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PlanetSide is an MMOFPS (Massively Multiplayer Online First-Person Shooter) developed by Sony Online Entertainment and released in 2003. It is likely the second true MMOFPS ever to be released, after World War II Online (2001), and is remarkably still[when?] online to this day, despite its vanishingly small market share relative to the overall MMO space.

The plot, such as it is, involves future space-faring humans (under the banner of the totalitarian "Terran Republic") stumbling through a wormhole onto a suspiciously Earth-like planet dubbed Auraxis, and becoming trapped there when the wormhole unexpectedly closes. Cut off from the rest of humanity, the Auraxians splintered into three factions, kicking off an all-out war for control over the bases established across the planet. Advanced nanotechnology conveniently left behind by the local Precursors (referred to as the Vanu) can both reconstruct soldiers after death and fabricate an endless supply of weapons, armor, and vehicles, ensuring a state of Forever War.

The three factions are:

  • The Terran Republic (TR), or what's left of them on Auraxis, remain loyal to the empire: Their ultimate goal is to re-establish the wormhole and bring the planet back under Terran control. Their weapons and vehicles follow the More Dakka school of design, spewing bullets/shells at high rates of fire but having a relatively low damage per shot.
  • The New Conglomerate (NC) are a coalition of rebels who prefer democracy, freedom, and human rights over the Republic's totalitarian regime or the Sovereignty's secretive technocracy. Their weapons are slow-firing but pack a high damage per shot, and their vehicles are big and ponderous but heavily-armored.
  • The Vanu Sovereignty (VS) are a cult of scientists and other intellectuals who embrace Vanu technology to a much greater extent than the other factions, hoping to eventually Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence as they believe the Vanu themselves did. Energy Weapons are their specialty, often with the unique ability to fire in standard or armor-piercing modes using the same ammo. Their vehicles are relatively fragile, but have hover drives that allow them to strafe and scoot across bodies of water to attack from unexpected angles.

At its core PlanetSide is a skill-oriented FPS with a "territory capture" style of gameplay, featuring a large variety of weapons, vehicles, and special abilities. However, it involves much more strategy and teamwork than a typical shooter, and is noticeably slower-paced. One reason for this is the scale: There are ten contested continents, each of which is a single zone (no instancing!) about 200 square miles in size and capable of hosting up to 133 players per faction, making for a maximum of 500. To stay organized, players can form impromptu "squads" of up to 10 or "platoons" of up to 30, and the more permanent "outfits" (equivalent to guilds/clans) can be indefinitely large and have their own ranks and command hierarchy.

Shortly after PlanetSide's release and surprisingly good reception, SOE angled for a cash-in with the game's first and only expansion pack, Core Combat. It introduced several subterranean battle zones, filled with strange crystalline structures and hopelessly confusing networks of ziplines. Capturing cavern facilities would reward your faction with "modules" that could be installed into bases on the surface, providing access to new Ancient Tech weapons and vehicles as well as some other useful benefits. While the new toys were nice, the caverns themselves were universally derided as horribly-designed combat spaces, with the end result that they were (and still are) eerily deserted most of the time.

In 2004, Auraxis went through an ill-defined process known as The Bending, causing it to be inexplicably split into a collection of small planetoids, each containing a single continent from the original Auraxis (save one, which was destroyed and replaced with four new "Battle Islands"). Later that same year, the Aftershock update was released, adding faction-specific Humongous Mecha only obtainable by Core Combat owners, and then only after an arduous cavern-oriented "imprinting" process. Notably, said mechs were rather poorly-balanced at first, accelerating the decline in subscribers that began with Core Combat's release.

The purchasable product was subsequently renamed PlanetSide: Aftershock and now included Core Combat, making it no longer possible to buy the vanilla, expansion-less PlanetSide. In 2006, as part of a limited free-play "Reserves" promotion to renew interest in the game, any pre-Aftershock holdouts who still didn't have Core Combat were given it for free. This effectively removed Core Combat's status as an "expansion", making it just another part of the game.

In 2005, as player numbers continued to decline, SOE added in-game advertising to PlanetSide, without reducing or removing the existing $15-per-month subscription fee. Despite ostensibly doing this because the game could no longer survive on subscription income alone, the move caused many a head-scratch: As a sci-fi game set thousands of years in the future on a just-discovered planet completely cut off from society, PlanetSide was probably the worst possible candidate for in-game advertising to begin with. However, the ads (which have since been removed) apparently did provide enough revenue to allow the dev team to continue fixing balance issues and adding the occasional new weapon or vehicle to the game.

In 2011, PlanetSide 2 was announced. It's more of a modern remake of PlanetSide than a sequel, and effectively Retcons away everything from Core Combat onward: Auraxis remains in one piece, with no confusing caverns or Humongous Mecha whatsoever. Additionally, it's going to be free-to-play And the Fandom Rejoiced. Previous PlanetSide players, Sony Fan fair attendees, and people that buy the February issue of PC Gamer will get early beta access, when the beta becomes available.

Tropes used in PlanetSide include:

  • Action Bomb — Aircraft abandoned mid-flight will fall to the ground and explode, killing anyone nearby. While many people don't bother thinking about this when using aircraft as a transport, some do aim for groups of enemy soldiers when ejecting.
  • Alien Geometries — The cavern facilities and the Ancient Tech weapons/vehicles.
    • Surface warpgates, though allegedly also created by the Vanu, don't share this aesthetic.
  • Alien Sky — All of the continents have different suns and most of them have this odd, jet-stream nebula looking thing floating in the sky. Some continents (Amerish?) have massive gas giants or stars next to them, and the flavor text describes their eventual fall into the sun, or the atmosphere being burned away.
  • Apocalypse How — The Bending even resulted in tens of thousands of asteroids raining down on every continent as the planet broke up, crushing any poor sod dumb enough to go outside.
  • Awesome but Impractical — The Scorpion Special Assault missile / grenade / flak launcher thing, which fires a missile which explodes in midair and showers the area below it in deadly shrapnel. The weapon requires players to press right mouse to lock a range for missile detonation, but the missile will explode at that range you set, not at the point you set - meaning if you lock the range at a hill below you, then aim towards the horizon (so the shrapnel has enough dispersion), the missile will gracefully sail towards the enemy, and then blow up in midair before it reaches the enemy because the hypotenuse of your range-lock aim is longer than the horizontal aim. You need trigonometry to use this weapon at long range.
  • Awesome Personnel Carrier — The Sunderer (a.k.a. "Bangbus") vehicles, massive trucks bristling with guns, equipped with a rechargeable EMP blast, and capable of transporting heavy armor. They're also the only vehicles with a horn, making them sound a lot like an eighteen-wheeler as they crash straight through your base's shielding.
    • The lightweight Deliverer family of APCs are close. While they lack the ridiculous armor, EMP blast, and MAX slots of the Sunderer vehicles, they have higher mobility and are amphibious (an ability otherwise found only on the VS-exclusive hover vehicles and hard-to-obtain Ancient Tech vehicles).
  • Awesome Yet Practical — The Terran Mini Chaingun. It is the most accurate of all of the Heavy Assault weapons, allowing it to be used outdoors unlike the other weapons - players can simply sidestep to avoid Lasher bolts, and they'll laugh at a player trying to attack from a range greater than 3 feet with the Jackhammer. The MCG also has a massive magazine, allowing you to simply hold down the trigger indoors and wave the gun around wildly to hit things.
  • Beam Spam — The Vanu Sovereignty infantry are basically walking laser raves, though any large battle will look like this from a distance due to Every Bullet Is a Tracer.
  • BFG — Anything mounted on a BFR would probably qualify, but if you're talking about man-portable weaponry, the Biggest and Frackingest of them all is the New Conglomerate's heavy assault weapon, the Jackhammer. It's an enormous triple-barreled shotgun with a secondary mode that fires all three barrels at once; catch one of those in close quarters, and they'll be scraping you off the wall with a spatula.
    • The Terran Republic's Mini Chain Gun is... well, you guess. And the Vanu Sovereignty's Lasher closely resembles Quake III's BFG.
    • The 150mm cannon on the New Conglomerate's Vanguard tank can one-shot many lightly-armored vehicles. Hitting the ground anywhere near infantry will often instagib them, or at least leave them badly hurting.
    • The Ancient Tech Flail artillery platform can fling devastating energy projectiles at targets half a kilometer away, which will definitely instagib any infantry in their considerable blast radius.
    • The Bolt Driver. It's basically a plain old sniper rifle that shoots bullets that are at least an inch diameter, and 8 inches long.
  • BFS — The Black Ops' katana.
  • Big Badass Rig — The Sunderer
  • Boring but Practical — The Suppressor SMG. While it lacks the high-capacity magazines, stopping power, and flair of the empire-specific assault rifles, it's absurdly accurate, very compact, very effective at killing MAXes, can be used by anyone regardless of certifications, and it uses the most common ammo in the game.
  • Bubblegloop Swamp — Hossin is full of waterlogged swamps with massive trees. The Extinction battle island is basically the same, but smaller and a bitch to navigate.
  • Car Fu — In the early days of the game, heavy vehicles were frighteningly effective at mowing down entire squads of infantry; this was especially popular in the Vanu Sovereignty's strafe-capable hover-tank, the Magrider, which earned it the nickname "Magmower".
  • Combat Medic — One of the most common certifications. The basic Medic certification allows you to heal yourself and teammates, while the Advanced Medic certification allows you to revive dead soldiers on the spot and speeds up your healing rate.
  • Color-Coded Armies — Yellow/blue for the NC, red/black for the TR, purple/green for the VS, and black/green for the Black Ops. All armor and vehicles are color-coded, and the first color of each of these pairs is also used for that faction's tracers.
    • Inexplicably, jacking a vehicle from an opposing faction will instantly flip its paint job to reflect the new owner. Though since the game features Friendly Fire, the consequences of not doing so could be disastrous.
  • Cool Plane — The most obvious would be the Galaxy Gunship. With the armor and armaments of several tanks, it's a flying horror for anyone who's standing on the ground.
  • Crew of One — Some vehicles are like this, but most require both a driver and one or more gunners to operate effectively. Changing positions can only be done while a vehicle is stopped/landed and requires you to exit the vehicle and enter it through another door or hatch, so you can't pull this trope with a vehicle that wasn't designed for it.
  • Crouch and Prone — Crouching gives you all of the listed benefits. Some weapons (such as sniper rifles and the VS anti-vehicle laser) require the player to crouch because of their otherwise poor accuracy.
  • Darker and Edgier — The art style of PlanetSide 2 is much more realistic for the Terran and Conglomerate tech. The Vanu Sovereignty, however, are still as bright and flashy as ever.
  • Death From Above — Let's count:
  • Do Anything SoldierAverted. A soldier can only use things he's certified in. Certifications are purchased with points earned by leveling up on the battlefield (though unlike many MMOGs, points can be redistributed with relative ease, with only a six-hour timer between decertifications). Maximum-leveled soldiers are granted all certifications, but still can't fulfill any role in one moment because of the inventory restrictions on the various armor types.
  • Do Not Run with a Gun — Holding a weapon significally reduces the player's mobility, so you have to holster it when traveling long distances. Also, forfeiting mobility by taking a kneeled stance will greatly increase weapon accuracy, so don't even think about using some weapons while moving or standing!
  • Drop Pod — One of several ways for players to enter the battlefield.
  • Eldritch Location — The Caverns are full of giant crystals composed of growing nanites.
  • EMP — Generated by jammer grenades and certain vehicles. The game being set in a futuristic world, these are Awesome Yet Practical:
    • Detonate minefields and incapacitate sentry guns.
    • Disable implants.
    • Disable vehicles' weapons and slow them down. Tank drivers fear the lone soldier in agile armor chucking jammer grenades.
    • Totally ruin a BFR pilot's day.
  • Elite Army — The Black Ops. There are only a few of them, the faction is invite only, their soldiers have 1000 hp (10x more than regular players) and can use any weapon or vehicle in the game.
  • The End of the World as We Know It — The days leading up to The Bending were increasingly filled with random earthquakes and giant meteors raining from the skies, doing Massive Damage to any player or vehicle unfortunate enough to be smashed beneath one. In the final moments, the meteors grew so frequent that one could hardly take two steps outside without being pancaked.
  • Energy Weapons — The Vanu Sovereignty's arsenal. Expect lots of "PEW PEW PEW" when they're around. Ancient Tech weapons take it a little too far.
  • The Engineer — Engineering is a common certification, especially among higher-leveled players with cert points to spare. Engineers can repair soldiers' armor and vehicles with the basic certification. Further certifications (Combat Engineer) allow the engineer to place high explosive mines, automated turrets, sensors, and manually detonated explosives. Further certifications past Combat Engineering allow the engineers to place tank traps, large manually operated turrets, stealth field generators, upgrade base Phalanx turrets with anti-tank 100mm high explosive cannons or anti-air flak cannons, and upgrade stealth field generators to restore ammo.
  • Every Bullet Is a Tracer — Almost all weapons have tracers color-coded per faction. Vanu Sovereignty tracers are blue (purple for their lasers), New Conglomerate tracers are yellow, and Terran Republic tracers are red. Some weapons like the anti-tank weaponry just have smoke trails, and the 10mm revolvers have an extremely fast-moving bullet that's almost impossible to see.
  • Everything Fades — Items and ownerless vehicles that are left hanging around for a while are "deconstructed" by the Auraxian nanomachines, collapsing into a glowing puddle that quickly fades away. This also happens to the "loot backpacks" dropped by dead soldiers, so you have to be quick if you want to steal some extra ammo.
  • The Federation — The New Conglomerate. The Terran Republic also pretends to be this.
  • Fighting For a Homeland — The New Conglomerate.
  • Forever War — The whole premise of the game. Practical immortality and unlimited weaponry will do that.
  • Fragile Speedster — The Vanu Sovereignty hover vehicles, which sacrifice armor for amphibious and strafing capabilities. The Agile armor for infantry also follows this: It allows faster running than the Reinforced armor, but has less inventory space and fewer armor points.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams — The Vanu Sovereignty's Lancer, a shoulder-mounted laser cannon, is probably the most feared anti-tank weapon in the game, due to its pinpoint accuracy and zero travel time (as compared to projectile weapons). Can only be topped by their BFR-mounted Continuous Laser that slices through infantry with ease.
  • Fun with Acronyms — Beside the BFR and the MAX, there's the worker ANT, the all-in-one engineer tool ACE, BANK, TRAP and probably a few more.
  • Future Copter — All air vehicles are VTOL for the sake of user-friendliness, from the one-man Wasp interceptor to the humongous Galaxy and Lodestar dropships, and even more terrifying Galaxy Gunship.
  • Gas Mask Mooks — Terran Republic REXO armor uses a gas mask helmet, and most of the TR infantry in Planetside 2 wear a gas mask of some form.
  • Gatling Good — The Terran Republic's Mini-Chaingun lives off this; it's a handheld bullet spammer.
  • Grenade Launcher — The Thumper grenade launcher, which uses a rotating cylinder drum, and can be loaded with a variety of grenade types (fragmentation, plasma, jammer).
  • Grey and Gray Morality — None of the sides are particularly good or evil. The Terran Republic maintained peace for a thousand years and colonized the stars at the cost of personal freedom, the New Conglomerate are idealistic but are essentially unorganized, and the Vanu Sovereignty want to further mankind's technological understanding, possibly at the cost of your humanity.
    • Planetside 2 — The Terran Republic saved humanity from a generation of total warfare and created an effective utopia on Earth, but on the fleet to Auraxis, the Terran generals become increasingly more oppressive. The New Conglomerate was founded by billionaires and mercenaries to pressure the TR to lax regulations, but was joined by libertarians. The Vanu Sovereignty in PlanetSide 2 really step up the Machine Cult act; they worship the Ancients / Vanu, and they want freedom to worship and improve themselves through the Ancient technology.
  • Green Hill Zone — Forseral, Amerish, Ascension, Cyssor, and parts of Hossin.
  • Highly-Conspicuous Uniform — All the Empires are guilty of this. The Terran Republic has bright red and black uniforms, the Vanu Sovereignty has shiny purple and green armor, and the New Conglomerate has neon yellow and blue. PlanetSide 2 tones down the colors on the uniforms, but the red stripes and goggles of the TR, arctic camouflage of the NC, and cyan Tron Lines of the VS still stand out.
  • Hollywood Darkness: "Night" time in Planetside 1 was basically day time but with slightly darker lighting, and deep purple fog. Averted for Planetside 2, which features VERY dark nights.
  • Hollywood Hacking — Hacking is performed with a special device, which you point at the console and hold down the button until everything's done. A more advanced version of the device allows players to be The Cracker and inject viruses into enemy systems.
  • Humongous Mecha — BFRs, introduced in the Aftershock update. Ostensibly an acronym for "BattleFrame Robotics", but everyone knows it really stands for "Big F--ing Robots".
  • Invisibility Cloak — The Infiltrator suit, which renders the wearer invisible with the push of a button (perfectly, as long as you hold still). It never runs out of juice, but provides zero armor points and almost no inventory space.
  • In Working Order — Ancient Tech factories. Justified, however, by being made with self-repairing Nanotechnology and hidden inside hazardous crystal caverns.
  • It's Raining Men — The HART Shuttle allows you to land nearly anywhere on a continent via orbital drop pod, while the Galaxy heavy air transport allows up to a dozen troopers to eject simultaneously onto an objective.
  • Jet Pack — The Vanu Sovereignty MAX suits have a built in jet pack in Planetside 1. In PlayStation 2, every empire has jump-capable infantry, though each empire will have a slightly different take on how the jet pack works (such as exchanging thrust for a longer duration)
  • Joke Weapon — The Beamer was infamous for doing next to no damage; players would describe it as purple flashlight.
  • Kill Sat — The orbital strike, available to players with the highest Command Ranks, can net a lot of kills if used in the right moment.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better — New Conglomerate and Terran Republic weapons follow this. The Conglomerate uses a lot of railguns and shotguns, whereas the Terrans just rely on regular guns shooting a ton of bullets everywhere.
  • Last Stand — A one-time glitch caused one of the most epic all-player last stands in MMO history.
    • In general, the events following console hack and spawn tube destruction; first for the defenders, then for the attackers.
  • Lost Technology — The Ancient Tech arsenal.
  • Machine Worship — The Vanu Sovereignty.
  • Magnetic Weapons — The NC troops' hybrid Gauss Rifle and, probably, the Heavy Rail Beam on the VS Magrider hover-tank.
  • The Maze — The Caverns. Navigation is almost impossible except by ziplines, which zig and zag across the caverns. Did I mention that the Caverns tend to be vertical? With the chance that a random player could pop out of a building and blast you to bits?
  • Mighty Glacier — The New Conglomerate's vehicle designs.
  • Mildly Military — Being a MMOFPS, players will outright ignore the "orders" of players with high Command Ranks. It doesn't help when the commanders start yelling at each other over global command chat.
  • More Dakka — The Terran Republic's weapon designs.
  • Nanomachines — "Nanites" fuel the war effort: They build the weapons, tanks, buildings, and the soldiers themselves. When objects are damaged beyond repair, they're deconstructed by the nanites.
  • One-Man Army — The Black Ops soldiers, who have ten times the health of a regular soldier and can use any weapon.
  • Planet Terra — The Terran Republic.
  • Power Floats — The VS faction-specific tank and light transport are hover vehicles, getting an edge in agility and terrain passability at the cost of armor.
  • Power Glows — In PlanetSide 2, everything that belongs to the VS.
  • Powered Armor — The MAX (Mechanized Assault eXoskeleton) suits. Slow and clunky, but heavily armored and really good at their designated role (each faction has Anti-Infantry, Anti-Vehicle, and Anti-Air variants).
  • Precursors — The Vanu. Nothing whatsoever is known about them, aside from the fact that they're definitely not around anymore, and their technology is orders of magnitude more advanced than anything humanity has ever seen.
  • Reds with Rockets — The Terran Republic, from the obsession with the color red to the propaganda style; some weapons also resemble Real Life Soviet equipment.
  • Respawn Point — The AMS is a mobile respawn point with a powerful cloaking device.
  • Resurrective Immortality — The ancient Vanu respawning system. When a person walks through a Warpgate, they are "matrixed" into the machinery inside Auraxis. When the person is killed, they will be rebuilt - in the backstory, it caused quite a shock when a Terran commander executed a rogue pilot for flying into a warpgate - the next day, he found the pilot sitting under a tree on a different continent.
  • Revolvers Are Just Better — The faction-specific 10mm revolvers are powerful and ammo-effective, making them the weapon of choice for infiltrators.
  • Risk-Style MapPlanetSide 2 will have a mix of this with FPS mechanics.
  • Shifting Sand Land — Desolation, Ishundar, and Solsar. Ishundar is more of the "rocky and full of dead trees" variety, complete with gulleys scattered around the continent which are vehicle death traps.
  • Shotguns Are Just Better — The New Conglomerate's approach to firearms (shotgun pistol!) and Humongous Mecha weaponry.
    • Their signature heavy infantry weapon is the Jackhammer (no, not the Pancor Jackhammer), a triple-barreled shotgun with a high semi-auto fire rate and even a rapid 3-round burst mode that can almost instantly kill infantry at point-blank.
  • Slippy-Slidey Ice World — Ceryshen, Nexus, and Esamir are all covered in snow, and Ceryshen takes forever to get around due to it being mostly vertical, forcing you to loop around long paths to reach a base that's close in a straight line.
  • Sprint Shoes — The Surge implant, which puts an extra spring in your step at the cost of burning away your stamina while active. MAX suits and BFRs have "run mode", which is basically a go-faster button that prevents you from shooting or strafing.
  • Sniper Rifle — The Bolt Driver, and the relatively useless Heavy Scout Rifle. The Bolt Driver can take down unarmored infantry in one shot. The Heavy Scout Rifle, on the other hand, has a ten shot magazine, and does far less damage.
  • Tank Goodness — Faction-specific tanks:
    • NC Vanguard: Has the most armor and an accurate, powerful cannon, but is also the slowest.
    • TR Prowler: Maximum firepower when fully-crewed, with dual rapid-fire cannons and a machine gun turret.
    • VS Magrider: This agile amphibious Hover Tank can strafe, and has a precision railgun as the main cannon.
    • And the Lightning, a one-man light tank that can be deadly to small squads of infantry and light vehicles.
  • There Is No Kill Like OverkillOne-shotting a full Galaxy transport while it's taking off will yield you a lot of experience by killing everyone on board. And a lot of respawn timers for your enemies.
    • The NC Vanguard tank can one-shot smaller vehicles and infantry with its ridiculously powerful cannon.
  • Underground Level — The Caverns.
  • Universal Driver's LicenseAverted. You need the proper certifications first, like most other weapons and equipment; see Do Anything Soldier above.
  • V8 Engine Noises — The Skyguard anti-air buggy has what sounds like a V8 engine, which stands in stark contrast to the other buggies that sound like crappy 4-bangers
  • Weapon of Peace — The Liberator. In Planetside 1, it's a high-altitude carpet bomber. In Planetside 2, it's a giant gunship with high explosive anti-tank cannons.
  • We Have Reserves — Because of the respawning technology, commanders tend to order (or at least attempt to) the waves of unaffiliated players to throw themselves at base defenses. Taken up to eleven during the Reserves - the reserve players were typically regarded as cannon fodder for the elite units.
  • Zerg Rush — In the absence of organizational influences, throwing massive amounts of uncoordinated infantry at a target is a common strategy. It has a good chance of working if the defenders aren't dug in too deep, but if two opposing Zerg Rushes collide, they will fight to a stalemate until one side gets their act together.