Due in part to the scope of PlanetSide 2's open-world gameplay, vehicles play an important role in the game both tactically and in terms of the speed of gameplay. With many shapes and sizes to choose from, including ATVs, troop transports, tanks, and aircraft, players have no shortage of options to help them get into the fight quickly and with formidable firepower at their disposal. Some vehicles are equipped with modular weapon mounts that allow for customization prior to fabrication, enabling a single type of vehicle to fill multiple combat roles when appropriately configured. Many vehicles also have unlockable aesthetic customization options, allowing the player to tailor their vehicle's colors, camouflage pattern, and more to personal taste.
At any given time, a player's selection of vehicles is limited by their ability to access an appropriate vehicle pad and by their choice of empire, as each faction features several unique vehicles in addition to the standard common pool options. These empire-specific vehicles are designed expressly for the faction's own use and cannot be driven or piloted by a member of a competing empire. Unlike the original PlanetSide, a player's choice of certifications and armor (determined in PlanetSide 2 by one's choice of class) does not affect his or her ability to enter certain vehicles.
Air and ground vehicles can be acquired by spending resources acquired through kills and objectives at terminals attached to the appropriate (that is, ground or air) vehicle pad. These pads are located at strategic points in and around facilities and can only be used by members of the controlling faction, as enemy-controlled pads will not allow the player to enter the requisition interface. Previously, there was a time limit on how often a vehicle could be acquired, but the limit could be lowered through advancement of the Acquisition Timer certification. The timer mechanism helped to diversify encounters on the battlefield and incentivized players to use good judgment while in control of a vehicle.
 Vehicle Roles
 Light Assault Vehicles
Vehicles that fall into the light assault category are typified by speed and maneuverability, functioning as ideal hit-and-run or fast response units. Sacrificing heavy armor plating to achieve this goal, light assault vehicles are much more vulnerable to sustained fire and rely on their high top speeds and small turn radius to harass enemy forces without offering them the chance to retaliate. These vehicles include the Flash(NS), and the Harasser (NS). Both can be spawned at every base via vehicle terminal. The best counters are lock on weapons, but there are certain automatic weapons mounted on vehicles that can take these vehicles down effectively.
 Heavy Assault Vehicles
What vehicles in this category lack in quickness they make up for in brute strength and survivability. Capable of taking and dishing out higher amounts of damage than lighter options, the MBT (Main battle tanks) for each faction require both a driver and a gunner to reach their full potential. The vehicles in this category include the light tank called the Lightning (NS) and the empire specific tanks know as the Vanguard (NC), the Prowler (TR) and the Magrider (VS). These vehicles are found at the larger bases but not the smaller ones. The lightning however may be found at a terminal without the MBT. The best counter is missles preferrably fired at the back of the vehicle where the armor is weakest.
 Aerial Vehicles
Aerial vehicles require skill to fly, and when used effectively are well known for being very fast and hard to hit. However, they are vulnerable and the Empire Specific Fliers, or ESFs, can be attacked by small arms fire, but specialized AA weapons can rip these vehicles apart very quickly. The vehicles in this category include the ESFs known as the Reaver (NC), the Mosquito (TR), and the Scythe (VS). There is also the Liberator (NS), which requires the driver and 2 gunners to reach its full potential. The best counter to aerial vehicles are AA guns and lock-on weapons.
 Transport Vehicles
With lots of health, good firepower, and a high capacity, transport vehicles are the best way to get people from one place to another. They are designed to survive through a lot of enemy fire and aren't super slow, but they are not fast either. The vehicles in this category include the grounded Sunderer (NS), which is used often due to its availability at every base, its 2 turrets, and its use as a mobile spawn unit. There is also the aerial Galaxy (NS), which has the most health out of anything in the game. It can also be used as a mobile spawn, but only by members of the same squad as the Galaxy pilot. It also has 4 turrets and can defend itself well. The best counter for these vehicles are to stay far enough away to not get shot, and fire from that distance with a vehicle damaging weapon.
 Construction Vehicles
With the introduction of the Construction Update in Planetside 2, there is a new class of vehicles defined by a lack of direct battle usage, instead having a use in the collection of resources. The first and only vehicle in this category is the ANT (NS), which can carry up to four individuals, two crew two passengers, and has a moderate amount of health. The Ant's main role is to collect randomly spawning resources called Cortium, which can then be used by the Ant to create player-made bases. Unlike in the original Planetside, the Ant does not support existing bases, and instead is used entirely for player-made bases.
In the original PlanetSide, piloting ground vehicles or aircraft required a corresponding certification. Some vehicles could be found in multiple certifications (like the Mosquito) while others had prerequisite certifications that had to be obtained first (like the Battleframe Robotics (BFRs)). The exception to this rule was the Advanced Nanite Transport (ANT), which did not require a certificate and was available to all players.
All bases except Technology Plants had a vehicle pad in the courtyard where the player could request a vehicle. If the base had only one vehicle pad you could acquire both aircraft and ground vehicles through it, but if the base was also equipped with an air pad, air and ground vehicles could only be requested at their respective pads. Advanced vehicles (mostly those with heavier armor) required a faction to control and power a nearby Technology Plant in order to requisition them.
The Galaxy and Galaxy Gunship could only be obtained through air pads at Dropship Centers or at an air terminal in the faction's Sanctuary. Similarly, Battleframe Robotics could only be acquired through BFR terminals, though these terminals were found at every base.
|Nanite Systems||Lightning • Galaxy • Harasser • Liberator • Sunderer • Flash • Valkyrie • ANT|
|New Conglomerate||Vanguard • Reaver|
|Terran Republic||Prowler • Mosquito|
|Vanu Sovereignty||Magrider • Scythe|