Dust 514 - Understanding your role on the battlefield
A few weeks ago we had a look at DUST 514, the MMOFPS coming exclusively to PS3 this year. If you missed it or have never heard of the game, you can read the feature here. Going even deeper, we’re now going to take a look at one of the game’s most engrossing features; character development.
Most military FPS generally offer a handful of roles for you to take on in game. You are a front-line soldier with an assault rifle and all round combat skills, a heavy weapon unit with lots of armor and big guns, a fast moving glass cannon scout with trusty sniper rifle or a support role soldier resuscitating fallen comrades and replenishing ammo. In games that feature them, anyone can jump into a vehicle, be it jeep, tank or chopper, as either pilot or gunner and get kills right off the bat. Time spent playing usually earns experience that unlocks new weapons and support items to augment your experience as a soldier or vehicle driver.
DUST approaches character development differently. By offering customisable dropsuits (aka armor) and the ability to train any skills you want, CCP has effectively busted down the traditional borders that separate the classes, allowing you to create an almost limitless number of role variations.
Every weapon, dropsuit, support item and vehicle has various skills associated with it and your effectiveness with them is determined by how far you choose to advance in that field. Trying to use equipment that you haven't trained will reap inaccurate and clumsy results. Each skill has five levels that are reached using skill points. Skill points are earned both actively as you play the game and passively while you're not playing.
When you start a new soldier profile, you needn't worry about your choice of character class as your initial choice doesn't box you into a predefined style of play. Upon character creation you will be given the choice of four starter roles that closely resemble the archetypes mentioned earlier. These are not restrictive roles however; your choice here simply decides which skills will receive a basic starting boost so that you can get into the action and be competitive. After you have selected your starting class direction it's time to get on the battlefield and try different things until you find your niche.
With experimentation you should start to get a feel for your preferred role in DUST. Do you like being on the front-lines, achieving objectives and depleting your enemies clone reserves in a squad, or do you want to roll in with a tank? Perhaps you'd like to be a dropship pilot, taking your team mates to the objectives, or maybe you'd like to be a turret operator providing heavy fire support via tank or dropship cannons. In reality you can be any combination of these roles and then some. The more you play, the more SP you earn which you can then invest into other battlefield disciplines giving you more options for hybrid roles. Of course, the more flexible your skills are, the more you can react to the flow of the battle. As CCP said, it would take 7 years to fully learn all available skills, the game is designed, at least at the beginning, to lead you into finding your own unique specialisation in battle.
The truly effective teams in Dust will be those who have members trained in different roles so that their objectives can be carried out with efficient and effective mercenaries who are able to powerfully react to the changing tides of the game. Balanced squads being deployed via trained dropship pilots and getting supported by trained tank drivers and turret operators are going to be more effective than a team that has no role coordination.
If the FPS skirmish is not to your liking however, you can opt to be a commander in your corporation. Commanders get to pilot the MCC (mobile command center) that both sides have hovering above their base in battle. The commander plays the game in a top down RTS format using the 3D map to overview battle, gives objectives to the team and drops support installments like turrets and clone posts into the field.
Whatever your preferred play style is in FPS games, DUST 514 gives you the power to cross the lines that traditional segregated the way you like to play in any way you see fit.
Still in closed beta, the game recently moved to the Codex build which introduced new levels, weapons, skills, balancing, corporation creation and much more. The MMO FPS is due for launch this year.