So here we are in an F2P Age, more or less; a state of affairs which generates mixed feelings among many. I always liked the idea in principle, but with provisos. Opportunities for idiocy and avarice certainly do exist more now than under the one-monthly-fits-all age, and it’s very much up to us to evaluate all new cash shop offers carefully, with an eye to what is right for us. I always thought that this would be our new role as MMO bloggers; to highlight and scorn the stupid, but also to assess and praise the good ideas too, in the form of mini-reviews of the new and more granular level of consumerism we now have in front of us. The dedicated LOTRO blog and podcast Casual Stroll To Mordor illustrates what I mean, with regular reviews of specific items and deals, along with recommendations (or otherwise) from folks who know a bit about what they’re talking about.
I’ve found those helpful in the past and would love to see more of this sort of thing across the whole genre; expert players giving detailed scrutiny to specifics, rather than the same old tired ‘All F2P is Bad/Good’ rhetoric.
I’ve found myself to be enjoying PlanetSide 2 a great deal in recent months, which is a game that asks for nothing at all up front, instead relying on Station Cash purchases of said specifics, along with an optional Premium sub package, to pay for it all. I put down some Station Cash mostly because they didn’t require me to, and I felt they deserved it. With it, I got some gun unlocks, which I’ll tell you about here! For context, I am mostly a Vanu Sovereignty Engineer.
Solstice SF (Infantry Carbine; Engineer or Light Assault) 500 Certs or 700SC
The first thing I unlocked, this is a slightly slower firing version of the default Engineer gun, suitable for close to medium range targets. The strength of the gun is the huge number of different gadgets you can attach to it; one-shot grenade, smoke grenade and shotgun blasts, sights, rails, suppressors, etc. These secondary fire modes restock from the standard Engineer ammo packs, hugely increasing potency in defensive situations, giving the beleaguered defending Engineer infinite grenades at no Inf. Resource cost. These extra add-ons do not unlock with the gun, but need further Cert-only unlocks at about 100 each, so some investment is required to get the most out of the basic gun. Once that is done, I can see no real reason why you’d want a Solstice over the Solstice SF.
It reminds me a great deal of the PS1 ‘Punisher’ Medium Assault rifle – not the best thing for a straight firefight, but incredibly versatile, particularly when coupled with the Engineer’s infinite ammunition deployable packs. As a Light Assault weapon it seems less useful, because in that case the one-shot under-slung gubbins really are one shot, and there are probably better options for jetpackers to get the job done; better shooting guns, SMGs, C4, etc. I see the Pulsar C mentioned by VS LA folks as an alternative.
Useful Add-ons: Under-barrel Grenade Launcher, Under-barrel Shotgun, Soft-Point Ammo
8/10: Indispensible for career Engineers, opening up extra tactical options. A decent straight shooter for indoor or near-ish work too. Not the best at anything, but good enough at almost everything and a distinct upgrade and replacement for the starter gun. (At 500 Certs, this is a reasonable medium-term goal for saving up in-game too, for free.)
(If you are not Vanu, the NC ‘Gauss Compact S’ and the TR ‘TRAC-5 S’ offer similar stats and functionality)
Eidolon (Infantry Battle Rifle: Engineer or Heavy Assault) 1000 Certs or 700SC
At the other end of the range, the Eidolon is about the closest you can get to sniping without being an Infiltrator. Extremely precise at very long ranges, the thing handles very much like the default Infiltrator Rifle, only without the ridiculous wobbling. Equipped with a 6x Scope (Not included, but a must and only 30 Certs), the thing holds steady as a rock when aimed, even while standing. No holding shift to take a breath needed! The down side is a much lower per shot damage. This can still work well; two or three headshots can still kill, and at distances few expect an Engineer to be able to do anything about. Failing that, merely harrying the enemy with repeated body hits can cause panic, pressure and even kills. A generous 20 shot clip and surprisingly high refire rate make sniping a viable play style for Engineers using this gun, but do watch out for proper counter-snipering Infiltrators with experience and one-hit-kill real Sniper Rifles – you are unlikely to win a sniper duel with this gun.
Indoors and at close ranges, this thing will get you killed. The precision and semi-automatic nature of the gun means that when surprised in a portacabin, your opponent is far more likely to win a spray-and-pray circle-strafe DPS frenzy, although calm and well-aimed tap-firing can still work here sometimes. Switch to a different loadout if you can, or whip out the pistol and knife. This doesn’t make it bad, per se, just highly specialised. The gun seems useful for Heavy Assault chaps too, offering high accuracy at distance for the initial approach on a base assault, but again, the specialised nature of the gun means a swap to a Shotgun or Light Machine Gun is probably a good idea before heading inside. Heavies tend to have a lot else going on at the time anyway.
This one reminds me a bit of the Heavy Scout Rifle from PS1; missing the sheer power of the proper Bolt Driver, but with several ‘goes’ per clip. Sniping ‘lite’, but good for harassment.
Useful Add-ons: 6x Scope, Compensator
7/10: Useful extra flexibility for an Engineer, with a much simpler learning curve than cloaker rifles, but career snipers should be looking at proper Infiltrator guns. Not terribly useful up close, or if you just don’t like sniping.
(Non-Vanu should look for the NC ‘Warden’ or the TR ‘AMR-66’ for a similar gun.)
(Note: There seems to be a current bug which makes the Eidolon not show up in the ‘Depot’ Cash Shop lists. To find and unlock it, go via the Engineer’s Certifications listing instead – there should be an unlock button there.)
Don’t just take my word for any of this! PS2 lets you test these weapons yourself, before buying, which is a very welcome innovation indeed.
To do this, find the item in the Certs listing, press the ‘Unlock’ button and in the resulting popup preview window, instead of buying it, find the blue ‘Trial’ button near the bottom. This will let you use the item for an hour or so, after which that specific trial is locked for a month, after which you can try it again. I recommend this before any purchase, just to get a feel for how it works before parting with the readies.
I also got a load of vehicle guns too. More on those to come!
Incidentally, I can only try so much stuff out, so if folks with experience in other class or vehicle gear want to chip in their own reviews in comments below or their own blogs, I’m happy to repost and link as necessary!