PlanetSide updated impressions

We've got an update from the open beta test of Sony Online Entertainment's upcoming online shooter.


The upcoming massively multiplayer online game PlanetSide has gone into open beta, which means that there are now 30,000 additional beta test accounts active. As we saw from our recent hands-on experience, the game seems to be coming along well, especially since there are plenty of players doing battle to attack or defend various bases. Please note that the following information is based on the beta version of the game and is subject to change.

PlanetSide lets you play as a soldier in one of three factions, the New Conglomerate, the Terran Republic, and the Vanu Sovereignty (which are quickly and easily identified on sight by the team colors of red, blue, and purple, respectively). PlanetSide currently lets you start a game at your faction's main sanctuary base, where you can generally take the time to leisurely equip your character with new certifications (skills that let your character use certain weapons, items, and vehicles), new weapons and armor, and new implants, which can give your character various bonus abilities, such as becoming more stealthy, running faster, and even having a personal shield barrier that acts as a minor form of armor.

However, most PlanetSide fans, ourselves included, will want to get into the action immediately, and for that we found that we could use the "instant action" or "request deployment" options to quickly get into a battle. Though it can be enjoyable to carefully mull over your character's weapon loadout and ammo types, in the middle of a hectic base battle, we made good use of the inventory "clear all" button, which immediately deletes your character's current inventory (stocked with all-around average weapons by default). In PlanetSide, your characters can carry whatever weapons they're certified to carry, so if you need to make a snap decision while your base is under attack, you can quickly dump whatever you're carrying and load up on different items.

We tried out the Vanu Sovereignty's heavy weapons, including the thumper grenade launcher and rocket launcher weapons, each of which packs a powerful punch against small vehicles and enemy infantry. The grenade launcher, like many weapons in PlanetSide, has several different kinds of ammunition, including incendiary ammo (which is great for dealing damage over time to speedy enemies who may dodge continuous fire) and jamming ammo (which causes machinery, such as enemy vehicles, to malfunction). Though PlanetSide's weapon loadout system may seem a bit complex, it certainly seems handy once you get the hang of it and need to change up your arsenal, depending on your situation.

PlanetSide's unusual premise--a persistent-world, massively multiplayer first-person shooter--actually seems to be working well in practice at this point. Since there are so many active testers playing the game right now, it's not uncommon to constantly receive update messages from the game that coordinated squads have successfully captured or recaptured various hotspots on the map. We'll have more on PlanetSide soon. For now, take a look at out latest batch of screenshots, and consult our previous coverage for more information.

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