This year EVE Fanfest has been a riot, and we’re only just getting started. With close to 2000 people flooding the halls of the HARPA convention centre in Reykjavik, Iceland there an electrifying BUZZ in the air rivalling the engines of a capital ship in EVE.
But, surprisingly, there hasn’t been a lot of EVE on the menu. They’ve told us that for tomorrow. Today is for DUST 514, the long awaited (and highly secretive) first-person shooter title scheduled for release this year on the PlayStation 3.
DUST is to be the first true cross-platform game ever released, boasting unprecedented connectivity between the space-faring PC universe of EVE Online, and the planet-side shooter elements of an FPS. The general idea being that the two worlds will be connected on multiple fronts, such as sharing a marketplace and economy and communication channels.
Though, if you’ve been following the news, you’ll know most of that already. Today, we were given the chance to play DUST for the first time, alongside a keynote presentation and several smaller glimpses at various elements of gameplay — in short, we had a chance to see a bunch of cool shit for the first time, and have a number of long-standing questions answered.
To keep things simple, I’m going to break the rest of this piece up into small, bite-sized chunks of sweet, DUST goodness:
SKILLS AND PROGRESSION
One of the biggest question marks in the DUST 514 fan-base the last few months has been the state of the skill system, and overall player progression throughout the game. We learned today that the skill book system from EVE, in which skills are ‘loaded’ into a queue and trained in real time, will be present in DUST too, with some small differences, in that skills can also be progressed via winning matches and completing objectives.
This includes everything from skills that allow you to use specific weapons and ‘fittings’, to vehicle specific skills and others that increase efficiency in logistical elements, such as hacking and setting up facilities across the maps.
ARMOUR AND FITTINGS
Armour suits in DUST 514, aptly named ‘dropsuits’, are collections of specific fittings that can be tailored and stored to suit in a variety of roles on the battlefield. The interface closely resembles that in EVE, as do many of the specific fittings themselves, such as ‘Armour Repair’ and ‘CPU Processor’ fittings, and everything in between.
Vehicles, such as the HAV (Tank) and LAV (Buggy) operate under the same rules, too, in that they can also be fitted with individual modules chosen by the player to suit their own preference and style. Combine this with skill training and you’ve got yourself a recipe for total customisation.
MARKET AND ECONOMY
Everything in DUST can be purchased (don’t quote me on that actually, I haven’t played that much) using ISK — the same ISK used in EVE — on the Marketplace — the same Marketplace in EVE — or Aurum (virtual currency, also from EVE). So far as we’ve seen, this will impact EVE players and DUST players in different ways. DUST players, for example, will use ISK and Aurum to purchase weapons, vehicles, skills and upgrades, while EVE players will use ISK to open contracts for DUST players, which will serve as battle initiators in DUST, and moreover, will be able to purchase DUST players themselves, either as mercs-for-hire, or permanent members of their corporations.
As the Marketplace is shared, the possibilities for organic inter-connection are seemingly limitless. HAVs, for example, should theoretically need to be crafted by EVE players, and then sold on the Marketplace to DUST players. The interconnectivity between these two worlds isn’t limited to the Marketplace either, but more on that later.
Note: We’ve been assured that Aurum, the virtual currency option in DUST, has been implemented with gameplay balance in mind. All items available for purchase with Aurum will also be available for purchase with ISK, and no overwhelming advantage can be gained by having a larger wallet.
THE WAR ROOM
I’ve yet to personally experience the War Room myself, but with some help from CCP_Jian, I did get a small vicarious introduction. The War Room serves as the pre-game lobby in DUST; set in a command ship orbiting the planet of the battle that will soon begin, players can freely roam the room, have complete text and voice communication access with their teammates (both those in DUST, and in EVE), and can access a variety of battle data and analytics.
A game of DUST can begin in a variety of different ways, but we were only able to experience one: the Battle Finder. This is a basic ‘Quick Match’ feature, designed to get you into the action without delay. A second option, the Star Map, was available, but wasn’t working in the demo. Chances are, it’ll let you select planets with open contracts, or those your corporation have targeted for war.
After selecting Battle Finder, we were able to select a ‘room’, and join the War Room that followed. When the battle began, we were shown a 3D, real-time map of the battlefield from a birds-eye view — by far the best I’ve ever seen — which gave us a good chance to see the battlefield, our enemies, structures and objectives.
From the map, it was as simple as selecting a dropsuit and spawn point, rocketing down from the orbital command station to the ground, and preparing for battle. This video should give you an idea of what happened next:
DUST 514 AND EVE
So far, DUST 514 is looking pretty good. It’s comprised of some pretty solid FPS gaming and some innovative, but expected, interface, HUD and progression elements. But all of that’s nothing if not a pre-curser for the real agenda — its connectivity with Eve Online.
To that respect, we were given our first real taste of the true potential of DUST when CCP_Jian gave target coordinates to a colleague playing EVE, and, well, the results speak for themselves:
And with that, I think I’m done for the day. But before I leave you, here’s a few fun facts I forgot to mention:
- DUST 514 runs on the Unreal 3 Engine
- While EVE was developed in Iceland, DUST was developed in Shanghai
- There are over 1000 maps planned for the DUST 514 release (more on that tomorrow)
- The largest map in DUST 514 is 4km squared
- Different races have access to different vehicles and weapons, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses
- Currently, it would take almost 7 years to train every skill in DUST 514
That’s about all I’ve got. Tomorrow, we’ve been promised some juicy discussions with regards to the promised ‘thousands of maps at launch’, some more detail on how different roles will affect the battlefield, how alliances in EVE can affect DUST, and visa-versa, and some more depth to the orbital warfare (from the video above), and generally, the link between players in EVE and DUST. Stay tuned.
Stay tuned for more DUST 514 and EVE coverage from Fanfest 2012!