Gamescom 2010: From Dust First Look PreviewBy Jake Gaskill - Posted Aug 20, 2010
What We Know:
Formerly known as Project Dust, From Dust from Ubisoft Montpellier is a creatively ambitious downloadable title that gives players total control over a fully simulated environment as they attempt to help a small tribe of villagers try to reach a mythical, island sanctuary. Don't let the description dissuade you. You need to keep an eye on this one.
What We’re Seeing Now:
Ubisoft unveiled the game during E3 with a thoroughly intriguing trailer, but this is the first time we’ve seen the game in action, and, boy, is it stunning. For starters, the entire game is one massive simulation and everything from the water to the terrain to the lava to the wildlife is completely dynamic and can be manipulated on the fly.
This means that if you want to create a river, all you have to do is pull the left trigger and you’ll gather up a ball of whatever material you are hovering over, in this case rock, and as soon as a section is cut away, the water will flow through the hole, creating a river. Think of it as a much more complex version of the terrain editor in the Sims series.
For example, during our demo, we’re told a tsunami will hit own village at a certain time. In order to shield the village from destruction, we have to help one of our tribes-folk reach a distant rune that contains the power to protect against water-based threats. Once you set the path to the rune (signified by a green dotted line when it’s clear, and a red dotted line when it’s blocked), your villager takes off, and it’s up to you to make sure the way is clear.
This mainly required you to make a land bridge by gathering soil and building up a portion of terrain that was underwater. Sometimes, you need to travel quickly, so to get the villager from the rune back to the village as fast as possible, the developer demoing the game cut out a portion of rock, creating a new river that then washed the village downstream to the banks of the village. With the rune in place, the villagers started pounding drums and making music as the giant wall of water bore down on their tiny huts. Thanks to the power of the music, the water morphed around the village, as if it were protected by a giant force field, before crashing onto the rest of the island, thereby saving your tribe.
The overarching goal of the game is to help your band of villagers grow into larger bands, establish new villages, and finally migrate onto new islands until they reach a nirvana-ish paradise. To do this, you’ll help them acquire powers, and by doing so, they’ll give you powers in return, like the ability to freeze water (or lava for that matter). Once you’ve established four villages you can set a migration point, and all of your tribes will flock to that point before moving onto the next island.
What’s particularly cool is that once a village has acquired a special ability, a villager will automatically seek out the other villages to share their power with them. Of course, you have to make sure their path is clear, but they will act autonomously, freeing you up from having to constantly be telling them what they should be doing.
It wasn’t shown during the demo, but the game world will also include a robust wildlife system to add to the sandbox of puzzle pieces. It isn’t exactly clear how animals will factor into the gameplay, but we’ll be keeping a very close eye on the game, so hopefully we’ll find out more soon about it soon. For now though, just know that From Dust is shaping up to be one hell of a project.