The Firing Line: Controller wars edition

The Firing Line - DUST 514 merc banner
Welcome back to The Firing Line, shooter fans. Some interesting stuff went down this week, much of it related to DUST 514. Even if you're not partial to what some have dubbed "the controller wars," there's still plenty of online shooter news for you to peruse after the cut.

Join me on the other side for a glimpse of Hawken, Firefall, and my PlanetSide character!

DUST 514 to feature keyboard/mouse support

Yep, CCP's EVE Online sidequel will give players the option of controlling their ground-based mercenaries with the traditional PlayStation 3 gamepad or one o' them newfangled USB keyboard and mouse thingamajigs. This little info bomb caused a few shockwaves, at least in the Massively comments section. Most people gave it a thumbs-up, but not everyone, and the naysayers typically cited competitive imbalance as their primary complaint.

The Firing Line is all for it ("it" being multiple control options, not competitive imbalance). Technically, it's not a balance problem since everyone has the same opportunity, and CCP isn't shipping gimped versions of DUST that restrict you to console controllers.

Also, I'm not entirely convinced that lightning-fast twitch reactions are a prerequisite for playing and enjoying DUST. I know, heresy, blasphemy, etc., but hear me out. First off, a large part of this game's appeal is the fact that it's tied inextricably to another online game with a long history and very deep gameplay. If DUST were just another sci-fi shooter, we wouldn't even be having this conversation, amirite? Now, given that it does fall under the EVE umbrella, and given that CCP has repeatedly said that DUST mercs will be able to work with EVE capsuleers, I think it's plausible that DUST's gameplay will revolve around squads and platoons much moreso than your typical shooter.

Sure, you always want to shoot straight and as fast as you're able, but if the game is designed to facilitate squad tactics and coordination, I see no reason why a well-disciplined group of console controller players can't complete objectives and earn their keep. If DUST were your typical lobby shooter where one-on-one skill was paramount, I might be more concerned, but it's not and therefore I'm not.

More DUST minutiae

I promise that we'll eventually move past CCP's shooter experiment, but there were a couple of other noteworthy happenings in New Eden this week that didn't have a thing to do with the controller wars.

First up was CCP's confirmation that the game will be playable at FanFest, so if you're one of those hardcore capsuleers heading to Iceland next month, be sure you grab some hands-on time with the game.

Secondly, CCP's David Reid set off our b.s. detector this week, as Massively EVE expert Brendan Drain questioned whether the firm's new chief marketing officer was off his rocker when he claimed that DUST would bring "tens of millions of people that play shooters on PSN into the New Eden universe." We're not saying that's impossible, but it would be a neat trick since the entirety of the PlayStation Network equals about 60 million users.

Hawken picks up a head of steam

You've probably heard of MechWarrior Online, but you may not have known that it's got a bit of competition. Adhesive Games' new Hawken title isn't an MMO as far as I can tell, but it is generating a good amount of buzz in the online shooter community.

Beta signups are officially live, and the game's release date is pretty easy to remember (12/12/12). Adhesive head honcho Khang Le told Venture Beat that Hawken is both unique and something of a passion project. "This game has been a labor of love that we've worked on for 18 months," Le said. "There hasn't been a good robot game in a while and nothing that looks like what we're trying to do, which is more like Call of Duty multiplayer."

Adhesive has licensed the Unreal Engine 3 to power the game, and it will debut with a free-to-play business model and session-based gameplay similar to League of Legends. (Thanks to traxanovios for the tip!)

Firefall world expansion is in players' hands

Red 5 Studios released a new video dev diary this week, and CEO Mark Kern had some interesting things to say about how the gameworld will be expanded (basically through player action and cross-server cooperation). The video was clearly aimed at folks who haven't been paying attention, and if you're a Firefall newb, you likely learned a thing or two about the game's e-sport aspects and its gigantic open world PvE component.

If you've been following the game for some time, though, there wasn't much in the way of new or exciting, and Kern's dissertation on Red 5's glacial "organic" beta and launch process may strike you as more irritating than informative (unless you're in said beta, of course).

Either way, the title continues to look spectacular and there's a bit of in-game footage interspersed throughout the clip.

Obligatory PlanetSide 2 plug(s)

Finally, because few editions of The Firing Line manage to squeak by without some sort of PlanetSide 2 reference, I give you... this week's PlanetSide 2 reference. Actually Sony Online Entertainment graced us with a couple of smallish updates. The first was a lore piece on the official site that gives a little insight into the Terran Republic's history. The second was a pair of weapon concepts including a New Conglomerate mag-shot pistol and a bolt driver.

A few eagle-eyed PS2 fans also sussed out the fact that SOE made a subtle alteration to the front page of the game's website. Prior to this week, the sidebar featured a beta signup button, but now there's an entry block below said button with a redeem button and text that says "already have a beta code." You could almost hear thousands of fanboy hearts skipping a beat, and many took it to mean that beta invites are close at hand.

Oh, and yours truly has officially returned to PlanetSide. Thus far it's been a rather humbling experience, but it's also ramped up my excitement for PS2 even further (if that's possible). Say hello if you see Mallister running around the battlefield, or throw him an outfit invite if you're of the Terran Republic persuasion and partial to newbs.

Until next week.

The Firing Line's Jef Reahard has a twitchy trigger finger, a love of online shooters, and an uncanny resemblance to Malcolm Reynolds. OK, maybe not, but at least if he ever kills you, you'll be awake, you'll be facing him, and you'll be armed.
This article was originally published on Massively.