different strengths and weaknesses.

The Terran Republic uses weapons with high rates of fire and low recoil and damage, while the New Conglomerate is the opposite of that, and the Vanu Sovereignty lies somewhere in the middle. However, anyone who is afraid they are now forced to play as a certain faction to fit their play style is not correct. Each weapon still has different stats, after all, with, for instance, one having more recoil than the other. It seems that each faction has something for everyone. The only downside to it is that the factions don't stand out from each other much, as they all have the same skills, so it would've been best if each faction had one unique ability per class.

What's nice about the different classes is that each can choose between equipment to customise their role. For example, a medic can buy the ability to use a bubble that can regenerate multiple members of the squad, making them more concerned with area of effect healing than anything else. The classes can also upgrade their individual abilities. This upgrading seems like something most shooters do not include, so it is a big plus.

Screenshot for PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4

Getting into the gameplay is tough at first, as the scale of the battles makes everything very hectic. The Vanu also sometimes blend into the scenery too much because of their colour scheme. The tutorial does not help, either, as it does not explain many things (such as the UI) aside from what purpose each class and vehicle serves in battle, and what skills they use. Simply put, the tutorial is a tooltip system. The gameplay itself is not always as smooth as desired, as the frame rate seems to drop from 60 to something like 40 in large battles sometimes. It never renders the game unplayable, though, and it is the same for all players, anyway. When inside a building, there is no lag.

As for how things handle, zooming in with a sniper rifle feels a bit disorienting, as the transition from first-person to the scope is slightly abrupt. The camera movement while aiming down the sights feels perfect, though. Instead of the perhaps overly smooth and wappy movement seen in some Call of Duty games, this feels natural and stable; light movements will have light effects, but the sensitivity is still very good. Aim assist is useless, as it is barely noticeable, regardless of aiming range.

Some of the vehicles steer realistically, and if they bump into things, they do get flung all over the place. Tanks feel hefty, but still clearly respond to the changing terrain. The air vehicles feel far too direct, though; it does not feel as though they experience much wind resistance.

To gain better weapons, mods, and abilities, CERT points (in-game currency) or real money need to be spent, and it can be costly. Weapons cost anything from 250 to 1000 CERTs, and only 1 CERT is given out per two-and-a-half infantry kills. Of course, that is the price paid for free games. Have no fear; this game is not pay-to-win. Yes, new weapons can be bought sooner if real money is spent, but there is no 'best' or 'better' weapon; only personal taste. The only problem is that the customisation of the character's appearance is very expensive. Still, this is one of the most accessible free-to-play games.

Screenshot for PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4

Speaking of accessibility, some maps are locked when they are conquered by a faction, or when the faction wins an 'alert' event, and they only unlock once other maps are taken over. The locking results in the locking faction getting a discount on resources, which gives them an edge in battle because they can, for example, use more vehicles. Locking continents is not fun, though; if people want to play on the snow map or the jungle map, let them.

The maps also allow for different gameplay: on Hossin, snipers can take cover fast and won't be spotted easily. Air combat there is high risk, high reward, and on other continents the reverse could be true. That means locking maps reduces the game's great diversity. Fortunately, only a maximum of two maps can be locked by one faction.

Unfortunately, there is no story. There is no campaign - only online multiplayer, which means it is difficult to feel a connection to the chosen faction. As it stands, the faction chosen has most to do with users' preferred play style, commander voice, and occasional music. That said, while the lack of a background story is a shame, it is not necessary.

This leads to the mixed bag of the graphics. Some aspects look very good; trees and most foliage look sharp and realistic, while building interiors and rocks can look awkwardly shiny or plasticy. The first base in the game has a ceiling that is distracting when viewed from a distance, while it looks normal and more detailed when looking at it directly from up close.

Screenshot for PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4

PlanetSide 2 is surprisingly detailed when it comes to textures. Even though the maps are so large, floors have small scratches everywhere, almost as if they are actually walked on daily.
The lighting looks fine, too, although it has obviously been downgraded for the PS4. What's nice to see is that there is a day-to-night cycle, and the contrast is not bad. However, some things look a bit bluish, like there's a haze in front of them, even if the object/building is fairly close by.

The graphics are like Unreal Tournament 3 mixed with Halo 3, only in full HD. While it is dated, it is amazing that such a huge free game can look so good on the humble PS4, with a relatively unknown graphics engine - especially considering the maps' content.

The soundtrack is not as amazing as it deserves to be, as some effects sound muffled at a distance, even when they logically don't need to be. The weapons could also stand to have more kick to them, a little more bass, even treble. Things don't always sound as three-dimensional as they could, either. The faction themes are really good; they sound epic and well-made and nicely recorded. The Vanu theme sounds eastern, like a futuristic China. The NC has a rock theme that represents their rebellious spirit and liberal views, and it ends on a StarCraft-like note. The Terran Republic has a theme that befits a proud nationalistic empire. The sound effect heard when receiving experience points is helpful and gratifying.

Screenshot for PlanetSide 2 on PlayStation 4

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

Rated 8 out of 10

PlanetSide 2 is an amazingly good game for its price tag, or rather, the lack of one. The only price to mention is the optional one for buying weapons, mods, and abilities, and they're not overly expensive. Besides, it is fairly easy to get weapons without paying at all; it just takes some work to get that privilege. Anyone who likes online shooters should give this game a try, and should look past the designation of 'F2P game.' Not everything that's free is garbage - in fact, this is a gem.

Developer

Daybreak Game Company

Publisher

Daybreak Game Company

Genre

First Person Shooter

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10 (1 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   

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