WHAT THE NEW HEX LATTICE MEANS FOR THE GAME
Planetside 1 went through its own incarnation of the lattice introduced on the test server for Planetside 2. Pre-Planetside 1 lattice, the game was a series of chaotic backhacks and unpredictable battle flow, making it a generally disorganized mess. Through player feedback, the lattice was introduced as thin faction-colored lines connecting bases, providing much needed "battle flow" to the game. Post-Planetside 1 lattice, the game began to grow a 'style' that was missing pre-lattice. The game came into its own only after the lattice was introduced. This allowed outfits to predict the flow of battle in such a way that interesting and hectic fights could be produced at the drop of a hat. With set timers on base captures, players experienced nail-biting moments where you never knew if someone was going to Galaxy or hot drop onto a base in the last minute for a desperate re-secure. These moments are what Planetside 2 has been missing. Though the developers have made excellent strides with each patch towards that secret ingredient, the magic that made Planetside 1 so memorable was missing. It seems, though, that now we have it.
After 10 years, we can now play with the current iteration of the lattice on the Planetside 2 test server - and I can say from my observations today during the Indar event that this will redefine how outfits operate. The recent alert system has done much to encourage outfits to create loose or formal alliances, thereby raising the bar for intra-faction cooperation to new levels. This alone makes the game a much more interesting place than it was previously. Now, with the lattice, you will see thrilling sidebar fights to the main zerg events hitting the big bases. With influence no longer affecting capture, you now have set timers that will add those tense moments where you are wondering to yourself, "What's going to happen before this capture timer expires?" That's the magic that made Planetside 1 so memorable. In a game where the players are the game, this facet has been sorely missing in Planetside 2.
HOW THE HEX LATTICE BRINGS BACK THE METAGAME
The oft-repeated word "metagame" has come to mean a few different things on the message boards, but for most players it has one meaning: purpose. People want a reason to fight and a way of having their success (and at times failures) highlighted on the map. Hex lattice will bring all this and more to the table as outfits struggle with the new incentives. Battle flow will change drastically as people attack bases through the distinct and separate base hardpoints. Each base on Indar averages three avenues of attack, with Dahaka having five and Zurvan sitting at four. There will only be four ways to cross Indar from west to east:
- The Crown
- Regeant Rock
With the map divided between these four primary avenues of attack/defense, outfits will be pushed to their limits to find creative ways around and through the four primary towers. It may sound limiting, but is in fact very exciting because of the way you can set up offensive pushes bordering lattice lanes, ambushes on lattice roads, and defensive holds while other avenues are attacked. Your mark, your purpose, and your metagame will be in the hands of every outfit to create for themselves. My outfit, Hostile Takeover, has defined our own personal metagame by marking our effectiveness through small goals that we either accomplish or we don't. Every outfit has this opportunity to create their own metagame, but the hex lattice puts it within everyone's grasp.
The metagame in Planetside 2 post-lattice will be based on outfit creativity, responsiveness and adaptability as the four primary avenues of crossing the continent are contested and fought over, swinging back and forth like a blue/red/purple pendulum. Territory will mean something, as you can pinpoint a hotspot and say, "Here is where we make our stand. Here is our Thermopylae!" Red alerts will no longer have the sway they once did. You can, with speed and timing, effectively cut them off. Outfits that run in blobs will lose momentum and the smarter outfits will benefit from the lattice by advancing on recently hacked lattice lanes left unoccupied as large groups move forward. If there's one thing that playing Planetside 2 has taught me about zerg-thought, it's that zergs typically follow the path of least resistance. Having the lattice clearly illustrated on a map means people will follow predictable paths that can be taken advantage of by enterprising outfits. I said it was exciting, didn't I?
The hex lattice is, in one word, beautiful. I look forward to seeing how SOE develops Amerish and Esamir into a hex lattice and how that affects territory control, especially during in-game events. With player-generated missions, more outfit tools, command options and new event systems coming, the game has plenty of legs to stand on for months to come. The hex lattice will redefine battlefield command and battle flow in directions that few outfits have experienced. I'm as excited for them as I am for the new challenges that will arise for outfits similar to mine that have been enjoying these objective types pre-lattice.
Planetside 2 is improving every day. I can't wait to see what will happen next. Bravo, SOE!