Last week I was away so I played no games nor wrote a diary. Thanks to Grimmie for taking up the mantle with a Saturdiary, lovely it was and long may it continue. Last night we did play some games though. Do you think we played Dota 2? We might have, but an old favourite also made a re-emergence and was better than many of us remembered.
In the pre-game thread on the forums there were a number of suggestions, some stale regulars like Chivalry, some off the wall like Guild Wars 2. In the end though, due to it being free so everyone has it (and most have played it), we went for Planetside 2. This came as a pleasant surprise for me, although I partly suggested it (in that I copied Anery’s suggestion from last week), because PS2 is a favourite of mine.
I can understand why many people don’t like it. It doesn’t look great compared to modern FPSs, it can be very confusing, there’s no immediate indication of where the fighting is, and it’s free-to-play with a just barely avoided pay-to-win model. To a new player it’s easy to feel like cannon fodder for the more experienced, better equipped players. How better to get to know it than to jump in a Galaxy dropship with some veteran 5punkers then?
Well, maybe there are some better ways when it’s me flying, but it’s still more fun with 5punkers. So our first outing for a long time began with a cruise of the front lines in a Liberator, looking for an interesting fight. All looked quiet until Mr Johnson spotted a convoy of enemy vehicles which quickly turned on us and shot the shit out of our gunship. One emergency landing later we were all safe on the ground, apart from the poor Libby. Never mind, we made our way on foot towards the action, swatting a few enemy fighters out of the sky along the way with AA missiles in a concerted attack by myself and Bits. There was a heavy attack going on, pressing towards our Biolab, and soon we ended up in the meatgrinder that dome attacks always devolve into.
Did I mention that we play as the Vanu? Probably not. The great thing about the Vanu, apart from their energy weapons not having bullet drop, is that they wear sci-fi purple spandex uniforms. Everyone must agree, that’s pretty hot. Joose and Roman joined in while we were pushing the NC out of the hangar doors, off the landing platforms, and back to the peripheral facilities. Joose certainly agreed that my purple and white tiger stripe camo was fabulous. It takes real confidence in your soldiering ability to go to war in purple tiger stripe spandex (I would say it takes a real man, but there are plenty of real women on the front line too), and it wasn’t misplaced as we pushed the NC right back to their warpgate.
Those who have played Planetside 2 before, but not recently, might not know the changes to how pushing enemy forces back works now. Instead of a free-for-all of attacking and capturing facilities there are attack lines all across the map which must be followed in order to capture points. You can still roam, but it tightens the attacks into fronts where the fighting is more intense. Once we pushed the NC back they diverted their attention elsewhere and the Biolab quietened down. So we decided to relocate.
5punky road trips are things of legends in Planetside 2. It’s very rare that they’re unremarkable, and last night was no exception. After a brief discussion of where to go and how, I (as squad leader) set the objective to a distant small facility which was a salient of an isolated pocket of an earlier NC push, the Biolab attack we started on presumably being the tail end of the VS retaliation. It was quite a way, and we weren’t getting there on foot, so I redeployed back to our warp gate to collect a Galaxy dropship. A Galaxy, or space bus as I was affectionately calling it last night, has five gunnery positions, carries 12 troops, and is build like a Volvo. Perfect for a 5punky migration. In the time it had taken me to recover the bus and find my way to the rest of the squad they had moved on a little to a friendly outpost, with Roman in a Magrider and everyone else trying to perform some sort of circus act on top of it. I marked my arrival with a low flypast which clipped my tail on the edge of a building. That in turn flipped me downwards onto the top of Roman’s Maggie. Fortunately hovertanks are quite bouncy so no permanent damage was done to either of is. Joose, stood on the Maggie’s turret, didn’t fare quite so well and was smeared across my undercarriage. With an announcement of “guys, I’m here” we saddled up and moved off to the next attack.
Approaching the NC held outpost I didn’t want a repeat performance of our Liberator ride from earlier, so after declaring “guys, get ready for a combat drop” I set the Galaxy to ‘Private’ and ejected all the passengers over the battlefield. Despite the screams and protests they were fortunate, because after circling a couple of times I got chased away by enemy Reaper fighters and then missed the re-arming platform at our nearby base on landing. By the time I had made the long walk back to the rest of the squad the fighting was almost over, with 5punk and a few others pinning the NC defenders in their spawn point and holding them there until the outpost was captured.
With no space bus and the Biolab being put under pressure again we decided to do a proper road trip in a Sunderer APC, back the way we came. I drove again, mainly because I have a mobile spawn unlock on my Sundie, and Mr Johnson was navigating for me. We made pretty good time, the vehicle just about stayed right way up, and we only took one wrong turn. Unfortunately our journey was a bit too effective and we rounded a cliff face to be confronted by the flank of an enemy armoured column. I tried to back up and deploy the bus as a spawn point but I couldn’t remember the button and accidentally ran over Joose again. Still, we had reached our destination and once again spawned in the Biolab as the NC recaptured the outlying buildings.
We’d been here before, so a few 5punkers took to the skies in Scythe fighters. I stood on the landing pad watching them soar and spiral, wailing over teamspeak as they frantically tried to control the aircraft. If I hadn’t heard that I would have assumed they were veteran flyers as they pirouetted and dove, rather than lucky fighter noobs only just managing to avoid the ground. Even so, when I took off to join them I got shot down in less than a minute, so who’s the real noob eh?
Everyone came back to the ground eventually though, and yet again we pushed the NC right back to their warp gate in a replay of the beginning of our battle. We didn’t stop there this time, defending the point against several armoured attacks. We were actually playing pretty well by this point. Apart from the bit when I found the other five squad members all huddled together in a hug, which proved too tempting a target not to throw a grenade at. We’d had a good few hours fighting, everyone was pretty pleased with their game, and Tezz had finished downloading, so we stopped.
Dota 2 was always going to be the end-of-night game, it always is. We had a good turnout of eight 5punkers by this point (a couple hadn’t played Planetside 2 but had been listening in on TS), and had a couple of 5punky bot matches. Unfortunately despite shuffling both were pretty one sided and mostly unremarkable, apart from the usual bot-bashing. After most had left though we decided to have a go at the Diretide event.
This peculiarity involved nicking sweets out of cauldrons in each others’ half and getting them from killing mini-Roshan creeps. It was all a bit odd, but once we got the hang of it we started to beat down the other team from a 60-odd to 6 advantage so something like 48-36. At some point during the scramble Roshan started lumbering around the map, carting a hallowe’en bucket and chasing players for sweeties. I found it all rather cute, and chucked him a sweetie whenever he came looking for me. For the best really, he kills you if you don’t give him one. Then suddenly the game changed to everyone buying loads of kit and going out to kill Roshan as many times as possible. This turned out to be three for us, as we were all pretty terrible. As interesting a diversion as it was it felt pretty pointless. Apparently the players who accumulate loads of games somehow get entered into some sort of prize draw, but competition of that kind is only really viable for those who farm day and night because they have too much free time and an unhealthy obsession. Still, Roshan is still pretty cute.