Sony announces PlanetSide expansion

SOE discusses the current state of PlanetSide, and where it's going in the new expansion, Core Combat.

At a Friday evening press event in San Francisco, Sony Online Entertainment showed off a handful of concept shots and talked a bit about its upcoming PlanetSide expansion, Core Combat. Due in October, the add-on will allow players to explore underground caverns that will be filled with new alien technology to assist the three empires in their never-ending war.

Core Combat will add six new caverns to the game, each with its own look and feel. The caverns will be accessible via new warpgates, and these gates will be found in Amerish, Hossin, Ceryshen, Oshur, Forseral, and Solsar. The Amerish cavern will feature a river, Hossin will have a somewhat swampish look, Ceryshen will feature slippery and frozen lakes, Oshur will be a maze of canyons, Forseral will have a crystalline area with a large energy beam in the middle, and Solsar's cavern will feature lava and other volcanic features. New alien technology will be introduced, including a new hover buggy called the switchblade, a new support vehicle that creates neutral teleporters known as the router, and a mobile artillery unit called the flail.

The main reason the caverns exist is to perpetuate the capture-the-flag gameplay brought on by the recently added lattice logic units, which revamped the way most bases in the game are captured. The difference here is that each of the six caverns will contain an energy device. To capture it, you'll have to generate an empty container at an outfit-controlled base. Then you'll take that container underground to capture one of the energy modules and bring it back to your base for a capture. Each device has a different effect. For example, one of the weapon module's features is that it will reduce the time it takes for a player to reacquire a MAX suit after losing one in battle. Other modules will have an effect on vehicles, and there will also be fortifier, energy, and defender modules. The caverns will be tricky to navigate, requiring the use of energy-based zip lines that will let you float from one area to another. You'll be able to fight while you float.

Much like the way the two ATVs in the game were recently combined into one certification in a patch, the upcoming router vehicle--which lets you drop a teleport point and teleport from the router to that point at will--will likely be rolled in with the AMS certification, creating a new "tactical support" hybrid. New weapons will also be added to the special and heavy assault categories. The special assault weapon will be the radiator, a weapon that will actually let you irradiate an area, making it dangerous for an unspecified amount of time. Heavy assault will receive the maelstrom, which sounds like it has a primary firing mode similar to Quake's lightning gun. The alternate fire will launch energy grenades that have an effect similar to that of the lasher when they explode. The medium assault certification will grant players access to the spiker, which fires small orbs that can be detonated at will. The orbs gain power the longer they travel, making distant shots more damaging. All three weapons are neutral and, from the sounds of things, will only be able to be acquired or resupplied in the game's underground caverns.

In addition to discussing the upcoming expansion, Sony representatives also discussed the current state of the game. While sweeping changes were made to the way bases were captured in a patch released earlier this week, many more non-expansion changes are yet to come. Heavy changes to the experience system are coming, and some very specific changes to bases--back doors will eventually be able to be hacked only from the inside, for example--are also in the works. The game will eventually see a major overhaul of its physics system, and previously promised features, such as 30-man platoons, outfit ownership of bases, facility link and continental lock bonuses, are still in the works. The game's producer also alluded to a concept he has for making the game's hacking system more skill-based, rather than the game's time-based structure. The game will also have recap screens that give you details on recent accomplishments, like base captures, by showing you statistics on kills and other interesting facts. Objectives that take place away from the standard base capturing model will be added, and level titles and medals will also be brought to the game to distinguish players from one another even further.

Essentially, the game's producer said that the team has enough ideas to continually add to the game for at least the next two years, and that new ideas were coming up all the time. The PlanetSide team has recently increased, and it is currently looking to hire on more programmers to help bring these changes to the live servers in a timely fashion.

No set time frame for most of the smaller, non-expansion changes has been given, but PlanetSide: Core Combat will be available both as a retail product and as a purchasable download this October.

Written By

Jeff Gerstmann has been professionally covering the video game industry since 1994.

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