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Dust 514 First Impressions

06. July, 2012Tags: Dust 514, MMO Blog

Dust 514 ReviewDust 514 has been an amazing concept since the initial announcement three years ago at E3. The idea of having a shooter, an MMOFPS that is not only affected by, but also can make or break actions in EVE Online. In theory it adds another layer to playing the same game time and time again, and that’s something that the genre desperately needs. The problem is that games aren’t reviewed on their concepts and they’re definitely not bought because of the developer’s intentions. Does Dust 514 live up to years of hype or is it just another military shooter designed to keep you playing for months on end? We took part in the first beta test this weekend, just in case you didn’t get to.


MMO from the Get Go

You realize how much Dust 514 takes from the MMO genre almost from the first time you start it up. From the moment it says “checking for updates” in-game, and then actually starts downloading files, you’re right in the realm of PC updater clients, a sight you’ll have seen every single time you’ve ever started a new MMO. After several minutes downloading updates, connecting to servers and doing whatever else it takes to get online, you’ll be able to create your first character, although if you’re the sort of person that likes complete control, you’re going to be a bit disappointed.

Creating your Character

There aren’t a huge amount of things you can do to make your character stand out from the crowd but, to be fair, you’re playing in a first person view anyway so it doesn’t much matter. You get three character slots, several different races to choose from (which I presume offer experience bonuses in certain areas dependant on which sort of character you choose) and then you have to pick what sort of soldier you want to be: a sniper, a heavy gunner or a (something else). From there you’re almost in the game, and it won’t take you long to start your first match and, chances are, be blown to smithereens.

Lobby Life

Dust 514, not being a traditional FPS, does things a little bit differently from other games. Rather than joining a lobby, a list of players, you’ll join a room in which you can interact with your teammates, move your characters around to deal with certain faucets of your load out or head to the map in the centre to plan tactics. IN my opinion, it wasn’t a huge deal different than just doing it all from a menu and it’d give one last thing to load and strain internet connections. With that said, it’s flashy and very MMO and it makes it stand apart from other FPS games available on the PlayStation.

It Ain’t Easy (Being a Newbie)

As anybody who played MAG will attest, joining an MMOFPS is a difficult business. It’s not so much that you can’t fight or that your aim is off as much as it is that everybody else knows exactly which bonuses to use, how best to handle certain situations and have unlocked vastly more powerful weapons. As a result, you’ll spend about 30 seconds running to your first fire fight and then you’ll die, over and over again. If you manage to get a positive K/D on your first match I’ll be massively impressed, but from my experience it seems even players who have put a few hours into the game still manage to fall just under the 1/1 mark.

This could be put down to being new, not getting the controls (they’re slightly different than the shooter standard) or problems with connections and the like. I’d also say there’s a latency issue on the game, although I’m fairly certain that any lag present will be fixed as the beta goes on. It’s fun, but you’re probably not going to be a pro at this stage in the game.

Sitting Pretty

So the game quality is decent (and is likely to get better), but how to graphics weigh up? Visually, Dust 514 manages to vaguely impress, the sort of graphical detail that is passable enough that you don’t hate it the moment you lay eyes on it but not so special that you have friends gathering around the TV, counting pixels. I played for several hours over the weekend and only saw one map, a kind of desert base consisting of mainly browns, blacks and earth reds, and was underwhelmed in terms of colour. Still, it’s not so bad that it looks dated and you won’t be entirely disappointed when you start to play after release.

Linked with EVE

One of the biggest features of Dust 514 comes with its link to EVE Online. If you’re an EVE Player - and given the vast amount of people in that game, there’s a good chance you are – you might enjoy the idea of expanding your play to another level, but as on my time in the game there’s no real reason to feel you’re having any effect whatsoever on another game, nor is there any reason to think that it’s working in the other direction either. Granted, the game is in early beta and they’ve not fully opened everything up, but still it feels like the EVE connection will end up being something that’s only part of it for those that already know and love EVE, and it certainly won’t be enough to hold up the game if people decide they don’t enjoy it.

Play to Win?

There’s also a large amount of items to buy. For the most part you can buy weapons, equipment and boosters with in-game currency, but other items require the use of real money. It’s not necessarily going to be expensive (so long as you don’t factor in that SEN minimum spend)

Conclusion - Dust 514 first impressions review

Dust 514 probably isn’t the game you’ve been waiting for, the one you’ve been reading about since 2009. It’s very difficult to follow a game for three years and then judge it fairly when it comes to release, but in the case of Dust 514 it’s something that I think will vastly improve after some user interaction and with a few patches and a little bit of polish.

What do you think?

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