Over the Christmas Break, the main game that I played was Planetside 2. A massive FPS (First Person Shooter), with 1000s of players per server, it has always interested me, but when my clan began to play it, I used it as an opportunity to join in and experience it. Let’s get this straight: I don’t usually like FPS games — I don’t enjoy the experience of shooting people, even playing Fallout 3 makes me uncomfortable, I can’t quite bring myself to shoot people. It is rare to find an FPS that I can actually enjoy — so far, the sole outlier being Tribes Ascend, primarily due to it’s main gimmick: Skiing and Jetpacking at stupidly high speeds down hills. The gimmick is what keeps me going.
Which is why I was surprised Planetside 2 held my attention. I had tried it before, but on an extremely low spec computer in comparison to my current rig. Being able to run it at Ultra Settings without a hitch definitely helped. But my main enjoyment was divided between two things: playing with my friends, healing them and occasionally shooting the bad guys and missing and learning how to fly.
One of my favourite memories was slowly taking a base from the enemy, in a very empty hex. In fact, I spent an hour just jumping back and forth — me and an enemy both trying to keep the same hex. I snuck along the structures, constantly crouching and hiding behind cover, running into the base, capturing it and running out, fingers crossed that the enemy would give up, at least this time. It culminated in me and my friends in a full on fight with an enemy and his friend, however, they had a gunship and were far more experienced. We ran in, constantly dieing, trying to fend them off as we flew through the air with the aid of jump pads, tensions high. We inevitably lost, but it was fun nonetheless.
Another memory is playing with six other people — co-ordinating attacks, driving tanks into enemy bases allowing our allies to teleport to us, working as a team as we slowly took over base by base, laughing as we drove a quad bike straight into enemy fire, shooting into the air like maniacs. I remember one time trying to take a jungle base, slowly driving our tank through the woods, deploying in a hidden location before enduring an agonising two hour assault on an enemy base, taking out generators, squad points, teleport beacons, blasting away enemy after enemy. One of the great things about Planetside 2 is the immersion it brings, when you and twenty or thirty other people are all charging a base at once, gunfire and explosions surrounding you, running from corpse to corpse reviving people until your corpse joins the rest, it really feels special.
A final experience I’d like to share is flying. Near the end of my time with Planetside 2, I began to learn how to fly. Whilst never quite mastering it, I pulled off a few great maneuvers. I was flying high above a desert, trying to aid my team in a fight when suddenly I began to get shot at. Pulling back, I boosted towards my base, trying to shake them off. As if from a moment in some action film, I flew low, ground rushing past as I flew under a bar, centimeters between me and the ground as I pull up the instant possible, corkscrewing into the sky, before being locked upon and dieing a minute later.
I love the feeling in Planetside 2 of being a tiny piece of a big machine, unable to make massive consequence alone, but together taking on the enemy and the system, trying desperately to turn red bars blue, to turn the tide of battle in your favour. It succeeds in making you feel like a hero in the midst of hundreds of others.