DUST 514 Review
CCPs 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 games pre-launch builds, plus bring in new players.
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 - 90 / 100
DUST 514s 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 youre 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 (DUSTs 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 games current build, but it could take years to achieve that milestone, even if you logged an extensive amount of hours.
For those whove played EVE in a previous iteration, Im 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 skills 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 players 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, its essential . . . if you like winning. Otherwise, feel free to gaze upon the screen that informs you of your teams 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 dont do this, then youre 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. Youre 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 dont 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 todays games in general.
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 youll 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 514s players, but also a sense of meaning when you take out other players or their vehicles. Youre aware that all this cost them money, and not its 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 - 87 / 100
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 arent at the top tier as far as what Ive seen on the PlayStation 3, but its important to take into account that theres a lot happening on screen at any given time. My only real complaint about graphics is that certain effects, such as explosions, still dont look as realistic as Ive come to expect from a modern game. When I witness a tank explode from a series of barrages from a swarm rocket launcher Id like to have a satisfying explosion as a result.
Sound - 82 / 100
Besides a sci-fi ambient track and slightly more intense music for heavy combat scenarios there isnt much going on musically in DUST 514. While a memorable score isnt 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.
Multiplayer - 90 / 100
DUST 514 has solid multiplayer. Finding a match is simple using the instant matchmaking system, which will toss you to any battle in New Eden in about 40 seconds to 2 minutes, give or take. Players have the ability to walk about a lobby area where they can make any last minute changes to their character while they wait for the match to begin, which can make the wait seem shorter.
DUST 514 encourages players to communicate with both members of the DUST 514 and EVE Online player community. So far, though, I've felt like I was mostly making contact with DUST 514 players and found very little influence from EVE Online spilling over into the game. Which is a shame, because the idea of the two games interacting seems cool in theory, but in practice DUST 514 feels more like a stand-alone game.
DUST 514 forces most players to interact with each other, whether they want to or not. Forming a squad will boost your survivability greatly, but if you have to be a lone wolf, then I would recommend making a build that supports the team from a distance, such as a sniper or a scout type. This way you can do your own thing and still contribute to the teams efforts. Remember, there is no I in DUST 514, but there is a T, which I would venture to say stands for teamwork.
Value - 95 / 100
DUST 514 is free to download and free-to-play. Youll get a lot out of this game without paying a dime. Plus, CCP plans on regularly producing patching in free add-ons. Thats a lot of value for the price of nothing.
Of course, every game needs to monetize somehow, so DUST 514 has a cash shop. The market consists of various gear and level-boosting equipment. Regardless, I played the game without spending a cent and never felt like I was at a serious disadvantage.
Lasting Appeal - 87 / 100
DUST 514 sets up a system aimed at making characters care about the universe they are investing in with every battle fought and alliance made. The promise of more free add-ons assures players that the game will always be changing and evolving. One such add-on promises the ability for player-made corporations to capture the districts of planets and use them to net money and resources to their corporations. If CCP puts the same level of effort into updating DUST 514 and keeping it relevant as they have with EVE Online, then Im sure the game will be around for a long time.
Pros and Cons
- An updated UI has smoothed out the learning curve considerably
- Deep and rich leveling system, great tactical gameplay and team mechanics
- Price tag of free
- Promise of future free updates and add-ons
- Certain visual effects arent satisfying
- Soundtrack is seriously lacking
- I couldnt find enough to complain about
DUST 514 is a ground-breaking, innovative game which takes the concepts and principles of EVE Online and applies them to a multiplayer first-person shooter. Gameplay is fantastic and focuses on teamwork as well as carefully building your character to fit your own style of play. The promise of free add-ons and updates assures players that the game can only grow and become better, just as EVE Online has.
If you have ever wanted to get into the EVE Online universe, but werent keen on the idea of flying a spaceship around the galaxy, or youre an EVE Online player who wants to have their feet touch terra firma on some of the planets theyve been flying around in New Eden, DUST 514 the game for you. Its also a solid choice if youve ever wanted a more mature, sophisticated and refined first-person shooter that urges you to either bring the pain or feel it--your call.
Overall 90/100 - Great
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