When CCP announced that they were making Dust 514, a console-based MMOFPS that would tie into the universe of their current PC MMORPG EVE Online, reaction was mixed. When the team revealed more details at this year’s Fan Fest, reaction from the gathered crowd of hardcore EVE players appeared to be almost unanimously positive.
This could owe, at least in part, to the fact that while up until now players have known nothing but a few details about the game. So, while the game is most certainly still in a pre-alpha phase of development and there are some questions that still can not or will not be answered, Fan Fest did provide numerous new details and addressed a number of the overall concerns that were voiced when the game was first announced.
The demo that was shown at the event looked very much as one might expect a sci-fi shooter to look. Long, stretching swaths of terrain (each battle field is five kilometres long), with a mix of cold, concrete constructed buildings and cool, metallic futuristic technology. The map that was shown was mountainous and quite rocky, but we were told that different worlds would have different terrains.
The goal of each battle will be to destroy the opposing faction’s Mobile Command Center, an in-atmosphere ship that houses the team’s commander and flies slowly above the battle. This element, combined with the futuristic aspect of the game, looks very similar to Battlefield 2142 and its Titan maps. CCP’s Magnus Bergsson responded to questions about the physical similarities, saying that if you are going to take the ideas and the universe surrounding EVE and turn it into an FPS, this design simply makes sense. “There wasn’t much of another way to do it,” he said. In terms of the science fiction concept, they’re going to be fairly similar. He was also quick to point out that although there may be a similar look, the design of the two games differs significantly.
When DUST launches, it will use a microtransaction based revenue model. Players will, of course, have to buy the game at retail, but as DUST’s Atli Már Sveinsson said in the game’s press presentation, “We still have to pay for servers and such.”
Knowing that microtransactions of any kind can cause heated debate amongst players, the developers were quick to point out that they do not intend to put any item up for sale that would allow players to “buy win.” While the full details are being fleshed out, and any specific information in this area is subject to change, the plan at this point is to make items like blueprints available for purchase. Players who may be concerned that others will be able to purchase items without having earned them will be pleased to know that the company plans to implement a system wherein players have to unlock the right to purchase certain things so that it all comes out on the level.
Interaction with EVE
When DUST was announced, it was made clear that the game would not only be set in the same conceptual universe as its MMORPG counterpart, but that it would also exist within it at the same time, as two parts of the same online whole. In short, EVE players and DUST players would be able to interact.
Fans already knew that EVE players would be able to hire out DUST mercenaries, but details were sketchy beyond that. As in most things, the full details have yet to emerge, but the team tells players that, at least at first, the flow of money between EVE and DUST will be one way (from EVE to DUST). As time goes on, and the developers are able to see how players use the system, they will decide how to proceed further.
All of this being said, players in their early DUST careers will have absolutely no contact with EVE whatsoever, and even after spending a decent amount of time in the game, the choice to interact with EVE will be theirs. Numerous times throughout the presentations, CCP employees made it clear that DUST and EVE, while existing in the same universe, can operate perfectly well without the other. So, if EVE were to disappear one day, DUST would continue operate and vice-versa.
The Console Only Approach
Not at all surprisingly, there are a number of EVE fans (who play the game on their PCs or MACs) who are upset by the decision to develop this extension of “their” universe exclusively for the console. After all, they have been playing in the New Eden universe.
It is difficult, however, to blame the folks at CCP for wanting to expand their universe to a console market that is hungry for both quality shooters and innovation, especially when that market remains such a vast untapped resource by the rest of the MMO industry. The truth is, from a business standpoint, this move makes sense. That, and CCP has a plan:
CCP’s Magnus Bergsson and DUST’s Atli Már Sveinsson have both separately commented on the issue, citing an attempt to make something completely new and interesting. “We are totally committed to make this an ideal console experience,” Sveinsson said in response to a question about the PC. Later, Bergsson added his own thoughts:
“We want to make the best possible console game,” he said, echoing his co-worker’s sentiments. He went on to say that making a PC game is an entirely different process. Their plan, apparently, is to take the console shooter genre and improve upon it, doing the best job possible. With that being said though, he also added that “The future is still open,” indicating that while a console version of the game is the company’s focus now, they have not ruled out a PC version in the future.
At this stage of the game, DUST is still a long way off. While there was indeed a played demo available at Fan Fest, the playing was done in a specifically small area, by developers only. Things will undoubtedly change, new announcements will be made and new questions will arise. This year’s Fan Fest, however, answered many of the concerns that EVE players may have had about the upcoming sister game.