The latest couchpodtatoes episode covers this topic while agree with much of what was said, I wanted to write up a response to the topic that was discussed on the show, mostly as it’s a topic that I feel can break a game.

I have wax lyrically about games that avoid levels before now.
First up is how The City of Heroes/Villains game looked to reduce the dependance on levels through it’s Mentor system, I’ll not cover the same information other than to say, the system was one of the main reason that players would persist with a character even when reaching level 50. The ability to sidekick lower characters up to your level or malefactor down to theirs made playing with your friends so easy.

The introduction of level-less enemies in bigger events such as Rikti invasions. The damage a character did was relative to the power of the attack they used for a level 5 and a level 50 character could effectively do the same amount of damage if they used the same attack against an enemy.

The final use of the game system was allowing you to run Task/Strike Forces and timetravel missions that were restricted to a certain level. This allowed you to complete achievements and play through earlier game content without re-rolling.


The second part of the conversation was about horizontal progression, the only one that I could think that had a very low diagonal progression was the original Planetside game. Ok so it had levels, but the levels only really granted you certificates. The more you got the more you would be able to learn, however your loadout was limited to a number of slots and you couldn’t take everything you had learnt with you. You could unlearn a certificate every 24 hours, allowing you to change your play style.

It’s at this point that a player at level 1 could take out an enemy player who was level 20 as the levels didn’t give you any advantage to your power/damage/targeting etc. There are many that will argue that the veteran player will have more experience and thus will be better in a fight, this is true however the flexibility of the game was to allow you to progress without only getting kills as support activities were rewarded.

#Progression #CityOfVillains #Planetside


When people talk about “Free to play” titles, there is usually a reference to removing barriers. Removing them from the entry to the game, purchase costs, monthly subscriptions, etc.
While this has a positive benefits in terms of players and accessibility, removal of these entry level barriers means that those looking to exploit a game can just roll new accounts when they get found out.

Come with me into the Past

Ghostly outlines

Let me take you back in time to 2006, this was before the free to play model was fully embraced as a viable business model and subscription was the order of the day.

To encourage more gamers to try out Planetside (1), SoE introduced a feature called Reserves for a period of 1 year. This allowed anyone to create a SoE account and earn 6 battle ranks levels and 2 command levels before they stopped gaining XP.

On the whole there were high-hopes that this would drive more players into picking up the game. However this single act, resulted in a massive influx of persons out to abuse the system. The worst part was that the continued free access granted them the ability to test out different hacks and “so we are led to believe” develop/use tools to achieve various hacks on the fly.

Sadly this wasn’t the revamp that Planetside needed and effectively paved the path for continued exploits and ongoing problems that plagued the game forever more.


Over the last week in PS2  I have encountered a player on three separate occasions who appeared to be using a wall/clipping hack combined with increased damage output, meaning you would be killed by an “invisible” enemy with 1 shot.

In a purely PvP orientated game like Planetside 1 or 2, the floodgates are wide opened for cheaters and trolls to apply their “trade”, thanks to the removal of barriers.

I am rather surprised that SoE didn’t seem to take anything away from the reserves experiment. Even their hacking detection seems to be as lacklustre as it was in 2006/2007, relying more on other players to report these events over actively seeking them out in real time.


Many of us found our gaming home in the ranks of the soldiers of Auraxis, our war was on land, air, sea and even underground when needed. There was always a target in mind, something to do, a single squad could take action that made a difference to the global fight, hell a single solider could turn the tide of a battle with a well placed orbital strike.

We fought in the vehicle bays of tech plants, defended stair cases of towers, assaulted rooms carved from crystalline structures. The goals and objectives changed by the minute: fall back, roll armour, hold the line while reinforcements flew to our aid. If there were dull moments, I must have missed them.
You weren’t thinking of your next kill or level, there was work to be done, and despite it being a “grind”, it never felt like it wasn’t the sole purpose of the game.”

Excerpt from Tales of Auraxis – ChaosNC Archives

It is with a sad heart that say I’ve given up on Planetside 2, conceding to the fact that almost all of the enjoyable elements of the original game were overlooked when in came to designing PS2, presumably in favour of a more mainstream elements found FPS games.

At first I thought that it was just me and perhaps the shiny new engine just wasn’t my cup of tea, however after talking with a number if players it would seem to be a much wider spread concern.

If you are a veteran Planetside player who has played both games I shall ask you a simple question:
How many memorable/heroic feeling moments have you experienced in Planetside 2?

Global Map

For those that enjoy the killwhoring side of FPS games PS2 is great, but for many others it’s almost a chore to play, with little enjoyment or thanks for undertaking support activities. Ignoring the free to play nature of the game, PS2 lacks many of the original game elements that gave the game some direction, a fact that has been noticed by the folks at SOE given that they aim to bring the lattice back into play.

However it’s a long way from the things that gave PS a unique feeling, from simple things like tower drops to tactical activities such as Gen holds/ base drains. There are large scale battles but they don’t last long as players drift off, or you get back hacked.
Also gone is the hack defense, emergency ANT drop from max altitude via lodestar, 30 person max crashes or re-securing a base with seconds left on the clock.

Maybe one day I’ll return to Planetside 2, maybe one day it will be the game I hoped it would be.


Welshtroll/ChaoticDecimation – SmasherDevourer – TurboTurbot

Planetside v2

The original PS was my first MMO game, MMO in the sense that the world was massive, it was persistent and the theatre of combat was continually shifting and evolving. The game remains the place that spent a large potion of my 20’s, when I wasn’t working, I was on Auraxis, fighting, laughing and making friends with a group of players who remain a big part of my gaming life.

Planetside 2 isn’t a successor, but as the title implies it’s a reboot of the franchise bypassing all of the awkward elements that were shoehorned into the game which had the same effect as the NGE had on Star Wars Galaxies. This is making the world as it would have been made in the original version had technology been available, everything is super sized, from the buildings to the landscapes.

SOE has been rather sneaky and rather than leap into newer versions of Direct X the engine runs on DX9, which for anyone with a modern rig you can run at high end settings without too much trouble, this of course means that older machine should be capable of running the game.

However there a number of elements of Planetside 2 that I haven’t got to grips with yet.

1) Server bound characters
This is a normal practice in MMOs, yet this move in PS2 is hampered by the fact there are limited number of continents on a server thus resulting in locks and queues. Yes I know there were queues for continents in the original game, but you could still get onto the server even if you had to fight in a less populated battle. This new system instantly means that at peak time, not only can you not get to the main fight you can’t even join your outfit and have to fight elsewhere, to me this is a step backwards in character/server configuration.
Maybe just another cheap trick to incentivise players to opt for membership/VIP status.

2) Target audience
PS2 is targeted at more main stream FPS gamers, drawing from players of Call of Duty and Battlefield, this is a both a good and bad thing. Planetside requires team work in order to maximise the enjoyment gained and to also to achieve objectives. A big problem is that standard FPS games allow casual players to join matches solo and work towards a team objective with little or no interaction with fellow gamers.
Players who arrive with that attitude will find the game difficult maybe even boring
It is clear to see this selfish approach with simple acts such as not offering transport when you are commanding a vehicle with 11 empty seats, to the Zerg mentality that didn’t that much fun to watch or endure.

3) Pay wall versus idiot haven
As other games have proven Free to Play titles face a problem griefers, the effect of removing the pay barrier results in a large number of persons who are out to misbehave to the detriment of other players.
This even appears in the form of rage over perceived kill stealing, twice in the last week have I been gunned down due to some moron missing out on a kill (I believe), not that conducive to happy game.

4) Interfarm
As veteran players will recall the interlink farm was a time sink and primarily used for all those kill whore players to add some more figures to their kill streak. In PS2 the tech plant appears to have filled this role, however there is a stark difference between the games that means in PS2 camping out in a base to farm enemies for XP is a cost that is paid via the loss of other regions.
In the original game the lattice system meant that you didn’t lose too much from a little Interfarm now and again, where-as last night I watched as territories were taken all around us, yet the double XP kept a large chunk of players in one location.

Those as are the biggest issues I have with the game, there are other nigglingly points that aren’t worth pointing out at this time.

PS & Me

Maybe my reason for playing this game has changed, my definition of enjoyment certainly has compared to others. For example last night we end up in a techplant farm, after 25 minutes I commented that we should leave but the feedback from an outfit member was that the “Alamo” situation was the best place to be during double XP.

I promptly redeployed elsewhere, rather gutted that others seem to get more enjoyment out of  a repetitive and mundane battle rather than using some initiative.


The game is wonderfully detailed and allows for battles on a scale that we have never seen before, but for me the f2p design leaves a bitter taste in my mouth, which I’m not completely sure if it’s a long term thing at this time.

I have the power

I have often alluded to the fact that power choice is my favourite game mechanic, stemming from days in Planetside through to City of Villains. Of course a great system isn’t they only component that draws my attention it must be employed in a way that works well with the game mechanics.

Planetside employed the Cert system that allowed you to drop or acquire new abilities at a regular scheduled pace.
Guild Wars made all the powers available but gave the primary one a buff and limited the tray to 8 powers.
City of Heroes pinned you down to 2 selections at the start (excluding epic archetypes) but allowed complete freedom of how you configured the powers for your own use, down to how they were slotted.

The Secret World takes all of the above a mixes into a newer combination.
Unlock any power you want, slot any power you have bought, choose 7 active and 7 passive abilities whenever you are out of combat.


This allows you to pick and choose powers from other Ability sets that enhance your current build, for example, there is a great power in one of the melee classes that increases your Crit Power by 15%, which when I’m being a healer means the amount of healing when I get a Crit is increased.

This level of flexibility is means that as you progress through the game more options and combinations become available, you can pick-up abilities that complement your existing powers, without being block due to not being a tank or having not selected a certain race.

I am currently focused on pistols and blood magic, but I have allocated points into other areas for powers that I use in solo and group builds.

What powers are you using or heading towards?