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Elsa's blog
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Elsa avatar 2:19 PM on 03.19.2012  (server time)
I want to be your leader...

Yes, yes I do. I want to be your leader... Commander... the ultimate Armchair General sending you all to your doom from that big ship up there in the sky in that screenshot. I want to play Dust 514! While Byronic Man (or Tsukanda on PSN) might have that soft, dulcet Irish voice (and good tactics), with me you'll get the originality of someone who apparently sounds like a gay 13 year old boy with Tourettes - who will swear at you for not doing what I want you to do, all from the comfort of my flying Mobile Command Center.

The more I hear about Dust 514, the more excited I get. I hate that. I'm so often disappointed by a game that I am anticipating. Still, I like what I'm hearing about Dust 514, in particular the FREE part. The game will be a FREE PSN download. Any expansions, maps, DLC... all of it is expected to be FREE as well. The game will be supported by ingame transactions. The transactions are primarily vanity items or items that can be earned through playing time. Per the developers:
"It's very important as we take steps into this topic to unambiguously state that it is not a pay to win game. There is no micro-transaction that you can do that gives you an unfair advantage over someone who hasn't paid anything....It's the classic micro-transaction dynamic of, 'I can pay and get this item,' or, 'I can invest my time and get this item.' But neither of those options will give me an unfair advantage over the other."

It's been awhile for me. I think that the last games I truly anticipated were Battlefield and Starhawk and in all honesty, I've been somewhat disappointed with the Starhawk beta because it seems much more RTS oriented than shooter oriented, and most of us know how Battlefield on the PS3 turned out (I understand that they finally did fix the voice chat issues... several months after release!). Still, even with all the previous disappointments, I'm starting to get pretty excited about the upcoming game Dust 514. It seems to combine many of the better ideas from games like MAG and even Starhawk into a game that may well move the standard FPS game into something new. I like the idea that it has a leadership structure - this was one of the best aspects of MAG for me and I think that it greatly changes the dynamics of an online shooter game. It not only encourages team work, but it often seems to give players a more vested interest in the overall team strategies rather than just accruing individual points. When you have a squad leader either begging you or yelling at you to help take the left bunker (or whatever their current strategic goal is) I have to admit that I give in to the guilt and often actually try to help out... rather than just laying back and sniping from the spawn which I tend to find very relaxing. Dust 514 will apparently feature a leadership structure similar to MAG and will also have an overall Commander... a person who is selected to oversee the entire battle. They won't be actually playing the game as a foot soldier, but rather will locked away in a Mobile Command Center and will be playing more of an RTS (real time strategy) game of deploying various assets and coordinating the overall battle... moving the OIC position of MAG into a much more relevant, important and interesting role and utilizing elements of Starhawk's deployable asset system. Part of the game objective is not to teamkill your Commander because you disagree with their tactics (something often done in MAG), but rather to protect them, because the loss of the Mobile Command Center (with the comfortably protected Commander), means an instant loss. I think I might like this cozy position of telling everyone on my team what to do.. and not having them teamkill me! (though of course, I'll still be available for those lovely PSN harassment notes about what an idiot I am!).

I want to drive one of these too!

The game seems fairly complex - with a lot of strategic customization of the vehicles, as well as of personal weapons and armour. There is even a racial class system that may also confer certain racial bonuses. The game seems to have a lot of depth for those that want to play a more strategic game, but also seems to have the option of simplicity for those that simply want to jump into a game and shoot stuff. Like Battlefield (and to a lesser extent, MAG) vehicles appear to play a very significant role in Dust 514. Unlike Battlefield and MAG, the vehicles are just as customizable as the player's character. Again, this adds a bit of a real time strategy element to the game... selecting a vehicle best suited to rapid deployment of troops or a heavier vehicle for breaking through an enemies defenses, and additionally choosing from various customizations/skills for the vehicle. Dust 514 is an interesting direction for shooter games to go in. As a shooter, the game isn't all about shooting. It may be a good game for people that have never played a shooter game before because it will be more of a thinking person's game, where strategy and choosing the right options suited to the moment of the game can have more of an impact than years of drop-shotting and quick-scoping and FPS gameplay experience. The game also seems to have a strong emphasis on clans or group play. It seems that it might be fairly easy for Dtoid to have a decent clan in Dust 514 as there is mention of ingame messaging, group and personal game calendars and other aspects that encourage group game play. Half the fun of playing an online shooter game isn't the game... it's chatting with a group of friends, and all anyone needs to become part of this group is a mic (and an ability to express an opinion on everything from recent games, anime, movies or how silly the opposing teams helmets look).

Some quick details on Dust 514:

* The game will be FREE to play. There is no purchase price and no monthly fee.
* There are no plans for paid DLC, any new maps or updates will also be FREE and there seem to be developer plans for regular updates.
* It's currently a PS3 exclusive with a PS Vita app that will allow access to loadouts, strategic information, etc.
* online only (it's an MMOFPS game)
* currently 64 player matches (though there has been hints that this player limit may increase)
* 30 - 40 minute matches (similar to MAG)
* The game will interact with the PC based Eve universe, what happens in Eve, may well have a real time impact on a Dust game (and there is apparently cross game chat between EVE and Dust players)
* PS3 gamers play as mercenaries, so this may avoid the issue MAG had with most of the players going to one faction creating imbalance and gameplay issues.
*"Eve gate" will be in Dust 514 and will add a social element with an ingame friend's list, ingame mail, a personal game calendar, battle heatmaps (no idea what those are) and forums.
* Parties and groups will be supported and will be a central feature for the game (and both text and voice chat will be supported). "Corporations" seem to be the clan function.
* There are reports of a "horde mode" where gamers can play against A.I. enemies to hone their skills.

FPS games aren't just point and shoot anymore. They are becoming much more than that. While some may still point to the inherent violent themes of war and killing, the reality is that games like Dust 514 are more about choice, strategy, and mostly they're about teamwork. MAG showed how different an FPS game could be. I often came in first on my platoon in a MAG game simply by pulling out my repair tool and repairing assets like gates and bunkers or playing medic and reviving teammates. Dust 514 seems to have taken this even further by weaving in a stronger emphasis on strategy and on the social fabric of the game - offering an incredible amount of depth for those that want it, while hopefully still retaining the "jump in an play" aspects for the more casual gamer.

The game may turn out to be crap, but I can't help being excited by the potential of the game. At least with the game being free, I'll have nothing to lose by looking forward to it and trying it out! So join me... let me be your Commander... and feel free to send me messages like this:

... rather than this:

... and please, much fewer of these:

See you all on the battlefield!

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