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E3 2012 – Dust 514 Hands-On

Posted by on June 7, 2012 at 12:45 pm

If you would’ve told me eight years ago that a complex game like EVE Online would spawn a first-person shooter tie-in, I would’ve called you crazy. I think EVE’s developer, CCP Games, would agree. Promising an experience that ties directly into that game, Dust 514 looks to take persistent science-fiction shooterin’ to a whole new level. I got some hands-on time with the PlayStation 3 shooter and I can assure you, it’s something worth ripping your gaze from Call of Duty or Medal of Honor for.

In Dust 514, you play a mercenary-for-hire who’s out to get the fattest loots. Action takes place throughout the entire EVE cluster, a group of thousands of stars. For those unaware, the EVE universe is almost completely player-driven, with stars being rated on a scale of 0.0 to 1.0 to indicate how much influence the game’s AI security forces have. Players in the EVE universe can contract hits on specific planets for their corporations (EVE’s guilds) to capture them for financial and territorial gain. The entire cluster is available for parsing through the star map, so you can twist and zoom around, then zoom in to see individual planets. If contracts aren’t available, you can still fight instanced battles in high-sec areas that don’t have any influence on the cluster, but can still net you experience and cash. Unlike EVE Online’s complex skillset which advances on calendar time, you gain experience based on merely playing the game, something instituted to bring more players into the fold. There’s a notion at CCP to preserve the hardcore aspects of EVE Online, but bring in new players that may, in time, be interested in getting into EVE Online as well.

Being a PlayStation 3 exclusive, CCP also built in native Move controller support, but I opted to use a standard Dual Shock 3. We played on an objective-based map in an ashen valley, which seems to be the visual motif of the game. (They weren’t able to state how many different “maps” would be available.) As I spawned, I got to choose from a list of archetypical loadouts (heavy, scout, etc.) that didn’t share any information about weaponry or equipment, so a little guess-and-test was required. The action feels solid and our match felt a little empty at 8v8, but they said the map could handle 16v16. I played on one of the instanced high-sec maps, so equipment and vehicles were available on demand. I called in a Viper dropship which had spots for six in the bay to haul my teammates around (playing a heavy at the time, it didn’t make much sense to land on a nearby skyscraper and start sniping).

They were only showing us a small vertical slice of content for now, but the game looks solid so far. The amount of content and connectivity with EVE Online are going to be the stars of this game’s galaxy, but it’s understandable that we couldn’t really get in-depth on those aspects for presentation and technical reasons. Dust 514 will actually be available for free through the PlayStation Network with the game’s business model being supported by microtransactions. You’ll be able to purchase ISK, the EVE universe’s currency, and add aesthetic touches to your mercenary that thankfully won’t affect gameplay. Dust 514 is due out this Fall with an open beta test “opening soon”.

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