This is a deviation from the usual infiltrator-specific discussion I post on the blog, but has been on my mind a lot lately. I hope you don’t mind.
While I love playing infiltrator, by most metrics, the class I play most often in Planetside 2 is the Farmer. As someone who has been a devoted fan and player since launch day, hitting Battle Rank 100 sometime in June 2013, I have evolved into what most players like me have become.
What is a “farmer” in Planetside 2? There are several ways to define this term, mine is just an opinion. It is using a combination of skill, ability to chose good fights (which are not in-fact “good” fights), and the use of high-efficiency/low-risk equipment to maximize your score/min and KDR. On the surface, this sounds like a terrible way to play the game, and contrary to everything Planetside stands for. I know. But stay with me here.
Most of us don’t start out as farmers. We may be “good players”, but we spent time in organized outfits, trying to win fights and warpgate the enemy or win alerts. For me, that was a big deal 9 months ago. Then, at some point, you log in and find yourself fighting at the same base you were at yesterday. Or that you randomly have the lock on an empty continent and someone else has indar locked but doesn’t care. At this point, many dedicated PS2 players left the game, waiting for new updates, metagame, or continents to bring them back. Those of us left behind needed a new way to enjoy logging in, to feel a sense of accomplishment in a game shockingly devoid of lasting achievement. Enter the Farm.
Who cares if you got pushed back to your warpgate when the entire time your allies got crushed you were rocking a 7.0 session KDR with a sniper rifle? Conversely, it sucks winning a fight that required you to hurl your body at a pile of scatmaxes and walk away with 1 kill and 10 deaths. When winning and losing stop mattering, dedicated and talented players naturally look towards their own performance as a measurement of success in-game, and this success breeds enjoyment and fun. I have a hard time logging out when my KDR is floating above 4-5 and I’m averaging 80-100 kills per hour. It’s FUN, and has remained fun even as I approach 45 million XP and 107,000 kills. It’s why guys like Future Crew, DA and EXOC are still playing. And when there is little else to keep players engaged in the actual outcomes of a fight, who can blame those BR100 farmers in their OP weapon killing squads of pubs at a time?
This becomes a real problem for me, as I am a member of a highly organized and objective-based outfit, the Black Widow Company. While I love the guys and the foundation that the outfit is built upon, it can be down-right frustrating to join a squad and be ordered into fights where there are low chances for a lot of kills or even worse, a fight where you are likely to get farmed. I cringe when we are being sent to a random base while 48+ vanu are throwing their faces at regent rock, waiting for me to tear through them.
And thus, the guilt. PS2 is not a solo players game. It isn’t designed to reward lone wolf play, and there are countless times when even the best player could use some help, such as a pocket engineer, a secondary gunner or a friendly medic. At the same time, we are in a holding pattern, waiting for the game to bring us a reason to be organized again. Alerts… they help. They give outfits a set of goals and reasons to achieve them. But the best thing alerts do is concentrate the enemy into a single hex so I can farm them more efficiently.
I want the old school continent lock, where your KDR didn’t matter, if the Vanu had indar locked it MATTERED. And the only goal when logging in was to try and take that away. This intercontinental lattice is promising, but looks so far away. We need more, and I hope SOE comes up with a way to make that happen. Because right now I’m feeling the dichotomy – I’m playing a great game and having a blast while bouncing around to the largest fights to maximize my kills, and minimize my deaths. It stands in sharp contrast to the (usual) goals of the outfit, who is trying to push a lane and gain territory, with the ultimate goal of warpgating the enemy. Sometimes we get a PL who says fuck it, and sends us to the best farm and lets us camp there until it dries up. But that isn’t really healthy either is it?
Farmer’s guilt. Man, I didn’t see that one coming.