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Thursday, July 18, 2013

[Planetside 2] Cutting out your own implants

Despite the sardonic title, Planetside 2 has not yet gone this far, but they came rather close. The issue is that their newest Game Update (GU13) was slated to bring out new "Implants" which were basically temporary buffs you would buy with Certs (not going to go into the massive folly that which the cert grind is) or Station Cash. The problem is that several of these buffs were extremely powerful to the point of seeming nearly mandatory. Thankfully they have chosen not to release them with GU13, but the lesson is worth examining none the less.

These buffs were temporary, meaning that once you activated it, the clock was ticking to earn enough certs to re-buy it once it wears off. Meaning non-subscription players have a finite amount of time to earn 100 certs that they are automatically going to throw away, extending their grind even more. This adds a barrier to newer or more casual players who still have a lot to buy with their certs (though I fully understand that there are players out there who have no use for them, and SOE should look into things for them, just not ones that further screw over new players).

Seriously Clockwork, how bad could it be?

Well lets look at two of them: Clear Vision (Protects against Concussion and Flash grenade effects), and EMP Shielding (Protects against EMP grenade effects). These implants flat out negate the effects of someone else's ability....and that person has no way to know until after they have used it. So something you buy for 100 certs can negate something someone else spent 100+ certs plus infantry resources on.

Most of them did something to this effect and more; Awareness would auto-spot enemies who damage or kill you and enemies you damage...meaning sound and flash suppressors have a diminished effectiveness and they can run around 100 certs per gun. EOD hud would mark enemy explosives within a 5 meter radius, significantly reducing the chance of someone getting a kill with C4 or mines. Sensor Shield would have made you undetectable to enemy radar equipment and motion sensors, further invalidating something people have spent hundreds of certs on. Thermal Optics would have made you immune to being highlighted by thermal optics...which is the entire reason people BUY thermal optics (for 100+ certs).

The problem I see here is that it would be an arms race...a few patches from now, they add implants that negate implants, or new cert things to fill the voids the implants created. Sure, the implant players have to keep rebuying them, but more than likely they will, as will most players.

But Clock, chill, you can only have one at a time!

And yet they are ALL powerful and all fit a specific role fairly well; you can bet infiltrators would have Sensor Shield, and Heavy Assaults would take one of the grenade immunity ones.

But not all of the implant ideas were bad...

Battle Hardened just removed some camera shake and flinch from being hit, two things that aren't likely to give a huge advantage.

Enhanced Targeting would show you enemy health and increase the default IFF range, which is more a quality of life thing.

Regeneration, if it's time-to-activation was long enough would provide a handy alternative to havng to find a medic after a fight and help guerrilla Light Assaults survive.

Safe Landing...would have doubled the distance you can safely fall, and would have just been hilarious.

So if SOE wants to keep those and ones like them I see no problem. The problem here is that the implants would be necessary enough that having that 100 certs every time you needed to refresh one would be mandatory and it would start to get closer to pay-to-win because non-paying players would spend a large amount of their time just earning the certs to refresh implants. Not only that, the implants flat out negate things people spend certs on, rendering those points wasted rather than a safe bet, and the players who DO take the risk by throwing the grenade or equipping thermal vision have no way to tell what they are heading up against.

So I commend SOE for realizing how poor a choice this was and heading back to the drawing board, but I am a little alarmed that these implants got THIS far without someone at SOE realizing "Hey maybe this is a bad idea...". I get it, they are a F2P game and need to give players things to spend money on...but this is not the right way to do it.

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