State Of Free-To-Play: Dust 514
It's great to be back after the Christmas break to highlight some more free-to-play action with our semi-regular feature State Of Free-To-Play, a feature which is especially handy in the post holiday downtime at the beginning of the year.
It's been a year since CCP first launched their ambitious free-to-play FPS Dust 514 and we thought it was worth highlighting as something interesting to do this weekend, especially seeing as there's some pretty nasty weather heading the UK's way on Sunday.
Dust 514 is quite possibly the most ambitious projects ever created for the PS3. It encompasses the ground war elements of CCP's phenomenal space MMO EVE Online with deep integration between the two games allowing events in one to affect the other and even inviting EVE players to assist their factions in Dust 514 via planetary bombardment.
As a straight mutliplayer FPS Dust 514 is quite entertaining once you get past the fairly daunting task of navigating the game's store and setting up your fighter's various loadouts.
The amount of time you can spend playing Dust 514 is policed by one thing and that is the volumes of gear you maintain. CCP has built the game's system around the Battlestar Galactica-inspired idea that factions employ cloned warriors controlled by mercenaries. Every time a player is killed they respawn in a new clone body and they use up one of every item of gear they had equipped.
Each mission players engage in earns ISK credits which can be used amass plenty of gear to keep the loadouts well stocked-up.
Of course there's also the cash-purchased AUR credits which can buy gear too and even open ups some other possible purchases that are slightly better than their ISK counterparts. It does offer up players the slight upper hand but it's nothing that can't be overcome with a bit of skill.
CCP are exceptionally diligent and are continually tweaking the gameplay and Dust 514 has become a pacy, nicely balanced shooter even for fairly casual multiplayer shooter fans like me.
There's always a good variety of battles available and the maps are vast and beautiful with plenty of room for infantry and vehicle combat. They also feel suitably other-worldly and the orbital bombardment feels appropriately destructive when they hit their targets.
Players can jump into the game as solo operators, join groups of other players and take on the enemies and even one of EVE Online's main factions to battle in their name for domination of the galaxy.
While the EVE Online community can seem very insular and quite unwelcoming to outsiders due to the nature of the game's single-server architecture Dust 514 is quite the opposite and there's always someone out there looking to form up their own groups to jump into battle with. It's always worthwhile jumping onto the in-game chat to see what's going on.
This weekend does offer a few added incentives for playing, none less than the accelerated SP week (that's Dust 514's equivalent of XP for newcomers out there) giving five times the normal experience to players until January 29th.
There's also another couple of events running until the 29th of January that give extra bonus gear for diving into the game and getting some kills.
Operation Shinobi offers Scout dropsuit fans extra gear for scoring kills with a Nova Knife melee weapon. Every kill scored while wearing a Scout suit will earn players one Neo Scout gk.0, one Neo Scount mk.0 and one Fleshriver Ishukone Nova Knife. Players are limited to 200 of each reward.
Operation Shadow Hunt is running in direct opposition to Operation Shinobi. Players wearing Scout suits have bounties placed on their heads between 2000 ISK for Militia Scout suits and 50,000 ISK for Prototype Scout suits. Kills can be scored using any Assault Rifle, Combat Rifle, Rail Rifle, Scrambler Rifle or HMG and the total bounty earned is capped to 10 million ISK.
The birthday celebrations don't stop there though. Anyone signed up to the email newsletter with a verified email address can claim 100 HK4M Shotguns to use on the battlefield. Veterans of the game – that is anyone who signed up before 11am on May 14th 2013 – will also receive 50 of the rare Hellmar Sentinel ak.0 dropsuits currently only available in the WAR Kit Sparta pack available on the PlayStation Store.
Dust 514 is available to download for free on the PS3 and there are also a range of booster packs available on the PlayStation Store which include AUR, weapons, dropsuits, gear and even experience boosters to given players a bit of a much-needed lift.