Now that I've had a few days to play with Game Update 09, I'm finally able to sit down and write this article (during Double XP no less!). In case you missed it, here are the patch notes. I'm going to dive right in, so if you're confused, refer back to the notes.
The Connectivity of Lattice
"Lattice" was a term first used in the Planetside 1 beta to describe how bases were connected. Essentially, it defines attack/defence "lanes" and points of vulnerability within outposts, towers, and bases. It was used in Planetside 1 to give battles a more concentrated flow, and has been deployed on PS2's Indar to the same purpose. A lot of thought and effort was put into the lattice we now have access to, with plenty of testing and iteration of the system on the test server before release. Vulnerabilities are marked by yellow banded bars on the map. Solid blue, purple or red colors mark resource flow - meaning that, if you're in any of those hexes, you'll gain resources from all connected bases.
There is one mechanic that is particularly important: if you're attacking a base along a yellow vulnerability bar, and the base your faction owns is hacked, you must recall and secure your base before you can go on the offensive. This ensures that bases aren't flip-flopped, and allows aggressive outfits to dictate fights on their terms. What it also does is drive the fight towards an active defense, helping to eliminate ghost capping by essentially drawing large, glowing yellow arrows to bases that needs defending.
I've heard many complaints about the lattice on Indar forcing large fights and how there will never be small fights again. I believe that's mostly because of the timing of Double XP and Memorial Day weekend, not necessarily because the lattice contains errors. It isn't a perfect system, but it does much to illuminate a consistent battle plan to the average player. There are ways to navigate around the 48+ fights by attacking undefended nodes, but the lattice is now causing fighting over parts of the map that were formerly used for transportation.
That, in itself, is a huge change in the direction of fighting on Indar; we are now fighting over turf, and not just capture points. It opens up enemy forces to valid flank tactics, divebombing with coordinated Liberator and ESF tactics, and the brute force of a MBT push. As I stated in my earlier articles, the Lattice opens up Indar in a way previously unavailable to the average player. We are now fighting for every inch, and some bases have already proven themselves as solid defensive choices.
The Lattice has also created a situation where you need around double the numbers of the defenders to successfully pull off an attack. I will only pull my teammates from a defense when my guys are outnumbered nearly 3-to-1, because anything more even than that plays in the defender's favor thanks to the quickness of respawns and the vulnerability of Sunderers. Increasing respawn timers according to recent death rate and giving the Sunderer increased defensive capabilities when deployed would do much to give battles a more tug-of-war feeling. Right now, it feels more like platoons tell their troops, "All we need is one kamikaze Light Assault to take out the Sunderer that is spawning 20+ people." Sunderers are too vulnerable when in a deployed state, and I say this from the perspective of an outfit leader that leads a relatively small (2 squads each night) group.
In every other situation where one person could make too much of an impact, there have been balance changes; see early-release Liberators, pre-nerf Hacksaw MAXes, pre-nerf pump action shotguns, and HE shells on MBTs and the lightning. The reward for good play is mastery over your enemy by a variety of methods, not one predominantly about one-man kamikaze. If anything, it should require more coordination on the part of defenders to take enemy Sunderers out of the fight, and this would promote more fights along smaller hex populations.
The lattice will take some getting used to, especially once Double XP weekend settles down. There are many methods to attack a hex, but knowing where the defenders are and how many are there does much to aid a wily commander in deciding how the invading force will go about their business. This is far better than pre-lattice, and you can see the difference during Esamir and Amerish alerts. The lattice isn't just a new toy, but a defining moment for Planetside 2 that brings those "Wow!" moments more consistently to your monitor.