Dust 514 Beta First Impressions
How do you like the sound of Battlefield in space? The team behind the hugely popular EVE Online present an MMOFPS that looks set to revolutionise the way players experience the online FPS.
A lot of console FPS players will have very little idea about Dust514 and even less about the MMORPG EVE Online that spawned it, so a little explanation is in order.
EVE Online is perhaps the most ardently played MMORPG boasting its own economy, galaxy wide conflict (down to the finest of details) and a membership that continues to grow year on year as other MMO’s are beginning to wane. With around 400,000 ultra immersed members, EVE Online is a game world, well galaxy, that allows players to make every decision in their quest to establish or topple vast galactic empires. This is, of course, selling EVE Online incredibly short. It’s a game on a truly epic scale that is infinitely detailed with enough permutations to keep players immersed to a point that is almost unmatched anywhere else.
But what about Dust514? At its heart, Dust514 is a first-person shooter played out on the grand scale. Everything from the size of the battles to the level of customisation is huge. Battles play out on multi-tiered stages while dodging enemy fire, vehicles, missile batteries, mounted cannons and even the odd orbital strike. Fans of Battlefield 3 will see the parallels with DICE’s behemoth (which given the fact that there are some of the team that built Battlefield 3 involved with Dust514 is hardly surprising) but what sets Dust514 from the current crop of console FPS’s is the level of customisation on offer. Players can choose from the four pre-set classes, or drop-suits as they are known, but there is scope for players to create and customise their own drop-suits. Drop-suits can be customised to an incredible level. After choosing a primary and secondary weapon, players are given the chance to customise the various slots with enhancements and augmentations that have the potential to turn players into heavily armoured, gun-toting behemoths. Vehicles can be customised too, though not to such a degree, allowing players to make them more resilient and deal more damage.
Mechanically speaking, Dust514 is similar to Battlefield 3 and Modern Warfare 3 and players who have put their time in to these will have no trouble getting to grips with Dust514. From aiming and shooting to swapping weapons, chucking grenades and dashing around, just about everything in terms of controls will be all-too-familiar to FPS veterans. This is especially true for those who enjoy playing shooters, like Battlefield 3, that combine infantry firefights and vehicular combat.
While Dust514 emulates Battlefield in terms of control it lacks the visual splendour that set DICE’s effort apart. That being said, Dust514 still looks great with a good draw distance, impressive lighting, great character, vehicle and weapon models and some very good texturing. The issue is that the visual style of Dust514 looks and feels dated. However, given that Dust514 is still in the beta phase there is plenty of time for CCP to add a layer of polish and take advantage of the power that PS3 has on offer.
But even all this isn’t enough to fully explain what Dust514 is. It’s so much more than just the huge scale FPS it appears, it’s much deeper and so much more complex than that. Players can orchestrate every element of the battlefield from which boots are going to hit the ground to the types of vehicles and emplacements that will patrol the skies.
At this stage, Dust514 looks like an extremely promising and exciting prospect. It has a level of depth and immersion that promises to such players in and keep them heavily involved in the workings of the EVE universe as a whole. While Dust514 takes its cues from the current generation of first-person shooters, most notably Battlefield 3, it offers players of these games the chance to experience war a grand scale in a very different way. While the shooter mechanics are a little loose in the beta and we didn’t get the chance to experience cross connectivity with PC, Dust514 still showed us enough to suggest that it will live up to its huge amount of promise. CCP’s ‘future vision’ looks like it may redfine what the online FPS is.