The Firing Line: Newsplosion edition

Jef Reahard
J. Reahard|01.27.12

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The Firing Line: Newsplosion edition
The Firing Line - zomg it's S.T.A.L.K.E.R. header
Holy carp there was a lot going on in shooter circles this week! Between the news blurbs, videos, and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. memories (yes, I said S.T.A.L.K.E.R, and damn that takes a long time to type), there was nearly enough information for two editions of The Firing Line.

Luckily for you (and for my overworked editor), I managed to keep the word count down. Let's not kid ourselves, though; there's plenty of interesting stuff after the cut. Join me for the latest on dueling World War II aviation MMOs, a new free-to-play shooter from Crytek, the requisite PlanetSide 2 lovefest, and some official dev answers to last week's Taikodom question.

World of Warplanes German tech tree took the wraps off World of Warplanes' second tech tree, and this time the focus was on the fleet flying machines of the German Luftwaffe. The company also dropped a load of new screenshots and a trailer on us, and while most of the stuff looks pretty fun and passably authentic, there was a rather glaring omission on par with the F6F Hellcat snub from the first tech tree reveal a few weeks ago.

As several Massively commenters pointed out, the Fw-190 Focke Wulf was conspicuously absent, which is a shame given its gorgeous lines and the fear it inspired among Allied pilots during the Second World War. A few folks theorized that may be saving it for the wrong side of its paywall, but World of Tanks has set a precedent with paid ammunition and advancement speed boosts, so I'd be surprised if that were the case.

World of Planes renamed, extra-aviation content teased

Not to be outdone in the World War II aviation department, Gaijin Entertainment revamped its website this week to coincide with a rebranding of its Sturmovik-inspired MMO flight sim. World of Planes was unfortunately named -- I'm not arguing that -- but War Thunder: World of Planes? Really? I mean, come on guys, it's like one of the producers went to his 12-year old son and said, hey champ, want to name our MMO?

"Yeah dad, War Thunder!"

Gooftastic naming blunders aside, War Thunder is much more of a sim than its aforementioned competitor (always a plus in my book), and Gaijin also teased its fanbase about expanding the conflict beyond aviation -- and presumably into the realm of naval and ground-based combat.

Ghost Recon Online video dev diary

Tom Clancy's Ghost Recon series has gotten a mention or two in this column before, but this week we got a better look at the gameplay proper thanks to a new video dev diary. Lead designer Jesse Knapp walks us through becoming an elite Ghost, while designer May Ling Tan talks about weapons, gear, and various upgrades.

GRO features three classes, but according to the devs, there's a huge amount of leeway for players to adopt an archetype and make it their own. And hey, you can't go wrong with a game that features the ability to short out your enemies' heads-up displays.

Crysis team developing Warface free-to-play shooter

New to The Firing Line this week is Crytek's Warface. Yes, that really is the title, and no, I don't have the foggiest clue what some of these dudes are thinking when it comes to naming their babies. At any rate, I don't have to tell shooter fans about Crytek's pedigree: The company has built Warface using its crazy-detailed CryEngine 3 graphics technology.

The game itself is some sort of near-future military escapade (shocking, I know), and according to PCWorld, it features cooperative PvE, boss fights, and fast-paced PvP. There's also some weapon and armor customization to be had, and while I don't know about longevity and/or gameplay depth, it's safe to say that few shooters are prettier.

S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Online... wait, what?

I've been writing about games for a while now, and I like to think that nothing really surprises me anymore. When one of our Joystiq compatriots popped into the Massively chat room to tell us about a S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Online open beta (that's been going on for months), I did a bit of a double-take.

First off, frickin' S.T.A.L.K.E.R! Online! The fact that I didn't know about it was mitigated somewhat by the fact that the open beta is in Russian (and likely not coming to an English-speaking country near you for a good while). Still, though, the original S.T.A.L.K.E.R. Shadow of Chernobyl is one of my all-time favorite games, period, and certainly one of the most enjoyable shooters I've ever played. My fanboy heart went pitter-patter and skipped a few beats at the prospect of playing even an altered version of this post-apocalyptic sandbox shooter with my mates.

Yeah, I know it's not being developed by the same company (and frankly the beta video looks more like alpha), but nonetheless it's pretty exciting news, and The Firing Line will be on top of it henceforth.

PlanetSide 2 updates, lots of them

As if there weren't enough awesome online shooter news this week, Sony Online Entertainment graced us with a few nuggets of PlanetSide 2 goodness as well. First up was the Twitter Q&A, which PlanetSide Universe fleshed out rather nicely. If you're too lazy to click over there, we learned a few interesting tidbits including (but not limited to) the fact that bombs will not be available at release (which seems to indicate they will be available later, woo). Additionally, each vehicle has its own skill tree, and bailing out will require additional skill training for non-Galaxy aircraft.

There was also an official PS2 webcast this week that focused on Nanite Systems vehicles, and it's embedded for you above.

SOE's Matt Higby also showed up on reddit to talk a little PS2, and he dropped a noteworthy soundbyte relating to the game's offline skill training functionality and class-based progression.
We've got a couple different cert unlocking designs in the works currently, one, which we've talked about the most is the time-based unlock that functions similar (but not identically) to EVE. We also have a cert point system which allows for cert point generation when offline as well as through in-game accomplishments. Both of these systems integrate battlerank in different ways.

In terms of class-based, yes, we're class-based. We don't restrict your class or force you to only earn certs for the class currently being played. You can go get a bunch of cert points by killing guys in a Mosquito and spend them on perks for Infiltrator weapons, etc.
Taikodom - pls finish the game Hoplon
Taikodom followup

Finally, as a followup to last week's whatever-happened-to-Taikodom discussion, I finally managed to talk to the guys at GamersFirst regarding the sci-fi internet spaceship opus that's gone missing in recent months. Darek Connole had the following to say when I asked what the heck was going on with the title.
I'd love to tell you all about Taikodom... except there really isn't anything to say. As you know, building a massive sci-fi deep-space MMO is a daunting task, and the guys down at Hoplon are thrashing at full speed to create the mission system and missions in-game. Having seen the game engine, I can tell you that the game looks amazing and has some unique visual elements. I also know that they are balance-testing a new Engineer (healing) class at the same time.
So there you have it. The game isn't dead, and in fact it's still being worked on, but unfortunately we're no closer to a potential release date.

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.
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