DUST Mercs is a Dust 514 dedicated blog which has been lining up and reporting on DUST 514 from day one. We invite you to visit their blog at dustmercs.blogspot.com
The long closed beta period is officially ended and we can now talk about Dust 514 in a more open setting. We can take a good look at gameplay as a whole. Dust has the potential to be a genre bending game and 70% of what it offers is a nice break from the casual shooters the market is saturated with, and for that it deserves applause. Still, the last 30% needs just a bit more tuning and polish before its just right. CCP has to be commended for many of the game mechanics they’re utilizing. But some need work, lots of work. For months we’ve been working on a list of items that we think need addressing for the sake of gameplay. We’re confident many of these tweaks to gameplay can be made and with one look at CCPs history at addressing loopholes (swarm launcher, knife, tactical assault rifle and most recently, grenades) its easy to understand why players believe in them. Exploits that drag on for months with other developers, last about seven days in New Eden.Without further delay, here is our list of proposed Dust 514 Gameplay Improvements.
Tutorial – While it seems great organizations like Dust University and others are doing a great job of herding fresh, new, willing players and educating them on how to succeed in New Eden. These open-to-learning players aren’t the ones we are concerned about. Its simply never a good idea to depend on a player base as a means of training new players. FPS veterans are among the most arrogant gamers and leaping into Dust gameplay without learning the complex mechanics is a recipe for failure and frustration. It may be a great idea to make the tutorial mandatory and remove the ability to ‘skip’ through it to guarantee players are exposed to the NPE, if for no other reason than to eliminate instances of rage quitting. Dust is simply too complex a game for people to be able to ignore the tutorial.
No SP Cap – We were dumbstruck when community luminary Cazaderon broke this news less than 24 hours ago. We’ve grown to trust CCPs decisions, but we hope they come to their senses on this one. Nothing separates this title more from other shooters than its connection with EVE, its scope, persistence and its gradual progression. This isn’t a 3 month experience and thats what makes it great. It is an MMOFPS and that means growth is a process. You simply can’t crumble under the pressure of players that want to reach the level cap in 7 days. We have news for them ‘There is no level cap!’ Staying true to EVEs mythology is important and clones have a max rate at which they can learn. We know the pressure of not being accepted by casual FPS players is high, but stick to your guns on this, CCP. The game will be better for it.
Varied Contract Types – Its essential that console players have the ability to enjoy a great deal of variety. Ambush and Skirmish variations are nice. But they simply don’t have replayability to sustain interest beyond one or two months. We realize staying true to EVEs mythology is paramount, so allow a plethora of NPC generated contract types that corporations can choose from to generate ISK [in case they aren't sure what their ultimate goals are right away] Liberating planets, stealing technology or other assets, extracting captured personnel (NPCs), destroying or capturing installations or stations, protection detail and even assassinating NPCs are all things that would keep players coming back for more. This could allow corporations to unwittingly conflict as you never know when you’ll be contracted to destroy an installation that Betamax has been hired to protect or you’re in the corp hired to extract Minmatar prisoners that someone like The Imperfects are guarding. Better lock and load!
Prone – Another necessary feature yet to be added. This ability is too often associated with snipers when its uses are many. While it should offer the ultimate bonuses for aiming, it also allows players to shrink their profiles and hide behind low walls or other structures, taking full advantage of cover for instances when they’re hiding from the enemy, getting ammo or calling in orbital strikes. ‘Dolphin diving’ and ‘dropshotting’ can easily be rendered useless by making prone [and getting up from prone] a slow animation, rendering it useless in a firefight.
Join Game – The ability to join the games of our allies [as long as there is space available on the same side] is just basic functionality that needs to be present in Dust. We need to see this ability at launch. For balance, gameplay must be careful not to allow enemies to trail their foes into battle, however.
Friendly Fire – Orbital strikes that defy physics and only affect the enemy, grenades that our teammates are mysteriously immune to and area affect weapons like the mass driver that can be fired into crowds of players and the explosive effects will somehow only seek out enemy mercs? This can’t happen. Its unworthy of New Eden and allows one of the most imbalancing exploits that casual games likes COD and BF3 are famous for. We play Dust for attention to detail and the unforgiving, hardcore gameplay and persistence that only this title can offer. Dont cheat us of that experience and allow loopholes that will ultimately hurt gameplay. Scared of team killers? Render repeat team killers useless by turning them into ‘red dots’ to both sides and give the victims of more than one team-kill [the first gets a mulligan] the option to ‘kick or forgive’. As we read in Templar One, sometimes clones are defective and need to be recalled
Smooth BF3 movement – We don’t like to compare Dust to other titles but many of them have very user-friendly aspects that work well. Smoother movement mechanics that would allow us to vault over obstacles with the touch of a button and trigger climb animations when we approach ladders would be a real benefit to gameplay.
HMG versus Vehicles – In its initial description, this suit was described this way “No other classification of personal armor can claim to be able to stand toe-to-toe with enemy vehicles and survive.” and while we dont want to see Heavies shrugging off turret hits, we should see the HMGs deal more damage to vehicles as no other weapon in the game has its raw firepower. Especially against the LAV, perhaps we should see as much as 200% efficiency.
Laser Rifles – The range with the laser is fine and ultimately its balance lies in the fact that it is simply not a close quarters weapon. While we don’t consider it a gamebreaking weapon the damage does seem a bit high with the first tier.
Nanite Injectors – Here’s another functionality issue that will improve gameplay a great deal. Nanite Injectors need to be 0% fail rate when we activate them on a down player. They still misfire too often as the engine sometimes can’t decide whether to use the place they were injured or the spot where ragdoll physics deposited them. A rangefinder that shows the down allies and their distance from us in a certain proximity [50m or so] would be ideal as well. Our UI can’t be cluttered with icons from injured players we have no prayer of reaching.
Marking Targets – The passive targeting in this game is done well. Any target you see is relayed to teammates for a short period. Still, there are instances when a non squad leader wants to highlight an enemy, point out a sniper or warn about a tank. Adding this functionality would be great and would enhance teamwork. Perhaps squad member targets can be a different color than the squad leaders. Grenades as a R2 option would open up L2 for this functionality.
Nova Knife – This weapon is certainly balanced, as it requires a charge to use. We wonder, though if it simply doesn’t do enough damage. It could use some tuning to make it a tad stronger. Also, users should also have the option to use a quicker but lower damage thrust with the Nova Knife by using the melee button since the weapon is already equipped.
Squad leaders as a constant objective – Having the leader of a squad always act as a constant objective which increases war points would encourage squads to stick together, and follow their leader.
Vehicle/Structure/Infantry Hit Markers – One of lowlights of a well done hit marker and targeting system is the fact that hit markers and crosshairs on structures, vehicles and infantry all show as the same color. This can lead to confusion when selecting and striking targets [especially at distance] A better system might have infantry show up as red, vehicles as yellow, friendlies as blue and installations that can be destroyed as white. This would be a great help in situations where we are shooting the driver of an LAV but intend to hit the softer target rather than they more armored one. Structures that can’t be damaged like walls would have no color code to show that no damage is being calculated.
Spawning – While Dust 514 seems to be a revolutionary title for all intents and purposes, it might have the worst spawning system ever devised in a shooter. From the instances where we spawn in front of a group of firing enemies, the delay before we can see the game world, to the predictable areas where players are generated making spawn camping ridiculously easy. Bite the bullet here and spawn players in ‘safe’ areas if you must. Too many Ambush games are determined by who gets less horrible spawns. Players don’t mind running back to the high traffic areas. In regards to CRUs, kill the predictability and and spawn players away from the enemy anywhere within a 30-40m area of the CRU, making instances where players wait around the device equally dangerous for the camper.
Mass Driver – This weapons poor balance is accentuated by the lack of a friendly fire mechanic [because the user and everyone within the blast radius should also take damage] but gameplay defies physics and allows this weapon to be spammed without any regard for injuring teammates. The worst aspect may be its fire rate, which is simply too high. A great way to start balancing it may be slowing the fire rate and reducing the splash a bit, which seems a bit high considering missiles have almost none. This weapon has to require more skill and be less spray and pray.
Missiles – The nerf here was probably excessive. These weapons might not deserve as much splash as before but they do need some. A better idea might be slowing the fire rate to balance it more accurately. Right now they are useless compared to the other turret types, they need a much larger splash radius to be effective area of effect weapons. If they aren’t going to ave any splash make them lock-on weapons we can use for AV.
Proximity Chat – One of the most necessary features in any shooter these days, the lack of proximity chat in Dust 514 looms large. Being able to hear friendly and enemy players when they are within close proximity is one of the keys to forming a community and constantly reminding players you are playing against other people. It also eases player interactions because it gives people the ability to communicate. On the forums the other day a player asked what the universal sign for ‘needing ammo’ was. That’s easy: ‘Give me some ammo blueberry!!’ The same can be said of asking for resuscitations, giving pilots or drivers directions or even just telling an non squad member to look out behind them. Where is the logic in being unable to talk to a teammate two feet away simply because they aren’t in our squad? Communication is the key to any team based game and proximity adds to this by making the experience feel truly ALIVE.
Destroying Enemy Equip – Why we don’t get 5-10pts for destroying enemy gear like nanohives and drop uplinks is beyond us. The only thing better than killing the enemy is destroying his assets. Hopefully we’ll see this or even the ability to hack enemy assets implemented soon.
Verbal Orbital Strike Indicator – We’ve noticed the indicator for orbital strikes is easily unnoticed because its blue text only. Perhaps yellow would be more noticeable? We should also hear the vocal prompt over our tactical net as well.
Who’s talking indicator – A mic icon over the head of a merc who is talking would work wonders for being able to separate person from person. This can also tell us which teammate or enemy we’re listening to over proximity.
Hardcore Reward System – The actions of some players this past week tinyurl.com/apoznmp who cheated the system by waiting in the spawn during matches [knowing they would still be fully compensated] has made it painfully obvious that its a bad idea to compensate winners and losers with the same rewards. All it does is remove the motivation to compete for many, and its the reason FPS has a long history of spawn area snipers and other players completely unconcerned with the outcome of matches. Is this the kind of cowardly behavior our EVE Overlords are willing to pay for? WE THINK NOT. This must change, we need a system where the losers of matches get zero ISK or salvage [SP should still be earned]. Or at the very least give victors a winners bonus while losers leave with only the initial smallish deposit they got to suit up. Let coin provide all the motivation mercs need to pursue victory. While gameplay should provide low-level matches [30,000-60,000 ISK] where both sides are compensated equally, medium and high level matches should only reward the victor. The rules of economics tell us ISK won’t ever have the value it needs if it grows on trees.
VR Trainers – One of the features clans are excited for. They hope to see access to enormous, configurable training areas, shooting ranges, obstacle courses and vehicle simulators where they can practice flying, driving, strategy, place assets, simulate the battlefield and even practice against hordes of AI enemies, turrets or their own corpmates.
Boarding Ships – We realize this is far off. But oh, the possibilities…While boarding EVE ships and fighting our way to the pods may or may not ever come. This suggestion tinyurl.com/ascf8xa could be a great way to add boarding MCCs into gameplay.
Net ISK Gains – A mechanic that shows how ISK efficient we were after a battle or if we took a net loss? Where do we sign up?
Compare Assets – Players would absolutely love the ability to put two weapons or other assets side by side and consider the benefits and negatives of each. This should happen.
Assists – Shouldn’t the final scoreboard track these? We say yes.
Larger Games – We won’t beat a dead horse here except to say that games of 48 player must just be the start. We hope to see the large scale battles EVE is famous for, except on the planetary surface. Did you know that if you had faction had 256 mercs and 1 MCC Commander it would equal 514 total players?
No Free Vehicles – We recall hearing about costs and loss associated with everything. We are holding you to that CCP! No vehicles spawning out of thin air not purchased with hard earned ISK. Say NO to CCP sponsored corporate welfare! If someone wants an LAV, Dropship or HAV they must purchase it.
Lock Vehicles – Some people don’t want blueberries taking off with any vehicles that cost them ISK and time to accumulate. One press of a button should lock it while its in transit and prevent anyone except the person who owns it from entering the cockpit or drivers seat.
Chatrooms – We have no idea how long ago it has been since chatroom conversations have taken place. When we return to the merc quarters. Facebook has a wonderful tool that allows you to see how long ago someone commented on posts. This would also go over well in Dust chatrooms.
In Match Icon – Better functionality is the gift that keeps on giving. An Icon that shows players are in a match and not in the chatroom able to respond is virtually a necessity.
Compensation – More war points for using higher grade support equipment (repair tools, nanite injectors): Currently the game does not really reward you for using higher grade repair tools and nanite injectors. The game actually punishes using higher grade injectors since the more health you restore with the injector, the less there is to heal with a repair tool, thus you receive less war points when using the repair tool and nanite injector combo.
Tactical Map – The map display on warbarge: the 3D holographic map in the war barge is currently useless, it would be nice if we could press circle when next to it to view an image of it. This would help greatly for making the time on the war barge actually useful for planning.
Group active modules – The ability to group specific modules to activate together when one of them is activated. Piloting a vehicle with many active modules and trying to activate those modules in the middle of an intense battle can be very cumbersome, and even lead to death.
Mics – Voicechat and squad level chat should be ON by default: Dust 514 is a game in which teamwork is vital to success, and communication is very important (if not vital) for teamwork. With this in mind, it does not make sense why voice chat is set off by default. I have encountered many before in text chat complaining that their voice chat not working because they expect it to be set on by default (as it should be). This leads to unnecessary confusion for new players to deal with when the game is already hard enough for newbies to get a full grasp of. Please have it set on by default. This is a really old issue, and its not a huge task. Its about time this gets resolved.
Leadership – Squad leader notifications, instructions, applications, and cycling squad leaders: Squad leaders should be informed that they are squad leader, they need to pass an leadership tutorial on how to set orders, and they need to be warned that inactivity will get them demoted and replaced by another squad leader candidate. Players should be able to choose if they want to apply to be a squad leader candidate, so those who don’t want to be squad leader won’t get the position forced on them if an inactive squad leader is demoted.
Skill point rollback – Right now the SP system gives players a very limited amount of SP that they can earn before hitting the cap. Many players hate this system, but there is a solution which would allow players to earn more SP without raising the total earnable SP for a week. Allow SP not gained in a day to add on to the SP limit of the next day, this way if someone does not earn any SP on one day, then they can earn twice as much SP the next day.
LAV collision damage against infantry – Slow moving LAVs that are 1-hit-kills when they run over infantry? There needs to be some sort of balancing here. Not only should there be a specific damage tied to how fast the vehicle is going, LAVs should take some damage when they run over infantry. Not a lot of damage; running over infantry should still remain a viable tactic, but LAVs should take enough to keep people from running over 5 players with the same LAV without repairs. The damage done to the LAV should be based on the mass of the dropsuit, so that hitting scouts do the least damage to the LAV and hitting heavies do the most damage to the LAV. It should also be possible for a heavy to survive an LAV hit considering that heavies are very well armored, and they are largely designed to handle vehicles.
Inform players when they hit a limit – To prevent confusion, players should be informed when they hit a cap; this obviously applies to the SP cap, but also applies to things like the WP cap for repair tools. Some notification needs to show up to keep players informed of these things.
Font Improvements – The font is often reported to be too small, and hard to read. The 0s and 8s are also quite east to mix up with the current font.
Multi-stage attack/defend mode – Something similar to Skirmish 1.0 from many builds ago would be great for Dust 514. Right now, all the modes in Dust are without defending and attacking teams, the objectives are static, and it gets quite boring. Having a multi-stage attack and defend mode would really add to the sense of being in a dynamic battle with progression.
Sky Spawning – The best way to address the subpar spawning system lies in variety. Instead of just appearing on the ground next to the CRU, it would be much more exhilarating to add the ability to drop from the sky into spawn points. We could spawn from cloaked drone ships similar to the RDVs that fly over spawn points. This should only apply to spawn points like friendly-controlled objectives and the spawn bases since CRUs work by storing clones, and drop uplinks work with wormholes. This would give meaning to the term “dropsuit”. This would go a long way into making spawning locations vary more and resolving the spawn camping issue.
Random Fall Damage – There are still a number of instances where we fall a very short
distance on inclined hills or other odd angles and either die or take an
inordinate amount of fall damage. This can’t happen to augmented supersoldiers in high tech shielded and armored scifi suits. Its actually quite annoying, especially when considering we have inertia dampeners which we can’t use for these falls. Even regular citizens of New Eden don’t suffer fall damage because they have gravboots, yet us immortal supersoldiers don’t?
HUD compass – Many have suggested having all 4 cardinal directions marked in the HUD, but this may be even better:
Valid turretless vehicles – Not having turrets on one’s vehicles makes them invalid, and unusable. This should not be the case sense many vehicle fittings may not be intended for combat. For example, a dropship equipped with a CRU should be allowed to give up its turrets to have more PG/CPU to fit more tanking and support modules to be more effective as a durable taxi and spawn point.
More militia gear – Militia gear is crappy, inefficient, but it allows us to test items before committing our precious skill points. All weapons need to have a militia version, not only would it help us test low level versions of guns before doing any skill investments, but it would also increase gameplay variety on the battlefield.
Synchronize reloading animation and reloading completion – Right now the assault rifle’s reload animation is not synched with the actual completion of the reloading; this leads to players cancelling their reloading by performing other actions because the animation lead them to believe that the reload was complete. This may be a problem for other weapons as well, and it needs to be fixed.
War points for cancelling enemy hacks – Not only does it take more time, and thus more risk to cancel an enemy hack, but this beneficial act does not yield any war point reward. The alternative is to let your teammates finish capturing the objective before rehacking the objective, and risk it being flooded by incoming enemies spawning. Clearly cancelling the hack is best for one’s team, yet it doesn’t give any rewards. Sure, it could be abused, but so could capturing any objective or installation right now, and we still get points for that.
More fitting options – Organizing fits by folders would make finding the right fit much easier. Sending fits to other players would be very useful as well.
Firing rest of magazine while dying – I think it was back in Replication build, but you could shoot and empty the rest of your gun’s magazine after being mortally wounded. You couldn’t move or aim your gun, but sometimes it was useful. It was most likely a glitch, but it would make a very fun gameplay mechanic that would make the gameplay standout more.
Anti-personnel Mines – New Eden’s fiction is filled with all manner of flay traps, prox mines and other cruel devices that can be set and detonate when enemy dropsuit signatures are within range. We can’t wait to see these in Dust. For game balance however, these should have a lengthy arming animation. We should also see scanners and other devices that provide information on the battlefield, have the ability to reveal them for teammates.
Revamping the communication system – There needs to be a way for squad leaders and the platoon commander to communicate with each other, and there needs to be a way to make sure a squad isn’t divided by using different channels. It would be better if regular squad members were confined to squad chat, but the current push-to-talk button became a way for the squad leaders to broadcast to each other and discuss tactics.
Dropship eject passengers – Every dropship pilot that uses a CRU has probably experienced this; players spawn on your dropship, but refuse to get out and take an objective when they are told to exit. A solution would be to forcibly eject passengers after a 5 second countdown and warning. To prevent abuse, then this feature should be unusable in the red zone. This could still be used to drop friendlies in front of enemy tanks, but if you spawn on a dropship, then you should be prepared for the risks.
Faster player speed – Games with large maps demand speed, or else players feel slow. Right now Dust 514 feels slow because of this. A 20% boost in walking speed, running speed, and reloading speed would really help make players feel more mobile, and make gameplay faster.
Smoke & Flash grenades – We’ve heard mention of Miasma grenades, to add onto this, other devices that distort suit optics, provide visual cover and also aid in breaching fortified installations would provide better and deeper gameplay.
As always, we’ll continue to attempt to help push and publish ideas that help establish, enhance and grow the Dust 514 community as much as we can. Have any ideas that need sharing? Would you like to join our staff as a writer? Be sure to contact us at [email protected],