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ESC Key Options

Recall to Sanctuary 
Returns you to your Empire's Sanctuary after a set time: Friendly area, 10s, Neutral area, 20s, Enemy area, 30s.
Game Options 
Opens the Game Options Window, allowing you to adjust your Gameplay defaults such as session stats, HUD preferences, and proximity radar settings.
Color Options 
Opens the Color Options Window, allowing you to change colors for chat channels and name tags.
Video Options 
Opens the Video Options Window, allowing you to adjust your Video settings. These changes will be reflected the next time you start PlanetSide.
Audio Options 
Opens the Audio Options Window, allowing you to adjust your Audio settings.
Key Mappings 
Opens the Keymappings Window, allowing you to change your control scheme
Instant Action 
When selecting this item, your character will be deployed to a location near a Hotspot.

Video Options

General Options

Full Screen 
If you don't know what this is, go back to Windows for Dummies. Suffice it to say that running Planetside windowed is generally a severe drag on your framerate, and there's absolutely no reason you should attempt it. If you have a top-of-the-line system, then you might be able to squeeze by, but in that case, what are you reading this for?
Screen Resolution 
Higher resolution means more pixels on the screen, and that means your graphics card has to draw more pixels every frame, which slows it down. If you want better framerates, decrease this, though there's no reason to go below 1024x768, and if you do, the HUD will be cramping your display to the extreme.
Gamma Brightness and Gamma Contrast 
These are monitor hardware settings and have nothing to do with framerates. Usually you won't ever touch them, but if the screen looks too dark or washed-out while you're playing, try sliding these around. Note that if Planetside CTDs while you're playing with an other-than-normal gamma setting, your desktop will keep that setting, and you'll probably have to restart your computer or dig into your graphics card settings to get rid of it. Not fun.
Video Quality 
Just a way to select from some pre-set video options. You can completely ignore this, it's better to do all the tweaking yourself to get a nice balance between good looks and good framerates.
Viewing Distance 
Affects how far you can see. As you decrease this, you'll see the view-distance "fog" rolling in to decrease your vision range. Less things that you can see means less things the graphics card has to draw, and better framerates. Don't worry, though; if you have everything else set way down low, you can crank this up to maximum with hardly any impact on your FPS. Besides, you don't want other people to be able to see farther than you can, do you?
Video Bit-Depth 
Affects how many colors are available to Planetside for drawing, well, everything. If you decrease this to 16-bit, your FPS will nearly double, but be warned, it makes the game look like total crap and nearly always causes catastrophic shearing. Do this only if you've tried everything else and your framerates are still unbearable, and I do mean unbearable.
Texture Quality 
Affects how blurry objects in the game look. The lower you go, the less sharply-defined they get, but the higher your framerates go. Increasing this setting by one step is roughly equivalent to doubling the amount of RAM Planetside needs to keep running, so use with caution. Setting this to "Low" can be a big framerate booster, and unlike changing to 16-bit color, things don't look too bad unless you get up close and personal. If High just isn't good enough for you, and you're running the Cray supercomputer, you can take this to the next level of detail under Advanced.
Particle Effects 
Particles come in all sorts of guises, but one mark of their appearance is that they usually don't last for very long. You can find particles in puffs of vehicle exhaust, explosions of any kind, orbital strikes, and more. This option sets the detail level of the particles and affects how cool things that involve particles look, as well as how many of them are created. If you set this to Low, you might not even see some particle effects at all. It doesn't make that much of a difference, but it can indeed impact your framerate if there's a ton of battle activity in the area.
  • Addition by Raidin - Another thing worth mentioning is that when you raise this to High, it turns on dynamic lighting for muzzle flashes on most, if not all weapons. Dynamic lighting does take its toll on FPS, and can slow you down to a crawl on an average video card if you have several people firing their weapons on-screen at once. Try all 3 settings with some friends to find your favorite.
Flora Density 
Affects how much planty stuff appears on the ground around you, thus enhancing the realism. Thank goodness this can be turned off, because even on Low, it sucks FPS like mad. The reason is that it uses a ton of alpha transparency, which takes your video card a while to compute and slows it down. Turn it Off for best performance.
Mesh Detail (by Raidin) 
This increases the polygon count on player and weapon models. They look better up-close but your video card has to render those extra polys. From my experience, the FPS decrease is negligible. The increase in graphic quality, however, is worth it, IMO. Experiment for yourselves.
  • Addition by Sokko: I must admit he's right. Since it hardly ever impacts your framerate, the increase in detail when you're looking at something close to you is well worth it. Without this turned on, weapons especially look far too blocky for you to even recognize. Turn it on unless you're working with a 386.
Draw Detail Web 
Turning this on will make a large area of the terrain around you (the part you're usually concerned about) appear more detailed, though far-off terrain remains the same. Though it certainly looks pretty, it really does a number on your framerate, dropping it by 20 or more in some cases. Best to leave it off.
Warpgate Effect 
The weird little effect that shows when an object moves through (or stops at, in the case of shots) a warpgate bubble. So far as I can tell, it doesn't make a significant difference where framerate is concerned. Oddly enough, you must have Bullet Holes turned on in order for this to work.
Bullet Holes 
If you turn this on, bullet-based weapons will leave holes in the walls. Drawing all those extra decals does impact framerate, but not as much as you'd think. Like the above, it's a matter of whether you want those few extra FPS or not, and remember that you have to turn this on for the Warpgate Effect to show up.
  • Note: When a large weapon impacts One-Manned Field Turrets, it leaves a black "burn" mark. Over time, these build up into a black sheet, which can block the vision of the gunner in certain directions. If you gun field turrets often, it's best to keep this option off.
Shadows On/Off 
If turned on, people and vehicles will cast shadows on the ground. It's a bit more of a significant impact on framerate than the Bullet Holes, and it's not really that much of a visual difference. Off is recommended.
Weather Particles 
Different from regular particles, weather particles are what appear when a weather front moves into town, like that ever actually happens (c'mon, devs, you can do better than that!). Thunderstorms, snowstorms, dust storms, all are composed of weather particles. None of these have a really significant impact on framerate at all. Leaving it off does not create a tactical advantage, since even if you can't see the weather particles, it's the view distance fog moving in that matters.
  • Note by Marutuk: Apparently you now need to have the Skydome turned on for this option to work.
Skydome 
This draws a whole bunch of eye candy up in the sky, which affects your framerate so randomly it's best to experiment with it for yourself. As stated above, you must have this turned on for Weather Particles to appear.

Advanced Options

Texture Quality (32 bit) 
Click this on, and get ready for a whole world of hurt in the graphics card department. Checking it is like selecting "Super High" in the Texture Quality on the previous tab. If you do, you can select which textures this should apply to by checking the big group of boxes in the lower half of this tab. Trust me, never check this box unless you've got the Batcomputer sitting on your desktop.
Vertical Sync 
Simply put, it makes the game easier on the eyes. If the graphics seem "flickery" to you or your eyes start to ache after a while playing, turn this on, but be warned that it does negatively impact your framerate. Also, sometimes your graphics card will already have VSync turned on by itself, so checking this will make no difference.
Use triple buffer  
Does what it says on the tooltip: It makes the game run smoother, but it uses a bit more RAM to do so. Checking this box will speed up your framerate and eliminate lots of freezing if you have enough RAM, but can negatively affect it if you don't. Fiddle around with it to find the best setting, and don't forget to try out a full-fledged battle or two while you're testing.
Cull Animations  
If this box is checked, the game will make player animations more jerky if your framerate is starting to suffer from a lot of activity in the area, thus making things easier on your graphics card. A lot of people just can't stand those jerky animations, so they turn this off. It does make a difference, but the actual amount of difference varies wildly.
Select the mode for preloading textures  
Shouldn't be touched under normal circumstances. As the text says, "All" will let Planetside take care of things for you, and is generally the best way to do things performance-wise. If you're really desperate, you can try setting this to other things, but don't expect a miracle.
Reserved Texture  
Defines a chunk of RAM that's used to store textures for quick copying to the VRAM on your graphics card, so they don't have to be loaded from the hard disk. Making it larger will get you smoother framerates (especially if you've increased the Texture Quality), but it might also slow things down because the game has less RAM to store other things in. Leaving it at the lowest setting is not recommended unless you have 512MB or less of RAM, so experiment to find out the highest it can safely go without impacting performance. Note that this should be the LAST bit of experimenting you do, after you finish setting all the other options. One perk of this option is that you don't have to restart PS for it to take effect; loading another continent and just playing for a bit is sufficient for it to fully kick in.
Use detailed vehicles  
Turning this off will make vehicles slightly less detailed and give them a different paint job. This doesn't make much of a difference FPS-wise unless there are a lot of vehicles in the area, and it has been known to cause graphical glitches (like detached thruster pods), so you should probably leave it on unless you REALLY like the alternate color scheme (ugh).

Keymappings

Keyboard Settings

Mouse Settings

Joystick Settings

Game Options

Always Run 
Self explanatory, if checked your character will always run, if not you will walk.
Show First Time Help 
Show first time help dialogs for your new character.
Chat Colors 
Show embedded chat colors.
Hide UI 
Hides the user interface when taking screenshots.
Show one Squad per line 
When displaying Platoons, put each squad's members on their own line.
Allow Squad List Overlap 
Allow other UI windows to overlap the Squad/Platoon list (to save screen space).
Auto Reload 
If selected, you will automatically reload your weapon if it runs out of ammunition.
LFS Auto On 
If selected, the Looking For Squad (LFS) flag will be automatically set on your character when they enter the world.
Enable Map edge scroll 
If selected, you can pan around the overhead map by positioning your mouse cursor near the edge of the map in the direction you want to pan. If not selected, you must click and drag to pan around the map.
Invert Map Mousewheel Zoom 
reverses the zoom direction of the mousewheel when viewing the map.
Show Damage Flash 
If selected, the screen flashes red when you take damage.
Render Names 
Determine which names will appear over friendly soldiers and vehicles. Your choices are Player, Player and Outfit, and none.
Bandwidth Settings 
Modem users should pick "Low". Other users should experiment between "Medium" and "High" to see which setting is best.
Proximity Radar Range Settings 
Rotate Radar: If selected, the proximity map will rotate about the player (so the player's arrow always faces up).
Use Automatic Ranges: Automatically change the current range of the proximity map.

Audio Options

Color Options

Article in progress