TGS 2012: Dust 514 Ain't Your Cookie Cutter Shooter

One Universe. One War.

The tagline for Dust 514 is fitting, since the EVE Online-based console FPS is set in the same universe and servers as its sister game, and promises a game experience like no other.

Play its hands-on currently available at the Tokyo Game Show and you’ll be disappointed. But stay a while and see how it fits into the bigger picture and you’ll be amazed. Unlike other games, Dust 514 cannot be judged on its merits as a console shooter alone. You could do that, but you’ll be left with a meager impression of a console FPS with fancy weapons and a ‘home’ base that you can return to after each battle session.

The magic of Dust 514 happens when you look at is as a part of the larger EVE Online universe.

“As we approach nearly a decade with EVE we are tremendously excited about opening the EVE universe up further,” said CCP Games Creative Director Torfi Olafsson in a presentation this afternoon.

In Dust 514, players control Mercenaries. These Mercenaries are but clones given consciousness via a new technology unearthed earlier by corporations from the EVE Online universe. This technology is capable of transferring consciousness from body to body at time of death, and effectively renders Mercenaries immortal, since dying would simply mean their consciousness transfers to another clone that then steps up to battle.

Mercenaries play an important role in EVE. By working in squads, they are able to capture territories for the corporations they belong to. These territories can then be mined by the masters of the (EVE) universe for them to expand on their resources and influence in the game. Without men on the ground, expansion and enforcement of territory – an important aspect of EVE Online – would be much more difficult.

Because everyone in Dust 514 and EVE Online will play in the same server, things happen all the time, and quickly, too. A squad of Mercenaries may be dispatched to a nearby planet; should they run into trouble, they can easily call for a fellow corporation member (on EVE Online) to help. This same ship will be able to watch their battle from the safety of the planet’s orbit, all in real time.

Players of either game can also harm each other. Should a Mercenary squad find the need to eliminate a passing ship, they can call up an orbital artillery to do so. And theoretically speaking, the view of the wreckage will be spectacular from the ground up. Consequently, ships are also able to call down orbital strikes to annihilate ground-based opponents.

Dust 514 will also see a “tremendous amount of RPG depth”, Torfi assured us. Certain traits of the Dust 514 system have “borrowed heavily” from EVE, with progression and fitting being two of the bests. Character customisation – skinning -, equipment, and weapons will all enjoy the same depth of control that EVE players currently already do.

Like EVE Online, Dust 514 will operate on a freemium model of play. Real money currency can be used to purchase items, though CCP will make certain that all freemium items will also be purchasable with the earned currency.

At its heart, Dust 514 is really just another shiny console shooter, and one for the PS3 to boot. But by adding in the depth and roleplaying aspects of EVE Online, as well as inter-game real-time combat with EVE Online, Dust 514 suddenly doesn’t seems like a cookie cutter shooter anymore.

Dust 514 is currently in closed-beta. CCP will be announcing an open-beta date in the near future. The game is a PS3/PSN exclusive, and will be downloadable for free when available.