Dust 514's Precursor update implements its integration with EvE and introduces powerful orbital death strikes.
If you've been following the development of the PlayStation 3 shooter Dust 514 and how it will connect to the PC-based EvE Online, you're probably aware that there are several logistical concerns to address before release. Even a standalone title can have its share of gamebreaking bugs, and with the release of Dust CCP needs to co-ordinate massive battles between two games being played out on hundreds of systems. The developers intend to stagger features to keep the process as smooth as possible, but CPP is finally reaching the point where it just needs to mash the servers together and see what happens. That day will be on August 21st, when CCP will upload Dust 514 onto Eve's test server in conjunction with the Dust's latest build release titled "Precursor".
"Linking the intense front-line combat of Dust 514 with the galactic ship warfare of EvE Online has always been our keystone to building a vibrant community, and now that keystone is coming into place," said Dust 514 Executive Producer Bradon Laurino. "With the Precursor release, we move Dust 514 from its standalone testing server over to the long-standing EvE Online test server, Singularity (aka 'Sisi'). This means Dust 514 on PlayStation 3 and EvE Online on PC/Mac will be officially running on the same server."
The update will implement several new features for Dust 514 and EvE Online. Players on the Sisi server will be able to live chat with anyone participating in either game, and even send in-game emails. Dust 514 players will get Instant Battle matchmaking features that allow them to find friends quickly and leap right into the action. Dust's Galaxy system, which procedurally creates maps using combinations of a particular planet's attributes, will go live with this update, as will support for USB keyboards and mice. These are all very impressive, however the award for most visually impressive update goes to the Orbital Strike Framework, which lets Dust squad leaders call in attacks from EvE ships flying well above the planet's surface. Currently, only the non-player controlled War Barge will be able to conduct strikes, but future updates will not only allow EvE players to directly pilot attacks, but also allow Dust players to control artillery outposts to defend themselves.
Dust 514 is still in closed beta, so it's entirely possible (and expected) that the Sisi server will encounter potential errors, hang-ups, and even downtime while CCP figures things out. That said, if even half of the new features work as promised, there will be many happy PC and console gamers out there. A new round of closed beta keys will be available be available via registration on the Dust 514 beta site.