DUST 514 Diary #3: The March of the Tinkermen

When shooting someone in the face gets this complicated, it's time to go back to school. DUST 514's community comes into its own.

I'd experienced enough in my first two DUST 514 matches to realise I'd probably benefit from using something other than that bog-standard starter kits. One of DUST 514's strengths is the customisability of every soldier and vehicle and I wanted to take advantage of that.

Borrowing heavily from EVE Online's ship fitting mechanic (which itself was based around collectible card games like Magic: The Gathering), DUST 514 mercenaries went to war in a variety of dropsuits, each with their own characteristics, which could be further augmented with the addition of modules.

However, most of the available dropsuits, modules and handheld equipment required the learning of skills in order to unlock them. These skills needed to be purchased with skill points, which are accrued passively over time and earned actively through combat. Fortunately, my character (Seismic Stanley) has been created some time ago and so had passively accrued several million skill points.

So Many Options...

The problem was, I didn't know where to start. The options were bewildering and I didn't want to invest my skill points in the wrong things. I knew enough from my EVE experience to know that I would benefit from some guidance. I should join a player-run corporation.

Looking through the list of established corporations, I saw the DUST University was one of the largest, with over 1,500 members. In EVE Online, EVE University is a respected and trusted brand and this was their sister organisation. I sent an application and then turned to my PC to read their website, where I found their chat channel which I joined via my EVE client.

It was here that I struck up a conversation with Arunis Genforge and later Blind Nojoy, both members of G I A N T corp. They were both incredibly helpful in giving me the advice I needed. Arunis helped me decide on an character objective – I wanted to aim for a battlefield medic and so needed to put my skill points towards the logistics disciplines.

Retail Therapy For Geeks

Blind Nojoy joined me on voice-comms and spent over an hour talking me through the various skill trees, directed me to the market and identified which equipment I needed to buy and in what quantities (on death, the player's dropsuit and all fittings are lost, so it was important to stockpile equipment).

Every new skill and purchased item costs ISK, the in-game currency earned through combat. When this process depleted my limited funds, Blind Nojoy even threw a couple of million my way. What a gent.

I was very impressed with his knowledge of the fittings, as he recited statistics and other trivia freely as we chatted. His enthusiasm was infectious too; previously I had found wading through endless swathes of equipment and menus an irritating barrier to my gameplay, but Blind explained that he really enjoyed that aspect of DUST 514, having the opportunity to tinker with his character and find rewarding combinations of equipment to use in-game.

The Next Layer of DUST

As he talked me through fitting all my purchases together, he explained that he really enjoyed the Fallout RPG series for the same reason. Despite having never played EVE Online, Blind Nojoy was clearly he was a man of patience – after all, not only was he content to flit endlessly through setup screens, he was happy to talk an idiot rookie he;d never met through the same process – and even fund him!

He talked enthusiastically about “set plays” that he and his corp mates have based around particular fits and enemy behaviours, he outlined the gameplay of planetary conquest and told me about the three districts that his corp owns. He spoke of the ebb and flow of action and a recent “war” that his corp had been involved in. Much of the language he used reminded me so much of EVE's null-sec alliance pilots.

Hypocrisy and Handbags

As he spoke, I found myself becoming more and more enamoured with the ideas behind DUST 514. There was so much possibility and Blind was clearly making the best of it. He had is his opinions on what needed improving and how the game could grow, so he was certainly not blind to the failings referenced elsewhere, but was content with the game experience as it stood.

Despite the lack of actual gameplay participation, I felt we were putting in useful groundwork to improve future experiences and Blind continued to enlighten me as he directed me through menu after menu. It took a fair while to set myself up with his guidance, without it, I suspect I would have messed it up or given up, but eventually, I had 20 fully fitted fancy logistics dropsuits ready to go and the parts for a host more cheap imitations.

It idly occurred to me as we shopped for the tools of war and gossiped about gameplay, we weren't so different from those awful women in my wife's reality TV shows - we were just more about pixels than plastic. I shuddered at the realisation.

With perfect dramatic timing, it was then that my wife returned, scotching any further living room based activity. I thanked the helpful folk online, made my apologies and logged off.

Battle-testing my new arsenal of dropsuits would have to wait for another day, but I'm really looking forward to my wife's next shopping trip.


NEXT: #4 - Why DUST 514 Would Thrive on the PC

Previous: #2 - Operation: Fake Housework

Featured Columnist

Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.

Published Sep. 20th 2013

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