The 5 Best Things About the PlanetSide 2 Escalation Update
Way back in 2015, I first reviewed PlanetSide 2, a free to play, massively multiplayer online FPS that impressed me with its scale and action-packed fun. But 5 years is a long time and PlanetSide 2 has seen its ups and downs — a big “down” being the failure of PlanetSide Arena last year, which had many wondering if the game would survive long-term. It is still kicking, though, and it’s a fair bit different from the game I played way back when. Outfits have become a core part of the experience now — these are something like clans, guilds, or posses in other games, groups of human players who form persistent gangs, formalizing the impromptu squad cooperation I saw in 2015.
And PlanetSide 2’s developers have been busy, as their huge Escalation Update arrives on February 26th to add even more depth. It’s a whole new suite of additions and improvements that remake the game yet again. I got a chance to check out Escalation during the recent Beta, and I’ve selected 5 aspects that really stood out for me. Overall, Escalation looks to be a big step forward for a game that has been due for some new content, and these 5 things in particular are good reasons why.
Bastion Fleet Carriers
Possibly my favorite part of Escalation, these massive new star craft are almost like giant, floating bases that each Outfit can call in during battle. They’re equipped with a host of controllable gun turrets to pick off enemies from a distance, bringing new meaning to the term “death from above.” They also function as a vehicle spawn point, which is a big boost especially seeing as how they can move with the Outfit. As you can imagine, Bastions are extremely helpful and that also makes them a priority target for enemy Outfits to bring down. That is not easy, however, as their size and armor take everything an Outfit has to destroy them. And believe me when I say that the sight of these ominous behemoths, looking like aircraft carriers in the sky above the battlefield, jacks up the “wow” factor in PlanetSide 2 by a whole lot, whether they’re on your side or not.
Sanctuary, a New Social Hub
PlanetSide 2 is one of those MMOs that benefits from a close-knit and loyal community. And now, Escalation brings a brand-new social gathering place called Sanctuary that helps make that community even stronger. There are new NPC vendors selling their wares, and spaces for Outfits to recruit new members or just hang out, even with other factions. This new hub helps make PlanetSide 2 friendlier and more accessible for newer players, and as someone who’s been away from the game for a long time, I found it to be an easy way to find an Outfit and jump in to the new content and changes. It is certainly a much better starting point for the game than what was available when I reviewed PlanetSide 2, which was nothing.
Outfits that are looking for more than just the usual massive battles can now participate in Outfit Wars. These special 3-way battles take place in a specially-designed new off-world asteroid location, Desolation. Outfit Wars also have their own progression system, and the winners receive tons of great rewards but of course the real prize here is the huge bragging rights that come with emerging victorious over other Outfits. I didn’t get a chance to directly participate in one of these contests but the idea of taking part is something that sounds really appealing.
If you’re seeing a theme developing with the Escalation Update, you’re right — Outfits are a major focus. These are the “families” that each player lives or dies with on the battlefield, and defending your brothers and sisters at all costs is what this game is all about. And now all those heroic acts you commit on the battlefield earn you progress on a new Loyalty ranking system, as well as some sweet currency that you can spend at those new vendors populating Sanctuary. I really liked how all the actions I did with my Outfit brought me direct benefits that helped me rank up, plus the Loyalty system made the Outfit an even tighter and more supportive unit.
PlanetSide 2 has become more than just a mindless shooter – there’s tons of strategy and coordination involved. And now Escalation brings new War Assets that add more depth the decision-making process in the heat of battle. Captured bases bring resources that can be crafted into a host of game-changing items including drop pods (Steel Rain), ground vehicle drops (A.N.V.I.L.), orbital strikes via satellite, and Citadel Shields. I loved the way these new War Assets made for more ways to turn the tide of a battle. The effectiveness of these crafted options can vary, however, depending on how experienced and skillful your Outfit is. Veteran units that have played together for a while obviously have a huge advantage in knowing how — and when — to use specific assets.
Overall, I found that the Escalation Update adds up to more than the sum of its parts. Put together, all the additions and improvements make this in many ways a new game. PlanetSide 2 is a massive online battle, but the depth of strategy options and coordinated Outfit gameplay make for much more than a mindless shooter. And now, Escalation’s new social elements help to make the experience easier for new players. I liked what I saw from the Escalation, and I hope to see PlanetSide 2 continue to improve and grow in the future. Stay tuned here as we follow its progress!
** PlanetSide 2: Escalation arrives on PC as a free update to PlanetSide 2 on February 26th. This article is based on a Beta version and the game may change by launch **