clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

PlanetSide Arena is coming in January, and yeah, it has a battle royale

But it will be much more, developers promise

Daybreak Game Company
Owen S. Good is a longtime veteran of video games writing, well known for his coverage of sports and racing games.

The next PlanetSide game is, yes, a battle royale. And it’s not.

At least, that’s not what PlanetSide Arena is all about, even if a battle royale is, prominently, one of the modes that will be available when the game launches for Windows PC (on Steam) on Jan. 29, 2019. PlanetSide Arena’s first playlist will feature two battle royales, a solo affair and teams of three, and then a 250-on-250 team deathmatch the Daybreak Game Company team is calling Massive Clash.

Players will take to all three games with one of three classes — Assault, Medic, and Engineer, each with three special, upgradeable perks — on a map that’s 64 square kilometers in scale. The bigness Daybreak is touting with PlanetSide Arena is that franchise’s calling card as a first-person shooter; in 2015 PlanetSide 2 packed 1,158 players into one battle, claiming a Guinness World Record for that genre.

“We’re absolutely taking advantage of that functionality,” said Andy Sites, PlanetSide Arena’s executive producer.

Sites said PlanetSide Arena will be a class-based buffet of FPS offerings, with maps and gametypes coming later for smaller, more traditional combat like capture the flag, team deathmatch and what have you. But Daybreak has been hearing its community’s rumblings for a battle royale in PlanetSide 2, which first launched in 2012 (and on PlayStation 4 in 2015) and was one of the last games developed by the company when it was known as Sony Online Entertainment.

“Internally we’ve been talking about this for some time, and a lot of it was based on interaction with the community,” Sites said. “It was obvious to a lot of players this could make a great gameplay mode and a great gameplay experience.”

But there is also the question of standing out among battle royales, something its Daybreak sibling H1Z1 has failed to do, despite being at the vanguard of the genre before it became popular, and then going free to play earlier this year. For PlanetSide Arena, that’s where two progression systems, one for the match and one for the game’s current season of content, will come into play.

Roughly speaking, it works like this: When a PlanetSide Arena season begins, its season pass of content will offer “blueprints” of weapons and other gameplay upgrades that players can bring with them to a match. These upgrades are unlocked in the match once players earn enough points in the game.

They’re keen to point out that these blueprints can’t be accessed by any real-money option, warding off the obvious pay-to-win concern. PlanetSide Arena will launch as two paid editions, at $19.99 and $39.99 (the latter offering some extra in-game items. Though the battle pass structure may change later, for now Daybreak intends to give everything in the battle pass to those who buy the game, Sites said.

He envisions a later date where the game may transition to a battle pass serving free-to-play and paid versions of PlanetSide Arena. If so, he said cosmetic items will be available for real-money purchase; blueprints and gameplay upgrades will be available to everyone.

Progression through the battle pass’ catalog of content will be metered by racking up in-game challenges. “We don’t want people to feel like the only way they can progress and improve is by being an amazing first-person shooter player,” Sites said. “There will be a lot of different ways to progress through the battle pass and have fun.”

Players will also be able to find, on the battlefield, specific upgrades to their classes’ three perks — an ability (triggered by a hotkey), a healing/harming device the user places on the ground, and a skill that is innately available. Furthermore, all players will have access to jetpacks and vehicles. This, reasoned lead designer Tony Morton, should help further differentiate PlanetSide Arena’s battle royale, and initiate combat more quickly, where other battle royales build slowly and are fixated on loot procurement at the outset.

Players who get killed in a match will drop whatever they acquired or upgraded, which others are free to pick up, but they can only use it for that match. They can also trigger airdrops to bring in better gear and boosts, but those will be visible to all players and Daybreak expects their arrival to be a natural skirmish point. There’s also an orbital strike grenade that delivers what it sounds like — a countdown to a massive death ray from space with a large blast radius and some damage dished out to those outside it, too. This, Sites said, can be a squad or a side’s hail mary if they’re trailing badly toward the end of a round.

The improvements Daybreak will make to the PlanetSide engine with PlanetSide Arena will be eventually farmed back into PlanetSide 2, Sites said. Players will see improvements to visuals and performance, although those will come “a bit down the road,” Sites said. A news release from Daybreak today said PlanetSide 2 will get a major update in 2019, bringing a new continent to it for the first time in five years.

PlanetSide Arena will conduct a closed beta before its launch, with access granted to those who pre-order one of the two editions on Steam.

PlanetSide Arena will still be tied into the ongoing PlanetSide canon, Morton said; the list of cosmetics and weapons in each season of content will be themed around a particular turn in the story arc stretching from season to season. “It gives the player something to sink their teeth into,” Morton said.

But, Sites added, PlanetSide will have another title coming after Arena, making this “a stepping stone to what’s next. We’re absolutely planning for a future PlanetSide game.”

The next level of puzzles.

Take a break from your day by playing a puzzle or two! We’ve got SpellTower, Typeshift, crosswords, and more.