The Firing Line: Thousand-player dogfights and more PlanetSide 2 conjecture

The Firing Line - PlanetSide 2 reaver
Welcome back to The Firing Line, boys and girls. Last week I talked at length about PlanetSide 2, and despite the fact that I'm apparently unqualified to do so according to some folks, I'm going to do it again this week.

How do ya like them apples?

Anyhow, that's not all I'm going to talk about, as a couple of other online shooters made news over the last seven days. Most of you know that I can't pass up the opportunity to mention Tribes: Ascend, and oh yeah, would you believe there's an aerial combat game that supports 1,000-player dogfights?


PlanetSide 2's hex gameplay explained

A YouTube user named miirofmalvision has come up with the most informative explanation of PlanetSide 2's continent capturing system that I've seen to date. Sony Online Entertainment continues to shroud the upcoming MMOFPS in a fair amount of secrecy, but Miir has pieced together a two-minute video based largely on snippets of info doled out by creative director Matt Higby over the last little while.

Miir uses a map graphic from the original PlanetSide title to illustrate how PS2's three factions will fight over the large land masses available for capture. First off, each continent features a playfield that is eight square kilometers in size, and said playfield is broken into hexagonal units. PS2's Terran Republic, New Conglomerate, and Vanu Sovereignty factions will have their own safe zones on each continent, and the hexes that house these safe zones are not attackable.

The vast majority of a continent's hexes can be captured, though (and some of them contain valuable resources), and doing so takes a specific amount of time. The video goes on to explain a theoretical "behind-enemy-lines" mission and illustrate how this particular style of mission will be difficult, though not impossible, due to the bonuses granted to hex owners who also control adjacent hexes.

Assuming that the mission is successful and control of the hex changes hands, a counter-attack by the former owners would have a high chance of success due to the bonuses gained by controlling adjoining hexes. These bonuses are measured in the time it takes to retake the lost hex (which is a fraction of the time it took the invading enemy to capture it).

Keep in mind that Miiro's video is conjecture at this point, but it's awfully good conjecture based on the info SOE has made available thus far.

Air Wars - in-game screenshot
Air Wars announced

There's been some debate over what constitutes an MMO shooter in the pages of The Firing Line before, and while we're no closer to settling on a definition, we do have some food for thought regarding the latest title from Masang Soft. The company made a bit of a splash this week with the announcement of its Air Wars action shooter. Ho-hum, you say; aerial combat games are a dime a dozen these days, right? Well, yes, but aerial combat games that feature 1,000-player dogfights are considerably less common.

Air Wars was previously called Top Gun Online, and while my mind initially flashed back to the cheesy power-chord antics of Maverick and Goose in the 1986 Tom Cruise film of the same name, it turns out that Top Gun Online Air Wars is actually set in the year 2020, so it probably won't be centered on the venerable F-14 Tomcat (which wasn't a dogfighter, by the way, but that's a story for another day).

Masang Soft's resume includes ACE Online, so it's not a stretch to imagine that the developer can pull off a fun-in-spurts title with its latest effort. There are some pretty screenshots and even a video floating around the intarwebs, and even though I'm not entirely convinced that the thousand-player dogfight bit isn't a mis-translation (how can you even fit 1,000 airplanes into the same piece of sky?!), the game is certainly worth a look even if an extra zero found its way into the press release as it came over from Japan.

Tribes: Ascend - Arx Novena map
Tribes: Ascend adds new map, practice range

Hi-Rez continued its patch-happy ways last Friday with the Tribes: Ascend closed beta client's latest build. The 0.1.669.0 update featured an early version of the Arx Novena capture-the-flag map. Also noteworthy was the addition of a new target practice mode in the game's training menu. The new mode is a variant on the Crossfire map that features a variety of bots, and the devs have graciously provided something of a practice range for those of us who need to work on our aiming prior to mixing it up with the pros in a live match.


Firefall cosplay gets real

Say what you will about expensive live-action marketing materials, but Red 5 Studios is pulling out all the stops (and generating lots of positive buzz) when it comes to promoting Firefall. The company recently tapped actor Lee Reherman and cosplayer Crystal Graziano to bring its Typhon and Mourningstar characters to life on the convention circuit.

While gaming cosplay is nothing new, I've never seen anything approaching the level of detail on display in the pair's exquisite battleframe suits. Red 5 also alerted me to the existence of an outtake reel that features a few Reherman bloopers if you're in need of a laugh.

Aaaaand, that's all for this week's edition of The Firing Line. As always, shoot straight and let me know what's on your mind via the comment section below.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.
This article was originally published on Massively.