I Have Friends In High Places – Dust 514

Your squad is sprinting across open ground, spraying suppressing fire wildly, while gauss rounds and energy beams pock the ground around you from the enemy squad dug in ahead.  The freelancer heavy to your right punches a plasma bolt into a sniper’s nest at the same time a tungsten ring penetrator snakes out and crashes through his faceplate.  You dash into cover; peering out to see in the distance several units of enemy armor screened by a new batch of infantry begin their slow march on your position.  While the infantry is second-rate, nothing carried by your surviving troops will scratch the advancing behemoths, so your hand darts to your transmitter and you cast your eyes to the sky as if in supplication.  Bare moments later, you see stars sparkling far off on the horizon. Knowing those expanding lights belong to no celestial body, but to the weapon bays of the trio of Caldari Eagle-class cruisers your employer sent to provide orbital support, you hug your cover as the bombardment you called in thunders down, the shockwave taking you off your feet.  Standing again, you look across the devastation which is all that is left of the advancing enemies.  Reaching to your transmitter once more, you notify the orbiting warships that planetary control has been achieved.

You set the controller of your PS3 down for a moment to catch your breath, and halfway around the world keyboards click as your support breaks orbit and sets course for a jumpgate.

Welcome to Dust 514.  Somewhere between June and December of this year, CCP will release Dust 514 on the PlayStation 3 as the FPS companion piece to their successful MMO space-sim, EVE Online.  The games will take place simultaneously in the same world, allowing the actions in Dust 514 to directly affect the shape of the world in EVE, and vice versa.  Not an entirely new concept, as FASA Corp’s (R.I.P.) Renegade Legion miniatures game allowed for integration amongst its various modules (the integration of Centurion and Leviathan make for a good parallel here).  Simply put, I cannot think of a single FPS on the market right now which allows a player to have any lasting impact beyond stats on a leaderboard.  Actions taken in Dust 514 involve the control and conquest of planets, whose economic value can and will affect the hundreds of thousands of regular EVE Online players, actively changing the balance of power.  This in combination with the equipment and character customization already showcased in EVE Online, has certainly pricked up my ears and pining for a beta slot to provide you, my faithful, with a true hands on (more accurately, it had me lambasting my Editor-In-Chief with demands to “Call CCP and Sony, and get me into the beta!  NOW!!”).

Recently having gone into closed beta, the sparse gameplay we’ve seen has a distinctly Battlefield vibe versus that belonging to its Activision-owned counterpart, with  big maps, plenty of vehicles, and lots of strategic gameplay options.  And that’s before one considers the options presented by having a very, very big spaceship available.  Take your AC-130 and shove it.  Speaking of which, it’s hardly a shock that CCP appears to have drawn on DICE’s creation for inspiration, as my admittedly limited time with EVE left me with the impression that Modern Warfare style gameplay would not fit into CCP’s overarching vision for Dust.

It’s an audacious plan for a certainty, especially with the fickle console crowd.  But win or lose, I’m placing my bets on Dust 514 heralding a whole new world of interactivity, and that EA is covertly watching this project with ideas for their own (rumored) Battlefield 2143.  MMOville, located on the outskirts of Console County, is a pretty desolate place.  So CCP’s decision to build a superhighway from there to EVE is a damned gutsy move.  While excited by the prospect, I’ll reserve judgment until I get my grasping claws firmly sunk into the beta.  But CCP proved long ago they’re a competent developer, which is why I am gnashing my teeth for release.


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January 14, 2012 - 8:30 am