Planetside 2 leads a triple life, each one seemingly disjointed and exclusive. It’s an FPS, a vehicle combat simulator and a support-class playground. Wait what?
Rambo is a second (if not third) class citizen
Competitive FPS games are often defined by leaderboards as a measure of skills. Call of Duty players obsess on kill-death ratios, and the developers only recently caught on to the problem that they themselves helped create. It would appear that a whole generation of PC and console gamers has been spoiled by kill-streak rewards, and the inherent risk-averse crowd that plays entire matches while prone and staring at a doorframe. I’m sorry folks, but playing a game for the sole purpose of improving statistics literally no one cares about is a sad use of your time.
If stats are all you care about, PS2 is not the game for you. Likewise, run-and-gun solo gamers will oftentimes be finding themselves on the wrong end of a respawn timer. The best of all Planetside 2 players will still find themselves subject to ammo shortages and grievous hitpoint situations in short order after charging, unsupported, into enemy territory. You just can’t play this game on your own. Even the most stalwart and effective of lone snipers will find himself literally and figuratively coming down the mountain to pick up ammunition. Once there he may well realize that he enjoys a little risk with his gaming, and will likely be rewarded with an endless stream of ammo packs with which to play a more crucial role in moving the front lines as a short-range support marksman. That’s right: a sniper helping the team with more than just building up his score multiplier. Shocking.
I just got done blowing your mind by saying a sniper can be a team-player, so its about time I tell you about the two “actual” support classes and about making a difference without getting your legs shot out from under you. First, lets talk about the Medic class.
Medics double up as healers and front-line fire support. That is to say, if you want to be appreciated and earn points as a medic, you need to be where all the shooting is happening. All PS2 classes will passively regenerate hit-points, which means that in order to keep your score-ticks coming in, you have to be where the heaviest fighting is at all times. Lone snipers on top of mountains don’t need medics. Engineers repairing recently conquered structures don’t need medics. You will be moving with all the grunts, so you better learn how to behave like one. Hero medics are nice, but a live Medic doing his job is better than a medic that just got shot to bits trying to revive a single MAX in the middle of a killing field. As a Medic you will naturally fall into a leadership role, directing individuals to do such rational things as back off from doorframes or open spaces as you are trying to heal them, and you will be making better players of them by doing so.
The other support class of Planetside 2 is the Engineer. One note before exploring its support capabilities - if you enjoy vehicular combat at all, you'll want to beef up your Engineer's repair gun. The ability to self repair vastly extends your longevity in the field, solo or otherwise. And, of course, that repair ability is one of the Engineer's cornerstones! It's an invaluable tool, whether you're supporting a tank push, keeping a friendly MAX alive, or repairing the ever-valuable AMS Sunderer. The other key mechanic is the ability to drop ammo packs. Fellow soldiers don’t always need healing, but everyone needs ammunition almost constantly. If there’s an engineer nearby, there’s absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be pouring rounds down on the enemy constantly. Suppression is not a “mechanic” in this game, but a constant hail of fire will keep enemy soldiers from standing still and taking well-aimed shots, or charging across fields to objectives, only to be mowed down. Good engineers are constantly reading the battlefield, and have a better awareness of friendly positions than almost any other class - and that’s where they will likely be spending most of their time - feeding ammunition to all who need it and repairing damaged vehicles that happen by.
One last thought that applies to both classes: Your healing gun/med-pack and repair gun/ammo-pack are situational. A medic or engineer moving between positions with tools in their hands is 100% more likely to die to what I call “battlefield blinders”. This is the situation: You see a person that needs healing or ammo at a distance greater than the reach of your tools. If you move to that person with a tool drawn you are going to get yourself killed. When you are not healing or repairing, you should have your main gun selected and reloaded. Be ready to shoot and be shot at at all times, move accordingly, and weigh the benefits of getting yourself killed for one person/a little xp, versus staying alive and earning far more by supporting all the players that are sticking with you. Do your job, so they can do theirs.
Rejoice or retreat
Here’s a bit of wisdom that’s helped me out immensely: Look out for support classes. Both friendly and not. A well supplied and healed enemy team is formidable - add a good leader and people who don’t mind taking orders and you have yourself an almost insurmountable powerhouse. If you come up against this kind of setup on your own, or with a poorly organized squad, dying will become the kind of certainty you can compare with death and taxes. If you charge at an enemy position or are sniping from afar, you should be looking for the familiar effects of healing and repair tools, and kill the ones bearing them first. You can cripple offensives by denying the enemy their support classes.
In addition to that, you can always count on good support class gamers to be playing to their strengths. Engineers are likely to be doing their jobs in well-established fire bases, surrounded by friendlies - and for that matter you can always count on medics to be surrounded by death and incoming enemy fire. Follow medics for close-range, heavy fighting. Follow engineers for long-range, support fire positions and vehicle holdouts. This is the best method I’ve found for determining where I should be in a firefight.
Play it like you mean it
Alas, we come to an end, but not without me making an official plea for all new people who may be looking to play either of the support classes: Do your damn job! Don’t charge at the enemy unless its with a group of friendlies. Don’t try and be a “marksman” as friendlies cry for health and ammo. Don’t be the idiot engineer throwing ammo packs into the PS2 equivalent of no-mans-land. Play them right, and you will be rewarded, trust me. You will know you are doing your job because you will have an endless stream of XP and certifications coming your way, as well as outfit and squad invites for the best of you. Don’t just wear the uniform of a support class, be the help that your team needs to win!