Developer CCP has recently announced details on payment and pricing options for their upcoming massively multiplayer first person shooter: Dust 514. CCP has announced that the game itself will essentially be available to players for free, once they pay a $10-$20 ‘cover charge,’ which will give them an equivalent amount of in game credits (ISK) to get their character started. CCP CEO, Hilmar Petursson, goes on to say that Dust 514 might even be completely free to play at a later date; the cover charge is simply a way for them to handle the cost of the game’s launch and development. This seems rather generous of CCP, they could have easily charged the full retail price of $59.99 just as SOE did with DC Universe, but they didn’t. Considering CCP’s history with EVE Online’s free expansions and low cost for the core game itself, it is good to know that CCP is sticking to their roots.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with Dust 514, it is most easily explained as a sort of first person shooter and MMO hybrid (PlayStation 3 exclusive) that will be directly connected to CCP’s preexisting MMO, EVE Online for the PC. In EVE Online, players take on the role of space pilots (also called ‘capsuleers’) who are able to control the actions of their ship through a direct link to their brains, and evade death with advanced cloning procedures. As pilots in EVE could tell you, the game is also a constant battle for control over star systems in the outer rim of the galaxy, also known as null sec or 0.0 space. Gaining control over the planets within these star systems is also a matter of increasing significance as CCP continues to improve the game, and with the addition of Dust 514, ground assaults will finally be possible.
Dust 514 places you in the boots of a highly trained planetary and ground assault specialist who will be available for hire to EVE Online Players/Pilots. Who you work for will be entirely up to you, but most mercenaries tend to fall in league with the highest bidder. This, of course, means you will not only be constantly interacting with PC gamers flying ships up in virtual space, but you will also be seeing a lot of player versus player action. You didn’t think you could just take control of such a lush and resource enriched planet without other players grabbing for a piece of the pie did you?
From what I have seen so far from Dust 514, it seems somewhat reminiscent of a Halo game, with a full range of ground vehicles and drop ships at your disposal. There is still a lot that we don’t know about the game, but if you saw the E3 demo, then you will also note that it might even be possible for Dust 514 mercenaries to shoot down EVE players who are in orbit just above the planet’s surface. But who knows?
I am excited about the prospect of Dust 514, but thanks to the tremendous let down that was Incarna (EVE Online’s latest expansion), I can hardly say that I am willing to trust CCP to fulfill all of their promises. Incarna was a project which, at first, was crudely labeled “walking in stations” by fans and was then constantly put on delay again and again by CCP. After watching countless demo videos and presentations from EVE Fanfest in the past about what Incarna was boasted to be, I can safely say that what we saw was hardly what we got. I know many EVE fans don’t care about the prospect of walking in stations, and I too think the concept seems unnecessary considering what you actually do in the game, but the fact still remains that CCP failed to live up to their promises.
Part of me really likes CCP; I have spent a lot of time with EVE Online over the years and have come to love the dark and crude game world that they and the player community have created, so I would really like to see Dust 514 do well. I had already planned to pay the full $59.99 for Dust when it came out in the spring of next year, and will happily pay $10 to $20 instead. But in spite of the price change, the question still remains if the game itself will be any good or not. I am inclined to say that it will at least be worth the price of admission, if nothing else, but will have to wait to try it out before passing further judgment.
What do you think of CCP’s ambitious online shooter, Dust 514, and its newly proposed cover charge? Sound off in the poll and comments below.