How Dynamic Battlefields Take Shape in DUST 514

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How Dynamic Battlefields Take Shape in DUST 514


In traditional or mainstream FPS games, the mission area, i.e. the layout of objectives, structures, and spawn locations, are fairly static, thus making missions predictable after playing them a few times. This is not the case in DUST 514. Because of its sandbox nature, we want to give players the freedom to change the battlefield through choices and this is where the “dynamic” part of the battlefields will come from. This means that battlefields in DUST 514 could change based on the actions that players make – from innocuous actions such as changing one’s character fitting before a deployment, all the way up to decisions made light years away in a player owned corporate board room.

However, giving players a big sandbox to play in does not simply mean throwing a bunch of random choices at them and say, “go.” For players to experience the uniquely emergent gameplay offered by the EVE Online universe, the freedom that these choices offer must be handled in a meaningful manner. To illustrate this, we will be looking at how battlefields in DUST 514 are made dynamic in two major ways: at the macro and the micro scale.

At the Macro Scale


You might have read about EVE Online’s big player alliances fighting for control over regions of space containing dozens of solar systems spread across a hundred parsecs. You may have also heard about DUST 514’s distinctive gameplay which will allow players acting as immortal mercenaries to conquer planets within the EVE Online universe in a bid to wrestle territorial control from EVE capsuleers. All this, of course, is set to occur in a cross platform new genre between PC and PlayStation 3. And then you’ve probably wondered how it will all work.

Let’s begin by examining planetary conquest in DUST 514. As the leader of a DUST 514 corporation filled with immortal mercenaries, it would be natural for you to cast your hungry gaze at the planets floating within the wine dark space of the EVE universe. And these planets will be divided into separate districts – large territories that contain resources and infrastructures where players can extract materials or to defend it from enemies. When players deploy to fight for control of these districts they will notice that only one thing is static… the landscape. The hills, valleys, rivers and coasts of a district are unchanging from one deployment to the next. However, the placement of and the types of surface structures available will vary based on decisions made about what is needed for that district on a corporate level. And this will be covered in more detail in a later blog focused on Surface Infrastructure. For more context on that you can check out the CCP video on “Seeding the Universe” here.

Other factors can also affect the district from one battle to the next. For example, previous or existing battles may cause the destruction or creation of new infrastructures by orbital fleet bombardments or new deployments by the theater commander that may alter the shape and look of the battlefield.

Players who take part in the successful capture of a district could easily find that the layout of structures and positions of key strongholds are totally different when they return to that district to defend it. From one corporate owner to the next, the surface control center (SCC) or hub of the district could be changed or upgraded if it is present. The SCC’s outposts and the support centers around the SCC may be rearranged, upgraded, or even removed based on the decisions of the owning corporation, and this is only one of many key infrastructures that will be available to players.

At the Micro Scale


So now that you’ve seen how the capsuleer gods and immortal mercenary generals can shape the battlefield from a strategic, macro level, you might be thinking: how does all this play out for the grunts on the ground?

At the more personal level of the soldier on the ground, a key gameplay feature requires that the battlefield be reconnoitered during each new deployment. This is because the initial deployment positions for each mission will vary for each team based on the decisions by their commanders. Therefore, knowing exactly where the enemy is located and coming from will become top priority. Each team’s commander will also be responsible for the deployment of their team’s support systems. These commander deployed installations can consist of any number of component types that are deployed to suit the needs of the team in positions to maximize their effects. Each installation is centered on a Command Node component that provides power and processing (PG and CPU) needed to operate all deployed components throughout a battle. Once the Command Node is deployed a commander has a wide choice of installation components that he can position on the battlefield. The commander can choose from a large selection of Signals Warfare, Electronic Warfare, Installation Support, Player Support and Combat installation components.

All this translates into the very real possibility that if a player thinks he knows the battlefield simply because he fought there before, he might find that nice open short cut from the last battle now filled with enemy weapons, EW platforms and communication disruptors centered on an enemy Command Node. A deadly trap just waiting for him and others who think they know the map. In fact, it might not even be from the last battle… an enemy commander can deploy an installation into position within minutes during a battle. So unless your team has eyes on a position, what you find the next time you’re there could surprise you.

In addition, squad leaders can also have varying roles during each mission on the battlefield. For example, squad leaders have the ability to deploy small fixed gun emplacements to support the offensive or defensive actions of their squads. They will also have the ability to utilize the off-map support available to their squads and will be responsible for directing their squads’ movements on the battlefield.

Of course, this does not preclude individual players from making an impact on the battle. Individual players, squad members and leaders can also change the battlefield situation by the equipment they choose to carry into the fray. For example, let’s say that there is a squad of DUST mercs who got cutoff from friendly forces on the map. As the enemy closes in from all directions with HAVs and dropships, the squad is slowly reduced to its last man. His commander tells him that he must hold the ground at all cost and in desperation, the last squad member calls in a Black Ops HAV equipped with a mobile CRU. Now his entire team can respawn into that location fitted with anti-vehicle dropsuits and begin to beat back the enemy forces and eventually win the battle.

A Bigger Sandbox

As you can imagine, all the choices mentioned above are available to players in DUST 514. From high level strategic decisions of alliance formation (or termination), to mid-level theater command and control, and all the way down to fighting soldiers slugging it out in the muck and trenches of a forlorn battlefield. Each player will face different challenges and be offered a different set of choices whose effects are all interconnected, so that no one plays and make these decisions in a vacuum. Will you favor one alliance over another during a territorial dispute spanning multiple solar systems only to betray them when the time is ripe? Should you send in your mercenary forces to attack a particular district in a concerted effort with another mercenary army in lieu of relieving a besieged outpost in a gamble to alter the frontlines of an entire planet? Do you drop that Nanohive to resupply your squad mates now, or snipe that enemy scout to take out the enemy’s eyes and ears first? Each and every one of the players within the EVE universe will affect each other regardless of the size of their impact, thus bringing a truly emergent kind of gameplay shared by hundreds of thousands that is meaningful to the actors themselves.

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  • aiiiiiiiii

  • @International Players
    Some good bit of good news for the ping deprived:
    “Unlike traditional FPS multiplayer servers, we will host DUST battle servers around the globe. Since the centralized server hardware resources are pretty limited in number, we have to find ways to utilize existing server resources as much as possible. Instead of having a dedicated server machine to host one battle, we aim to have a dedicated multi-core server machine to host as many DUST battle servers as possible!”
    + Posted by Lin Luo // Server Architect, CCP

    Join dedicated corp. Many corps advertised in enforced age limit in their recruitment.

  • Okay, I got a question and hope I get some reply here from one of the red-squares.

    We are mercs, right? How are factions chosen? Can we always choose to attack if we want? Can we take loyalty to one faction for a reason or because of EVE playing friends? Can we always go to the highest bidder if we want?

    • In future expansions we will introduce faction agents for DUST mercenaries to build up their loyalties to NPC factions. You will be able to chose which EVE player corp/alliance to fight for (or betray) as well.

  • You can choose to align yourself to one of the four main racial empires if you wish. Might also have to option to align yourself with one of the pirate factions.

    But that’s a choice. For the most part, people will forge their own corporations and alliances, and attack who ever they want. It’s all up to you to choose who you headshot. Just like EVE.

  • We can form our own merc groups right?

  • @TrueCoolGuy Yes you can. And then you can go to war with whoever you want to. It’s all up to you.

  • Itchy for a beta code, lemme tell ya.

  • Can´t wait to play Dust.

    I have a question: I know you want the Dust game expirience will be created by users (all human players), but, there are plans to include hunting zones with mobs to raise level, get items and make partys with friends? in other words, a whole map to interact and move freely?

    I know this question is oriented the way a MMORPG is, but no MOFPS or FPS game i know have this elements.

    Go Dust!!

    • We have plans to introduce player co-op game modes that will let friends play together in a more casual environment.

  • looks kool, but to bad i HATEEEEE first person view games. gives me very bad motion sickness and i reather see my whole character. also free to play is great for those that do download it.

  • @Unemesis3: I think the level up area is called “Boosting” in CoD and other online gaming platforms. Some people consider it cheating when your friend is an enemy and you shoot each other to just get items and points without really playing the game.

    If developers make it legal then that will be a different option to the game. But I would prefer to see points and items given as rewards for actual gameplay in world, in real battles. It is the only the best way to learn tactics and gameplay mechanics.

    So can’t wait for this game to release and when it does play it for free…

  • I’m ready for this, we need a game that’s going to make people communicate, with all of the chaos that’s going to be going on, how else ya gonna win without talking to each other. I thought MAG had some cool abilities for its Squad and Platoon Commanders, but damn this really ups the bar….very cool!

  • @PainOfSorrow

    It might not be the genre, but individual games. Borderlands, for instance, made me intensely motion sick. I wanted to play it bad enough that I forced myself onto it (sounds horrible) until I could stomach it (sounds worse). The game just looked really cool and a friend had given it to me.

    I got used to the game, and it wasn’t the first FPS that made me sick, but it was one of a small handful.

  • this game is pretty cool i was one of the lucky one’s to get a beta in my email.
    wasn’t to thrill about graphics but over all not a bad game so far. i hope graphics
    get a lil better tho.

  • I know it was Sony’s doing. It just sucks watching people break NDA and know nothing of the game. Also The REGIS still loves CCP!

  • We really need a sure release date for this game. I heard that the game comes out this summer. Is that true?

  • Wow I can’t wait for this game to come out, I know i’ll be buying DLCs that come out this game, sucks I didn’t get in the BETA but that’s alright maybe next time.

  • Hooligantuan idk how you stood and dealt with the motion sicknes. i woulda vomited as nasty as that sounds. i tried many times to get use to a FPS game before , i forgot the name of it. couldnt do it i hade to get off every time and lay down feeling like utter crappp.

  • Dammmm …………If you all release it we will come…….stop delaying and holding back…………why so meek and modest on this killer here?

  • cant wait cant wait for this game yeahh :)

  • Im just confused on how its supposed to be a “free” download… How does that work?

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