Developer Rogue Planet Games announced a big, new update to PlanetSide 2, The Shattered Warpgate, which will introduce changes to one of the game’s oldest maps and a story-driven mission mode that evolves over time.
Heavy got to join a press demonstration of the update in action with PlanetSide 2 Executive Producer Andy Sites and PlanetSide 2 Lead Designer Michael “Wrel” Henderson in advance of it going live in Open Beta on the Public Test Server soon.
The update focuses on campaigns, sets of missions that have evolving stories and gameplay changes with each new chapter.
Sites said that PlanetSide 2 once had about 16 million players across PS4 and PC. However, interest in the game had slowed down as time went on. In their 2020 proposal for the game, they wanted not only more updates but updates of a higher scope. They’ve increased the size of the team three times to deliver on those updates.
The team plans on having an update about every six months. They had an update earlier in the year, the Escalation update, that saw lots of returning players as well as new ones. But now they’re taking a slightly different approach with The Shattered Warpgate.
“Whereas the Escalation update targeted our most veteran and organized groups of players, our goal for The Shattered Warpgate was to improve the experience for a much broader audience,” said Sites. “It was important to introduce features that anyone can participate in and benefit from, be it the casual player with only 30 minutes to play once a week, or the hardcore player that spends hours in-game every day.”
The story starts on the icy continent of Esamir, where one of the Warpgates has exploded setting off a chain reaction of changes to the map. Alien flora appeared, bases were wrecked, and a storm of mysterious energy flows through the continent.
Wrel said that the main problem with the old Esamir map is that safe areas were too close together. That stagnated the fights and didn’t lead to a lot of variety. Their new map for Esamir is more symmetrical and there’s more space between the bases, which flows better and creates more engagement outside of bases.
Wrel said that here won’t be a Fortnite-style event where the map is destroyed in real time. However, there have already been hints in the game’s world that the map will change.
One of the biggest new features of the new map is the roaming lightning storm. A storm will hover over parts of the map and rain powerful bolts of lightning capable of wiping out players in one hit. However the lightning bolts are attracted to metal, so players can find areas of relative safety within the storm. Not only that, but players can use the lightning to their advantage in battle. As the campaign progresses, they can unlock Stormbolt grenades that stick to buildings, vehicles and players and will attract lightning bolts. They can also discover the Lightning Arrester which creates a safe area by attracting lightning bolts. However, not only will the lighting damage the device over time but enemy players will be able to destroy it too.
Now the changes to the map are quite drastic, but Wrel said that they will alter it over time based on what players like or dislike.
The mission system within chapters of the campaign will be free for paying members of the game and available for purchase with soft currency for free players. Paying members will also have access to more missions, giving them more options while not making them stronger than free players. Players will have a certain time frame to participate in the missions of a chapter. If they don’t finish all of the missions, the chapter still moves on. Missions change daily and are offered at different rarities with different rewards. Some missions will offer cosmetics as rewards. Wrel said that this is similar to the daily tasks seen in other free-to-play games only the player gets to decide what tasks to do.
“The features in this update allow us to breathe life into the PlanetSide universe by connecting players to the world and story,” said Wrel. “At the same time, we’re providing more tangible session goals for players who desire more structure within our sandbox environments, and making some much needed improvements to one of our oldest continents.”
In addition to the new mission system and some new weapons and equipment, the update will also add improvements to social hubs, rebalance outfit resources, and restructure several major bases on the continent of Indar according to a press release sent to Heavy. Future campaigns will also be accompanied by major content additions.