DUST 514 – Blasting into the EVE Universe at E3 2011

The official site for DUST 514 went live just in time for E3 2011, and with it came some of the first details surrounding just how deeply the connections to EVE Online will run.
While still a bit light on major gameplay reveals, one of the more interesting appointments I’ve had so far at E3 2011 was with none other than CCP where we learned a bit more about how DUST 514 will factor into the preexisting EVE Online universe. With the next installment of the Incarna expansion for EVE just weeks away, it seemed like a great time to introduce players to not only the long-awaited ability to step out of their pods and into the stations, but explain how many of the systems introduced in EVE over the past few years have contributed to laying the ground work for DUST 514’s arrival.

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Of course one of the biggest announcements for DUST this week was that it will be a PS3 exclusive, but we also learned it’s due to release sometime next summer. Given the typical release schedule for EVE expansions, a summer 2012 release for DUST sounds about right given that there will likely need to be more tech introduced into the game that will help the connection between the two titles be fully realized once DUST is ready to launch.

So if you’re anything like me and are really looking forward to sinking your hooks into the shooter side of the EVE universe, we still have a little while to wait unfortunately. We did, however, learn a few more details on how deep the connections between the two games will be along with some insights to what kinds of things have already been introduced in EVE to lay some important groundwork.

In fact, this process began as far back as 2007, and was a major factor in the release of Dominion expansion and the visual revamps to planets. Since planets will obviously soon play a much larger role than they have to date, there’s an interesting, direct progression from that initial visual pass to where development on DUST has come so far.

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In terms of specific details I was able to squeeze out of the CCP team in a brief Q&A session following their official event presentation, here are some of the key points I was able to discover.

The same corporations can exist in both titles. Likewise, if you have an alliance in EVE it will also automatically exist in DUST.  An important aspect of both that’s worth noting is that – while corps and alliances cross the atmospheric threshold between games, your characters will not.

So your character in EVE won’t have a copy / clone planet-side, nor will you be able to create a grunt on the ground and decide that you want to earn their pilot’s license. The two games may share a universe and even be played on the same shard, but considering that both titles are played on different platforms it only makes sense that a line had to be drawn in the sand for some things.

Familiar elements from EVE will appear in DUST as well beyond some of the more obvious things you would expect the two to share. For example, we were shown the familiar Fitting screen to help illustrate how ground combat vehicles can be upgraded and specialized in much the same way that ships can.

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A common issue I’ve seen in most console RPGs is that complex UI elements simply don’t work, or tend to rely far too heavily on scrolling through long menus just to perform basic tasks. That’s not necessarily even due to bad design - at least not on the part of game developers – but simply a limitation of gamepads as the primary interface.

So expect that certain UI elements, such as the fitting screen mentioned above, will be a mix between something you’re visually familiar with from EVE while still being somewhat simplified to work better on consoles.

Another thing I asked about is whether or not there would be a shared recruitment system for EVE corps built into Dust 514, and while I was told that type of thing is currently being looked into, as with many aspects of gameplay, it’s still a bit too early for CCP to discuss in detail. The one thing they did assure us, however, is that we shouldn’t expect to see EVE’s notorious learning cliff make a return in DUST, so we’re looking forward to seeing how the shooter gameplay shapes up in the coming months.


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