CCP’s Dust 514 experiment is a disappointment for Eve Online fans, but there’s hope
Back in 2009 when Dust 514 was first announced, it instantly became one of the most interesting and exciting games in the industry. The big idea was to create a free-to-play multiplayer FPS that would bring ground-based combat to planets that exist within Eve.
The concept of an FPS with tangible meaning inside the incredibly fascinating game world of Eve Online proved very exciting for a lot of players, and many were curious to see the no-holds-barred philosophy of Eve play out in an FPS as players from Eve could be hired to drop orbital bombardments for allied forces in a game of Dust. Even those who weren't interested in playing either game were excited to see how the two games would intertwine.
After four months on the market, we decided to check in with the communities of both Eve and Dust 514 to see how the game is progressing. We asked for thoughts on both their respective Reddits, and found near unanimous disappointment through 176 comments. But with a persistent ray of hope.
PlayStation 3? Really?
“Am I the only one who is interested in playing Dust, but has no interest in buying a console that is being replaced in a few months and no release date on the PS4? ” said Eve Redditor “urbn” with the most upvoted comment in our thread.
It's a sentiment that was echoed by a number of other players as well who are still a bit miffed that CCP Games put such a huge divide between the fanbases of each game by releasing Dust exclusively on PS3. The idea of clashing console FPS players with PC MMO players is fascinating, but unfortunately it looks like they ended up alienating a large part of the only major fanbase they had.
Dust 514 has other problems as well though, as some people mentioned poor controls and a skill system that encourages people to just login to a match and go AFK.
“I think what could kill Dust are bad balancing / gameplay pacing, and a lack of a meaningful connection to Eve,” said Eve Redditor 'CdnGuy'. “Dust might be kind of fun to play on it's own merits, but lets face it… when it comes to a pure shooter it isn't going to beat Call of Battlefield at its own game. What makes Dust unique is the link to New Eden and persistent consequences to success or failure in battle. That's what will make people stick around and keep spending money on Dust.”
It's precisely that link to New Eden (Eve's world) that people seem to find most frustrating though as many joked that there is no actual connection between the two games.
“Right now the link is mostly symbolic,” said Dust Redditor 'EagleEyeInTheSky'. “There's very little to benefit from interacting between games. I'm one of the few people who frequently fires orbitals, and I do it completely for charity. There is no reward for me. In the Eve client, I don't even get to see how the battle is doing. All I see are some animated flashes of light on the surface and a shared chat window between both games occasionally.”
With that said, Eve can't stop itself from being fascinating, so some say there is still a link of sorts between the two games.
“Social link has been mixed,” said Dust Redditor 'DuelingK'. “When I was in Dust University it was very segregated. Alliance chat was for Eve players to form fleets and any Dust players would get reprimanded for using it. At the time I'd see the occasional Eve player in local chat looking down on 'Dust bunnies.' Then I moved to another corp in a fairly large alliance of Dust and Eve players and its been interesting to see how the two interact socially. The Eve Online culture has definitely influenced the Dust culture which is interesting considering the two generally clashing cultures of PC versus console gamers.”
Through dozens of comments there was almost nothing but disappointment for the overlap between Eve and Dust, and many players still have a long list of things they want from Dust, like the ability to put bounties on mouthy Dust players.
But there was also another trend in their words: hope. Despite being on the market for four months it still seems to be too early to pass judgement on Dust. CCP's fans are nothing if not patient.
“CCP has never been one for waterfall development,” said Eve Redditor 'ggds'. ” When Eve was released, it had no redeeming features. You could mine, manufacture, trade, shoot belt rats and shoot players. That was it. There weren't even missions. [...] CCP didn't panic or scramble to improve it. They plodded, steadily. An expansion every 6 months. No excuses.”
“10 years later, Eve is the result,” said 'ggds'. “Better then anything that could have been made in one big hit. Dust seems to be going down the same track. There is a hardcore, masochistic group that sees the potential and keeps playing to bring it to light, and CCP is steadfastly releasing one patch after another, in regular cycles. Plod, plod.”
A commenter from the Dust community agreed, and some gave CCP credit for having the courage to make the Eve/Dust link relatively mundane so as to avoid accidentally impacting the Eve world too haphazardly.
“CCP are being very careful about the integration of a free to play shooter with microtransactions, and a huge 10 year old MMO, of which the economy and sovereignty are huge components,” said Dust Redditor 'zalifer'. “They do not want to ruin the latter because of some lack of foresight about how something in the former interacted with it. I suspect years before the two games are as close as they want.”
In the end, despite all of the negativity, the portrait of Dust I walked away with was that of a very patient game. Ultimately, it may still be one of the most fascinating games around, but it's still for its future, not for its present.
Our thanks go out to the Eve and Dust communities for participating in this discussion, and giving us a window into their world.