Having played Dust 514 now since April, I thought it would be a good idea to try out some of the competition to see how it fared. Dust does have some problems (in my opinion), and those are:
- ARWIN – If you want to win in most situations, it boils down to using a medium frame (usually Caldari or Minmatar), and fitting an Assault Rifle. It’s that simple really unfortunately
- SRWIN – This is simply ARWIN but using an Assault Scrambler Rifle, although you’re not quite as effective as an Assault Rifle in some situations
- Automatic Sniper Rifle – see ARWIN above
- Scotty – Seriously Scotty… it’s just me and a friend, why put us up against a squad of UPS and WTF and think that us two and the other 14 random players are likely to stand a chance
- TTK – Time To Kill was not something I had heard of until the last “patch” was applied to Dust. Hit detection was improved, and suddenly ARWIN got a serious boost. Really???? Why CCP… why? What probably needs to happen now is the removal of the recent 10% damage boost to Assault Rifles and Scrambler Rifles
- ISK making opportunities – unless you’re one of the few people who get selected to be allowed entry to Planetary Conquest battles, ISK making can be more difficult than it probably needs to be. See Scotty above, as he regularly throws you into matches where you need to use proto gear to compete with their proto gear, and then the 7 deaths you suffered aren’t compensated by the 200k ISK you receive
So which games did I try to see what Dust 514 might be losing players to or trying to get players from? Could Dust learn anything from these games?
This was an obvious game to try, and it’s one I’m still exploring a little. Looking at it while it was downloading, it seemed to promise some things Dust was missing. Once it had downloaded and installed, I went through the character creation process and selected a server to play on. I presumed that this was because of the sheer number of players that they had online at any one time.
The tutorial was very straightforward, I learnt how to run, jump, duck and hack a point. I looked on the map and was quite excited to see that I could have an impact on the continental struggle for power. I selected a drop point in a well populated sector (over 20 on each side) and dropped into battle.
This was when things started to go wrong. Believe it or not I actually found it difficult to work out who to shoot and who not to shoot to start off with. Yes – friendly fire is always on, and actually I really liked that as it demanded more skill rather than just using my gun as a water hose. After a not too short amount of time I ended up working out it seemed to be anybody without a tag.
The next problem was that I felt like I was in a scout suit using a hand gun, while everybody else was in an Amarr Heavy suit using a Duvolle Assault Rifle. I will freely admit that I’m not really very good at FPS, but this was simply crazy.
To my dismay, you can’t move characters between servers, so when my friend in the US of A signed up too in order to assist me, we had a few minutes of deleting and creating characters until we were on the same server.
So what did I like about this game?
- I liked that friendly fire was on all the time, and that if you shot somebody on your team, you were flagged as a griefer and were stopped from shooting for a period of time
- I also liked some of the little things like having a quad bike to get around on (no gun, just road kill opportunities)
- I liked some of the other ideas such as having a jet-pack on certain suits – could be used on a type of scout suit for getting up to places defended by snipers / forge gunners maybe?
- I liked that you couldn’t spam drop uplinks, but thought that they had gone too far the other way
- I loved that you could change the keyboard mapping
However, there was something that was just stopping me enjoying the game and becoming invested in it. It simply didn’t feel like a FPS, it more felt like an RPG. My friend summed it up when he said it was almost like Final Fantasy with an assault rifle.
It just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel grown up. It was incredibly difficult to find targets at times, and the server population was pretty hopeless at anything apart from peak times.
Oh, and no option for open comms in the game – you have to press a button to speak. Sometimes it’s just nice to not have to push to talk.
After about an hour of playing it, I just wanted to uninstall it and play something else, so my friend and I both loaded up….
World of Tanks
This is actually a really well done game for rapid fire PvP. I’ve been playing WoT for around a month now. I usually play a sniper in a FPS game as I accept that I’m just not as good in 1v1 situations as many others are. Therefore in WoT I quickly got into self propelled guns (SPG’s), and got to a Tier V SPG quite quickly. However, unusually for me I’m actually having more fun playing as either a light or medium tank, and am just about to get a Tier V Churchill medium tank to play with.
WoT does lots of things right. They have friendly fire on and identify and punish griefers. They have a matchmaking system which seems to get things right much more often than not. The also have the very cool feature that, if your tank gets blown up in a battle, you can exit that battle, choose another tank in your garage and go straight into a different fight which the other tank sits on the field waiting for the first battle to end.
The user count certainly seems to support the recent Golden Joystick award, and I do find it fun to dip in, have a few games and then continue with what I was doing somewhere else.
What could Dust learn from this? Well again it comes to friendly fire. This is available in Planetary Conquest battles, but in public battles it isn’t, and that’s probably a good thing in quite a few cases.
WoT is fun for quick fire PvP, but after a while again I started to get bored. If I got blown up quickly then I either watched the rest of the match from others’ perspective, or got into another battle, but Dust allows me to stay the course and keep coming back, changing my suit and tactics if I feel the need, to try and make an impact on the game.
So, after playing a couple of other games that might sap players from Dust’s playerbase, I ended up wanting to play Dust again at the end of it. That’s a good sign, but why was it that both games had a significantly higher number of players online at any one time?
I think CCP need to fix a some gun balance issues urgently, and then they need to do something about the matchmaking system. They could look at introducing a couple of other vehicles or increasing the player count to 24v24 maybe. Above all, I think the main thing that CCP need to do is to get Dust out there more – they need to get more players playing it, as I’ve got a horrible suspicion that the average concurrent active playerbase is reducing, not increasing.
Other than that, the game can continue to evolve as it should – different game modes perhaps. Some way for the public players to get more involved with higher ISK reward situations perhaps. Variations on vehicles maybe?
Despite all the problems, I still wanted to play Dust over the other games.
CCP has created something with so much potential. At the moment it’s pretty much still like a beta version of the game, considering what they need to do to move it forward.
If they need any help or advice – I’m free and will gladly give my time without charge to offer my noobish FPS, but more involved Eve related opinion on things