I meant to post this earlier but this trip started off a bit wonky and we ended up at bare minimum rest time last night, so here we go!
Thanks to James Egan over at Massively for catching this two-article interview at Edge Online (a site I don’t read which is why I rely on Massively to do it for me) with CCP Shanghai about DUST 514! Great information and I’m really looking forward to the game. Oh, and I’ve discovered that it’s officially DUST 514 (all capitalized like EVE) not Dust 514…
I’ll do my usual bullet-point thing of bits I found interesting.
- The map size has been revealed to be 5 square kilometers. That’s roughly 3.1 square miles for us metric-impaired Americans. Anyone who plays shooters with me knows that I love huge maps, as it provides more real estate for the developers to create multiple objectives.
- The Commander will be located in the Mobile Command Center (MCC) which flies above the map, similar to the Titans in Battlefield 2142. The Commander can issue orders to the mercenaries on his team in an RTS-like fashion, again similar to Battlefield 2142. The Commander also has a full 3D voyeur mode to see the action from a closer perspective. Players have to earn the right (presumably from ranking up via XP like in the Battlefield or Call of Duty games) to be Commander, and if no one is eligible an AI Commander will be assigned. I do hope CCP includes a voting system to oust ineffective Commanders, however; no one likes getting stuck with an incompetent leader who earned the spot simply by playing long enough rather than knowing what he’s doing.
- Prior to the match, the Commander chooses his team’s vehicle and installation loadouts, as well as placing preliminary spawn points. There are ten vehicles and fifteen installations in DUST 514 but a Commander can only choose five of each per map. CCP compared it to Magic: the Gathering where you prepare your deck ahead of time, not knowing precisely what your opponent will be bringing to the battle.
- Once the mercenary infantry has brought down the shields of the enemy MCC, the Commander has missiles, etc. to destroy it; another similarity to Battlefield 2142′s Titan mode that DUST 514 looks to improve upon.
- CCP is still fiddling with the number of players per map but Edge says it’s unlikely to go as high as 256, like MAG is doing, because of the “elaborate firepower” available to each team. Regardless, it’s still being billed as an MMOFPS so they’ll have to exceed 64 players per map to earn that acronym.
- During play, mercenaries earn War Points which can be used to purchase vehicles on-the-fly. Literally, as the vehicles are flown to your location via dropship. This aspect is similar to Section 8 where you earn points to spend in the purchasing menu to have custom items such as turrets, tanks, or mech-like heavy armor dropped to a location you specify.
- Each battle is obviously instanced with a population cap, but it sounds like the pre/post game lobby is a “single shard” setup like EVE where players can chat, etc.
- The final sentence in Part One implies (at least it does to me) that DUST 514 will ship with clan support in the form of Mercenary Outfits. This will be a huge boon for the game, as the only console shooter I can think of that has actual clan support is Section 8.
- CCP plans on two updates per year. Since DUST 514 will be using a microtransaction model rather than subscription, I suspect each update or expansion will be marketed as premium DLC as well but we’ll see what type of deal CCP makes with Microsoft and Sony.
- Player progression will be achieved through an “achievement matrix” unlock system which sounds like an expanded version of the Battlefield unlock scheme. (Possibly like COD too; I’ve never managed to have enough fun in COD multi-player to see any unlocks.) Some of the combo unlocks will provide persistent attribute enhancements for weapons and vehicles, which is certainly an intriguing twist.
- EVE provides DUST 514 with persistent, dynamic battlefields. The example given was that one time you fight on a certain planet it may be lush and green. Then in an EVE space battle, someone nukes the planet from orbit. The next time DUST 514 mercs fight on that planet, it will visually show the devastation from the EVE battle.
A primary concern I have for DUST 514 is how CCP integrates microtransactions. Shooters are player-skill-based games and I strongly oppose the ability to buy better weapons which hand spending players an “I Win!” button. There was already quite the upset over Battlefield Heroes raising prices and adding new weapons that have the potential to tip the balance in favor of premium players. All I’ve read so far is that they plan to sell blueprints for weapons, etc. While it is true that console players are far more accustomed to, and accepting of, microtransactions than PC players are, if the “item shop” isn’t balanced properly the console crowd may unleash an unholy Jihad of a shitstorm if they feel forced to constantly spend cash to be competitive.