Sony Online Entertainment has revealed PlanetSide 2, the sequel to 2003's massively multiplayer online shooter PlanetSide, at its Fan Faire event in Las Vegas. Creative director Matt Higby shared a few new details on the sequel with GameSpot, suggesting that the sequel will be "unrivaled in terms of scope and scale." The new game will be built with the Forgelight Engine, an entirely new technology suite created by Sony Online, though it will also apparently use Nvidia's PhysX software for such things as more-realistic flight modeling, cover from incoming fire, and certain special effects.
Higby explained that the sequel will be a "reimagining" of the original game, which chronicled a futuristic conflict on the embattled planet of Auraxis between three different factions: the Terran Republic, the New Conglomerate, and the Vanu Sovereignty. Players will advance through various battle ranking levels while acquiring equipment certifications for both different weapon types and different classes of vehicles.
"Those familiar with the original PlanetSide will be able to see the similarities," said the creative director. However, he noted the sequel will have "a quicker, modern pace" and "visual effects you'd expect from today's triple-A first-person shooters."
Higby went on to note that the sequel will include a stronger emphasis on territorial control. By controlling territory, PlanetSide 2's factions will automatically receive "resources" (though players will also be able to earn resources for their faction by also successfully attacking or defending enemy emplacements). Resources can be used to get shortcuts to advance through certification trees (effectively getting faster access to higher-level weapon and vehicle skills), or to upgrade weapons or vehicles with additional improvements that can be added to upgrade slots.
The certification system itself will also be revamped. The sequel will use a timed unlock system not unlike that of EVE Online, in that new certifications can be immediately installed but will gradually be trained over time, even when players aren't logged in. As a result, those who have less time to devote to the game will still be able to keep up with their certifications.
Sony Online also intends to further differentiate the sequel's factions by making each one "much more distinct," though the team is paying considerable attention to helping differentiate different player classes. Although PlanetSide 2 will allow for the seamless class changes seen in other modern-day shooters like the Battlefield series, the class system is intended to help players take specific roles within a squad, such as a medic, an air pilot, or a heavy-duty MAX armor suit. In fact, the sequel will not only include a separate certification tree for squad leader characters, but it will also sport a new specialization tree for outfits (PlanetSide's version of persistent player guilds) so that like-minded players can form an air cavalry division or a tank division if they choose.
The creative director explained that a great deal of time and thinking has gone into devising PlanetSide 2's pace to make sure that it has the "higher lethality and quicker combat" of a modern shooter while still staying true to the PlanetSide universe. Higby confirmed that the base defense battles of the original game will definitely be making a comeback, though the game will have more ways to concentrate the action in a single location. For instance, the sequel will have new respawn options, such as a limited spawn-on-squad functionality that will, under certain circumstances, let players immediately return to battle at the location of their squadmates, rather than have to walk all the way back from the base.
PlanetSide 2 will also have an enhanced mission system that will not only offer Sony Online-created tasks to keep players busy, but will also let high-level outfit leaders craft their own missions to drop into and around current battle hotspots to incentivize players to converge on the area. In addition, there won't be a solitary "sanctuary" home base as a fallback anymore--instead, each of the three factions will have a base on all three major continents that cannot be captured. The developer is also leaving out slow-to-respawn HART shuttles that left players waiting. As a result, each faction will always have a foothold on any other continent, which means less transit time to and from the action.
While Sony Online revealed the first details on the game at its Las Vegas community event, the publisher isn't talking specific dates for either a launch or a beta. Expect more details on the sequel's various gameplay systems in the coming months.