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SOE Live 2014: PlanetSide 2 plans battle islands, a fight finder, and more

MJ Guthrie

PlanetSide 2 got some big updates over the last couple of months, but there's plenty more planned for the MMOFPS. Creative Director Matt Higby, Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac , and Lead Designer Luke Sigmund detailed some of those plans at SOE Live. Specifics include the squad mentoring, the Valkyrie aircraft, battle islands, a fight finder, and more. They also showed off the progress of the Playstation 4 version, which will launch in early access before the end of the year.

Even though Higby said that "the game is probably in the most accessible state that it has ever been," the team has plans to make it even more so. One upcoming system is based on integrating new players. Higby noted, "A lot of people are intimidated to join a clan until they are good at the game... but in PlanetSide 2 your success is based on teamwork." This squad mentoring system rewards squads and platoons for including low-level players; members will earn ribbons and rewards in a tiered system, and even more when the lowbie levels up.

The Valkyrie is a new type of airship that has not only a pilot and a gunner, but open sides with rumble seats so that players can use their infantry weapons in it, be they mines, anti-aircraft guns, or whatnot. "There's all kinds of really cool interesting possibilities in terms of tactical gameplay that this vehicle opens up," said Higby. The Valkyrie will debut at the end of August.

Isaac showed the new factional buggies coming to the game later this year. He emphasized, "We definitely want to add more empire-specific stuff, and this is just the beginning of all that."

Later this year PS2 will be also be adding more mission system enhancements (specifically to allow for leaders to pick targets while facilitating more coordination and communication) and more resources system enhancements (the ability to cut off enemy resources, destroy resource stockpiles, etc.) Another big feature is battle islands. These community-requested smaller scale maps will allow for matched-based battles (i.e., 48v48). The devs are also exploring different and unique objectives on the maps for a variety of gameplay options. On top of that, these maps will allow devs to build more biomes and increase biodiversity in the game; Isaac mentioned that they've "done a couple tests with a cityscape and some with floating islands." Higby added, "We really want to emphasize the fact that you are on an alien planet... so there's going to be a little more out there."

Sigmund shared that his favorite upcoming feature (which hasn't been revealed yet) is the fight finder. He explained, "It's a simplified way to actually be able to get into the action. I log in [and with] one button press I'm there fighting. I don't have to dig through the map; I don't have to figure out where the fights are." The fight finder is an advancement of the instant action feature with more parameters so that "you can find the fights that you want to be at," whether that's a big battle or a smaller skirmish.Sigmund said he'll add this new feature to the roadmap next week.

The PS4 version of PS2 has made lots of progress since we saw it at E3, largely with regard to optimization and the user interface. The interface is much more user friendly; as of now, players can load out their character, but things like the map an the store are still not complete. Sigmund noted that the biggest obstacle was that there were two separate code bases for the PC and the PS4 versions. He added, "That's what we've been doing since E3, combining the code base into one code base and fixing everything we broke by doing that. So now everything we do on the PC immediately is available on the PS4 and vice versa." Higby emphasized that although the PS4 and the PC versions will not be cross-compatible, the team will actively work to keep the updates in sync so that whatever is available in one version is available in the other.

What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporter MJ Guthrie to this year's SOE Live, from which she'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, Landmark, H1Z1, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.

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