Preview: Dust 514
How does a free-to-play MMOFPS where you play as a mercenary, well more an immortal soldier, battling for the control of thousands of planets currently residing within the elaborate and persistent EVE universe and lore sound? Sounds like a great concept; not just the intermingle and interplay among the EVE players on PC and Dust 514 players on PS3, but the concept of a free-to-play game of this scope and calibre on a console is nothing but a great step forward for console play. Anyway, that’s Dust 514 in a nutshell; now let’s get straight into the wet and slippery-that’s right, I said wet and slippery-of it.
Name: Dust 514
Players: 48 (24v24)
Multiplayer: Competitive Multiplayer
Developers: CCP Games
Publishers: CCP Games
Release Date: Q2 2012 (So Soon’ish)
Let’s get all the little niggles and any potentiality for confusion out of the way first. Firstly, Dust 514 takes place entirely within the already existing universe of EVE Online; you know that space ship MMO thingie. Secondly, you’re not technically immortal in the sense you’re thinking of, it’d make for a pretty pointless game if it was; instead, your consciousness is transferred into another body immediately upon death. Thinking about it, that’s pretty much just respawning. Dust 514 has been kind enough to provide a reason-in its universe-for the ability to respawn, how kind of them. The objectives are to capture and control the planets and associated resources, amass wealth and build empires; Dust 514 seems to be speaking my language.
So what do you do between, before and after amassing said wealth? Well you battle with and against other players of course; each player being capable of gaining control of territory on a planet. Now here’s where Dust 514 gets ambitious and if successful, will be rather epic. As I’ve said before, Dust 514 takes place in the massive-9 year old-EVE Online universe. In that time it has amassed hundreds of thousands of players and an equal number of individual planets. This means that there is the potential for multiple conflicts to be occurring on differing planets, each planet consisting of multiple territories and more than one occurring on a single planet; this means there is a dynamism and chance for multiple battles to affect the others across a solar system or even galaxy. Now I admit that’s an extremely optimistic and an entirely grandeur perspective, but can you blame a nerd for dreaming?
So planetary warfare, what exactly does it involve? As you’d expect of such large scale FPS battles, there will be a command structure of sorts. Squad Leaders will effectively take charge of regular infantry squads and there will be a designated commander in charge of the entire ordeal. Said commander will have an RTS-styled perspective of the battlefield from his Mobile Command Centre (MCC) and is afforded the ability to deploy ground emplacements and installations; these ground emplacements will also act as spawn points for the regular infantry. Infantry aren’t negligible pawns of war however and are perfectly capable of calling in support vehicles; these vehicles will consist of fighter aircraft, tanks, buggies and all the regular vehicular assortments you’d expect from this style of game. Moreover, vehicles are anything but bog standard, they’re meant to be bespoke extensions of a player’s deeply customisable experience and each vehicle is capable of tailored-to-the-situation weapons and capabilities. Of course this infers that there are customisable classes and there most certainly are; from heavily-armoured snipers to quick-footed scouts and the many nuances in-between. And in this pre-Modern Warfare era, what would classes be without individual abilities to level up, so there’s that too. To be honest I’m not entirely sure how far customisation goes but so far it seems to be quite thorough, here’s hoping it remains that way in the final product.
Objectives and sub-objectives will vary according to circumstances and particulars of the territory you’re currently waging war in. Essentially however, you’re main objective will be to destroy your opposing team’s MCC. In order to keep the battle ever-escalating there will be a non-persistent currency known as ‘war points’ which will allow the purchase of said installations and vehicles. The reason for the non-persistence of war points is in order to prevent any particular player or team from accumulating points and dominating each game. Perhaps a video to demonstrate this-for those of you can’t be bothered to read-is in order, though it isn’t exactly going to demonstrate everything I’ve elaborated upon, it should suffice.
So what else is there that I can say? Well let’s start with the fact that Dust 514 is free-to-play (FTP), now that’s a lot of game you’re getting for no asking price. On top of everything, as if that wasn’t enough already and all we really want to do is shoot things, Dust 514 players will in some sense interact with the EVE players. This will largely occur in factional disputes where planets and solar systems are won and lost according to the factional wars within EVE; these changes will affect Dust 514 territories and Dust 514 battles will equally affect EVE players. There is always potential for growth and the developers have announced that there are some other interactions currently being explored but that’s for a review rather than a preview. Best of all is Dust 514, though we can only take the developer’s word on this right now, will not be pay-to-win. Suffice it to say, the micro-transactions and purchasable content will not give paid-for players a serious advantage over the non-paying players., which is always great news in the free-to-play world.
So that’s all I know about Dust 514 so far. I’d love to have made this a hands-on preview instead; unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to play Dust 514 yet. I will do what I can to test it out and report back to you guys on its progress. For now, and of what I’ve seen of Dust 514, I know I’m keen to play this AAA FTP MMOFPS, what a mouthful.