I have never played an MMO and yet I’m going to be doing a lot of talking about DUST 514, a major collaboration between CCP Games and PlayStation to bring the first free-to-play console MMOFPS exclusively to PS3. Therefore, I took a trip to Iceland to attend the EVE Online Fanfest and start to get to know this fervent online community that PlayStation fans will soon be joining in New Eden and, of course, get the latest news on DUST 514.
Here are some of my learnings, although I’m sure there is one pressing question on your minds before we get into that – when can you play the game? Well, the closed beta is currently underway and Fanfest attendees were told that they would be able to access a more open beta in April, which will open in waves throughout the following months. Rest assured, we’ll be keeping you up to date with opportunities to join in here on PlayStation.Blog.
One Universe. One War
We’ve spoken before about how DUST 514 and EVE Online are ‘linked’ but, actually, that’s putting it lightly. The two games exist on the same single-shard server, they occupy the same universe and economy, and they share social tools such as voice and text chat; it’s more accurate to say that they co-exist, rather than point to one specific point of linkage.
At the DUST 514 keynote last week we saw perhaps the most tangible interaction so far, when an EVE Online Player unleashed an Orbital Bombardment from his spaceship, down on to the ground battle happening in DUST 514, all live on-stage. Afterwards, I caught up with DUST 514 Executive Producer Brandon Laurino to learn exactly how that happened. “So what you saw there uses all of the communication tools we’re making available,” he explained. “We were up on stage but, when you’re at home playing DUST 514, you’re going to be communicating via voice and text chat and saying ‘I need some help down here buddy’ to an ally playing EVE Online.”
“Then what you do is use your Cortex, which is kind of like your portable computer, to paint a target on the surface. That target will show up for the EVE Online player to make their way over to, ready their cannons and, if it all goes off successfully, that shot is going to come down from one game on the PC to another on the PS3, all in real time.”
PS Vita Companion App
We’ve know for some time that the team at CCP Games is working with PS Vita but, until now, we’ve not known what kind of form that is going to take. At the closing keynote on Sunday, Brandon Laurino took to the stage and revealed the first official details on a PS Vita companion app currently known as ‘DUST 514: Neocom’.
“It’s basically a way to stay connected to your game, on the go,” Laurino told us afterwards. “It’s a way for you to have certain features like mail, chat, the marketplace, character fitting and more with you at all times. As we’ve said, this game has a serious amount of depth so it’s useful to be able to sort all of this stuff out on the go so that, when you’re on your couch, you’re straight into the action.
“Above and beyond that, we’ve also got a lot of exciting ideas for how players can also use their PS Vita as a tool to help them when they’re actually in the middle of a battle.”
The Long and Winding Loadout
DUST 514 is an MMOFPS and, therefore, it has a wide array of customisation options and character-levelling opportunities – so many, it was claimed, that it could take players up to seven years to fully level up their characters, and that vehicles are “deeper than most characters in other games.”
To help you on that journey, you will be able to set it up so that your character can accrue skill points passively throughout their existence, so you can be progressing and developing new skills even when you aren’t playing the game.
Back to School
EVE Online fans are some of the most dedicated I have ever seen, but it’s not all aimed at earning profit and taking over galaxies. One group of players has set up the EVE University, which sets out to educate players and maintain an extensive library of wikis.
One group member told me that there are plans to extend the kindness to DUST 514 players, whether you’re looking to learn more about the vast history and politics of the universe, or are finding the aforementioned customisation and levelling systems a little hard to master.
It’s clear that, when DUST 514 launches fully, it will be the start of a seemingly endless project for the developer. Even at this early stage they offered a glimpse of what they have planned for the future, including giant mechs called MTACs (OPSM even managed to grab a picture); support for eSports and the ability to watch matches in EVE Online and bet on the outcome; and the possibility of extending the action to ‘non-temperate planets’, where fire, gas and other elements may necessitate the use of vehicles.
Perhaps the biggest statement of intent of the weekend was when CCP Games CEO Hilmar Pétursson declared their intent to make the EVE Online / DUST 514 universe the biggest gaming environment in the world. It’s certainly going to be one to watch over the coming years and, perhaps best of all for PS3 owners, it needn’t ever cost you a thing to experience.