All we are is dust in the EVE Online universe.
It was the first day of E3: I had just gotten through eating a free alligator po'boy, gone over my 30th streetpass tag on my 3DS before the doors even opened, and grumbled over the media lounge Wi-Fi being deader than the Wii. Par for the E3 course on every count, more or less. And here I was, blinking away fatigue at the crack of noon, ready for an appointment to see… something, but I had no idea what it was before going in.
That something turned out to be Dust 514, a kinda-sorta sequel/spinoff/something-or-other to EVE Online, set in the same staggeringly huge universe. While Dust 514 differs from EVE in that the core gameplay is an FPS, the latter's mark is clear in the deep level of customization, optimization, and social interaction to be found in Dust. You know, when you're not busy blowing some poor sap up with a grenade launcher and taking all his moneys.
I've never played EVE, but I've seen and heard enough to recognize the key traits that are there in Dust. The amount of tinkering that goes into customizing your loadouts for the dropsuits (the equivalent of a ship in EVE) is ridiculous, and the developers assured me that they've lost hours themselves just fiddling around looking for that perfect suit. The same level of risk vs. reward is present as well, because just like when you lose a ship in EVE, getting killed might lose you those precious parts that you previously invested in (and result in a bigger bounty for the lucky mother that fragged you).
But how was the actual action? Solid, comfortable, and familiar if you've played, say, Battlefield. We played a simple capture-and-control map with three control points that each team was fighting to hack into and hold for as long as possible. Vehicular combat is integral as well, and every player can call in a vehicle whose configuration they've also pre-loaded just like the dropsuits, with a transport flying in and plopping the vehicle on the ground near you. Yes, you can be crushed by it if you're not in the habit of looking up.
Dust 514 has a huge number of planets in the EVE universe which are not nearly all playable now, but will continually be added to the game as new maps. It's worth noting that Dust is F2P, and most items can be bought with either in-game currency or real money, not giving the paying player an advantage over their thriftier counterparts. Closed beta is currently underway, with several beta events planned to begin later this month. Keep an eye on it for the launch later this year.