With the universe’s typical sense of timing my laptop has died a glorious Final Death just as my invitation to the Dust 514 closed beta came through. With the aid of my trusty smart phone though I was able to confirm my registered address and gain access so with little else to distract me this morning, here are my first impressions of the Dust 514 closed beta.
It’s good. I’m rarely this enthusiastic about betas but this has very much got that “one more go” factor. As a longtime EVE player I was wondering how it would translate to a console environment but the more I see, the more intrigued I am.
The very first thing you are invited to do is create a character – and all the EVE races and tribes/families are here. The only difference is that instead of choosing what style of pilot you want to be, you are choosing effectively between scout/recon, rifleman/general brawler and heavy weapons/anti vehicle specialities.
The genius is that you are not locked into those careers. You spend skill points on buying skills exactly as you do in EVE so can buy the other skills later, or specialise in the weapons, electronics, engineering and suits of your original race. The interface for suits and vehicles will be very familiar to EVE players, essentially being the same, and I fully expect sites like Battle Clinic to start comparing Dust 514 fittings and advice amid mutterings about CPU and Power restrictions and the wishes for “just one more slot”.
And yes, you accrue points over time as you do in EVE, but in Dust 514 you gain them even faster by jumping into firefights, killing people and taking objectives.
The in-game explanation for respawns is that, in a similar way to the EVE capsuleers, the Dust 514 mercenaries are clones. This has a tactical effect in that you may, depending on game-type, have only a limited number of clones, and the opposing forces are able to target and eliminate your clone banks.
Dust 514 uses the Unreal engine, and does so smoothly. I’ve so far had no issues with lag on my residential BT Internet connection, and it’s interesting that as my skills and fittings change I am noticing gameplay effects such as speed and ranged accuracy.
The one thing that’s giving me pause is the ability to use Aurum to buy game-affecting gear, implants and boosters. I’m not a fan of pay to win schemes, and CCP got badly bitten by subscribers last year over this.
That said, I suspect the more monetized and casual Dust 514 gamer audience will be more relaxed about it, and as far as I can tell the advantages are slight enough and cosmetic enough that experienced gamers won’t be overshadowed. All the same it does put my teeth slightly on edge, and I’ll post more as I see the effects in-game.
In general then my reactions to my first 36 hours in Dust 514 are favourable and I think they’re on to a winner.