For a little over a week now, Dust 514 has been in an open beta. With that, there has been a huge influx of new players who have probably noticed Dust’s steep learning curve and technical difficulty. I know when I first started playing Dust, I struggled and felt overwhelmed to the point that I quit playing for a few months.
With that in mind, I’m here to offer any Dust newbies a few tricks and tips that I found improved my overall Dust experience, and will hopefully improve yours.
By no means is this an exhaustive list. Someone could, and probably already has begun to write a book on methods to help you with Dust, because it’s that complex. No, this is more of a starter guide meant to give you new players a bit of a foothold.
General disclaimer: I am not an expert. Even if you follow these guidelines, don’t expect to be a Dust world beater right off of the bat. It takes some time to get used to Dust’s mechanics and gun play—that is a matter of practice, and no number of suggestions can replace good old fashioned practice.
The first thing any newcomer to Dust should do is get familiar with and learn how use the Neocom and chat system, because at first glance it can appear quite clunky and cumbersome. In fact, learning how to use the Neocom is so important that once you finish creating a new character, the game offers an interactive tutorial (I highly recommend any new player complete that tutorial). Despite the game offering a tutorial, I am still going to tell you how to utilize the Neocom—it’s that important.
Accessed by pressing start in your mercenary quarter, your Neocom is the place where you track and spend Skill Points (SP), tinker with dropsuit fittings, browse or purchase items in the marketplace, and manage your contacts and corporation. Take a few minutes and browse through each section: what you’ll find as you dig through it is that many of these features are connected with each other. For instance, when you make a dropsuit, you don’t have to continually go to the marketplace to replenish each item separately; you can instead select from your dropsuit menu to either restock an entire dropsuit at once or only restock specific items.
Once you play around with the Neocom, you’ll learn more about how SP and purchasing of skill books works, how to navigate the marketplace, how to fit a dropsuit, and the various shortcuts within it.
4. Find People to Play Dust With and Play as a Team:
Dust is a squad based shooter, and it can be quite unforgiving, especially if you play by yourself. If you want any hope of succeeding at Dust then you’ll need to find others to play it with—there are a few ways you can do this.
The first and simplest option is to get a few friends, and it really shouldn’t take much convincing to get your friends on board because Dust is free. I mean at worst, even if you or your friends don’t enjoy it, you haven’t lost anything (except a little time). But trust me, if you recruit a few friends to play with, you will notice an immediate increase in the level of fun and you will stand a better chance at winning/doing well.
Now you might think that since Dust is a PS3 game, that everyone from your PSN friends list playing Dust will automatically available for you to play with. It isn’t that simple. First, Dust 514 is fully integrated (or at least it will be at some point) with another MMO, Eve Online. Because of that, Dust employs its own User Interface separate from the PSN that allows Eve players to communicate with Dust players and vice versa.
That means characters you create aren’t tracked by your PSN ID bur rather by the unique name you give them. You have to get the names of your friends’ characters if you wish to add them as contacts, and believe me, if you want to squad up with friends (press select in your mercenary quarters then go to create squad), it is a lot easier having them in your contact sheet than having to continually search for them.
If your friends aren’t too keen on Dust then don’t fret, you still have a few more options. You could try to make do with the people with whom you are paired up in a match, you could search the Dust forums to find other players, or you could find someone using the in-game local chat function. The latter two are probably your best bet. The forums are a great way to find people and get yourself involved in the Dust community; the local chat is also teeming with people itching to group up, and has the added benefit of being more immediate.
Once you find yourself a squad, get a mic and use it—this is integral to playing as a team. Squads that have mics and communicate are more organized and automatically have a better shot at winning than those without. This really is nothing new; if you’ve played FPSs before, especially FPSs that require tactics, you already know the value of a mic.
3. Plan Your Character Out:
Should you specialize heavily in one area or should you spread your skills out over a few different areas so you aren’t pigeonholed? The answer isn’t cut and dry; it’s a matter of personal preference and play style (more on that later). However, there is one thing all new players should do: take a few moments to look over the skill tree and plan out your character according to your preferred play style, because the amount of skills available to your characters in Dust can be quite overwhelming.
SP can be hard to come by when you’re starting out. If you know what you’re spending it on, whether it be to unlock a new weapon, dropsuit, access to another skill, etc. you are obviously making better use of your SP than if you just blindly buy what you think you’ll need. But the reason this is even more important with Dust is because there currently is no option to respec your character. Once you purchase a skill, you are stuck with it, and it’s obviously better to be stuck with an even marginally useful skill than one that you don’t use.
If you read about a skill and are unsure if it is right for you, there are a few tricks to help you decide. When it comes to deciding which kind of weapons, dropsuits, or modules to use, try out Militia Gear because it gives you access to very basic models of the equipment available to you in Dust right off the bat. There is no need to spend any SP to access Militia Gear, just a little bit of ISK (and I mean so little that the cost is negligible), but it will give you an idea how certain equipment works and you can then decide if it’s worth investing your SP.
2. Frago Objectives:
This will only apply if you happen to be a squad leader, but I cannot stress this enough. Whether it is attacking or defending an installation, eliminating an enemy soldier/vehicle, or even defending a squad mate, make sure that if you’re the squad leader that you frago objectives. There are a couple of reasons why this is beneficial.
First, it will help organize your squad. Because Dust is a squad based shooter dependent on teamwork, a more organized squad improves a team’s overall chances at winning. By marking objectives for your squad mates, they can focus their attention on a singular goal—completing the objective—instead of going off and doing their own things.
And you are rewarded for doing so, as completing an objective gives out bonus points to both the person who completed the objective and the issuer. While the reward you earn is small, it can add up if you have an active squad leader who continually fragos objectives. This simple action will help boost your overall score; and the higher your score, the more ISK and SP you’ll earn at the end of a match, which you’ll obviously be able to put towards improving your character.
When it comes to fragoing an objective that yields the highest score, defending a squad mate is probably your best bet because it is a persistent objective. All you have to do is mark which ever squad mate you wanted defended, and anything done in the vicinity of that squad mate continually yields a frago bonus to the rest of the squad.
Fragoing an objective is one of the simplest things you can do as a squad leader, but it’s also one of the most important and it can bring in the largest reward.
1. Stay Patient:
I’ll leave you with this last bit of wisdom as someone who has been part of the beta for six months: remain patient. This is something I am still working on.
You are going to have games where no matter what you do you aren’t going to change to outcome of the battle. It can be extremely frustrating when you take into account that if you’re using fittings you’ve created, you are also losing money through the equipment you lose.
If this happens, especially when the amount of equipment you have is limited, keep a few starter fittings around to use. You’ll still die, but you’ll mitigate your financial loses. A lost cause is a lost cause; it isn’t worth getting worked up about or wasting dropsuits on.
So there you have it: a few suggestions that should hopefully make you more comfortable playing Dust. If any of you have any tips or suggestions of your own, feel free to share them in the comments section below.