Although derided by the PC master race for being a console exclusive, the resemblance that DUST 514 has to its elder brother EVE Online is staggering. From the way the game starts, its music, its menu system, even the way you outfit your soldiers — all of it has that traditional EVE feeling. This is on purpose of course, considering that both games are planned to seamlessly partner with each other, a feat never successfully achieved in the history of gaming.
This innovation of DUST 514 is also one of its most defining features. People in DUST can interact with people in EVE, and vice versa. Currently it is limited to people on the ground in DUST calling orbital bombardments (and EVE players obliging), but there is also going to be ways for players on the ground to return fire on those hitting them from orbit, and corporations being able to host both DUST and EVE players for proper coordinated attacks, political intrigue, and more.
Of course, what benefit is there to people in EVE putting their ships potentially in harm’s way to help out a ground force on a planet? While not much is known at the moment, developers at CCP have hinted at a planetary upgrade setup, not dissimilar to the system upgrades currently in place. There is also the potential for planets to send goods up to a small interstellar station, but CCP are waiting to see how the economy balances itself before adding things like manufacturing to the game.
That DUST 514 is a balanced game, while working with EVE Online is considerably impressive. While there are several thousands of distinct ways to outfit any given class, the simple ‘scissors, paper, rock’ of what weapon class should beat others remains a constant. For instance if vehicles are being successfully pinned down and destroyed by a Forge Gun-wielding Heavy, a Sniper or two will make short work of them, allowing the vehicles to travel unmolested. Every weapon class has its own strengths and weaknesses.
This balance extends to every aspect of the game, allowing each individual aspect to shine and stand tall in its own right. The map design is a practically flawless example, with objectives, cover, and important buildings feeling both natural and logically built. Nothing truly seems arbitrary, from the placement of turrets to the setup of hills and surrounding environment.
Unique weaponry is another thing that DUST 514 excels at. While the multi missile launching Swarm Launcher and the ‘charge to destroy’ Forge Gun are the most immediately noticeable, even standard FPS weapons like the Assault Rifle look, feel and handle distinctly different from any other game. It’s not just the weapon types that are distinct though, with individual weapons within that type handling with a lot of variety.
Add to all this the fact that each individual Dropsuit has ways of customising it. From extra shields, more armour, lower signature radius and more… it’s very possible to find a different setup for every person you fight against in the world. It’s not simply that people will have different weapon loadouts, but different skills learnt, different modules fitted and different equipment added.
Finally there is the vehicle selection. While there are your standard Light and Heavy vehicles for both ground and air, the sheer customisability of them is as staggering as ships in EVE or Dropsuits themselves. This creates an interesting setup where the people on the ground might not be able to tell what type of vehicle is coming their way outside of its basic type… is that dropship going to drop troops, scout, or be a mobile weapons platform? All of this works to create tension in a match as well as variety.
In the future we will likely see the addition of both MTAC’s and Fighters to DUST 514. MTAC’s are combat mechs, and will potentially be capable of scaling buildings, engaging vehicles and generally just looking (and being) badass. Fighters seem fairly straightforward, but there is always room for CCP to surprise. Dropsuits and vehicles with cloaking functionality have also been hinted at, but how they will work are still very much unknown.
While it is easy to dismiss DUST 514 at a glance as a generic MMOFPS, it is an incredibly precise, balanced experience that no other MMOFPS has even managed to get close to. As the game gets closer and closer to launch, more refinement and greater variety will be introduced. More and more will also be revealed about EVE interactivity, and how it will change the EVE universe.