Dust 514 will take place in and be directly connected to CCP's first game, Eve Online. There will be direct interaction between the two; player actions in one game will affect the political and economic status of the other. Additionally, an "orbital bombardment" in the game is a unique feature that will allow an Eve Online player to fire at a designated ground target in a Dust 514 battle.
Even before release, Dust 514 has been recognized as ground-breaking and innovative for its connection to another game. IGN said that the game was highly ambitious and called it the future of gaming, while PC Gamer praised the orbital bombardment mechanic and the unprecedented amount of customization available.
It was announced on August 18, 2009 at the Game Developers Conference in Cologne, Germany and was introduced with a short trailer featuring realtime footage of the game. This will be the first video game to be released by CCP since Eve Online, and is under active development at CCP's Shanghai studio. According to Hilmar Veigar Petursson, the CEO of CCP Games, the game will be exclusive to the PlayStation 3, with community and customization features accessible via PlayStation Vita with no direct gameplay.
Dust 514 takes place in the same fictional universe as Eve Online, a science-fiction MMORPG set 21,000 years in the future. TheEve Online backstory explains that humanity, after using up the Earth's resources, began to colonize the rest of the Milky Way. The development of faster-than-light travel allowed mankind to expand at an extremely fast pace, leading to violent competition between space-faring corporations. A natural wormhole was discovered, and humanity entered through it to find an empty new galaxy which they began colonizing. However, the wormhole connecting the two galaxies collapsed, leaving the young colonies cut off from the worlds that had supplied them. Without support, many of the colonies in the new galaxy died off, and over time the few that remained lost their knowledge of both their technology and of their origins from Earth. Eventually, a new era began when civilization was rebuilt and faster-than-light travel was rediscovered. Five unique space-faring cultures emerged from the colonies to become the only interstellar powers in the new galaxy.
Eve Online players take the role of capsuleers, who are elite starship pilots made immortal using cloning technology and consciousness transfers. For much of Eve history, only capsuleers were immortal because the technology required to download consciousness was linked to a capsule that encloses them and leaves them in suspended animation. The capsule was designed specifically as an interface for pilots to control the ship that they were placed within. However, the discovery of a special implant made it possible to achieve a transfer of consciousness without the use of a capsule, so it became possible to make immortals that were not pilots. Dust 514 players take the role of immortal ground-based soldiers which were created by the military shortly after the implant was discovered.
Dust 514 will be a first-person shooter with elements of massively multiplayer online games. Combat will take place on the various planets found in Eve Online, each of which will offer a unique map. Planets will be divided into large districts, which hold resources and installations that players must fight for control over. Only the natural landscape of each planet remains constant; the placement of buildings and surface structures is controlled by the player corporations.
Infantry in Dust 514 will be equipped with "dropsuits" which function similarly to the ship hulls in Eve Online. Dropsuits have various module slots which players can utilize to fit different weapons and equipment. This gives players a broad range of customization choices and the ability to create specialized fits to perform specific roles and tactics on the battlefield. Skill training, in a manner similar toEve Online, is also available. CCP has stated that it would take seven years to train all skills, and that it was not intended for any player to learn all of the skills. Instead, CCP believes that players will naturally become specialized by selecting a certain set of skills and becoming "really, really good at them." Player-driven vehicles will also be available in the game; these can be transported to anywhere within the battlefield using "rapid deployment vehicles" at the request of players. Vehicles will share the modular fitting system that infantry dropsuits have.
Both teams will have a "commander" who can oversee the planetary combat and make tactical decisions from a RTS-style perspective. The commanders reside within a massive aerial fortress known as the "mobile command center". According to CCP, mobile command centers will require fuel to run systems such as turrets and energy shields, and it will be up to commanders to extract fuel from sources within the battlefield. The goal of each team will be to destroy the opposing mobile command center.
Although the Dust players will be mercenaries, they can also seize territory from planets within the Eve universe for their own alliance and corporation, which will take place in the form of Corporation vs. Corporation matches. This allows Dust corporations to build infrastructure on captured territory, but it is unclear what manufacturing power Dust corps will hold.
Although Dust 514 does not have a single player campaign, CCP has confirmed that there will be a survival game mode which pits players against A.I. controlled rogue drones.
Connection to Eve Online
All combat within Dust 514 will take place, in real-time, on planets found in the Eve Online universe. The player alliances and corporations of Eve Online can hire Dust 514 players as mercenaries to fight for control over planets; the outcome of such battles will affect the sovereignty of player-run political powers in Eve Online. A direct form of interaction comes in the form of "orbital bombardments". Orbital bombardments allow a player in Eve Online to provide direct assistance to friendly forces in a battle in Dust 514. If a player in Eve Online is in position with a ship above a planet in which a Dust 514 battle is currently taking place, a Dust 514 player can designate a target for the ship to fire upon. This was first shown to the public as an actual ingame mechanic during EVE Fanfest 2012, although it had been previously featured during the 2011 fanfest in a cinematic trailer titled A Future Vision .
Both games share the same namespace, so a player in Dust 514 cannot choose a username that already exists in Eve Online or vice-versa. This allows players from both games to join the same corporation or alliance, as well as communicate between the two games in real-time.
In an interview conducted by Simon Carless of Gamasutra, Hilmar said that he hopes "these [Eve Online and Dust 514] communities will meld over time", bridging the two environments. He described the relationship between the flying-oriented nature of Eve Online and the infantry-oriented nature of Dust 514, saying "while the fleet does the flying, the infantry does the dying". The massive Eve universe will be the platform for all planetary combat. Brandon Laurino, executive producer of Dust 514, has confirmed that there will not be a set number of maps at launch, saying "We are covering literally a universe of planets, so there's thousands of different maps and they're all available to everyone who's playing."
In 2010, CCP updated Eve Online with the Tyrannis expansion. Tyrannis introduced planetary interaction, allowing players to harvest resources from planets using ground installations. A developer blog by CCP mentioned that, while the expansion alone would not include planetary combat, the upcoming Dust 514 game would deal with the combat aspect by allowing players to "project military force for attack and defense of planetary installations." Planets in Eve Online previously held no value; the Tyrannis expansion was intended to tie into Dust 514 by giving players "a reason to want to fight over [the planets]."
Dust 514 uses Unreal Engine 3 after CCP Games reached an agreement with Epic Games China to license the engine in 2010.
During E3 2011, it was confirmed that Dust 514 is to be released exclusively on the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita. A beta would be held before the end of 2011 followed by a release in the summer of 2012. DUST 514 was initially slated to be the first cross platform game, pitting Xbox 360 and PS3 players with each other but CCP has since dropped the Xbox 360 as a potential platform; the choice of PlayStation 3 exclusive was determined by Sony's more open platform allowing Dust 514 to connect to theEve Online Server, Tranquility, whereas Microsoft's Xbox Live did not. It was also confirmed after E3 2011 that Dust 514utilizes Havok middleware technology.
Dust 514 will be connected to Eve Online's single-shard server. The complexity of running two games on one server proved to be a unique challenge for the developers. To mitigate any performance issues that this might have on either of the two games, CCP has designed a server architecture such that the majority of Dust 514 gameplay will be run on various "battle clusters" across the world. These server clusters will handle all the latency sensitive first-person shooter aspects of Dust 514. The main Eve cluster, located inLondon, will only communicate with Dust 514 for information such as character names.
In the Eve fanfest of 2012, even before the release of Dust 514, CCP has already revealed ideas for expansions in 2013. Possible future features include the ability to traverse on planets with "hostile" environments (such as lava planets) and the addition of mechanized exoskeletons that players can use, called MTACs.
In the PlayStation's online social gaming platform PlayStation Home, a game space for Dust 514 was released on June 13, 2012. The game space provides information about mercenaries and the Eve Universe, as well as a mini-game known as Slay, a tabletop strategy game. Users can also earn special rewards such as a Merc Dropsuit and a Companion Drone.
Unlike Eve Online, Dust 514 will not require a monthly subscription. It will instead use a micro-transaction model, making the game free to play. The game will have two currencies, Aurum, which can only be bought with real money, and ISK, the currency in Eve Online which can be earned in both games. CCP's Chief marketing officer, David Reid, has compared this model to that of League of Legends. Reid has added that Dust 514 will not be a "pay-to-win" game; Aurum can only be used to buy cosmetic items or items that could be earned ingame without paying real money.