Planetside 2 has been a long time coming for PS4 owners, with numerous delays and setbacks pushing it from its initial June 2014 release date. We still have some time to wait but Daybreak Game Company (formerly Sony Online Entertainment) have finally allowed some lucky souls to get into the closed beta of Planetside 2. Is it shaping up to be an earth-shattering port for consoles, or is it worlds away from the PC version?
Having put some time into the PC version of Planetside 2, I was not completely blind when going into this beta. I knew the general premise of the game, it being an MMOFPS where you have to try and make your faction the ruling presence on the planet of Auxaris, by capturing locations and blowing up any vehicle or human that doesn’t have the same logo as you. Luckily, this meant I also had a grasp of the basic UI and how upgrading weapons and vehicles worked, as to make my getting into the fight as quick as possible. Unfortunately, the beta currently has no great way of teaching players the sheer number of systems and menus that you’ll have to negotiate through in order to even start to get your head round Planetside 2. While new players are put on a starting island until Battle Rank 15 to learn the ropes, there is no tutorial system that is clearly presented to players as soon as they begin. There are some VR Missions which can teach you the basics, but they are so expertly hidden amongst the multitude of terminals in the starting warpgate, that new players will more often than not just breeze straight past them, end up spawning a Galaxy and promptly crash it into a nearby field.
For a beta, Daybreak should have at least given players the option to start with the VR Missions straight away, so they can get used to not only the console controls, but how the hundreds of different things to upgrade and points to capture all mesh together. Even as someone who is somewhat versed in Planetside 2, I was completely confused by how to do basic things like change my spawn point or my class, due to the cluttered and unresponsive menus. It would sometimes take up to 5 seconds for the game to register my pressing of the map button and the map actually presenting itself and even then, actions like Redeploy or Instant Action would either sometimes work, or never work when pressed. This began the worrying trend of basic functionality problems throughout my time with the PS2 beta, which made it feel more like an alpha than a beta program.
For me, a beta usually means that the main systems and menus are pretty much finished and that they are just fine tuning and bug fixing on a smaller content scale for the main release. Take the Hearthstone or Battlefield Hardline beta for example. You probably didn’t have all the cards or you only had one map to play on, but all the menus and basic systems worked well. For Planetside 2, it just feels like this beta was pushed out the door in order to give fans something to play, rather than turn up empty handed for another month. Menus would stack up on themselves, respawn screens would not let me toggle between spawn points, revive messages from 2 playthroughs ago would still appear whenever I died. I even had an instance where I died, the death screen appeared and then refused to fade, leaving me locked out as a corpse and forcing me to restart the whole game in order to continue playing. Another bug had it that I couldn’t even press X to start the game, when I could press the Home button and go between the PS4 menus with no controller problems. Normally, I could forgive a few glitches and problems here and there in a beta but the sheer number of bugs that either made me locked out from the action or even made me restart the whole game is just ridiculous.