Fannar explained that Uprising focuses on two main themes. "The first theme we are calling 'making it matter.' It's about creating a more meaningful connection between DUST 514 and EVE." While the Caldari Prime event was the first step on that journey (20,000 battles took place on the ground), the planetary conquests system in this update will introduce features that will further intertwine the two games. "The other theme is basically visual improvements," Fannar explained, "making the graphics look better, making the graphics run faster, and also adding more graphics." Players will get to see for themselves exactly how these themes play out when the updates releases on May 6th. In the meantime, enjoy our impressions from GDC.
The addition of the planetary conquest system, according to Gunnarsson, "is the feature set that put the MMO in the MMOFPS." He elaboratd, "Here we are adding persistence, adding that sense of meaning, that sense of purpose to the fights on the planets." Paving the way for this system is a new planetary atlas, a 2-D flattened view that works like a subway map to give players a better view of what is happening in the system as a whole.
This star map has multiple views, from a high-level view that shows the balance of factional power in system regions down to a view of individual solar systems, including which corporations control what territory. The map goes even further down to a view of a single planet and who owns how much of it. Players can also see where live conflicts are on the map. Thanks to these star maps, you get the feeling that the universe is actually alive and that something is actually happening in it as opposed to a typically static MMO world.
So the maps show who has control, but is there any benefit to controlling a planet? Corporations in control of planetary districts can place surface infrastructures (SI) that provide the corp with clone supplies. As Gunnarsson told us, "[The SI] give you the fuel of war within which you can practice the art of war." Of course, in order to get to various planets to conquer them, DUST players will gain interplanetary travel with Uprising.
With all of this, the formation of alliances will begin to evolve in DUST as CEOs band together to control larger sections. In essence, Uprising is bringing the metagame into the game, whereas previously it was happening only outside the game client.
When Uprising hits on May 6th, DUST 514 players should immediately notice a difference in their surroundings due to the visual improvements. Not only will what's already there look better, but new things like foliage, atmosphere, and weather effects are being added. Ships in orbit that are firing orbital strikes be visible to those on the ground. Players should also see things in a whole new light -- literally -- as day/night cycles will also be implemented to increase the sense of realism. And as for realism, Fannar noted that these cycles (along with the direction of the sun and the shadows) will be accurate to the actual rotation of the specific planet within EVE.
Continuing with planetary upgrades, Fannar also touched on how they're being developed to match how they are seen from space in EVE to preserve continuity. For instance, a planet that looks like a hunk of rock from space has a rocky, barren landscape in DUST 514.
All these graphical upgrades are actually taking advantage of features that are already in the game's rendering engine. As the team becomes more experienced with the toolsets, the graphics will continue to improve. "Expect to see more," Fannar teased.
Besides the visual upgrades, various interface options have also been revamped and streamlined, including character creation, skill training (node-based to show people what to expect), and a pop-up upon death that gives you info on your killer.
There are new drop suits and weapons, too, which CCP says will add visual variety to the game as well as new ways to fight.
All of these update tweaks can be traced to feedback from the players themselves. Both Fannar and Gunnarsson remarked on how the open beta has been an invaluable tool for molding the game. Gunnarsson told the press, "Open beta has been very successful for us, and importantly has given us a tremendous amount of player feedback from our community... [It has] really guided our evolution of the feature set and the content updates we've be doing."
Massively sent its ace reporters to San Francisco to bring you back the biggest MMO news from this year's GDC, the largest pro-only gaming industry con in the world! Whether it's EVE Online or Star Wars: The Old Republic or that shiny new toy you've got your eye on, we're on the case, so stay tuned for all the highlights from the show!