Add to all that our chance to speak personally with Senior Art Director Tramell Isaac and Creative Director Matt Higby! We've learned about (and seen, in what has to be the funnest presentation ever) the new zone of Hossin and the battle island Nexus, heard about upcoming player-generated missions and base ownership, and even got an update on the newly implemented Player Studio.
During a special presentation, Higby went into detail about the battle island map of Nexus. As an island, Nexus is significantly smaller than the other three continents. The reason for the reduced size is two-fold. One, these battle islands are the type of maps that will be utilized in the e-sports venue, where the 48v48 battles will take place. Two, these maps will also be in the MMO game; as the devs said, "They are going to be used as bridges in between the game continents."
These maps also have very unique elements in PlanetSide 2. A long-standing player request has been to allow a type of 1v1 fighting between only two factions instead of requiring a three-way battle. The battle maps provide just that: Only two factions can enter at a time to fight over the nine contestable facilities, those factions being the ones that control the area on each continent that the entrance to the gate is located. The gate then becomes an access point to move onto the other continent and continue conquest.
Although the competitive version, which will only be turned on during tournaments to keep from bleeding the best players from the main game, will have only 96 players at a time, the islands are expected to accommodate a couple hundred in the game. The plan is to get these Nexes on the test server soon to get player feedback, then integrate them into the game sometime by the end of the year.
Of course, the biggest news coming out of the weekend was the upcoming new map of Hossin. A very swampy land, it has a very distinct look that sets it apart from the other zones. In the grand scale of the world, Hossin is located in the center of all the other continents, so there will be access to it from Esamir, Indar, and Amerish as well as the warp gates.
According to Higby, Hossin has over 1,000 man hours put in the map. Currently there is only a small area of the continent open on test server, but it is planned to have the entire zone open up on test server over the next couple of months. To illustrate just how popular Hossin is with the players, Higby reported, "We've had more players on our test server since we introduced Hossin [the night before] than we've ever had previously."
Higby also called Hossin a culmination of all the lessons learned about level design over the last eight months of the game. Interlink facilities, a bit of a throwback to the original PlanetSide with all the hallways and more complex floorplans requested by players, will be available and slowly introduced to the other continents.
With all the fog and the swampy terrain filled with lush foliage, line of sight is more obscure on Hossin, making it great for infantry battles but not so great for air support.
Player Studio and player contributions
Isaac offered a Player Studio update, noting that in just the first weekend the team received more than 63 submissions and 10-15 assets from that bunch have been accepted. He also expressed surprise that the even though decals are the easiest to create and submit, very few have been submitted. A couple of helmets are also approved, with a few more in the works.
During the keynote address, Isaac also emphasized Player Direct and encouraged people to submit their videos to be showcased on the game's official YouTube site.
Although big news, Hossin is not the only news. During the keynote address, Higby announced some upcoming features that are being currently worked on and will be making their way into the game.
First up: outfit recruitment. Outfit recruitment will include rating, which is based on open platoons and other things that encourage new players to participate in the game. Having a higher rating also gives all members of the outfit special benefits.
The second item of business is outfit base captures. During the course of a base capture, the outfit that contributes the most will be credited with capturing it. This will be be signified both on the map and on the base flags, where the outfit's emblem will be emblazoned below the empire one.
Resources are getting revamped. All resources are going into one pool (instead of ground and air), thereby allowing players to specialize more in one type of combat. More details can be obtained via the roadmap.
Another item on the devs' list is intercontinental conquest gameplay (of which the battle islands are a part), where whole continents can be locked and warpgates captured, allowing troops and vehicles to move through and continue their campaign. However, Higby noted that there have to be enough continents first to make that type of gameplay viable.
During the keynote, Higby thanked the players and remarked on the close connection between the devs and the community. "We honestly don't feel like we could be building this game without you guys," he said. So keep the feedback coming!
What happens in Vegas doesn't stay in Vegas, at least where SOE Live is concerned! Massively sent intrepid reporters MJ Guthrie and Karen Bryan to this year's SOE Live, from which they'll be transmitting all the best fan news on EverQuest Next, EverQuest II, DC Universe Online, and the other MMOs on SOE's roster.