The Planetside series by Daybreak Game Company is known for its large-scale combat with potentially thousands of players battling over giant persistent maps, and now it's set to offer up some battle royale action and arena modes as a bridge between Planetside 2 and whatever comes next.
"For us, it's definitely a passion project," says lead game designer Tony Morton. "So we're excited to see what we can do inside the Planetside franchise, in terms of educating ourselves and experimenting with things while we move forward towards whatever may be next down the line in the franchise and in the Planetside universe."
It's easy to look at the announcement of Planetside Arena as another announcement hopping on the bandwagon following the massive success that battle royale games have enjoyed over the past couple of years. But that's overlooking two things. First, the fact that Daybreak (or SOE) were on the battle royale scene before PUBG or Fortnite with H1Z1. Second, that Planetside Arena isn't purely a battle royale game, but a game that's set to offer a variety of arena-based massively multiplayer game modes. The big differentiator here between this offering and that of Planetside 2 is that it's session-based and devoid of the overarching conflict that fuels the longrunning (originally launched in 2012) MMOFPS.
"This takes place after Planetside 2, the war has kind of ended," explains Morton. "The map itself is 8k by 8k Amerish map, we're calling it The Echoes of Amerish. So we've given it a complete rework from top to bottom and left and right in terms of its road structure, its terrain, it has biomes now. So it's kind of been completely redone. The idea is that the factions have fallen apart, the war has ended, everybody is just trying to figure out what's going on, on their own. And we're going to be using the seasonal content drops as themed packages to deliver story arcs over the months as we progress to whatever may be next..."
There's been a bit of negative news earlier this week with Daybreak Games, as the studio was forced to make some cutbacks in addition to some downsizing earlier in the year. The hope is naturally that Planetside Arena is the game to turn things around for the company previously known as Sony Online Entertainment.
As we alluded to, Planetside Arena isn't strictly speaking a pure battle royale offering, and it will launch in January with both a last-player-standing mode (solo and teams of three players with 100 and 102 players currently) and a huge 250 versus 250 mode called Massive Clash (the player count here could be brought up further in the future). Future plans include staples of the genre such as Search and Destroy, Global Conquest, and Team Deathmatch.
"The history of Planetside has always been scale, so we want to start with the 500 player mode and we're currently able to scale up to a thousand players," says Morton. "We've made a lot of technical advancements to the engine, to the servers, to a lot of our backend, that will allow us to go beyond a thousand players, but that's kind of what we're designing it around for now."
The game offers up three classes to begin with - Assault, Engineer, and Medic - but while they come with differences and abilities that make them more efficient in certain situations, they all feature jetpacks and are effective damage dealers. Each class has an active, a deployable, and a passive ability. So for instance, the Assault class comes with Dash Jumpjet which will allow them to propel themselves forward, they can put down a totem that heals teammates and harms enemies, and they have a speed buff that allows them to run faster than the other classes.