It's never too early to talk about the future. Planetside 2 went live less than two weeks ago, but already Sony Online's CEO, John Smedley, has tweeted an intriguing bit of PS2 concept art that has sent veterans of the Auraxian Wars squealing for joy. The sneak peak at a Terran Republic Bastion-class Fleet Carrier has refocused attention on an August blog entry of Smedley's where he talks about future of Planetside, from naval warfare to player-owned bases.
Tweet Me A Star-Cruiser
The buzz started on Smedley's Twitter account when he chortled at the lack of vision of Planetside 2 fans who requested that Galaxy dropships be upgraded to carry tanks. I can imagine the curling of Smedley's lip as he sits at his outrageously opulent desk high atop Sony Castle, thumbing through a thick file of concept art until he finds an image that would blow this dude's mind. “Galaxies carrying tanks? Heh.” The image immediately started the internet speculation machine buzzing: was it a base? Was it a vehicle? A naval vessel or a spaceship? Did this mean we were going to get zero-g asteroid bases and space marine boarding actions? The possibilities and ideas that poured out of forums and chatrooms seemed endless.
Everything Old Is New Again
Given that there was apparently no further revelations forthcoming from Twitter, some enterprising individuals hit up Smedley's blog in the hopes that there was something to be gleaned there. While there were no specific references to aircraft carriers there, there was an old blog entry from August that mentioned plans for the future. Some of the possible future plans are certainly contentious, like the possibility of NPC faction armies and so forth, and other mentions sound like meaningless buzzwords (e-sport support? Really?) but other ideas, like player-owned bases, disruptible resource harvesting operations, and seamless transition between continents separated by ocean catch the imagination.
The seamless transitioning thing sounds particularly amazing. If it becomes possible to, say, drive Vanu hovercraft from one continent to another (a playstyle I have already dubbed “MagRaiding”) it could open the doors to truly staggering "D-Day" style invasions. That means enormous new strategic options for big, organized outfits - if capture mechanics were adjusted to allow for it. The Bastion picture refocused attention on that old blog entry, as though it was proof that Sony really was going to expand on Planetside and create that truly amazing sci-fi shooter that thirteen-year-old us had always dreamed about.
But what about that Bastion-class carrier, you ask? Smedley's blog came up empty and largely sidetracked the internet in discussions about the old blog post, but surely there was something, somewhere, that had more actual information. The search for the facts about the Bastion took me all over the internet, but I finally found what I was after in the seedy back alleys of Deviant Art. Deviant Art is renowned for its vast library of futa elfgirls, lactating Asari, and busty molerats, but I didn't have time for a personal visit. I was on the clock, and in search of the gallery of one ukitakumuki, Planetside player turned Sony artist.
Ukitakumuki was the originator of the Bastion-class Fleet Carrier, and since Smedley's tweet “broke the seal,” as it were, ukitakumuki felt free to put up some further information and additional artwork describing the carrier and its functionality. The Bastion, according to the provided notes, is actually several old space-faring warships the Terran Republic had brought through the wormhole with the initial colonization fleet, refit as flying atmospheric aircraft carriers after the Vanu built their Apocalypse-class Battle Cruiser (which sadly we have not yet seen.)
In Which I Engage In Speculation Tinged With Informed Speculation
As envisioned by the artist, the Bastion would be crewed by somewhere just north of 20 players, counting players engaged in navigation/control and gunnery positions. The ship would presumably act as a flying cloning center and an aircraft spawn, repair, and rearming station. Landing and launching would be almost certainly be automated, because frankly, I've seen how well pilots handle their ships at the warpgate, and I expect the Terran Republic would prefer their Mosquitoes and Liberators unignited. Players on the ship's crew may play a role in handling the flightdeck duties and it may be possible that unmanned turrets could be switched to automatic defense duty.
Naturally anything - or everything - that has been mentioned so far about the Bastion should be considered early speculation. There's no telling what decisions the design team will make when (or if) they consider implementation of these craft. Unlike, say, EVE Online Titans, I rather expect that there will be some sort of hard limit on the number of capital ships we'd see in one place at one time, since “giant flying capital ship” is the sort of concept people instinctively want to turn into a farce by spawning twenty of them crewed by a single person. From my own perspective, the Bastion seems to be centered around outfit play. Spawning the ship will probably be reliant on some yet-to-be-introduced resource pool, possibly restricted to outfits, and likely envisioned as the flagship and centerpiece of a massive attack force. Given Smedley's August blog, I could see the player-owned bases being required for mining the special capital ship resources, so I do not expect to see these monsters looming overhead anytime in the near future.