---What Kind of Game is Planetside 2?---
Planetside 2 is a Massively Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter (MMOFPS). The gameplay itself is quite similar to the newer Battlefield games, but the scale of the battles is much larger, and the outcome of battles has more impact on a continental scale.
The game is also free-to-play. Downloading and playing the game is 100% free. You can pay real-world money for optional things, like unlocking things faster or changing your appearance.
---Time to Get Started---
Alright, boys and girls. The first thing you'll want to do create an account: https://www.planetside2.com/register
Next you'll want to download the launcher*. You can find a link to the launcher on the PS2 website after you have signed into your account, or you can use the direct link here: https://launch.soe.com/installer/PS2_setup.exe
Open the launcher, let it download the game and patch (it's usually about 9 GB), and start the game. The next thing you'll be doing is creating a character.
* Note: You can do this through Steam, but the version on Steam is typically more than a year out of date, so Steam will make you download the entire game twice - the extremely outdated version from Steam, then the entire thing again through the launcher. If you use Steam anyway, DO NOT USE Steam's "verify integrity of game cache" function or you WILL be forced to download the entire client twice, again - if you want to do this, open the launcher, click the Engineer wrench on the left and use the "Validate game assets" button instead.
---Choose an Empire---
The first thing you'll do is choose the empire you want to play as. You can create multiple characters in different empires, but you can't bring the items and certifications you unlock from one character to another. Choose based on what YOU like, not what /vg/ happens to hate least at the moment.
The New Conglomerate
- Blue and Gold. Weapons have high damage per shot. Vehicles are heavily-armored.
- An army of corporate-funded rebels, seeking freedom and self-rule on the new planet.
The Terran Republic
- Red and Black. Weapons have big magazines and high rate of fire. Vehicles have high top speeds.
- The remnants of the Earth government army, cut off from reinforcements and trying to maintain order.
The Vanu Sovreignty
- Purple and Black*. Weapons have high accuracy. Vehicles are extremely maneuverable.
- Scientists who believe that ancient Vanu technology is the key to humanity's evolution.
* Formerly Purple and Cyan, but the art department has since removed most traces of VS cyan.
---Choose a Server---
This one should be fairly self-explanatory. If you have friends who play Planetside 2, make sure to pick the same server as them because you cannot transfer between servers. If you don't already have a server in mind, the recommended server list will try to place you on a server where your chosen empire's average population is low in an effort to balance out populations. While this could mean that your faction may not always be winning, remember that winning does not always equal fun. Most importantly, pick a server that's close to you; Planetside 2 servers are already notorious for their shitty ping, try not to exacerbate it.
Just pick a name that doesn't suck, what skin color you want, and how big of an ass you want to have. You cannot change your appearance short of making a new character, and a name change costs $25, so if you make something named xX420BronyMLGXx, be prepared to live with your stupid decision or pay up. You also have the option to skip the tutorial here, though that would be ill-advised for a new player.
You'll spawn in an instanced facility with a faction-specific voiceover teaching you how the game works. You'll be instructed about the basic functionality of the game such as how infantry terminals and capture points work. When you have completed the tutorial, you will be instructed to use Instant Action to drop yourself into the live game.
The tutorial has a habit of breaking and some part of it becoming incompleteable after patches without the QA testers noticing, so if this happens, there should be a button somewhere in the map screen to leave the tutorial. Alternatively, just press [I] to Instant Action.
On the PS4 version of the game (but not yet on PC), you will be dropped into Koltyr instead of the tutorial. This is a special instanced continent where you will be allowed to stay until battle rank 15, along with other low-leveled players. Planetside 2 has a live tutorial that will give you some instruction as you play the game naturally, but it isn't nearly as informative as the old tutorial so you'll have to learn by trial and error.
---The Menu Screen---
The first thing you should do is figure out your menus. Hit escape to access your menu screen. Although the tutorial has you go through some of your menus, it doesn't cover all of them. Here's a rundown of what you'll find in this screen.
- Profile: An overview of your stats and progression.
- Map: A view of the the continent. Note the continent name at the top of the screen.
- Classes: Change your class loadouts and unlock infantry weapons here. (Note that you can't change class via this screen.)
- Vehicles: Change your vehicle loadouts and unlock vehicle weapons here. (Note that you can't spawn vehicles via this screen.)
- Social: Contains your friends, squad and outfit UIs, squad leader certs, and integrated video recording and Twitch streaming.
- Nano-cycler: View your unlocked implants, recycle your extra implants into chargers or higher-tier implants, and turn chargers into energy here.
- Directives: This menu is really only here to give jaded old veterans some goals to work towards, so you can safely ignore this for now.
- Depot: The cash shop. Buy and spend Daybreak Cash (aka Smedbucks) here.
Also, now would be a good time to click on "Settings" in the bottom-right corner and tweak your video options and read through your key bindings.
Before the tutorial has you use Instant Action, it'll have you deploy to a big, confusing room full of people. This is one of your faction's warpgates - a big base that can't be captured or attacked by enemies.
The Warpgate serves as a starting point and sanctuary - you can always return here to grab a vehicle, find a squad, warp to another continent, or regroup for an attack.
In addition to all the people and vehicles at the warpgate, you've probably noticed the computers scattered around the building. As demonstrated in the tutorial, these are Terminals, and they're very important. You'll find some of them at just about every base. Here's a list of the terminals you'll find.
- Equipment Terminal (gun icon): Lets you switch class, change your loadout, and resupply ammo.
- Vehicle Terminal (tank icon): Lets you spawn ground vehicles.
- Aircraft Terminal (jet icon): Lets you spawn aircraft.
- Warp Terminal (globe icon): Lets you switch continents for a change of scenery.
Note that not every terminal is going to be available at every base you go to. Equipment terminals, for example, are extremely common, while aircraft terminals are only available in a few places and .
---Heading To Battle---
Now that you're educated, you're probably eager to go blast some space nazis/murricans/fairies. If you're following the tutorial, the first time you'll enter the fray will be via Instant Action. Instant Action, however, is notorious for throwing you into the most miserable hellhole on the server at that time, so you may decide to choose an alternative means of getting to battle. Finding and getting to a decent battle is probably one of the most frustrating experiences for a new Planetside 2 player.
The quickest way into a battle is to redeploy [U] and look on the map screen: the left panel will have a list of available spawn points, which correspond to the different base (green circle) and Sunderer (green bus) spawn points on the map. Before you choose a spawn location, it's generally a good idea to ensure it's not a steamroll: mouse over a hex before you spawn in it and make sure the populations aren't something like 80% [other empire]/20% [your empire] with 96+ enemies detected. You are not any tougher than any of the other players at that base and chances are they will shred you the moment you step out of your spawn room.
If you don't want to die constantly and have a bad time, look for smaller fights with populations that are reasonably even. If you can find a hex that looks something like [55% other empire]/[45% your empire] with 24-48 enemies detected you will have a much better time. Learning to read the map is one of the most important aspects of the game and in time you should be able to figure out what fights are uphill battles best avoided and what fights you'll actually have fun at.
If you're feeling adventurous, you can try spawning a vehicle and driving yourself. Use your map screen to find where you want to go, and set a waypoint so that you don't get disoriented. If you just want a quick transport, use the Flash ATV. If you'd like to try some vehicle combat, try a Lightning tank. Don't try aircraft or multi-crewed vehicles until you're a bit more experienced.
If you REALLY want to get into the thick of things, you can try the "Instant Action" feature. You can find the button in the lower left of your map screen, or press "I" to toggle the countdown. Note that you can only do this once every five minutes.
---Babby's First Battle---
As stated before, the combat itself is a lot like Battlefield. Just play Battlefield and you'll be fine. Use your class's weapons and abilities (which you read about in the Classes Menu and changed at the Equipment Terminal, RIGHT?) to shoot the bad guys and capture the control points and stuff.
---Capturing and Defending Territory---
Each region consists of a number of control points. You capture points - you guessed it - by standing near them. However, there is a twist. Capturing all of a region's points doesn't mean you've won. Instead, owning points causes your overall region capture meter to fill up faster. You don't own the region until the meter fills up.
In addition to capturing points, many bases have a couple of other strategic targets that you can destroy to piss off the defending team or repair to help your team hold the fort.
- Spawn Control Unit (SCU): Powers the defending team's respawn room. No SCU, no respawns.
- Shield Generator: There are multiple variations of these. SCU shield generators can be found at Bio Labs, which protect the SCU. Vertical and horizontal shield generators can be found at Amp Stations and Tech Plants; they shield the main entrances to the primary facility from enemy assault and must both be destroyed to lower the shields. Vehicle shield generators can be found at Amp Stations, some Bio Labs and at various small and medium outposts around the map, and prevent unfriendly vehicles from passing through them.
- Terminals: Gives the defenders access to weapons and vehicles. Can be destroyed.
In order to capture an enemy base or facility (often referred to as a "hex"), it must be connected to at least one uncontested friendly hex via the lattice, which can be viewed on your map. Capture timers are standardized based on the type of base; with all points captured, small outposts take 4 minutes, large outposts, Tech Plants and Amp Stations take 7 minutes and Bio Labs take ~3 minutes. If not all points are captured at once, the timer takes much longer. For example, if only two of three points are captured at a large facility at once, it will take about 20 minutes to take the base.
---Death and Respawning---
Dying isn't a huge deal. Luckily, you won't have to walk/drive from the warpgate every time you die. You can respawn at a nearby base, deployed Sunderer, squad beacon, or back at the warpgate. You can also change your loadout and class between spawns.
Medics can also revive people by using their medgun on their corpse. If a medic tries to revive you, you will be notified, and given the option to accept the revival or decline so you can spawn somewhere else. Accepting a revive also removes the statistic for that death, as though it had never happened.
As you do things like fight enemies, repair things, heal people, and capture enemy bases, you gain XP and level up. Until level 15, each rank up will grant you 100 certs (explained below), but doesn't do much else. On the console version, certain vehicles and classes are locked behind battle rank, so up to BR30 or so you will unlock a new class or vehicle every few ranks.
Certification points, almost always abbreviated to simply "certs", are the gameplay-earned currency of Planetside 2. You can use them to unlock new weapons and upgrades for your classes and vehicles. You earn in certs in two different ways.
- Actively: 1 per 250 XP earned. Everything that earns XP also earns certs.
- Passively: If you have a paid membership, you will receive approximately 2 per hour. These accumulate either online or offline, and cap after 24 hours of being offline so you must login daily to collect them.
- Welfare: Until battle rank 15, you will receive a bonus of 100 certs each rank up. Spend these wisely, because after 15 your cert acquisition will slow down dramatically.
Certs cannot be reset, so choose what you buy wisely. It's always a good idea to ask around to see what's worth it and what isn't.
---Joining a Squad---
Planetside 2 is a thousand times more fun with a squad. There are a handful of publicly-available squads in the Squads Menu, but they're usually pretty uncoordinated. Your best bet is to squad up with people you meet in battle. If you ride in on a Galaxy, invite the others on board to join your squad so that you can be more coordinated when you land. Who knows, maybe you'll make a friend or two?
---Joining an Outfit---
If you've ever played an MMO, you know how much fun a guild can be. Outfits in Planetside 2 are the same way. Outfits come in all flavors - whether you want a super-serious military RP team or a handful of bros to goof around with, there's probably an outfit out there for you.
---Thanks, and Have Fun™---
I hope you found this guide helpful and easy to understand. You should now know the basics of the game - the rest is up to you to learn. Thanks for reading, and best of luck on the battlefield, soldier!
Last Updated: July 7, 2015 (without permission of the original author, because fuck 'im)