PlanetSide 2 devs discuss future updates, PS4 beta still aiming for 2014

It's been a tremendous year for PlanetSide 2, as the war for Auraxis has only continued to intensify. As the New Conglomerate, Terrans, and Vanu continue to do battle, Sony Online Entertainment has outlined what the coming months will introduce to PlanetSide 2 at this year's SOE Live. The battle is also preparing to rage across an entirely new front, as SOE is hopeful that the long-awaited PlayStation 4 version of the game will hit beta before the end of 2014.

As for the PC version, that is preparing to receive its latest monthly update. This will introduce the Valkyrie, which will add an interesting wrinkle to vehicle combat. Made for four players, there are two rumble seats in which soldiers can poke out their weapons and fire at enemies. The Valkyrie can be used to pick off enemies on the ground, drop C4 on tanks from above, or used with rockets for anti-air support.

August will also introduce new squad mentoring and leadership rewards. With the development team expecting an influx of new players, they're hoping to lower the barrier of entry by offering incentive for squad leaders to help bring up newcomers. As lower-leveled squad members level up, the squad leaders will earn ribbons and Directive rewards. There are several tiers of leadership ribbons that can be earned for bringing new players up and making solid soldiers out of them.

Creative director Matt Higby and senior art director Tramell Isaac also outlined the future of PlanetSide 2's PC version. Future updates will look to enhance the game's mission system, specifically refining squad leader input into the mission system for better communication and improved coordination. The resource system will similarly be revamped, with the game's nanite system about to get some more dynamics with the ability to cut off resource stockpiles.

The development team is also digging into the past for a future update, with Empire buggies slated to make their return from the original PlanetSide. The Thresher will be available for the Vanu, the Marauder can be used by the Terrans, and the Enforcer will be the buggy of choice for the New Conglomerate. Buggies will add a new variety of Empire-specific vehicle that deviates from the usual tank and aircraft. There's no estimated date on when buggies will make it into PS2, but the team hopes they'll be ready by the end of 2014.

But the next big endeavor for the team is Battle Islands, which will bring smaller-scale conflicts to PlanetSide 2 for the first time. Higby says that it's out of player requests for smaller scale Outfit v. Outfit combat. He also adds that Battle Islands provide the opportunity for different types of mission objectives, in addition to the standard point capture system. The first Battle Islands will also provide the opportunity for different biome types, like the snowy tundras of Nexus and an area filled with floating land masses that require increased air travel.

The team wrapped up by outlining the future of the PlayStation 4 version of PS2. The game's UI has improved significantly since its E3 appearance, with a more console-friendly layout. The game is also making strides in optimization, with framerate squarely on the dev team's radar. Visually, the game continues to impress with full 1080p performance. However, there's still a lot that needs to go into making the full transition to consoles, which is part of the reason that SOE has recruited some of the folks at Evil Geniuses to test the game and issue feedback. With UI and optimization issues continuing to be hammered out and other features like the map and store still on the docket to be addressed, Higby still wasn't comfortable with offering an exact release date for the game's playable beta, but strongly feels that it's on track for a 2014 deployment.

It's a good time to remind readers that PlanetSide 2 will not feature cross-play between the PC and PS4 versions. Higby reiterated that this is largely due to the longer certification process involved with consoles, which would then lead to delays for PC patches. However, HIgby offered another interesting reason: aim assist. With console players set to get aim assist in their version of PS2, having cross-play would inevitably lead to a significant balance divide that would be weighted against PC players. This is another reason why cross-play won't happen, however Higby did note that the team is looking into the idea of sharing accounts across the two versions. The goal will be to allow players that have unlocked weapons in one version of the game to carry them into the other, with the exception of unreleased content.

PlanetSide 2 is out now on PC. At the rate development is going, don't expect PS4 to lag too much farther behind.