In the final part of our look back at the mistakes Dust made, we look at the decisions made regarding Open World, Strategy, Social Aspects, Variety and Core FPS mechanics. The bevy of features and stellar gameplay in all of these aspects in a casual game [GTA Online] means the time for CCPs has excuses run out. The company had the market cornered on Persistent Shooters with customization and economy less than two years ago, but Rockstar recently used the same format and did a considerably better job. Know this, they wont be the last developer to do so. CCPs ideas for deep gameplay are in the open now.

Open World

– How did this game, with locations like this make that mistake? MMOs can’t survive without social tools, player conflict and relationships. Many former Dust players are now playing GTA Online and lets be clear about this: Rockstar Gets It. Its like they took notes on everything CCP botched and added it with aplomb. PVE? check. Bounties? check. Huge groups? check. Talking indicators? check. Proximity Chat? check. Arch Enemies? check. CONCORD style authority to prevent chaos? check. Subtle Gear Upgrades? check. No Massive health gap between new players and seasoned vets? Double Check. They even added a plethora of things to do when you are tired of shooting people and just want to interact with others or simply the environment. MMOs simply have to possess a number of non-combat activities. Social areas were promised over a year ago and are still yet to be seen. The same is true of virtual training areas or even the ability to explore our districts. We have to ask: Whats New Eden without the ability to tour the Jita Trade Hub, Caldari Prime or any of the other home planets, stations, ships or planetary colonies and structures in an open world setting?

No Variety

There simply aren’t enough things to do in Dust 514. Think about this for a moment: New Eden is one of the most content heavy MMOs in history. You have spying, mining, industry, politics, a complex economy and even pilots for ships large and small. But in Dust, if you aren’t an FPS killer the game simply doesn’t support you. There is one game mode [skirmish] and a single variation of it [domination] The Battle Commander is still rhetoric, pilots are forgotten, and weapons like flash grenades, claymores, drones and mortars don’t even exist. Assets still cant be deployed and we still don’t have access to the racial versions of each class. Lastly, the differences between the classes seems to be vanishing when they should be expanded upon. Scan Profiles aren’t fleshed out and the differences in turn speed, movement and CPU & PG need reworking.

Core FPS Mechanics

– One look at rail turrets on vehicles is an example of how bad aiming is. Trying to hit a moving target with it is like winning the lottery. Where is the ability to paint targets? The hit detection is better but still wouldn’t be considered good by any means [Except if you have an Assault Rifle of course] On that note, the decision to give certain weapons aim buffers [the aforementioned ARs] and not to apply it universally is weapon favoritism of the first order and a terrible idea in general. Dust has a color icon that turns red when correct aim is achieved and user hit data like this needs to be expanded upon. Tactically relevant FPS staples like prone are still absent and its mind-boggling. No one wants to see dolphin diving, but eliminating it as a useful tactic is as simple as dramatically slowing the animation down, making it a terrible idea in combat. Lastly, no one could have known this, but the ability to deploy a mobile spawn point has proved to be among the most game-breaking mechanics in a shooter, while we think Drop Uplinks should have to be scanned/seen instead of visible from the tacmap, they must 1) Cancel each other out if two are within 50m of each other 2) limited to one per person 3) have an enormous CPU/PG cost and 4) separated instead by amount of spawns. 5 for militia, 10 for advanced and 15 for prototype.

Strategy

– Most expected Dust 514  to be one of the most hardcore experiences in FPS when it was announced. In reality, it embraces casual mechanics excessively. No friendly fire? Where are the options for retreat or surrender in Planetary Conquest? In the same vein, why are attackers limited to one clone pack when attacking a district? Imagine the guesswork and metagame created if they could decide both on how many simultaneous players [limited by game-type of course] participate and the amount of clone packs? As long as they can afford it. Blind each side to the size of the enemy force until the game starts and watch gameplay improve considerably by losing its predictability.

Test Server – We have to wonder why there isnt one for Dust? We couldnt think of a better way to test balance before making changes or adding new mechanics to the game. We applaud what CCP is trying to do with depth, but the amount of data and how it meshes in Dust is dizzying. Allow yourselves a better chance to succeed by thoroughly testing changes with a small portion of the playerbase before adding them to gameplay.

Merging New Eden – Dust 514 and EVE ignore each other. Cross-platform play is a misnomer. Theres no reason for EVE players to risk their ships to help their Dust corpmates, and Dust players can do little to influence the PC side of New Eden. This needs to change in a big way and soon. We’ve referenced how EVE ships should only be limited by refire times in regards to orbital strikes but adding planetary weaponry is a necessity first. In the meantime, there are still countless ways the game should provide incentive for interaction. Why don’t EVE pilots have access to RTS-style maps with troop positions? Where are the orbital scans that reveal enemy locations? Shouldnt EVE pilots have a number of non-attack abilities to supplement planetary forces? Give corps the ability to lower their clone costs if they can use their own EVE ships to move clones. Where is the ship boarding and station attacks by infantry? In the end the games need to benefit each other.

Grenades – Poor design still urges people to use these weapons in CQC which is head-scratching. Grenades should be the only handheld weapon with more than 1m of splash damage, but simply cant be a weapon you throw within 10m of you unless you want to take as much damage as your target. As an aside, giving users the variety of the New Eden equivalent of flashbangs, and poison gas grenades is important.

Team Deploy – Risk and loss dictates groups will want to play this game together and without incompetent strangers in many instances. By disallowing this you urge them not to play. The increases to squad size are important. Why is the scope of Dust still so tiny? Where are the options for engagements with 32, 64, 128, 256 and 512 simultaneous players? The scope of New Eden is massive. Dust would do well to meet or exceed this standard.

Before the release of GTA Online excuses were probably worth listening to. People listened when fanboys said ‘no one else is doing it’ but now another developer is and doing it considerably better. While Dust has solid elements it simply cant compete in the current landscape. We arent suggesting it should be cancelled, as its potential has no limits. It might be best to treat the PS3 version as a beta test, add devs that have considerable experience with FPS and relaunch a true visionary AAA title on PS4 after gameplay with a high level of excellence is achieved, and not a moment before.

- MagwW

7 Comments

  1. DrkyDrky

    Dust 514 = Simpler version of Battlefield 2142

    October 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm Reply
  2. 2.4

    CCP already stated that a PS4 version of Dust is a no go.

    Costs to put it on another console is too high and too hard with it’s current numbers.

    Dust is dead, CCP is trying the same strategy with Dust as they’re currently doing with EVE.

    The days are numbered.

    October 7, 2013 at 8:47 pm Reply
  3. Jaime Gomes

    You need 3 parts to explain what went wrong? Jeebus. I’ll resume in 1 phrase: sub-par game play, ancient graphics, link with the PC platform non-existent, anchored to the PS3 and deployed in the end cycle of it, didn’t went to the PC platform and saturated fps market.

    October 7, 2013 at 9:17 pm Reply
  4. GrouchyOldGamer

    It really is time to grandfather this game, it’s struggling to pull decent numbers and more than likely bleeding cash with no prospect of getting it back. Good attempt CCP, kill it off.

    October 7, 2013 at 9:54 pm Reply
  5. Dust515

    This game died way before being released. Let’s hope CCP follows.

    October 8, 2013 at 2:40 am Reply
  6. A Merc (and EVE pilot)

    There are so many glaring flaws in this analysis. Let me break it down point-by-point.

    Comparing GTA5 to DUST is ridiculous. Rockstar has had over a decade to play test and iterate on it’s gameplay. The open world makes no sense for DUST because there are thousands of planets in New Eden and look how much work Rockstar spent just building the region around LA. DUST’s approach of having a dynamic system is the groundwork for building thousands of combinations of installations, maps, and terrain. It’s missing tons of content, but as they iterate and add things linearly the variety will increase exponentially. It’s a reasonable approach given the limitations of time/resources, while still making each battle feel different (which it will as they continue to expand maps and installations, time of day/lighting, terrain type/vegetation, weather etc.).

    The health gap you mention is part of what makes DUST so compelling. I can wear proto suits, but almost never do. There is a deep ISK vs. risk mechanism at play that makes combat in DUST more compelling than any other FPS I’ve ever played. People don’t want to loose their expensive suits, so they play much more conservatively and typically retreat when low on health instead of trying to score another quick kill or two before respawning. Fights mimic real life where people aren’t eager to suicide themselves. This is interesting and fun. It makes kills (especially an expensive suit/vehicle) immensely satisfying. So while it’s possible for vets to have health significantly higher than new players, often they won’t be running that suit, and if they are, they can still be OHKed by many things, or shotgunned in the back of the head with a cheap suit, causing them to go negative for the match. As matchmaking improves, this issue will be less of a problem, and due to the nature of the SP system, the early SP you spend will give you the greatest benefit, bringing new players to a competitive level rather quickly.

    I agree with the lack of variety, and most of us are disappointed it’s taken so long to fill in the missing racial suits and weapons mentioned at fanfest. I can only assume that their roadmap was shot-to-hell after it’s nightmare release. The core gameplay mechanics have improved radically since then. Once they’ve finished the core mechanics (which looks to be in the next few months) I suspect we will start seeing new content showing up at a fairly steady pace, given many of the assets already exist and it’s a matter or balancing stats.

    I agree with the test server. But Sony is the roadblock there, not CCP. I posted a solution a while back that would allow us to deploy to the ground in test-mode on tranquility have unlimited SP and everything costing 0 ISK in test mode. You could try out new fits, shoot target NPC dropsuits, invite your friends to join you, and even play with unreleased weapons, suits and vehicles. This would be a reasonable solution to the test server/test range problem.

    I agree wight the EVE-DUST link criticisms. I highly disagree with wanting to remove all AOE weapons or reducing their splash to the point that they become re-skinned AR’s except grenades. This is a game about strategy and tactics. AOE weapons are a tool to punish people for clumping up, or lingering behind cover for too long. DUST needs more weapons with interesting tactical implications, not less.

    I agree with team deploy, but the reason why battles are so tiny is the PS3 hardware, and the fact that this is a new team building a FPS from scratch, and haven’t had a decade to master optimizing every last processor cycle or bit of memory they can squeeze out of the hardware. They’re clearly focusing on getting things right in 16 vs. 16, because having things broken in 32 vs. 32 isn’t much fun is it?

    DUST still has a hell-of-a-lot of potential. It is the most fun I’ve ever had in a FPS game due to the SP system and the risk vs. ISK mechanics at play. It’s got a long way to go, and I agree CCP needs to make it a priority to get this game onto some better hardware as soon as possible. Clearly the game should be in a better state than it’s in, and it’s obvious there were some major mistakes made during it’s development, but I’m sticking with it. Things are moving in the right direction and I’m still having fun even with it’s shortcomings.

    October 9, 2013 at 5:02 pm Reply
    1. dust merc now/pod pilot then

      Good post with many insightful comments. DUST really went off the development rails but I hope they can still get this beast back on track. 1.4 was a big relief. 1.5 is a lot less impressive but maybe there is more going on behind the scenes then we see. (often there is but the politics and office drama at CCP Shanghai is too much for playerbase to handle)
      Good post

      October 15, 2013 at 10:48 pm Reply

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