Dust 514 Hands-On Preview -- Settle Down In Your Mercenary QuartersBy Leah Jackson - Posted Jun 07, 2012
Dust 514 isn't your typical free-to-play MMOFPS. It's set within the extremely vast Eve Online universe, and players will be able to interact between the two games. Eve players can hire Dust 514 players as mercenaries to fight for control of planets, which is exactly what we did in our E3 2012 demo.
The demo started in the Merc Quarters, which is basically the area where you'll set up your Mercenary’s fittings and learn new skills. Fittings are kind of like loadouts, and similar to ship hulls in Eve Online. They're player built and customizable based on your playstyle. Skill training in Dust 514 is also similar to Eve's, a passive process that takes real-world time.
The Merc Quarters are also linked to the Marketplace, an area where you can buy weapons, boosts, gear, vehicles, turrets, and more, for both real-world money currency, Aurum, and in-game currency, Isk. You won't have to worry about people buying power in Dust either, as the Aurum items aren't any better than the items you'd get with Isk, they just have different stats.
The Merc quarters also hold the customizable Dropsuit Fittings area. In Dust, you're only limited in how many weapons you can carry by how much armor your dropsuit has. For example, gear with more armor can equip more weapons. In our demo, there were several pre-set fittings that fit in to the now standard FPS archetypes like scout, tank, and medic.
Once your character's suited up, it's time to hit the battlefield. In the Merc Quarters you can access the Battlefinder, which pulls up the same exact Star Map from Eve Online. Here you can choose which planet needs your help, and launch straight there.
As you hit the ground, the game switches to a first-person view and it's up to you and your team to capture and defend various points of interest on the map. On the dusty, mountainous map we were on there were three points to defend, which kept turrets shooting at a massive ship overhead. If the turrets could bring down the ship before it flew all the way across the map, we'd win the game.
It sounds simple, but there's a lot of potential strategy involved in a game mode like this. Aside from capture points, enemies can also capture your spawn points, making it very difficult for you to run back to your points in time to defend them if you happen to die. Luckily, we knew that keeping our spawn points safe was important, so the other team never had the chance to get at them.
The weapons in Dust vary from some sort of small blaster all the way to huge heat-seeking missile launchers. Again, your Dropsuit will determine how many weapons you can bring with you, but not the type. That's totally up to you.
There is one catch though: when you die in Dust 514 during battle, you permanently lose one weapon from your stack of weapons you got at the store. Once you use up the whole stack, you won't be able to use that item anymore until you stock back up.
Once the game is over, you'll be rewarded with Isk and skill points to spend. Interestingly, if you're a new player and you manage to kill a higher-level player with a better ranking and weapons than you, you'll get a higher payday at the end of the match than they would, even if they did well in the match. This is to incentivize newer players to learn different strategies to take out all sorts of opponents.
Dust 514 will be entering beta on June 29 exclusively for the PlayStation 3. It's looking great so far, and with a release date set for later this year, we're excited to see how Eve and Dust will continue to interact with one another, and how the genre evolves because of such an innovative title.