So here I was sitting in front of CCP Games, the team responsible for one of the most unique MMORPGs of our time, EVE Online. But I wasn’t there to see the nine-year old EVE Online, I was there to see Dust 514. The thought of being in the presence of something as ambitious as an FPS tie-in for EVE Online was a bit intimidating at first, but after spending a few minutes playing it dawned on me that it is exactly as advertised, an FPS extension of EVE Online.
Dust 514 takes some of the best qualities of EVE Online and introduces them to the first-person genre. The one that was most exciting for me was the character area, which is where skill points are allocated. These skills and where I chose to allocate them had a significant impact on my abilities in-combat, and even played in part in allowing me to equip higher-tier armor, weapons, and equipment. The developers notified me that there are enough skills in the game that it would take years to max them all out, and even if that were to occur, additional skills would lengthen that time. In other words, you’ll never feel like your character is complete and that you’ve necessarily beaten the game
Similarly, the fitting area is a place where tons of time can be invested. Dropsuits are the name of the armor worn in Dust 514, and during my time with the game I was able to create several presets equipped with a variety of weapon and armor types. Merely calling these loadouts doesn’t do them justice as they allow for an extremely deep level of personalization. Suiting up a few dropsuits with the best equipment you can afford will go a long way to making you a ferocious opponent. I had the most luck with an anti-infantry preset equipped with a grenade launcher. Blowing up enemies left and right was satisfying, although the damage feedback could use a little work.
Playing Dust 514 can only be compared to the likes of games such as MAG and Battlefield 3 where the maps are large and objectives are critical. Teamwork is a necessity, and every time I veered away from my group of teammates I stood no chance. Calling in a vehicle mid-combat and seeing an aircraft fly it to me was quite the sight. While the visuals came across as a bit rough around the edges, the stable framerates and large scale gave it some flavor.
Sense of scale is deeply rooted in Dust 514. The moment you open the star map its hundreds of star systems are awe-inspiring. I’m skeptical as to how the full mass of EVE Online’s world will be taken advantage of, and chances are it won’t, but that doesn’t mean we won’t see dozens of planets where combat can take place. Speaking of which, the developer shared interest in creating maps and planets that suffer from extreme weather such as icy cold and lava. However, we won’t be seeing any of that until what is currently in-development is squared away.
The best thing I can say about Dust 514 is that it has a lot of the qualities that made EVE Online so fun to play. For the people who just like to jump into combat and start blowing away enemies this game might come off as way too unorthodox to get into. However, those who like to spend time fine-tuning their character, trying out new builds, and always earning something new—qualities not typically associated with FPS games—this is a game that will be very rewarding.
Dust 514 is coming very soon and a closed beta is currently ongoing. Stay tuned for more on this unique first-person shooter.