When I first heard about DUST-514 I really was excited. The concept sounded excellent and from what they showed us at E3 it really did look promising. However, after playing the beta for several hours I came to a few conclusion about the future of CCP Games' latest title.
You are greeted with an awesome opening trailer showing all sorts of flashy space battles, ground warfare, cool futuristic vehicles, players running around with rocket launchers and some overall concept of an even greater war going on in the universe around you. Which is great. It really is. But when you actually start playing the game, err beta I should say. It’s a different story entirely. First of all get ready to wait because the loading times in this title are killer. You start in-station which in DUST is referred to as MERC-Quarters.
This is essentially one medium sized room with your suite customization, skills, leader-board, and quick-battle launcher. You can move your character around your quarters (slowly) and select whichever display strikes your fancy. Now here’s the thing anybody familiar with the EVE Online universe is aware of; there is a learning cliff as opposed to a learning curve and although CCP attempted to make this quasi-eve more accessible to players it really isn’t. You still have skills which are necessary for equipping different weapons, suits, and modules but those skills usually have prerequisites of other skills and it all works in very much the same way that it’s PC counterpart does, just with many more limitations.
Some small errors include a lack of a search bar in the skill que and an option which is supposed to open your prerequisites window instead opens the descriptions tab under the info window. Now, the game is “free-to-play” and the reason I have this in quotes is because of the micro-transaction model this game is based on essentially makes this a not-so-free game. There is an in-game marketplace where you can buy new vehicles, weapons, modules etc. and you do this with AUR and ISK which are both in-game currencies in EVE Online and in DUST-514.
You gain AUR buy buying it from the playstation network and you gain ISK from you matches in battle. I should mention that skills are not trained like EVE Online, there is no time required to train a skill it happens instantly, but it does require already acquired skill points also gained in the field. If you want to have a shot at surviving any war in DUST you will be required to upgrade your drop-suit with modules which will cost more isk than you will likely make in-game and some things flat out require AUR which must be bought from the playstation network. So if you ever want to get anywhere get ready to shell out some real world mullah.
The overall structure of the beta isn’t all that bad, the market works, the suite modules work somewhat and the general setup of skill training is complicated but understandable. Even if it is a blatant dumbed down clone of it’s big brothers in-game structure. This is all the good stuff; when it get’s disappointing is when we actually load into our first battle. You can choose from Ambush (Team Death Match) Skirmish (Domination) & Ambush OMS ( slightly more tactical TDM) from your quick-match section. This is just a beta so I don’t expect the environment to look spectacular and trust me it doesn't. You are given a few options of drop suits which are your classic setups: assault, sniper, medic etc. and you spawn directly into battle.
And when I say directly into battle I really mean into a 70% chance of spawn-camp situation because that is an issue which runs rampant in this game. It is a wide spread problem across all of the modes so get ready to die upon spawning. Rest assured without some major changes it is almost guaranteed at some point or another. You could try to shoot back with an underpowered inaccurate assault rifle which sounds like a tinny pew pew wannabe space gun but you would need to be able to aim down your sights. Now this might be a problem for a few reasons. One reason might be that the controls are either entirely too slow and loose for the actual movement of your character and crazy oversensitive when it comes to zooming in.
The other could be an odd skipping effect even when holding down L1 quite emphatically and yet for some reason having the sights come up and down a few time before actually staying in-focus. Or… you could just be stuck halfway inside of the ground unable to move and yes that did happen to me. Twice. Grenade? Sure throw it the whole five feet away and watch a mediocre explosion with little to no actual damage. The amount of health you have is laughable. You have shields armor and health just like a ship in the eve online universe but is far more minimal. You will either be mowed down by somebody with a mini-gun in a 8000 AUR suit and hundreds of thousands worth of isk in upgrade modules, a vastly overpowered vehicle mounted machine gun, or a tank.
The balancing in this regard is awful. The vehicles by the way are horrendous. Just getting them pointed in the right direction can be a challenge and the controls are tuned with a gigantic sledge hammer and by that I mean broken. And really, really broken. They are also extremely overpowered and if you choose the only class in the game which has the weapons to take down these vehicles be prepared to defend yourself with nothing but a tiny pistol as the rocket launcher does not seem to be able to lock on anything other than a vehicle. The vehicles which look suspiciously similar to warthogs are air dropped in and I have no expiation of where they actually come from or why the developers decided it was a good idea to include them in the game when they were clearly not ready. Not even ready for a beta.
And I did go through the trouble of upgrading my skills buying a new drop-suite and equipping it with armor plating, tech II shields and all sorts of other goodies. Which accomplished little to nothing in increasing the amount of time I stayed alive. I do have quite a bit of shooter experience by the way. I even brushed up on my shooter skills before downgrading to this beta. When you do die all the fittings die with you which means you will have to “replenish” your suite multiple times which costs more ISK and AUR (which you cannot receive in-game) and will invariably land you in a much lesser suite.
So. That’s DUST-514. But I do have to admit that this is still in the beta stages and with lots and lots of fixing it may be somewhat worthwhile. Oh and the whole integrated war thing. That is only possible with planet interaction skills with a certain type of ammo in one planet in one solar system in EVE Online. Which by the way houses 5000+ solar systems. Which essentially equates to an extremely limited interactive experience.
Overall this is a beta which I really can’t recommend to anybody, even the hardcore EVE Online fans. It may be that we just need to wait and see what happens in future builds and hope that there is a complete overall of the current combat situation. The good news is that the difficult part, the actual structure of your suite, skills, modules, and upgrades runs quite well. Maybe one day, possibly one well in the future this will be an excellent interactive experience accessible to all and a blast and a half to enjoy with friends. And by the way I have nothing bad to say about EVE Online as it is a far better experience in every way.
DUST-514, dust, 514, beta, preview