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Development Update - March 2024

March 2024 

Greetings Auraxians,

For this March's development letter, we have some news, updates, and a special treat; the reveal of a new facility type! 

Public Test Server 

The Warzone rotation, Oshur Alert, and Friends List updates will be hitting the Public Test Server shortly after the next patch. 

The Friends List has been rewritten from scratch to solve a myriad of various bugs and issues. We are confident that this rewrite should solve the existing issues, however since it is a new system there could be other issues we have missed. 

The Warzone rotation system has been changed to be non-static. That is, the rotation order can shift slightly so that the oldest Warzone is not necessarily the next to be unlocked, although it usually will be. This also allowed us to set Oshur to an infrequent rotation schedule. There is a new meltdown alert on Oshur that should trigger almost immediately, setting a cap on how long the continent will remain open. 

More details, if needed, will be in the PTS Patch Notes nearing release. 

Sunderer Update 

The Sunderer is in active development and still going through quite a bit of internal testing. Once we are confident that we have brought them to a state where you can provide us with valuable feedback, we will be releasing a new cert tree to the test server. 

This *may* happen in batches so that as much testing as possible can be done before live release. 

New Facility Type 

Finally, on to the special treat. We are currently working on an **Assault Facility**.  This is an entirely new type of Facility that is dramatically different from the existing ones, and we wanted to try some new things to see how they affected the way players select equipment and approach combat. 

Our goals are to give the Facility a much clearer and directed sense of flow. We also wanted to have more stable and recognizable phases for battles with distinct beginning, middle, and end phases each of which will require slightly different strategy and tactics. Finally, we wanted to have a base design that more elegantly integrates vehicles so that they will have a clear, crucial role without being oppressive to infantry. 

Assault Rules 

The basic rules for the mode are simple and follow the general pattern of an Assault Game Mode that many games have with some PlanetSide 2 wrinkles. 

An Assault Facility comes under attack when an opposing faction captures the first, and only unlocked, Capture Point from the current owner (i.e. Defender). This does a few things: 

  • The ability to capture the remaining points becomes locked to the initial faction 
  • A hard spawn for that faction is unlocked within the Hex 
  • The facility's Energy Pool becomes active 

Now that the Facility is active it consists of a series of capture points that must be captured order, unlocking as the Attackers progress. Once captured, these points cannot be recaptured by the defenders. The Attackers win when the final point is captured. 

The facility is successfully defended if the Attackers' energy pool reaches 0 before the final point is captured. The energy pool is depleted in 2 ways: 

  1. Each capture point owned by the defenders depletes the Energy Pool at a regular interval 
  1. Each instance of spawning or deploying within the Facility Hex consumes energy. This includes: 
  • Respawning at the Hard Spawn 
  • Spawning at the Sunderer 
  • Spawning via Squad Beacon 
  • Spawning via Steel Rain 
  • Deploying in any of the above manners 

Being revived by the medic tool or via Nanite Revive Grenade does not consume energy. This would make Nanite Revive Grenades even more oppressively powerful than they already are, thus they will be heavily adjusted before the release of Assault Mode. This is something that needed to happen anyway, and this is a good time to implement it. 

Energy is added to the Attackers' energy pool when they capture a point, or via secondary objectives if they are included. 

When the battle ends (Either captured or defended) the facility will enter a cooldown period where the first point is locked, and a new battle cannot be initiated. 

Initial Release 

To get the most out of this new Facility Type we are creating a single, new, customized base to host it. This facility will take over a construction outpost in as central, but non-critical, a location as possible. We are using this strategy to mitigate risk and have time to work on the game mode and facility layout before propagating it further. 

The facility will be implemented as the simplest possible functional version of this type; with only 3 Capture Points and no secondary objectives. It is important that we extensively iterate on this simple version first since good design dictates that we make a compelling experience and accomplish all our goals with as few restrictions or complications as possible. Elegance is what we are aiming for. 

Success or failure of this initial Facility will determine where, how large, and how many of these will be created in the future. 

Risks & Potential Issues 

Finally, we come to the risks, weaknesses, and potential issues of this new Facility type. 

The first and most obvious weakness is that this game mode does not elegantly handle a three-faction interaction. It is very much an attacker vs defender scenario with the third faction being relegated to a tertiary role where they can tip the scales of a battle's outcome but not own the facility directly. However, we feel that with careful placement this weakness can be minimized while allowing its strengths to shine. 

The other major concern is that the Energy Pool will dramatically affect behavior and decision-making. This can break into either good or bad direction; it is impossible to fully predict the outcome of such a chaotic circumstance. The likelihood of creating a situation that is very static or has an overly one-sided meta is very high. At the same time, having death be a more meaningful mechanic, and not just a loss of time, is likely to unlock some new and interesting strategies. It may even actively discourage deliberately over-popping the facility leading to more even and sustained battles. 

The Energy Pool values, the amounts and ways energy is consumed, spawn locations, vehicle pads, and so on will have to be monitored closely and adjusted carefully. In the end we are confident we can make this new facility something that we all look forward to. 

We’re looking forward to hearing your feedback when these updates come to the test server. See you all planetside! 

- PlanetSide 2 Team