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Dust 514 Preview

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Dust 514 is the EVE Online tie in game that is currently in beta for the PS3. CCP are promising an FPS that, will eventually let the two very different games affect each other in some interesting ways.

First and foremost, I’d like to quickly say that this game feels like it is part of the EVE universe. While I could never really get into the main game for more than a week or two in short spats, it does have a particular atmosphere and tone that resonates throughout the game. It has a very 80’s Sci-Fi that is neither incredibly dirty or super sleek and shiny. It is a Sci-fi Universe that feels plausible as a far future reality and it’s something I very much appreciate.

From the get go, Dust gives you a depth of choices you will more than likely feel overwhelmed with. There is little in terms of information on what your choices really mean when you create a character and from that point onwards it can be a bit of an uphill struggle. The tutorials are little more than tooltips; which rarely offer enough information for you to really garner much information. It is still closed beta though and many more features have yet to be added.

If you’ve ever played EVE then the interface is going to be very familiar to you. The game already has more depth than most online shooters due mainly to the fact that you are given so much variety and the ability to tweak your performance is so many subtle ways. Like EVE, you earn skill points and ISK (the games currency). Skill points are earned both over time and by completing battles, they can then be allocated to skills to enhance your capabilities. The range in skills to learn is overwhelming to say the least and there is plenty to read through before you can truly decide on what to work towards.

Suits are essentially different classes; each confers different stats and options for upgrades etc. You have your assault, sniper, heavy weapons and medic currently and each one can be outfitted with vastly different equipment. Each suit has its particular roles that it does well and each can be outfitted in the ways that you prefer. Suits can be given different weapons, power cells, shield types and equipment. It is astounding how close the game is to EVE in terms of its customisation.

Leaving the complexity behind, the actual shooting side of the game handles itself pretty well. The scale of battles rests largely on the gametype being played. The standard battles are more or less last man standing games and due to the high number of players per team and the general balancing it is a very mixed bag. Players that have invested more time into the game will always have an advantage in these sorts of games but someone bringing a massive tank into a relatively small map can seem a little unfair to say the least.

Skirmish battles take place on much bigger maps and with the ground forces capturing nodes that (to my understanding) help defeat the enemy ship. These battles tend towards sprawling maps, full of military/ industrial installations, spatters of wide open dusty roads and empty plains. There is a lot of pushing and pulling between the two sides as the battles move around the map, as nodes are captured and recaptured. Vehicles fit this mode much better and are far more useful, there are also turrets that can be manned to give your team an advantage. It all ties in rather nicely and definitely evokes memories of Battlefield 2142.

There are plenty of weapons and the vast majority of weapons seem to use hit scan, which feels much more appropriate to the setting and just feels much more solid when shooting someone. It’s interesting to see how the different weapons of the same type match up against each other as you will have to buy them in bulk using ISK.

Everything you use in game, with some exceptions, must be bought in bulk to be used effectively. Most guns are once per life, so having a stock of weapons is a must. Starter weapons and equipment are unlimited though so there’s no need to worry about being locked out of having a weapon. It does mean that vehicles and some of the more expensive items will need you to play more cautiously; else you’ll lose them quickly.

The game still has a long way to go in terms of features implemented, balancing and optimisation (it uses the Unreal 3 Engine). The feel of the game, premise and aesthetic is very much in line of what you’d expect of EVE. It will definitely hold a particular niche for gamers and as it is free to play, should be given a chance by shooter fans; especially fans of Battlefield.

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