PlanetSide 2 review update 1: PlayStation 4

Griffin McElroy

PlanetSide 2's adaptation to PlayStation 4 has fared better than other free-to-play online games that have attempted to cross the console divide. Not much has been lost in translation — certainly not the scale of PlanetSide 2's occasionally massive battles, which are as exciting today as they were when the game first launched nearly three years ago. Unfortunately, a few technical shortcomings and unaddressed issues that have always plagued PlanetSide 2 keep it from reaching its full potential on PS4.

For better and worse, PlanetSide 2 still offers the biggest battles I've ever seen in a multiplayer shooter. Between the PS4's sizable install base and the game's nonexistent price tag, I haven't struggled to find squadmates to team up with or enemies to assault. Few shooters offer activities more exciting than joining a platoon that's charging an enemy base with tanks, ATVs, dogfighters and infantry, ready to take on a deeply entrenched foe.

Unfortunately, it's still difficult to guarantee a satisfying balance in any given battle. Getting barnstormed by one of the game's other two factions simply because your team can't get its shit together still feels like an exercise in futility. The lack of agency you feel as a single player can be suffocating, especially when you're part of an incompetent squad — one that doesn't grasp the game's most important concepts, like how to properly utilize mobile spawn points.

It's easy to fault PlanetSide 2 for its unskilled contingent of players, because the game does very little to educate them. A few tutorial missions are thrown up on the HUD, but those offer rudimentary lessons at best. Strategic considerations — how to properly deploy and utilize the aforementioned Sunderer spawn points, for example — go unexplored.

The game's economy doesn't punish free players, but it desperately needs overhauling nonetheless. It still takes hours of playing to earn enough currency to purchase most of the game's guns, which cuts the legs out from under the game's progression hooks completely. You can play for free and still be competitive with the big spenders, but you're going to need to work a lot harder to add some variety to your arsenal.

Graphics have, understandably, taken a hit in comparison to PlanetSide 2's PC version, although steadiness hasn't exactly improved in tow — your frame rate in particularly explosive battles can get really rocky. Other technical offenses are harder to explain. Sometimes your map takes a really long time to load. Sometimes textures don't process properly on your minimap, making enemy forces look like little squares of static. Sometimes vehicles just disappear, as if by magic.

PlanetSide 2 works on PlayStation 4, but these visual and technical issues make it soundly inferior to the game's original PC version. It's still a deeply fascinating game, and one that's well-served by having virtually no barrier to entry. The harrowing, thrilling experience of being a small cog in the game's militaristic machine is something unique among modern shooters, and something few other games have accomplished. It's worth playing, at least once, to try and find that experience; just don't be surprised if you have to work for it.

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