And lo, the day did come. Dust514 is now a reality for EVE-Online players. The server is back up and the sky appears to be where we all left it, so that already makes it a reasonably smooth patch day. So far, no dramatics.
There are two things of note I’ve found so far, the first is that this appears to be the first major ‘patch day’ that I can remember in which I did not actually download a patch! I booted up the launcher and after a few moments of verifying, the launcher went straight to the big yellow PLAY button! I guess that means CCP pre-loaded whatever stuff we needed in previous patches (planetary districts were added back in the November FW update, after all) and today was simply about updating the server. I find that quite impressive, to be honest.
The second thing is CCP finally giving us some hard facts about what we are getting from the EVE-Dust link in this first release. Although its mostly what I expected, it does prompt the occasional raised eyebrow. CCP have helpfully published what looks to be a pretty robust guide to the workings of the EVE-Dust link in this here FAQ. Everyone really should read it. Oddly, this FAQ is actually doing the job of patch notes – there don’t appear to be any for this release!
The first eyebrow was raised here:
The NPC Faction Warfare militias issue attack and defence contracts that Dust directors/CEOs in player corporations can accept. If the attacking corporation wins the resulting battle the ownership of the district is flipped over to the attacking faction.
What this means is that the players have no actual control over which planets the Dust mercs fight over at any given time, other than to decline the option of a battle. The Capsuleers have no direct control at all in that respect. I’m wondering how that will pan out with the strategies of Capsuleer militia groups, in FW we tend to see the organised elements of each militia coordinating efforts across the warzones to decontest certain areas while pushing on others. The Dusties may turn out to be something of a wild card suddenly placing or relieving pressure in random places. I can see assaults being called off as previously secure systems suddenly spike as planets start flipping, or assaults bogging down as the planets there change hands. Is that a good thing? Guess we’ll find out!
The DUST merc’s corporation does NOT have to be enrolled in FW to accept these contracts. DUST CEOs/Directors can accept a contract from any faction at any time (even if the EVE side of their corp is enrolled in FW on the other side or if the corp has bad standings with that faction! A true mercenary fights for the highest bidder)
This means that the Dusties in a Caldari FW corp can accept missions from the Gallente against the Caldari. There doesn’t appear to be any penalties for doing so either, I haven’t seen anything to suggest that Dust514 has a standings mechanic, likely CCP considered it a complexity best kept out of an FPS. I don’t like that idea, it doesn’t make sense to me that Capsuleers have so many restrictions placed upon them for joining a corp signed up to FW while the Dust mercs apparently have none, nor do their actions reflect upon their corp. I think this should be changed so that Dusties are not offered contracts from their opposing factions (if the corp they are in is enrolled to FW), bringing them in line with their Capsuleer corp mates.
DUST mercenaries share chat and voice with EVE now and they show up in local. However, they are stationed at their original NPC corporation HQ and they will stay in that system even when they join another corp or when they are fighting battles in other systems, so you won’t see local spiking with DUST mercs when a battle is starting up in your system.
I’m not sure I see a reason for this other than it being a technical hurdle that CCP haven’t passed yet, or maybe the intention is to keep all the Dust players together while the community grows in order to display activity. Maybe CCP simply haven’t decided on/implemented a means for Dust players to travel between stations yet? For now we have to go to them, which I’m sure many Capsuleers will find a demeaning prospect. 😉
In the current iteration, DUST mercenaries have no way of returning fire at EVE players in orbit.
This doesn’t surprise me, but it does beg the question of when it will happen. Being able to return fire will surely be a big deal for any merc who finds themselves on the receiving end of a Capsuleer’s guns.
This iteration of Orbital Bombardment is focused on the Tactical Strike variant which is performed with specialized ammo for small turret based weapons. Each turret category has a specialized ammo type: – Hybrids: Tactical Hybrid S – Lasers: Tactical Laser S – Projectiles: Tactical EMP S
The hybrid strike delivers a nice spread of high-damage rounds that are effective against infantry and vehicles. Laser strikes have a more focused area and are good for taking out installations or heavy vehicles. The EMP strike does a massive amount of damage to shields in a large area, but it will not damage armor, so it’s good against heavily shield tanked targets.
As a Minmatar, I find the idea that my devastating EMP barrage is apparently unable to actually kill anything alarming! Surely Tactical EMP S can do something against armor, like standard EMP S does to spaceships? No?
Missile users on the other hand are worse off as the FAQ gives several lore-based reasons of why there is no tactical missile option. I imagine the gameplay reasons are more to do with there not being enough roles to fill to make it a unique ammo type and because it would require another set of art effects. I suppose this could change someday, but probably not in the next year or three.
The only thing that affects the amount of damage done right now is the number of turrets used to perform the strike. The damage modifier, the meta/tech level of the turret, and even the type (blasters vs. railgun f.ex.) do not affect the amount of damage done.
‘Right now’ implies that this is a place holder mechanic. Or it may be something that CCP consider to be an over complication of game play, so place thy bets. I suspect it is being kept ‘analogue’ at this point in order to simplify the technical side of things.
What does strike me about these two points is that it sounds difficult to stage a coordinated bombardment involving multiple ships and ammo types, unless people start fitting destroyers with mixed turret types. Only one ship can fire upon each orbital strike, meaning that you can’t have a Thrasher fire first with EMP to take out the shields and follow it up with a hybrid boat firing the kill shot into their armor. You either need to separate strike requests on the same target or the same ship dividing its turret load outs between multiple turret types.
Expect to see Thrasher setups appearing on killboards soon with a mix of projectile, hybrid and laser turrets, ganked while trying to carry out a three-stage bombardment and woefully unable to defend themselves. 😉
Finally, we have this:
Unfortunately you do not receive kill reports. The damage dealt by your strike will be displayed as a damage notification in your log and it includes the name of the DUST victim and the suit he’s wearing (or the type and owner of a vehicle that you hit).
Funnily enough, that may be the biggest disappointment with this initial offering. Given that CCP have talked about doing this in the past, it seems a shame that they couldn’t implement it in time for launch. We now may never know who got to kill the most Dust Bunnies in the first days of the war….
Just as I was wrapping this post up, I see my the first glitch in the deployment by receiving this global client message:
We have been made aware of some issues after the migration of DUST onto TQ and have rectified these problems. We highly recommend that you restart your PS3 client fully (this applies to DUST 514 players only). Please check the Announcements and Events forum section of the Dust 514 forums for further details.
I guess we now know to expect news of Dust514’s server woes (issues today should be expected, to be fair). 😉
I’ll leave you with some info I received via a comment on yesterdays post, Dust514 is scheduled to move into open beta on January 22nd, information courtesy of the Dust514 beta forum. CCP are powering their way into 2013 with a vengeance, it is going to be a short shake down cruise for Dust514 indeed!