Wait, what? Isn't this Massively's shooter column? Well, yes, yes it is, and if you weren't already aware, CCP has made a shooter called DUST 514 set in the EVE universe. I bring this up for two reasons. One, I'm really looking forward to the game (as I might have mentioned last time). Two, CCP has taken some lumps in the PR department over the past couple of weeks primarily because of its annual alcohol-fueled sausage-fest.
I'm not going to rehash cyber-bully scandals today, but since e-thug players will undoubtedly have some sort of DUST presence, and since DUST shares certain unforgiving gameplay tenets with its sister title, should those of you who love sandbox shooters but hate EVE Online even bother with the game?
Financially, then, giving DUST a shot is a no-brainer, provided you already have a PlayStation 3 and a decent internet connection. If the game ends up rubbing you the wrong way, either due to EVE-style design or some other feature, you've lost nothing beyond a few minutes of your time.
He's right on all counts, of course, and each of those things is unfortunate. When you really think about it, though, if we all paid close attention to whether game companies meet our specific moral and ethical standards, would we ever play anything?
Put another way, does my evangelism of a product with an outlaw reputation conflict with the fact that I'm basically a nice guy (IRL and in games, since I make no magic circle distinction)?
Not really, and let me tell you why this is important.
As much as I'm convinced that EVE/DUST is a fun sandbox already, I'm also convinced that it could be the best. Better, even, than sacred cows like Star Wars Galaxies and Ultima Online. It could, with a more vocal/visible nice-guy community and a coat of PR paint, be the greatest sandbox in the history of sandboxes. And I'm not willing to abandon that potential to a bunch of for-the-lulz man-children who have convinced EVE newbs that they are the majority and that they have any effect on day-to-day gameplay outside of small nullsec slices.
It's convenient and easy for uninvested pundits (and folks who are already lukewarm about sandbox play) to write New Eden off as a haven for undesirables, but in reality that sentiment is simply not true. The foundation of a fantastic sandbox community is already in place, and all it lacks are a few high-profile (and highly dedicated) leaders to make it work in both EVE and DUST.
In fact, that accessibility is the very reason that CCP is investing in DUST. The company believes in its New Eden brand, but it also knows that it needs an infusion of fresh faces apart from the hardcore simmers who pay EVE's bills.
And while the economies of the two titles are one and the same, and CCP is quick to point out that what happens in one game will ripple across the other, the company also makes no bones about the fact that DUST can also be quite a casual experience.
So in the end, I guess what I'm saying is this: Give DUST (and CCP) a chance, even if you're a card-carrying member of EVE Haters-R-Us. The game -- and more importantly, its underlying virtual world -- has a lot going for it, not the least of which is a suite of ambitious sandbox features not normally associated with the shooter genre. And hey, you can't beat the price.
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.