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Published December 14, 2012

On December 11th, Planetside 2 received its first major patch since coming out of beta. There's a surprising variety of air changes and one of the major base types has been the subject of rework. There are also a few new infantry weapons, including a common pool rocket launcher, along with by far the single most important change in Planetside 2 yet: horns for your Flash and Sunderer. My only hope is Sony uses the fact it owns so much of the music industry to put in popular tunes so I can put the Ghostbusters jingle on a shield breaker Sunderer.

The new common pool rocket launcher is the Decimator. Despite the unfortunate name it destroys far, far more than 10% of a vehicles health on each hit. It will one-shot a Lightning if you hit the rear armor and take to a quarter health with a side armor hit. Even more impressively it can do the same thing in a Vanguard's rear armor, reducing it to a nearly flaming state. On the other hand, the Decimator has incredibly slow projectiles - and it seems to have a quirky drop all its own. It is not a weapon for cowards who sit perched on hills and blindly throw rockets into armor columns, it's more for the sort of person who likes to get up close and personal and feel the gentle rain of flaming tank parts on their visor. It's also superb for loners, letting you put the fear of God into any tank with one hit.

Each empire also received a pair of new infantry weapons, an assault rifle and a light machine gun. The TR and NC assault rifles, the TAR and the Carnage BR are both short range specialists equipped with superb hipfire capability at the cost of increased recoil. The Vanu assault rifle, the Corvus, has utterly amazing accuracy, both burst and sustained. On the other hand it suffers from a woefully slow rate of fire; I wish you luck if you need to engage in a short range fight. The TR and NC light machine guns are both versatile weapons. The T32 Bull is highly adaptable but has a slow reload, while the Anchor is more mobile while ironsighted but has the smallest clip of any light machine gun currently in the game. The Vanu light machine gun, the Ursa, is much like the Corvus. It sacrifices some rate of fire to gain accuracy, thought not quite as extreme as the Corvus.

Speaking of close range infantry battles, Tech plants have been seriously reworked. There is no longer one shield generator located at the most defensible point inside the plant, instead there are two of them located in outbuildings attached to the tech plant. This turns tech plants from two doorway grinders with the rare shield breaker sunderer antics into stripped down amp stations and makes them incredibly difficult to hold for an extended period of time. Why? Air can now simply end the situation, cutting you off from your shield gens by virtue of endless bombardment.

The real cornerstone of this patch's balance changes are those related to air combat. The weapon systems attached to the Liberator and the Galaxy were reworked, and most weapon systems shared between ground and air vehicles now have unique air variants, such as the M20 Drake, a sister to the M20 Basilisk on the ground. The Drake has a somewhat longer distance but it suffers from damage falloff compared to the Basilisk. Many of the other air systems received similar buffs, increased projectile speed and damage or increased effective range and less damage falloff. In essence, every A2A system that doesn't get mounted on a fighter received some sort of buff to the role of engaging air vehicles and minor nerfs or washes to their ability to damage ground targets.

The buffs to the G2A (ground-to-air) weapon systems were incredibly timid. The Skyguard is more accurate now, and you will consistently land your shots, but you still do almost no damage. They added very, very minor buffs to the damage of all flak based G2A systems but they make absolutely no difference to TTK. G2A missiles have not received the generous “buffs” Higby said they would be getting this week. The only bright spot here is they gave fighters a crippling nerf to their small arms fire resistance. If you manage to get lucky enough to shoot a plane that is for some bizarre reason flying low without blasting you with rocketpods and get a dozen of your friends to help out... well, it will probably get very annoyed and fly off to fix itself. And then come back to kill you with its “nerfed” rocketpods.

Sony keeps trying to nerf air the wrong ways, in my opinion. The stated goal has always been “for G2A to only be a deterrent” in Matthew Higby's own words. But deterrence only comes from a threat, and none of these G2A buffs make these weapon systems scary. As long as these weapon systems continue to be weak, air will continue to decide the course of every fight it gets involved in, making large scale battles rarer and more difficult to find. As more and more people get rocketpods this situation will only get worse. Sony needs to take decisive action and return aircraft to a manageable state, where they are forced to work with ground forces - instead of having the unchallenged privilege of deciding who lives and who dies.

Magere
Anna S. is a doctoral student of Virology at an American university. She enjoys Dota and hanging out with her wife, two cats, and chinchilla.

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