|Publisher(s)||CCP Games, Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Distributor(s)||Sony Computer Entertainment|
|Engine||Unreal Engine 3|
Dust 514 (stylized as EVE: DUST 514) is a free-to-play first-person shooter developed by CCP Games for the PlayStation 3. Dust 514 takes place in New Eden and is directly connected to CCP's game Eve Online. There is direct interaction between the two; player actions in one game affect the political and economic status of the other. The two games were officially connected on January 10, 2013, while the open beta started on January 22, 2013. The full game was released worldwide on May 14, 2013. While previews of the game were highly positive, the full game received a mixed reception.
Dust 514 takes place in the same fictional universe as Eve Online, a science-fiction massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) set 21,000 years in the future. The Eve Online backstory explains that humanity, after using up the Earth's resources, began to colonize the rest of the Milky Way. The development of faster-than-light travel allowed mankind to expand at an extremely fast pace, leading to violent competition between space-faring corporations. A natural wormhole was discovered, and humanity entered through it to find an empty new galaxy which they began colonizing. However, the wormhole connecting the two galaxies collapsed, leaving the young colonies cut off from the worlds that had supplied them. Without support, many of the colonies in the new galaxy died off, and over time the few that remained lost their knowledge of both their technology and of their origins from Earth. Eventually, a new era began when civilization was rebuilt and faster-than-light travel was rediscovered. Five unique space-faring cultures emerged from the colonies to become the only interstellar powers in the new galaxy.
Eve Online players take the role of capsuleers, who are elite starship pilots made immortal using cloning technology and consciousness transfers. For much of Eve history, only capsuleers were immortal because the technology required to download consciousness was linked to a capsule that encloses them and leaves them in suspended animation. The capsule was designed specifically as an interface for pilots to control the ship that they were placed within. However, the discovery of a special implant made it possible to achieve a transfer of consciousness without the use of a capsule, so it became possible to make immortals that were not pilots. Dust 514 players take the role of immortal ground-based soldiers which were created by the military shortly after the implant was discovered.
Dust 514 is a first-person shooter with elements of massively multiplayer online games. Combat takes place on the various planets found in Eve Online, each of which offers a unique map. Planets are divided into several large districts, which hold resources and installations that dust players must fight for control over. Only the natural landscape of each planet remains constant; the placement of buildings and surface structures is controlled by the player corporations.
Infantry in Dust 514 are equipped with "dropsuits" which function similarly to the ship hulls in Eve Online. Dropsuits have various module slots which players can utilize to fit different weapons and equipment. This gives players a broad range of customization choices and the ability to create specialized fits to perform specific roles and tactics on the battlefield. Skill training, in a manner similar to Eve Online, is also available. CCP has stated that it would take seven years to train all skills, and that it was not intended for any player to learn all of the skills. Instead, CCP believes that players will naturally become specialized by selecting a certain set of skills and becoming "really, really good at them." Player-driven vehicles are also available in the game; these can be transported to anywhere within the battlefield using "rapid deployment vehicles" at the request of players. Vehicles share the modular fitting system that infantry dropsuits have.
Although it has not yet been implemented both teams will have a "commander" who can oversee the planetary combat and make tactical decisions from a real-time strategy-style perspective. The commanders reside within a massive aerial fortress known as the "mobile command center". According to CCP, mobile command centers require fuel to run systems such as turrets and energy shields, and it is up to commanders to extract fuel from sources within the battlefield. The goal of each team is to destroy the opposing mobile command center.
Although Dust 514 players are mercenaries, they can also seize territory from planets within the Eve universe for their own alliance and corporation, which takes place in the form of Corporation vs. Corporation matches. This allows Dust corporations to build infrastructure on captured territory, but it is unclear what manufacturing power Dust corporations will hold. Currently the only planets that battles take place on in which both eve players and dust players can work together reside entirely in faction warfare space. Control of a district on the planets currently directly affects the difficulty of system capture through the use of the new Dust 514 district capture status modifier.
Connection to Eve Online
All combat within Dust 514 takes place, in real-time, on planets found in the Eve Online universe. The player alliances and corporations of Eve Online can hire Dust 514 players as mercenaries to fight for control over planets; the outcome of such battles will affect the sovereignty of player-run political powers in Eve Online. A direct form of interaction comes in the form of "orbital bombardments". Orbital bombardments allow a player in Eve Online to provide direct assistance to friendly forces in a battle in Dust 514. If a player in Eve Online is in position above a planet with proper bombardment equipment, the player can fire upon a target designated by a friendly Dust 514 player. This was first shown to the public as an actual ingame mechanic during EVE Fanfest 2012, although it had been previously featured during the 2011 fanfest in a cinematic trailer titled A Future Vision.
Both games share the same namespace, so a player in Dust 514 cannot choose a username that already exists in Eve Online or vice-versa. This allows players from both games to join the same corporation or alliance, as well as communicate between the two games in real-time.
In an interview conducted by Simon Carless of Gamasutra, Hilmar said that he hopes "these [Eve Online and Dust 514] communities will meld over time", bridging the two environments. He described the relationship between the flying-oriented nature of Eve Online and the infantry-oriented nature of Dust 514, saying "while the fleet does the flying, the infantry does the dying". The massive Eve universe will be the platform for all planetary combat. Brandon Laurino, executive producer of Dust 514, has confirmed that there will not be a set number of maps at launch, saying "We are covering literally a universe of planets, so there's thousands of different maps and they're all available to everyone who's playing."
In 2010, CCP updated Eve Online with the Tyrannis expansion. Tyrannis introduced planetary interaction, allowing players to harvest resources from planets using ground installations. A developer blog by CCP mentioned that, while the expansion alone would not include planetary combat, the upcoming Dust 514 game would deal with the combat aspect by allowing players to "project military force for attack and defense of planetary installations." Planets in Eve Online previously held no value; the Tyrannis expansion was intended to tie into Dust 514 by giving players "a reason to want to fight over [the planets]."
During E3 2011, it was confirmed that Dust 514 would be released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. A beta would be held before the end of 2011 followed by a release in the summer of 2012. However since then CCP has opted to put more work into the game to improve it further and have a release date in 2013, which again has yet to be announced, rather than a 2012 release date. Dust 514 was initially slated to be the first cross platform game, pitting Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 players with each other but CCP has since dropped the Xbox 360 as a potential platform; the choice of PlayStation 3 exclusive was determined by Sony's more open platform allowing Dust 514 to connect to the Eve Online server Tranquility, whereas Microsoft's Xbox Live did not. It was also confirmed after E3 2011 that Dust 514 utilizes Havok middleware technology.
Dust 514 was connected to Tranquility, the live production server of Eve Online, on January 10, 2013. The complexity of running two games on one server proved to be a unique challenge for the developers. To mitigate any performance issues that this might have on either of the two games, CCP has designed a server architecture such that the majority of Dust 514 gameplay will be run on various "battle clusters" across the world. These server clusters will handle all the latency sensitive first-person shooter aspects of Dust 514. The main Eve cluster, located in London, will only communicate with Dust 514 for information such as character names.
The game was released on May 14, 2013, with an update titled Uprising. This release build improves many aspects of the game, such as the graphics and character progression, and introduces the planetary conquest mechanic. Although Uprising is the release build, CCP says that it will not be the final major update: "Even when we take off the beta tag the launches don’t stop. We’ll launch significant updates indefinitely... It’s an on-going service that will keep getting better and better."
At CCP's 2012 Fanfest, even before the release of Dust 514, CCP has already revealed ideas for expansions in 2013. Possible future features include the ability to traverse on planets with "hostile" environments (such as lava planets) and the addition of mechanized exoskeletons that players can use, called MTACs.
At CCP's 2014 Fanfest, the company revealed that development would be split between Dust 514 and Project Legion, a prototype for a PC-based first-person shooter that would attempt to address some of the shortcomings in Dust 514. They plan on developing a distinct experience in the new prototype that is more aligned with their vision, while continuing to maintain some limited development of Dust 514. If they decide the prototype is successful, they will transfer existing player profiles and assets to the new game. This announcement has been met with great criticism from the global player base, leading leading groups of core players to believe that CCP is abandoning Dust 514 in favor of Project Legion. Many core corporation, clans and loyal players left Dust 514 later.
In the PlayStation's online social gaming platform PlayStation Home, a game space for Dust 514 was released on June 13, 2012. The game space provides information about mercenaries and the Eve Universe, as well as a mini-game known as Slay, a tabletop strategy game. Users can also earn special rewards such as a Merc Dropsuit and a Companion Drone.
Unlike Eve Online, Dust 514 does not require a monthly subscription. It instead uses a micro-transaction model, making the game free to play. The game has two currencies: Aurum, which can only be bought with real money, and ISK, the currency in Eve Online which can be earned in both games. CCP's chief marketing officer, David Reid, has compared this model to that of League of Legends. Reid has said that Dust 514 is not a "pay-to-win" game. While some equipment can be purchased with Aurum, the only benefit is a slightly different skin and lower skill requirements. Since the skills in question actually improve the performance of the equipment, performance of the Aurum-bought gear will actually be slightly sub-par unless the skills are trained anyway.
Before release Dust 514 has been recognized as ground-breaking and innovative for its connection to another game. IGN said that the game was highly ambitious and called it "...a Glimpse of the Future.", while PC Gamer praised the orbital bombardment mechanic and the unprecedented amount of customization available.
Upon release the game has received mixed reception from critics. It has attained an average aggregate score of 59.10% on GameRankings and 59/100 on Metacritic, indicating mixed or average reviews.
Criticisms were generally focused on the bugs and poor execution of the gameplay. IGN's Vince Ingenito stated that Dust 514's incredible depth and customization were eclipsed by its poor graphics and gameplay mechanics. Additionally, Ingenito criticized the way the game implemented the free-to-play business model, saying it took too long for players to get into the equipment that they wanted. He ultimately gave the game a score of 5.8/10, calling it mediocre. Destructoid's Chris Carter gave the game a rating of 6/10, calling it an ambitious and complex shooter that still needed "a ton of work". Among the aspects that he criticized were the underwhelming graphics, the uninnovative game modes, and the tedious grind. Eurogamer reviewer Paul Dean wrote that Dust 514 has great potential but is "saddled with a very dull debut." Dean noted that despite having interesting factors, such as the metagame and social connection to Eve Online, the game itself was mediocre and contained many bugs. However Alex Locher of PlayStation Universe praised the unique nature of Dust 514, commending its technological accomplishments and meaningful player interaction. As Locher remarked, "Dust 514 isn't some superficial and meaningless military shooter; it's a pioneering endeavour of programming, technology and consumer communication that has already created something unlike you've ever seen in gaming".
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