Last week Planetside 2 made a bold announcement. On November 5th, they invited everyone to connect to the Public Test Server and break their own record for “Most Players in a Single FPS Battle.” The current record, 1158, was already held by them and achieved in 2015. For anyone who missed that milestone, this was an exciting opportunity to play a part in Planetside 2 history.
Now, despite playing Planetside 2 since 2013, I’d skipped the previous world record attempt and knew I didn’t want to miss this one. So I preloaded the test client and generated a PTS character in advance. My big concern involved the “Record Breaker” title they grant to participating players; will it be accountwide, or locked onto this useless test character? Either way, any fears weren’t enough to dissuade me from waking up 2 hours early, so I could leap into the test server the second it went live.
The event begins (or does it?)
…and then they didn’t go live. In fact, the test server build was so broken (none of the UI could be interacted with) that the devs made an emergency announcement they’d be porting the event to Emerald, one of the live servers. Now I was even more concerned for the fate of my commemorative title, since my main was on Connery. But nonetheless, I created a level 1 toon on Emerald and queued myself into the world to wait.
Emerald was a total mess by the time the 2pm deadline rolled around. Everyone was attempting to warp onto Amerish, the only active continent, and I found myself 96th in line. As a non-member, my odds were infinitesimal that I’d ever reach the end and enter the fight. But then the server suddenly crashed, sending everybody back to desktop.
But while this server crash wasn’t the greatest look for the stress test, it proved to be my personal saving grace. Tons of players gave up at that point, so once the server rebooted, I was one of the first to load in. Of the early birds, most of them queued into Oshur, the only currently-active continent. Remembering the event was supposed to be on Amerish, I haunted the warpgate until Amerish came online a minute later, and joined the fight before a queue could even start in front of me.
Guns, Ships, and Spandex
The server looked empty at first, but it didn’t take long for hundreds upon hundreds of planetmen to populate the home bases. The sky filled with Galaxies, platoons of Lightnings and Sundies departed to begin the assault of a lifetime. I hitched a ride to The Ascent, infamous for its chokeholds, and found myself participating in one of the most congested slugfests I’ve ever encountered in any game. Everyone was lagging, players were dying to enemies they couldn’t even see, and grenades/deployables would take several seconds to appear after their throw animation finished.
With all the server lag, I found little reason to ever fire my hitscan guns, so I poured all my credits into frag grenades. And I was doing far better than I should have, racking up dozens of cheap kills and reaching Level 6 within a half hour of play. I’m honestly rather jealous of how frag-happy my burner account was, considering I barely ever get any kills when playing properly on my main, but I can’t deny it was a total blast.
In all honesty, the fights weren’t too different from the sort of giant battles you can find in normal Planetside play. But usually a server housed only one of these major skirmishes at a time. Right now, I could warp to anywhere on the continent and find Gettysburg-level blowouts across the entire front lines. It was pretty crazy to see.
After about thirty minutes, an admin started posting server-wide messages about population cap increases and milestones for playercount. The big moment came at around 3pm PST, where Emerald officially broke the old record by reaching 1194 players! Everyone high-fived (except the many players who couldn’t get in), and we all wondered, was that the end of the festivities?
Connery Strikes Back
Not quite! The devs saw how many people hadn’t managed to reach Emerald, and decided to try and immediately break their own record again, this time on Connery. Since my main was on Connery, I quickly dropped out of Emerald and miraculously managed to beat the queues a second time. For some reason Connery handled the stress test far better than Emerald, and I didn’t get the same server lag/animation delays as before. (Of course, that means my KDR plummeted back down to normal levels.)
The admin was still keeping us appraised of population cap boosts and our slowly-rising numbers. Connery’s growth wasn’t quite as linear as Emerald’s and we even lost players a few times. But in the end, the best server came through and we broke the world record a second time, maxing out at 1241 players in total!
After that, the devs ended the event for reals. The map loaded up an Alert so the players could ride these congested numbers through a full round, and the server continued to handle itself perfectly well. I’m not sure what they did to the framework between the Emerald and Connery tests, but it really worked, and was a great experience in the end.
All in all, the record attempt was certainly without its flaws. They definitely shouldn’t have pushed a brand-new update to PTS with only hours to bugtest before the event. There had been patch notes with a ton of game changes, but I don’t think we saw those because it was bumped to the live server. But the core draw of the event (cramming as many people into a single map) went off without a hitch, and I’m really glad I got to experience it. I also appreciate how they doubled-up the event on Connery, letting a ton of players participate who couldn’t queue into Emerald. The official Planetside twitter has stated that participants will get their celebratory title at a later date, and I know I’ll be wearing it proudly.
If Planetside ever does another record-breaking attempt, I’ve definitely got some advice for anyone hoping to participate. Login to the game ahead of time, join the server the millisecond it opens, sprint to the nearest warp terminal once you’re loaded in, and overall just move fast. Especially if you’re a free player like me, the population counts are absolutely stacked against you, and you need to be ready ahead of time to beat the crowd. But I still definitely think you should attend. In the end, despite any difficulties, I’m really glad I did.