PlanetSide 2 is a MMOFPS, built around the concept of large scale combat. Gameplay-wise, it is similar to AAA games such as Call of Duty or Battlefield, but on a much larger scale. While standard FPS games support approximately twenty to thirty players, PlanetSide 2 features as many as a thousand players at once. Upon first downloading the game, players are prompted to create a new character. The character creation process is similar to an MMORPG, in which you must select your allegiance, server, character name, and other avatar parameters such as face.
Note that it is impossible to alter any of these parameters once your character has been created; choose these parameters with care.
There are three factions to choose from; each has its own playstyle. Note that you cannot alter your allegiance, so choose carefully which side to align with.
Each faction has its own set of weaponry and two sets of empire-specific vehicles. The empire-specific vehicles are their main battle tanks (the Terran Republic Prowler, the New Conglomerate Vanguard, and the Vanu Sovereignty Magrider) and their single-seat fighter planes (the Terran Republic Mosquito, the New Conglomerate Reaper, and the Vanu Sovereignty Scythe)
Team Colours: Purple and green
Combat Philosophy: The Vanu Sovereignty favours futuristic directed energy weapons. These weapons reload quite swiftly and generally don't require much deflection shooting ("leading the target"), but don't quite pack the punch of the New Conglomerate or have the numbers of the Terran Republic.
Story in a Nutshell: A group of scientists who have discovered Vanu (alien) technology, and intend to use this technology to elevate all of humanity. Sees the other two sides as short-sighted, unenlightened cretins and brutes.
Team Colours: Red and Black
Combat Philosophy: The Terran Republic favours standard bullet weapons that pack little damage per shot, but have high capacity cartridges, high fire rates, and high reload times.
Story in a Nutshell: The loyalists of this conflict, the Terran Republic seeks to reunite all of humanity no matter the cost. Highly structured and ordered, but not as evil as other fictitious empires. Sees the New Conglomerate as anarchists causing trouble for trouble's sake and the Vanu Sovereignty as "brainwashed and crazy".
Team Colours: Blue and Yellow/Gold
Combat Philosophy: The New Conglomerate believes in brute force. With a strong focus on massive, deliberate strength, the New Conglomerate can easily outgun the other factions, but only if they can make their shots count.
Story in a Nutshell: Terrorists, rebels, or freedom fighters, the New Conglomerate favours individual liberty above all else. Has a relatively lax command structure, unlike the others. Sees the Terran Republic as tyrannical dictators and the Vanu Sovereignty as evil scientists.
Your First Spawn
After watching the intro video, you'll be automatically deployed from the sky to a random spot to immediately start fighting. Use the WSAD keys to alter your landing path. Since there is no prompt at all for what your objectives are or how to accomplish them, it's likely you'll get killed before you do anything meaningful. You have two options at this point:
The first is to simply get killed by something. The second is to hit M to bring up the map screen and find the green "Redeploy" button at the bottom right of the screen. This will "kill" you and enable you to spawn elsewhere. Ten seconds later, you will be presented with a screen that prompts you to choose which class to spawn as and which location to spawn from. After this, you will want to go somewhere safe in order to practice. The ideal location is the new VR Practice area, which can be accessed from the Esamir, Indar, or Amerish Warpgates.
Classes & Weapons
Once you are in the warpgate, search for a terminal with a globe on it, such as this one. Once there, select the "VR Training" option located at the bottom of the screen. This will bring you to an area where you can freely experiment with weapons and vehicles. Each will be covered in turn.
Most of the classes have a special ability that can be activated with the F key. The six classes that players may play from are:
Infiltrator: A sabotage and sniping expert, the Infiltrator is armed with a cloaking field to help get behind enemy lines. The infiltrator leaves a very distinct shimmer, however, making it ineffective against attentive players. Their primary weapon is the sniper rifle, which (with the exception of the Vanu) must be aimed higher to compensate for bullet drop. Players must hold down the sprint key in order to remove scope sway for long distance shots. Infiltrators are also armed with the ability to hack terminals (and turrets!) and force them to change sides. This forces the enemy team to either destroy and repair them (with an engineer) or to re-hack them (with another infiltrator). Finally, the infiltrator may also deploy motion-tracking darts which enable him to track enemy movements.
Light Assault: Essentially the Team Fortress 2 Scout class, the Light Assault favours a jet pack which enables them to reach high spots and attack from a perch. This makes them dangerous to players who run and aim mostly at ground level.
Combat Medic: A standard medic class, the Medic is capable of healing and reviving downed teammates using a trusty healing tool. Armed with an assault rifle, the Combat Medic is not to be trifled with. The Combat Medic's special ability is to heal all teammates in a radius around him or her.
Engineer: Armed with the same carbine as the Light Assault, the Engineer is a versatile class. The repair tool enables Engineers to repair damaged vehicles, terminals, and MAX players. Engineers come with two ammo packs - the first is deployed with the 4 key. This may be replaced by mines at later levels. The second ammo pack may be deployed by accessing the deployable machine gun (5) and then hitting B. The machine gun itself is effective against infantry and, to a lesser extent, aircraft.
Heavy Assault: The tip of the spear on any attack, the Heavy Assault class is armed with a light machine gun that has a lengthy reload time, but with a high capacity. The Heavy Assault is also armed with an unguided rocket launcher, effective against vehicles. The Heavy Assault is a tough nut to crack, especially when the player deploys his or her "overshield" which greatly mitigates damage.
MAX: The only class which requires resources (more on those later) to equip, the MAX is essentially a bipedal tank with only two arm mounted weapons - an armour piercing grenade launcher to contend with vehicles, and an anti-infantry rotary cannon. Various other weaponry can be bought for the MAX either for real life money or for the free currency, altering its role significantly. The MAX's default special ability is a charge ability, sacrificing its attacking ability in favour for speed for a short period of time. MAX units may be resurrected by medics who have upgraded their healing tool, but healed only by engineer players.
Vehicles & Resources
Vehicles are a great way to bolster an attacking force; a large tank column is a tough nut to crack, especially if backed up with the correct air support. Vehicles are not found randomly but rather created from one of several terminals with a tank icon above it. Spawning a vehicle consumes one of two resources.
Resources are used to limit players to the number of vehicles or other assets they may use. There are three resources: Infantry, Aerospace, and Mechanized, used for infantry consumable purchases (grenades, explosives, the MAX), spawning an aircraft (Aerospace) and spawning ground vehicles respectively. These resources are completely free and will automatically refill over time; the rate at which it increases depends on a variety of factors, such as the amount of territory held by your faction, the region in which you fight, and whether your faction has managed to conquer any of the continents (10% off of purchases).
There are five different kinds of land vehicles and three different kinds of aircraft you can choose from. By default, the gunner positions of a vehicle can be occupied by anyone; however, the vehicle can only be driven by the player who spawned the vehicle. This behaviour may be altered by spawning a vehicle and pressing the Page Down key.
Note that all vehicles that have weapons require reloading as well as ammunition. To receive additional ammunition, find either a large tower with three large bullets on it (applicable only at friendly bases), or a Sunderer truck with the same icon on its sides. Aircraft must rearm by landing on or flying near specially designated pads.
To spawn vehicles, access the terminal that has a tank (for land vehicles), a fighter plane (for air vehicles), or a massive Galaxy air transport (for...well, the massive Galaxy air transport).
Flash: A simple, four wheeler ATV used to get from place to place. Though it is possible to purchase weaponry for it and have a rear-mounted passenger fire weapons from it, it is too fragile to be used in open warfare. Some players have been able to use Flashes offensively, but this is a more esoteric use of Flashes, and is recommended only for experienced players.
Harasser: A step between the Flash and the Sunderer, the Harasser is designed to carry three people. Unlike the Flash, MAX players can ride on it, but only as a passenger - they need someone else to drive for them.
Sunderer: A massive six wheeled truck, the Sunderer is armed with two rooftop-mounted guns and is tasked with ferrying players from place to place. The Sunderer is most notable, however, for its logistic benefits. Although they must be first purchased using certification points (outlined later), it is the only vehicle that may act as a mobile spawn point for players, enabling them to get to a fight quickly; resupply friendly vehicles ammunition without having to go back to base and locate an ammo tower (a large tower with a large glowing icon above it); or repair vehicles in a large radius around it.
Lightning: The Lightning is a light tank with room for one. Its standard (and only, until you upgrade it) attack is a volley of six shots effective at medium range. It is very lightly armoured, but it is very fast and is resistant to small arms, making it great for attacking infantry.
The fifth and final vehicle varies depending on which empire your character belongs to:
Those who swear their allegiance to the Terran Republic obtain the Prowler, a powerful and sturdy main battle tank armed with a powerful double-barreled turret.
Players fighting for freedom under the banner of the New Conglomerate receive the Vanguard, a more conventional-looking tank armed with only a single cannon - that packs a devastating wallop.
Men and women who seek enlightenment with the Vanu Sovereignty are gifted with the extremely flexible Magrider. While not the sturdiest nor the most powerful, it is armed with a hover drive, meaning not only may it traverse bodies of water, but may strafe back and forth to dodge rockets. This helps compensate for its lack of turret, meaning it must look and fire in the same direction.
Aircraft in PlanetSide 2 are all capable of taking off and landing vertically, as well as capable of hovering. There are three flyable aircraft in the game, two of which are shared amongst all three empires:
Liberator: The Liberator is a ground attack gunship. The pilot's weapon is a machine gun, effective against most targets, but its true power lies in the second position, accessible by pressing F2. This position sports a powerful quad machine gun which can be replaced by a cannon, capable of shredding tanks and infantry alike from a high altitude hover. The third position is that of a tail gunner.
Galaxy: The Galaxy is a transport aircraft, similar to a Sunderer with wings but lacking in terms of logistics. It is the only vehicle with four gun positions, with slow-firing general purpose machine guns. Galaxies may only be spawned at special aircraft terminals. Unlike other aircraft, it is possible to exit a moving galaxy at high altitude and survive the fall. Many players therefore perform 'Galaxy drops', where the Galaxy is loaded up, then once over the target area, set to 'Squad only' (by pressing Page Down). This ejects the players over the target area, who survive the fall and go on fighting. The Galaxy itself may remain on station as an impromptu gunship, or may return to the Warpgate for another load of players.
The third aircraft, a single seat fighter, changes depending on which empire your character belongs to. All three fighters have the same standard loadout - a single general purpose machine gun and a set of extended afterburner tanks. Alternate weapons include anti-ground and anti-air machine guns, rocket pods, and air to air missiles.
Terran Republic players have the Mosquito. While not the most manoeuvrable of the three nor the most heavily armoured, it is the fastest.
New Conglomerate players obtain the Reaper, a boxy aircraft that, unlike the Mosquito, has wings. It is the sturdiest of the three fighters.
Vanu Sovereignty players acquire the Scythe, an alien aircraft with hook-like wings. This aircraft is the most manoeuvrable of the three.
Certification Points & Station Cash
Certification points, also known as "certs", are the points which are used to unlock new weaponry and abilities. Shown here is the certification screen for the Terran Republic Infiltrator class. These certifications range from bonuses such as enhanced reload speed to different scope types, to game-altering abilities such as remote explosives and landmines.
Certification points are earned through standard gameplay, specifically through experience. The exact ratio from experience to certifications is likely to vary as the game matures, but it is currently at approximately 250 XP to 1 certification point.
Most certifications unlocking new equipment ranges from 1 point to 500, with most new weapons unlocking at about 1,000.
Players also gain certification points by being inactive.
Certification bonuses apply specifically to the character they are unlocked for and, in the case of weaponry (such as scopes), to that specific weapon. Weapons are also empire-specific; players who purchase different weaponry for their Sunderer APC as a Vanu character must reacquire them as a New Conglomerate or Terran Republic character.
Therefore, it is better to create a single character on a single server and unlock only what you intend to use; completionist players will be kept busy for months, if not years, trying to unlock everything for every character for every side.
The premium currency - the currency which you must pay real money for - is known as Station Cash, and enables players to unlock new weapons much faster. When trying to unlock something, keep these three rules in mind:
Abilities and weapon accessories, such as different scopes, new types of explosives, and lowering the respawn timer on your vehicles is bought exclusively through certification points.
Weapons, vehicular and man-portable, are acquired either through a lot of certification points (usually 500 to 1000) or through Station Cash (usually around 700, or $7 apiece).
Cosmetic items, such as hubcaps, hood ornaments, and undercarriage lights for your vehicles, are bough exclusively through Station Cash (usually around 50 or 100, or $0.50 to $1.00).
Line up your purchases carefully, as the game only allows players to spend money in $5, $10, $20, $50, or $100 intervals. There is also a daily limit as to the number of transactions that can be processed (at approximately five per day).
Knowing how to kill enemies and spawn vehicles is important, but where the true experience - and thus the certification points - comes from are from capturing objectives. Pressing M will reveal the map, and the large array of key locations that must be captured. The ultimate goal, obviously, is to capture the entire continent for your team, granting the other two sides only the tiniest sliver of land that is their warpgates, which cannot be captured.
Locations can be separated into major and minor locations, with sub-objectives within them.
Minor locations are found all throughout the map. Located within each location is one or more control points, which are the key to either securing the area against an enemy incursion, or to capture that location in the name of your empire.
The icon for a control point on the map looks like a single arrow pointing up at a large dome encircling it (a similar icon has two arrows, one pointing up and one down; this icon is for teleporters). Standing near a control point allows you to capture it, which in turn sways the facility towards your empire and away from the defenders'. Having all the control points of a given region causes the defending empire's influence to wane more rapidly than if only one was taken. Also taken into account are the number of players standing close to each of the control points.
The final factor that influences your faction's capture rate is aptly called 'influence', which depends on the number of friendly hexes that touch enemy territory. A location deep within enemy territory will have no influence and thus take far more time and effort to capture than one that is surrounded. Influence is represented as a pie chart, revealed by hovering over each territory with your mouse on the map screen.
When the enemy faction's gauge is depleted, your faction's gauge will begin to rise. When the bar is full, everyone within a short range of the capture territory (even if they are in a vehicle) receives points for assisting in the capture and praise from the faction's representative.
These are large, sprawling facilities that are high-end strategic objectives for empires. These facilities are generally shielded to prevent outside incursions, but have multiple smaller outposts surrounding it that may be captured. These smaller outposts surrounding the large facility itself may yield bonuses, such as teleporters, vehicle spawning terminals, and a safe spawn location.
These smaller substations culminate in the assault on the main facility itself, which consists of several capture points, generators powering the shields (which typically keep enemy vehicles and projectiles out), and the SCU, or Spawning Control Unit.
Shown here is a generator objective. Players must rig the base's generators to explode by standing by them and holding E (yielding a "Generator compromised" alert). This lowers the shields and enables the assault to continue with armoured vehicles. The defending team may repair the generators by standing near them and holding E (yielding a "Generator stabilized" alert). Even if the defending team fails to save and stabilize the generator, they can still repair it with engineers.
It is possible to determine which generator powers which shield by its icon. One with the side view of a tank (shown above) powers anti-vehicle barriers on the perimeter. One that looks like either three horizontal or three vertical bars powers the shields barring infantry (and bullet/missile/grenade) access to the interior of the facility. The one that has some squiggly lines in between two vertical braces powers the orange shields protecting the SCU.
Shown below are the icons for the SCU generator (left) and the SCU itself (right). After knocking out the generators, the fight occurs within the facility itself, over the capture points. In the same fashion the attacking and defending team may 'compromise' and 'stabilize' the generators, the same mechanic applies to the base's SCU. Destroying this prevents the defending team from spawning at the main spawn located in the facility. Needless to say, this makes assaulting the base considerably easier.
From there on out, the location is captured like a minor location. Capturing a major location yields twice the number of points as capturing a minor location. Once the capture is successful, the team must repair the SCU and the generators to protect their newly captured location.
Know When To Fold 'Em
If you are defending and there is a significantly larger force at your doorstep, withdraw and head to the Warpgate. The spawn rooms are quite defensible and it is possible to fire out of them, but sometimes it's impossible to defend a point if there is a considerably larger enemy force outside. Knowing when to withdraw can save you a lot of time and effort in the long run.
Gaining Certification Points & What to Spend It On
Now that you are aware as to the value behind certification points, you will most likely wander around the map for hours, trying to earn them. The easiest way to earn certification points, stay alive, and contribute to the team is to locate and join your empire's primary attacking group. Finding this group can be difficult, but the easiest by far is to check each of the continents and locate the continent with the highest population of your empire. From there, join a squad to try and locate the primary attacking force and fall in with them.
Once you've taken your place as just one of the thirty to forty players in the primary attacking force, aim for easy certification points by spawning as a medic or an engineer and healing or resurrecting teammates or their vehicles. MAX units in particular should be thankful for medics resurrecting them, as they cannot respawn as a MAX immediately after death. From then on, participate in capturing key locations and killing enemies, in that order. As you get better, you will be able to take more proactive roles in the fight, such as destroying enemy tanks as a Heavy Assault or spawning a Sunderer and enabling the rest of that team to join the fight.
Choosing where to spend your hard-earned certification points is a tough one. Certifications exist for every class and every vehicle, broken down further into individual weapons and slots. Where you spend your certification points is, obviously, down to personal preference, but keep a few things in mind:
If you can, buy only one certification from each category. This will allow you to maximize your certification points by spending them on items you can equip together. Don't spend 60 certification points on two scopes when you can only equip one at a time anyway.
If you enjoy using vehicles, try to purchase faster respawns. This is particularly useful for new pilots, who are more likely to crash and be forced to wait fifteen to twenty minutes to create a new plane to practice with.
Consider what the default weapons are and, if you can, buy weapons to compensate for their shortcomings. The standard Heavy Assault rocket launcher, for example, can hit a tank with relative ease, but it is virtually impossible to land a hit on a fighter jet, Liberator, or Galaxy with it. This makes the lock-on anti-air rocket launcher far superior than the lock-on anti-tank variant.
Most of the weapon upgrades are more specialized. The Magrider, Prowler, and Vanguard's default HEAT cannon can be switched out in favour of AP or HE - specializing in anti-tank and anti-infantry respectively, but being less effective against other targets.
It is possible to rent weapons from the store with no charge. Though it is available only for 30 minutes, it can save you from purchasing a weapon you really didn't want. It also has a 7 and a half hour refresh. For players who simply want to get a taste of everything, consider creating a second account and using all of its weapon rentals.
Notable Weapons & Purchases
WARNING: THE FOLLOWING MATERIAL IS THE AUTHOR'S PERSONAL OPINION ONLY, AND MAY OR MAY NOT BE COMPLETE AND UTTER DUMB♥♥♥♥♥♥♥TSAUCE.
All Classes: Spending the points on health and restoration kits can be useful, since once you unlock it, it becomes available to all classes. It does, however, replace remote explosives (anti-tank mines, anti-infantry claymore mines, remote explosives) for all other classes. It replaces the ammo crate for the Engineer, but since the Engineer has two, losing it isn't a problem. The second ammo crate can be accessed by selecting the turret (5) and pressing B.
If you're looking for a versatile weapon that doesn't specialize as much as the standard weapons, purchase the select-fire variants of the standard weapons (the TRAC-5S/T1S Cycler, Equinox SF/Solstice SF, and/or Gauss Rifle Compact S/Gauss Rifle S). These weapons have a large number of customization options, but sacrifice a sliver of effectiveness from the standard.
Also note that as of the fourth general update, common-pool weapons you purchase will be account-wide. Common pool weapons are weapons that are used by all three sides; the Galaxy and Liberator weapons, for example. Empire-specific weapons, including (almost) all infantry weapons, will be unlocked for that faction only.
Infiltrator: The most important 'fun' upgrade is probably antipersonnel mines, since they help watch your back and can be used to defend objectives. Vanu and Terran sniper weapons are semiautomatic, so they can land multiple hits on a target, but they cannot kill in a single headshot like the Conglomerate's Bolt Driver, so Vanu and Terran snipers will want to acquire a weapon such as the RAMS, Parallax, or Longshot. For something more powerful in close quarters, consider acquiring an automatic scout rifle or an SMG. If you're strapped for cash, purchase the M77-B or the XM98 for 100 certs; in the event an NC player wishes for a semiauto sniper, the Gauss SPR is available for the same price.
Light Assault: The jetpack is rather lacklustre without upgrades, and since this is the main calling of the Light Assault class, this can prove useful. C4 is more situational, but can be fun when camping an enemy spawn during capture, or against a tank by hopping on top of it.
Combat Medic: An upgraded healing tool is almost a necessity, since you cannot resurrect MAX units without it. Like the Light Assault, C4 can be useful, but is situational.
Engineer: Claymores or anti-tank mines are the way to go here. Though they replace your ammo kit, selecting your turret (5) and hitting B allows you to deploy a second ammo kit, thus reducing the effects of losing your first considerably. Claymores are the more practical choice, but only engineers can deploy anti-tank mines. Also available for purchase is a turret that can launch a missile that follows the crosshair; a respectable, if fragile, anti-tank weapon.
Heavy Assault: The default machine gun is pretty good on its own; the only real 'upgrade' you can replace for this is a shotgun, which is a question of taste. Lock-on anti-air missiles are very useful; however, another anti-aircraft alternative is the MAX, outlined below.
MAX: As aforementioned, anti-aircraft MAXes can be deadlier than Heavy Assault rocket launchers, since they cannot be defeated using countermeasures. This does, however, require the purchase of the MAX flak cannons. Chances are low you'll be engaging vehicles as a MAX, so unless you find yourself doing so, anti-infantry upgrades are probably the way to go. If you play MAX a lot, consider saving up for a second anti-infantry or anti-armour weapon. The default layout is nice, but kitting yourself out for both infantry and armour attacks results in being overly effective against neither.
Flash: Upgrades here are really a question of taste, but one to consider is enhanced off-roading. This helps you stay away from heavily patrolled roads. A gun can be an interesting novelty item; should you choose to arm your Flash, the Kobalt anti-infantry machine gun is probably the best. Its high rate of fire helps you kill infantry quickly. The Basilisk's slower rate of fire does not aid you too much, and you shouldn't be trying to fight a tank in an ATV anyway.
Sunderer: The two most unique upgrades the Sunderer has are the remote spawning upgrade and the ammo refill upgrade; nothing else can do either, and to make things better, you can equip them both at the same time. Sunderers are often attacked by a multitude of threats, so almost any weapon works well with them.
Lightning: The Python HEAT is far more accurate than the standard gun, so if you're looking for a solid way to beef up your Lightning, consider this purchase. It's accurate, powerful, and effective against both vehicles and infantry. The other notable upgrade is the Skyguard, which can help protect tank columns from air attack - hitting planes with the standard six shot cannon is extremely difficult, but not impossible. A higher zoom for either of these weapons helps considerably as well.
Main Battle Tank: The most notable upgrades for the main battle tank are for the secondary weapon. This is a tough decision to make, as tanks are expected to be able to engage multiple types of targets easily. The anti-infantry Kobalt or the anti-air Walker machine guns can help cover the tank's primary weaknesses, but other players prefer a secondary anti-armour weapon to complement the main gun. The most cost-effective option is probably the anti-infantry Kobalt, costing only a handful of certification points to purchase.
Planes in general: Considering the prevalence of air-to-air and surface-to-air missiles, flare countermeasures can pay for themselves again and again. They are less effective against air-to-air engagements, since enemy planes are more likely to chase you and attack again once the effect wears off. The Liberator and the Galaxy usually draw the most surface fire when in a group with fighters, so defence against flak can help considerably.
Fighter plane: Like the main battle tank, fighters are expected to be able to engage multiple target types easily. Considering the Liberator's strengths in the ground attack role, however, it may be more cost-effective to dedicate your Mosquito, Scythe, or Reaver to air superiority, and choosing to equip the anti-aircraft gun and air-to-air missiles. This does, however, make for very boring gameplay unless you encounter an enemy plane. Players who don't want to deal with the Liberator's requirement for team play, however, may want to equip rocket pods for tank busting (just a few rockets to the back are enough to kill a main battle tank)
Liberator: The most significant upgrade for the Liberator is either the Dalton-single shot cannon or the Zephyr autocannon; the default quad machine gun is decent but does not have the same splash damage, making aiming more of a requirement. The pilot's gun isn't as important, as most of the strength comes from the aforementioned cannons, but the tailgun can be equipped with the Walker AA gun to help ward off enemy planes, or the Bulldog to help aid in the destruction the cannon is causing. The rather restrictive firing arc of the tailgun does suggest that the Walker is a better choice.
Galaxy: Currently the only alternate weapons for the Galaxy are to replace the four general purpose Drakes with two AA walker guns and two anti-surface Bulldogs. Since Galaxies aren't meant to fight anyway, these weapons aren't as important in the long run.
Finding the Battle Group
The battle group, also referred to as the 'Zerg' in reference to the StarCraft race, is essentially a giant crowd of tanks and other vehicles that go on a massive rampage throughout enemy territory, nabbing points all the while. Its sheer size is enough to send most players running, or at least trying to find a place to capture that is not surrounded by tanks.
Although the size means friendly fire, especially by roadkill, and collisions are often a problem, it does mean a greater chance for survival for new players, as there will be plenty of other players to shoot at aside from you. Each teammate firing in concert with you also increases the chances of killing enemies; the momentum built by the group alone is lethal.
At around 250, 500, or even 1000 experience per capture, joining this battle group can be a massive boon to all players farming for certification points.
Joining the zerg is a great interim solution until you find an outfit (a "guild" or "clan").
As aforementioned, the size of the group makes friendly fire a problem. Being pushed around, even as a vehicle, is highly likely. With so many players, teamwork is virtually impossible. Joining an outfit (a "guild" or "clan") is the best way to play PlanetSide 2, but joining the zerg is a good way to get started.
The zerg also draws unsavoury types, such as medic players who will shoot friendly medics competing for resurrecting players.
The value of the zerg has diminished considerably, and though it is still a very powerful force to be reckoned with, it can be stopped with varying degrees of success at the larger facilities; these facilities are far more defensible than they were before the 30 January update. It is difficult, but not impossible to defeat an enemy zerg at one of these points, and gain a lot of experience by doing so. However, short of cheating, it is impossible for ten players to defeat forty - scroll up to "Know When To Fold 'Em".
Locating the Battle Group
Locating this battle group, however, can be difficult. The first thing you must do is locate the continent with the highest population. Even without the battle group, joining a continent where you are massively outnumbered means a lot of deaths and not much reward; leave that to the more experienced players, or at least those who know that they're getting into. The bar chart at the top right shows that the Terran Republic population is considerably higher than that of the New Conglomerate or Vanu Sovereignty; if there is a battle group, it is likely here.
The next step is to join a random platoon. This screen can be accessed with the P key. Each platoon consists of multiple squads, each with their own colour. Confusingly, this may result in squadmates' names be highlighted in a colour you are not used to or worse, associated with an enemy. However, joining a platoon provides two chief benefits: firstly, it helps you locate the battle group, as on the map, squadmates will appear as coloured numbers. Secondly, performing friendly actions (such as resurrecting a friendly) yield more points if performed on a squadmate.
From here on, it's mostly trial-and-error; keep an eye on the map to find where your team is making inroads into enemy territory.
A More Permanent Community
The battle group is a good temporary community, but for those attempting to find something a bit more permanent can try their luck on google, or start with the Official Sony Forums[forums.station.sony.com]. As with almost all official forums, however, you are bound to find a lot of idiots and other unsavouries. You may have more luck on a fansite such as this one[www.planetside-universe.com] or on a dedicated site such as http://planetside2outfits.com/.