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EVE Evolved: DUST in the wind


A few weeks ago, we here at Massively were speculating on what the big announcement CCP Games were planning was. After they filed a trademark on a logo for something called "DUST 514", we could only guess that it was the promised EVE Online themed first person shooter. In an email with one of my regular column readers before the announcement, I suggested off-hand that it would be awesome if it were a new EVE FPS that linked in with 0.0 sovereignty. I didn't seriously think that's what they had planned. In fact, I only suggested it as a sort of idealised wish -- a hint at what heights I thought EVE could reach a decade from now.

When the announcement finally went out and I was right, my jaw hit the floor. Reception of the news has virtually polarised the EVE community, with only a small few viewing the idea with a calm, cautious optimism. Most seem either in firm support of the idea or dead set against it, with many arguments erupting around the claim that Dust will let console gamers decide the fate of EVE alliances. And yet despite all the talk of DUST 514 since the announcement, few people have speculated on what the game-play might actually be like and how it might integrate with EVE Online.

In this wish-filled article, I lay out the facts we know so far about DUST 514 and then go on to speculate on what the game-play might be like.

What we know so far about DUST 514:
The information presented so far has been sparse, with little more than the overarching vision presented at GDC Europe 2009. With such little information in the public eye, the more vocal players in the EVE forum community did what they do best - panic! Whenever an EVE announcement of any significant nature is made, people seem to assume the absolute worst case scenario in the absence of evidence to the contrary. I used to do it a lot too and to this day I still catch myself occasionally jumping the gun after an announcement or devblog. With so many people acting like the sky is falling, it can be hard to separate the facts from the speculation. The following is a list of some important facts we currently know about DUST 514:

  • Dust will be an MMO in its own right, not just an extension to EVE.
  • Dust is planned for release on the current generation of consoles, with no PC version being mentioned thus far.
  • Dust players will be privy to a form of the EVE cloning system.
  • Dust players will be able to buy configurable, modular vehicles and weapons.
  • The Dust battlefields will include a Battlefield-style commander system and RTS elements.
  • Permanent structures can be deployed inside battlefields for a particular session of the game.
  • EVE players will be able to fund and arm the Dust troops.
  • Planets will be divided into distinct districts, and battles will likely take place over individual districts.
  • EVE players can contract Dust mercenary groups to invade planetary districts on their behalf.
  • Dust will form part of the EVE sovereignty system for faction warfare and 0.0 territorial warfare.
  • According to the game-play footage in the video presentation, attacks may be planned from the control deck of a kind of orbital station or ship.
Space battles:
Throughout the presentation on Dust, it was made clear that ground battles would augment rather than replace the current space-battles to decide territorial control of areas of space. With that in mind, the battle for a planet will probably be fought in two stages - one an epic clash of fleets in space played in EVE Online and the other a series of tactical combats played in DUST 514. I find myself trying to fill in the gaps and speculate on what the space battle could be like. In the video, ground attacks were planned from an orbital control deck on a ship or structure of some kind with a titan clearly visible out the window. Since we're moving away from using POS as a sovereignty marker, it's possible that what we're seeing in that video is a new sovereignty structure in planetary orbit or titans in a new deployable role - used as a control station of sorts. With this in mind, I've begun to form a vision of what the new system could be like.

Read on to page 2, where I describe one possible way the new sovereignty system could work, from the epic space battles to the land-based territorial control.

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