The other day, I wrote that I'm not going to be playing DUST 514. And a few people asked me for a more detailed justification why. If you don't care about this bit, rejoin me three paragraphs down. The reason, I stated, is because from an MMO FPS I'm looking for a more casual experience but I didn't explain that fully, so I'll do that now. I don't want to have to train skills for months or pay a premium in order to sit in a tank or use a sniper rifle. When I want to play an MMO FPS, I want to jump right in and play a game where it's my own skills and knowledge that matter rather than my character's. And I want a lot of different options right from the word go: I want the game to conform to how I feel like playing that day. Global Agenda was a great choice for me because right on log-in, it asked me what I felt like doing that day and advancement in that game was quick.
My overall single favorite shooter ever made is probably the original Ghost Recon.(1) In particular, the advancement system was very clever. In the original Ghost Recon, you were given a squad of soldiers with skills in stealth, accuracy, toughness, and leadership. For each mission, you were given a target number of soldiers you could bring along, and you'd bring along the ones you wanted based on the mission objective. And then during the mission, you played one of the soldiers yourself. This allowed you to jump right into the action in four different roles depending on what you felt like doing that particular mission.(2) You could also hop between soldiers mid-mission if you felt like doing something different all of a sudden or wanted to see what an individual soldier was seeing. After you came back, each surviving member of the unit got a point that they could use to further enhance one of their four skills. That was it.
The game could have been made more complicated by introducing a Lieutenant character that had to be trained and whose perspective you had to stick to. The game could have been made more complicated by making you stick with your initial character choice throughout the mission. And the game could have been made more complicated by making soldier advancement deeper and more complex. But had any of those things been done, I wouldn't have liked it as well and it wouldn't be my favorite shooter ever. I liked it because it was complicated and realistic enough.
DUST 514 is, in its way, too realistic for me. I want a more casual MMO FPS. That's why I won't be playing it. But I still hope it succeeds in the marketplace. My opinion of the game is my opinion of the game for myself, not for everyone.
Even more intriguing, though, I had a couple of people spin my opinion around and fire it right back at me. NavyDingus asked it the most eloquently:
This post raises a pretty big, important question, so forgive me if I bust out a little geek philosophy of my own here. You say that you wouldn't want to play another game where skill training is based in real time, where players have to train for years in some cases to get certain gear or fulfill certain roles, where there will be constant drama between the old, rich Dusties and newer players. That's definitely a fair perspective and I'm sure many EVE players would agree with you.Jakob Anedalle was the most concise:
But it certainly begs the question "Why do people start playing EVE in the first place?" Are they just ignorant of what EVE is really all about, and by the time they do figure it out they're too sucked in to quit?
Wait, so why shouldn't all of us Eve newbies say the same thing about Eve?And this was such a great question that I wanted to address it separately.
Again, my feelings about DUST 514 are applicable to me. They're not necessarily applicable to you. Somewhere out there is my gaming mirror image: he's looking for a super-realistic, super-involved shooter and DUST 514 is going to be perfect for this person. But he also wants to play a space game that's more casual and to this person I would have recommended Black Prophecy until it shut down a few months ago. Maybe today I might recommend Star Trek Online instead. These two games aren't for me because I want a more complex involved space game experience and that's why I play EVE Online.
But I only have room in my life for one EVE Online. Two is too many for me. In space, I want the sandbox. In ground combat, I want casual. Had DUST's skill system been dialed back a few notches, it might have fit the bill but DUST is being aimed at a specific audience.
So I'd spin it right back around again and fire it over to the questioners: do you want a very deep, immersive sandbox of a space game where it will take you years to master the game? Then if so, EVE Online is for you. If you want that deep, immersive sandbox of an experience in a ground combat game instead, then DUST 514 is for you. But I think the person that gets fully into both of them is going to be pretty rare and I'm not going to be part of that group.
Anyway, just a little clarification, in case you were curious. Thanks for the question to all those who asked it! Not quite the Comment of the Week (that's coming), but it came damn close!
(1) Yep, I know about Ghost Recon Online, but I won't be playing it.
(2) Yes, quite similar to World of Tanks.