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DUST 514 Review

Posted Tue, May 28, 2013 by Ian Hertzberg

CCP’s Playstation 3 exclusive MMOFPS, DUST 514, set in and connected to the EVE universe, has been available for download and play since open beta. But now the game has officially launched, with a new update entitled Uprising. Recent changes represent the opportunity to bring back players who wandered away from the game’s pre-launch builds, plus bring in new players.

Cautions

DUST 514 has an ESRB rating of T for Teen and does contain violence and blood, which is all part of life as an immortal space mercenary in New Eden.

Gameplay

90Great

DUST 514’s gameplay is standard MMOFPS fare -- you run around an area with a team of players and kill other players through various game modes with different objectives. What really makes DUST 514 a gem among run-of-the-mill shooters is what you’re doing outside of combat. DUST 514 has a leveling system so complex and intricate it could make other games in the genre quake in their boots. The amount of depth available when building your character is astounding, and gives players the ability to make a character that perfectly fits their play style. For example, my favorite character to play is built more towards hit-and-run ambushes with a mid-range rifle, a light dropsuit (DUST’s version of armor), and modules (armor upgrades) that allow my character to regenerate his shield quickly out of combat so that I can take damage, retreat, and then heal. If you want to be a sniper in a heavy and slow moving, but well armored dropsuit, CCP gives you that freedom. The only thing stopping players from making a God-like build is restrictions on how much gear you can load. Players can even potentially attain all the skills available in the game’s current build, but it could take years to achieve that milestone, even if you logged an extensive amount of hours.

DUST 514 Review

Recent improvements make DUST 514's UI more intuitive and less menu-based.

For those who’ve played EVE in a previous iteration, I’m happy to announce that CCP has done away with its heavily menu-based skill management system and has transformed it into a far more intuitive skill tree. This eliminates the need to check a skill’s info menu to find out which skills you need to level before unlocking it. This makes the process of creating the build you want a lot easier. CCP has also improved the UI as a whole. Most people take UI improvements for granted, but when I played the game after the new launch I found myself astounded at the difference it made, especially the screen that pops up at the end of a match, which provides easy-to-read charts and graphs to measure your performance in that specific battle.

As I mentioned earlier, combat should be familiar to shooter players -- you run around through various game modes and kill the opposing team. How combat handles, however, is very different. The sci-fi theme allowed CCP to develop unique versions of weapons we already know and love as well as things like laser rifles that increase in intensity as you fire them and sniper rifles and pistols that you can charge up for extra damage. More important than the weapons though is the equipment present in DUST 514. A player’s equipment makes up the strategic part of any battle. The use of equipment ranges from deployable spawn points, deployable resupply stations, the ability to revive teammates, tools that allow you to pinpoint the location of enemy units, tools that allow you to repair various vehicles, installations, and the armor of players, and much more. Having a team that knows how to use this equipment in battle is essential for success in DUST 514.

Speaking of teamwork, it’s essential . . . if you like winning. Otherwise, feel free to gaze upon the screen that informs you of your team’s defeat and your low kill ratio and diminished rewards at the end of every match. It is highly advisable for players to be social and make friends in DUST 514 to form z squad (party) or a corporation (guild). If you don’t do this, then you’re going to need to work cooperatively with whoever you happen to enter a match with and, if you fail to do so, well . . . prepare to suffer the crushing agony of defeat over and over again. You’re going to need people you can depend on to fill certain roles. For example, somebody who is more geared towards making repairs and healing fallen players is essential to every squad and makes a great difference when fighting groups of players who don’t have those resources. I personally like the fact that DUST 514 forces players to cooperate and work together, it is something which is frequently lacking in first-person-shooters, and today’s games in general.

DUST 514 Review

Work together or die horribly; that's the name of the game.

DUST 514 features the same brutality one would expect from EVE Online. When your immortal clone mercenary dies, they leave all the hard-earned equipment you bought on the ground with the old body, which means you’ll have to buy all your gear in bulk and restock when you get low, which also means that every death represents a profit loss. This feature not only instills a sense of caution in DUST 514’s players, but also a sense of meaning when you take out other players or their vehicles. You’re aware that all this cost them money, and not it’s gone. One of the most satisfying things I have done in the game is assist in the destruction of a tank which I knew cost another player some serious ISK (the form of currency in EVE and DUST 514). The pervasive theme in DUST 514 seems to be play smart or die hard. If that excites you, then DUST 514 may very well be the game for you.

Graphics

87Very Good

DUST 514 had okay graphics when the game was available for download during the open beta. Since then the graphics have improved greatly. Upgraded textures, shaders, lighting effects and more have made the game feel more vibrant and alive. The graphics still aren’t at the top tier as far as what I’ve seen on the PlayStation 3, but it’s important to take into account that there’s a lot happening on screen at any given time. My only real complaint about graphics is that certain effects, such as explosions, still don’t look as realistic as I’ve come to expect from a modern game. When I witness a tank explode from a series of barrages from a swarm rocket launcher I’d like to have a satisfying explosion as a result.

DUST 514 Review

Graphics have improved since beta.

Sound

82Good

Besides a sci-fi ambient track and slightly more intense music for heavy combat scenarios there isn’t much going on musically in DUST 514. While a memorable score isn’t crucially important for a game like this, it would be a nice addition.

I am happy to report that there is a plethora of fantastic and believable sci-fi gun and vehicle noises to fill your gamer heart with glee. Overall, the sound effects are superb while the musical score is a little lacking.

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