Jumping ship for DUST 514?

26th August 2009 – 5.26 pm

I have seen the video trailer for DUST 514, the forthcoming first-person shooter (FPS) based on the EVE Online MMORPG. I'm not terribly impressed. My first impression is that it is, indeed, a first-person shooter. But, oh my, look at those huge spaceships shooting powerful weapons at each other! I want to fly one of them! And I am, in EVE Online. I'm not entirely sure why I'd want to leave my fantastic spaceship, my main motivation for playing EVE Online, to run around a landscape with a handgun instead. Unless I could do so as a badger, I suppose.

There is going to be a link between the planetary battles and null-sec sovereignty, I believe. The question is: why should I care? I don't go to null-sec space, nor am I likely to, so it matters not to me who controls it. Of course, if even singular efforts in ground assault could make it worthwhile for anyone to venture deep in to lawless and dangerous space then the synergistic game mechanics will pose considerable problems for EVE Online, so it will be interesting to see how much effect games of DUST 514 will have on null-sec sovereignty. If there is too much influence from the FPS then capsuleers in null-sec may feel there is little point fighting in ships that can't win the battle on their own, and maybe even retire. If there is too little effect then the connection to EVE Online will be little more than a gimmick.

But even if the battles of DUST 514 have some effect on null-sec sovereignty, if it is enough to influence control over contended regions it may require alliances in those regions to be relying on members owning consoles and enjoying a different genre of game, or having to strike up a completely new alliance with a group of console FPS gamers. Does an EVE Online alliance want or need the extra complication of keeping a disparate group happy enough to participate in continuing battles simply as a means to retain control of a region, particularly when needing to use entirely new channels of communication separate to those currently used by the alliance?

Even if there are gains for the FPS characters associated with controlling a region—which may make it less of an FPS but give players the incentive to fight for sovereignty—who would be in command, and thus control? Do the console gamers decide where to fight, or do they get told on what planet, or 'map', they are going to do battle, and against what opponent? Although there is some verisimilitude in being a front-line fighter given orders by a commanding officer, I personally would prefer some control over my gaming time. Likewise, I wouldn't relish being in a null-sec alliance if I had to rely on the notorious whim of FPS gamers preferring to play a certain map in order to retain sovereignty.

A solution may be to have EVE Online commanders set-up or schedule the ground assault battles they want fought and then the game allows players to join whatever battles are currently 'open' at the time they log-in. This would offer some control for both groups, with capsuleers dictating the holistic strategy for planetary occupation and console gamers having opportunities to play on a variety of 'open' maps and conflicts, for whichever side they choose to fight if otherwise unaffiliated, whilst still allowing for co-ordinated groups to fight for a specific side to tip the balance towards victory for an alliance. It could work, but probably only if the amount of influence awarded towards sovereignty is carefully balanced.

My lack of presence in null-sec isn't to say I'll have no reason to play DUST 514 as such, but as there are no compelling reasons for my playing the game as a link to EVE Online it will need to be a notable FPS for me to play it, particularly as it will be only available on consoles and thus be limited without keyboard and mouse controls. And, of course, this is mostly speculation. But I can't really see how alluring it can be to spend time out of your chosen game to play a completely different genre, on a different platform, to help retain control of a system in the original game. If DUST 514 is good enough to hook players, perhaps there is no need to include anything but a cosmetic link to EVE Online in the first place.

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