This is my third attempt to write this post. The first time I hit “publish” and somehow everything got lost and never made it to the blog. (Everything now gets typed in Word!). The second draft was ready for the printing press when ImplantGate hit, exploded and then ended in the blink of an eye. It has been an emotional and stressful week for the PS2 community – players and devs alike. For those without twitter/reddit/forumside/blogs/internet, here’s what you missed.
Originally on the PS2 forums, and distributed around various outlets, was higby’s announcement detailing the new implants. The original post has since been modified, so here’s a quote of the original language
“Hey all –
Implants are a consumable item that can be used to enhance your soldier with gameplay perks for a limited period of time. Each implant is equipped per-loadout and has a limited duration which is consumed only while that loadout is active. The implants are designed to give unique benefits that allow players to further refine their role & personal play-style without imparting an over-the-top player-power benefit.
Here are the currently planned implants we’re launching with GU13:
Awareness: auto-spots enemies who damage you or that you damage
Battle Hardened: reduces camera shake from explosions and flinch
Clear Vision: Protects against concussion and flash grenade
EMP Shielding: Protects against EMP Grenade effects
Enhanced Targeting: increases the range that you can see enemy health bars and names
EOD HUD: Allows you to detect enemy explosives in a short radius around you
Regeneration: Slowly regenerates health over time when not in combat
Safe Landing: Reduces fall damage
Sensor Shield: Makes you undetected on enemy radar/motion sensors
Thermal Reduction: Prevents the wearer from being highlighted by thermal vision
We will be starting with these implant types available with more being added over time.
Matthew Higby – @mhigby
Creative Director @planetside2
The outcry was tremendous. People were canceling or threatening to cancel their subs, delete characters, and walk away from the game. The mouth frothing rage was unbelievable. I’ve never actually seen the community so united around a single cause – usually there are people on both sides of a debate but with implants, I had a hard time finding those who actually liked the way this was presented.
18 pages of mostly negative feedback.
Needless to say, within 24 hours, there was a response. One that I was actually surprised to see, since everything I’ve seen them announce that I didn’t want to have happen has gone live.
After reading through your comments we have decided to go back to the drawing board on implants
— John Smedley (@j_smedley) July 18, 2013
There was rejoicing in the streets, and around the warpgates. Everyone fired their fireworks in the sky and then resumed the endless bloodbath of Auraxis.
So – with that summary out of the way, I do have a few things to say about ImplantGate. Most of the dissent I saw was related to the idea that these powerful implants were P2W – they required constant repurchasing, and were straight upgrades from default. I completely agree with this assesment, and agree that PS2 needs to stick to the idea of sidegrades and the cosmetic/luxury economy, not making these powerful items something that give players with money a clear advantage.
But there was a more dangerous change that would have occurred had the implants landed on the live server. I think my fellow infiltrator Valena, as he is known on the PS2 forums, said it best here:
I will highlight his analysis of the implants (bolding is my emphasis), but encourage you to read his entire OP, because it is very much how I feel about the treatment infiltrators have received from SOE.
Awareness. By far the worst of all the implants for use against Infiltrators. This will be the final nail in the sniping coffin. Stack this with Nanoweave and not only will no sniper be able to kill you, but if they land a perfect headshot you will instantly and automatically spot them for you and the rest of your friends to see.
- EMP Shielding. EMP grenades are only carried by one class, the Infiltrator. This implant instantly negates any buffs these grenades may get in the future, damning them to an eternity of uselessness.
- HUD Explosive Detection. One of the new things that Infiltrators are supposed to get in the update is the ability to see enemy explosives on their HUD. Like the Recon Tool, this is a ‘unique’ ability that is being placed into the hands of every other class in the game. It also further reduces the effectiveness of AP mines, which Infiltrators often rely upon.
Sensor Shield. This implant would have been well balanced if it only worked against scout radar systems; had that been the case it would have given recon darts a much needed advantage over scout radar, but as is it provides absolute immunity to Recon Darts as well. Like EMP Shielding, this is a direct and deliberate nerf to the Infiltrator class.
I couldn’t have said it better – Awareness would kill my playstyle as a covert close range flanking sniper. Sensor shield gives the stealth and infiltrating attribute to EVERY class, while simultaneously removing our ability to detect enemy forces. The EOD HUD implant, while I think is relatively worthless, was supposed to be OUR ABILITY in the INFILTRATOR UPDATE. Or anyone’s ability, for an implant. The EMP grenade implant, I doubt anyone would have used… but really? Negate our unique grenade?
I won’t expand too greatly on this since it has already gone back to the drawing board. All I have to say is that what most people didn’t really talk about (except for us infiltrators) is just how devastating these implants would have been to the infiltrator community. Even more important is that if this had made it to the live game and people bought them – there would be no turning back. If awareness and sensor shielding ruined infiltrator gameplay, it’d be too late. Paying customers would have been even more upset if SOE had tried taking any of this back. Lets all breathe a sigh of relief as SOE figures out how to do this without ruining the game. We need to remind them that it’s not just about making sure implants don’t turn the game into P2W, but that they also keep in mind that they shouldn’t break the gameplay of an entire class.
I really like CuteBeaver’s ideas and response to ImplantGate, which I will link here. He came up with some non-game breaking implants for each class that seem nice. https://forums.station.sony.com/ps2/index.php?threads/thank-sony-for-not-releasing-implants-infil-one-ideas.141546/
One thing I feel must be said – the sensor shield implant (radar immunity) should not be an implant – it should be an infiltrator suit slot! The infiltrator class needs more options for stealth and infiltrator gameplay, and this would have been perfect instead of the explosive detecting suit (that is completely useless – just wear flak armor!). Having it as a suit slot forces you to give up nanoweave, flak or other nice options, making it a true sidegrade. I would really like to see SOE consider that.
So, what have I learned from ImplantGate? SOE devs actually listen – and they responded to the community within 24hrs. That’s unheard of in this industry. They also turn a blind eye to the Infiltrator class, and don’t really seem to grasp how fragile of a balance we live in – one bad tweak to our cloak and we get mowed down behind enemy lines by the hundreds. One buff to nanoweave threatens to make our signature weapons near-obsolete. These implants would have reduced infiltrators to snipers on a hill, 200m away from danger. Other styles of play would have been adversely impacted by the various implants proposed – nearly breaking the class. I learned that we need to watch SOE very carefully, and keep the devs in check regarding infiltrators. They don’t seem to understand us very well.
Funny – my original post was to celebrate the improvements to our cloak on low settings coming soon, and the fact that our recon dart device no longer makes you pop up on the minimap. What a difference a few days can make.