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EVE Fanfest: DUST 514 Goes Next-Gen with New PC Shooter PROJECT LEGION

Though everyone at EVE Fanfest is secretly counting down the hours until tonight’s EVE of Destruction, in which 10 developers will go head-to-head with undefeated Icelandic MMA fighter Gunnar Nelson, there were still plenty of reasons to be excited during today’s Dust 514 keynote address.

For those of you not in the know, Dust 514 is a free-to-play massively multiplayer online first-person shooter (F2P MMOFPS, for short) set within the EVE universe that offers players a boots-on-the-ground experience. The game is a first for CCP, because it’s their first console title, their first FPS, and their first non-Reykjavik-developed title — CCP’s Shanghai studio handles its development. Given CCP’s emphasis on one massive connected universe, it makes sense that Dust 514 has cross-functionality with EVE Online, allowing Dust players to call in orbital strikes from their EVE cohorts and have a tangible effect on the robust EVE economy with each battle. It may not seem like much, but the ability for two independent games to affect one another in a meaningful capacity is practically unheard of in today’s gaming landscape, so more power to them.

Now, after nearly a year on the market, Dust 514 is looking towards its future. Having rolled out 8 updates since launch, the game has undergone a series of balancing measures based on community feedback to make for a more robust experience. “Community,” said executive producer Jean-Charles Gaudechon, “is what’s most important about anything we do.” The game launched on May 14, 2013 (hence the 5-1-4) and in the first year alone, Gaudechon revealed, 315,346,123 souls have been lost, 6,932,916,720,530 ISK (the in-game currency) has been burned on the battlefield, and 5,217,594 clones self-destructed (read: self-inflicted deaths). Not bad for being around for just under a year.

The aim of the game was to provide a “true sandbox first-person experience in New Eden” built on four pillars:

1) A deep balance competitive shooter

2) Experience built to allow emergent behaviors. PVE played an important role in this.

3) A player-driven economy

4) An immersive experience “based on the universe we live in, New Eden.”

“It’s crucial for me to nail the immersion,” said Gaudechon. Yet as development continued after rollout, the CCP Shanghai team found themselves asking one question: “What does it mean to be on the surface of a planet in this universe?” This vision started to become a beast unto itself, one which they codenamed Project Legion, and today Gaudechon revealed that Project Legion is a very early prototype of the next-gen version of Dust 514. “The only way to realize that vision is, we feel, to go on PC,” Gaudechon said to thunderous applause from the r/PCMasterrace crowd. Seriously, it lasted a long time.

Legion2-620x

According to Gaudechon, the PC architecture is “the right step towards the next-gen evolution of that on-the-ground experience in the EVE universe.” We were treated to a brief, live demo of Project Legion in action during which we saw the player’s quarters (which will serve as a hub of sorts), a galactic map where players can find new and emerging battles, a “clone mind transfer” (clever integration of game lore disguised as a loading screen), and, lastly, some time wandering around one of the newly designed maps, a volcano-ravaged desert planet where two factions warred over a warehouse installation. Dynamic lighting effects, improved shaders, and improved terrain made for a pretty-looking product.

“The way we see the next-gen evolution of our maps means that now, and for the first time ever, we have trees,” joked Gaudechon. Jokes aside, the CCP Shanghai team is looking at dynamic environmental interaction in order to both build a sense of immersion and add a layer of challenge for prospective players. As Project Legion is still in its very early stages, there wasn’t much else they could share with us, but it seems like they’ve taken their lessons from Dust 514 to heart. Still, we’re left with many, many questions. For example, will this also be free-to-play? When will it be released? Will the PC architecture allow for deeper, more meaningful cross-game interaction? What does this mean for Dust 514? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, there’s yet another EVE offshoot for fans to salivate over.

What do you think of Project Legion? Let us know in the comments below or tell me on Twitter.

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