The 1.7 release of DUST 514 is significant for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it introduces the Combat Rifle (Minmatar) and Rail Rifle (Caldari) to the battlefields of New Eden. These join the Assault Rifle (Gallente) and Scrambler Rifle (Amarr) to round out our first full set of racially aligned weaponry.
This is important because each race favors a particular weapon archetype, each of which possesses a unique damage, range and behavior profile designed to suit a particular play style. But before we get to that, let’s take a look at the weapons themselves.
Combat Rifle (Minmatar)
A gas-operated, short-barreled weapon, the combat rifle is a semi-automatic weapon well-suited to both short and medium range combat. Classified as a light support weapon, it is typically employed in target-rich environments: The high volume of fire produced enables operators to engage multiple targets in rapid succession, while the weapon’s extended range keeps the operator just beyond the threat threshold of most standard assault rifles.
Its advanced bullpup configuration reduces weapon weight and improves maneuverability, making it the ideal crossover weapon for urban and field combat. The modular design has more practical advantages as well: cheap to maintain and easily replaced if damaged, it’s one of the most reliable weapons in service today.
The Combat Rifle comes in two variants: an ACOG scoped, three-shot burst base variant, and a second fully automatic assault variant with iron sights available from the Advanced tier and up.
Rail Rifle (Caldari)
Part of Kaalakiota’s Stahl line of weaponry, the rail rifle is a precision weapon designed for field operations where penetrative power and range are paramount. Developed using the corporation’s proprietary microscale technology, the rail rifle solves oversaturation issues endemic to sustained fire electromagnetic weaponry. However, its greater range and power are offset by a smaller magazine capacity and lower rate of fire than similarly classified weapons.
The foregrip design aids stabilization and remains cool to the touch even during prolonged discharge where the barrel can exceed mean operating temperatures. Featuring a reinforced subassembly and compact, heavy-barrel design, the rail rifle is the premier fully automatic microscale weapon available today.
The Rail Rifle also comes in two variants: the base model is a slow-firing, fully automatic rifle with great hip-fire accuracy, while the assault version (available from the Advanced tier) loses the ACOG sight and some range in favor of increased RoF. All rail rifles require a short pre-fire charge so once you start firing you won’t want to stop until you or your target is dead.
As mentioned above, each weapon in DUST has a unique profile based on its race-alignment. These are broken down as follows:
Every weapon interacts with shield and armor differently. Railguns (hybrid) are highly kinetic and thus more effective against armor than shields, while blasters (hybrid) do more damage to shields than armor. Laser weaponry is heat-based and thus highly effective at damaging shields, but much less so against armor; explosives, meanwhile, fare poorly against shields but are good against armor. Lastly, projectiles suffer slightly against shields, but are rather effective at damaging armor. The full breakdown is as follows:
These profiles are indicated in the Efficiency Rating displayed in the target intel that appears whenever you aim at a target, and should inform your decision on whether or not to engage any particular enemy.
In addition to its damage profile, each of the above weapon categories has a specific range associated with it. One of the challenges we’ve faced is interpreting established conventions for these racial weapons in a way that makes sense for FPS combat. Large range disparities would obviously not work for a single class of weaponry (e.g. assault rifles), so we’ve tried to keep these within reasonable bounds while maintaining the distinct feel of each.
We’ve then gone a step further by using the Advanced and Prototype tiers to push the boundary of each race’s archetype closer towards its competitors. In this way, for example, the prototype variant of a Combat Rifle can match the range of a standard Scrambler Rifle, even though both weapons use completely different ammo types (projectile vs. lasers).
Each weapon has an Optimal and Effective range. Within its Optimal range, a weapon will do 100% damage (shield/armor profiles notwithstanding), and then drop off slowly towards its Effective range, at which point it will do around 30% damage. Damage drops further from Effective range to Absolute range but all weapons will continue to do incidental damage even at these extreme distances.
In future releases we’ll be introducing additional variants for each of the above, such as Tactical Rail Rifles and Breach Scrambler Rifles, as well as Tech II variants that significantly alter the profile of a given weapon. For now, though, we look forward to getting these into the hands of players and seeing what you do with them.
From Concept to Reality – The Art Perspective
As a digital warrior, nothing is more important to a player than his weapon. Not only does it have to be powerful, but it should also have the right look to give it meaningful visual context. For the art team, the biggest challenge in implementing that in-game is going from the concept art phase to 3D modeling and creating the textures. All the detailed and mechanical parts – as well as intricate visual effects –need to be added to the weapon before it’s in game. And that means a lot of work has to be done to optimize the artwork in order to allow optimized models and textures to have a hi-resolution look.
So, let’s begin with the first step in the process: transforming concept art into in-game models. After a weapon’s concept art is approved, we begin working on a “blockout model” – the initial 3D frame – based on the concept art.
Once that’s completed we work with the animation artists to test the placement of the weapon. This includes checking various angles and the field of view (FOV) of the weapon. We also ensure that no moving parts of the weapon are obstructed when animated.
Once the weapon has passed the animation testing phase, we then begin work on a high-resolution model. This stage allows the 3D artist a lot of latitude. There are few restrictions on how they can make the model using 3D software, which allows them to create intricate and streamlined weapons.
In order to optimize the art content of a weapon in-game (so that it takes up as little processor resources as possible), we also work on creating a low-resolution model of the weapon. That’s needed because the weapon appears in two forms in-game: first- and third-person view.
In the first-person view, the weapon can take up a large area of the screen, so we need to optimize the artwork by region according to parts that are viewable versus those that are hidden or off-screen. We dedicate more texture and pixels to the viewable sections and less to the hidden parts so as to ensure both that what players see is highly detailed and that the model does not go over the allotted resource budget.
For the third-person view we need to spread out the details, since the model can be seen in multiple angles by other players. We use another type of 3D model as a proxy, which allows us to map both high and low resolution textures in one. This is then used for both first and third person views.
This is a very simplified version of the actual process, which can take a considerable amount of time depending on the complexity of the weapon itself.
We hope you've enjoyed this glimpse at the new racial weapons at your disposal in Uprising 1.7. There's more exciting content still to come and next we'll be spinning by the Events team for their round-up of in-game event creation!
-CCP Supalette & CCP JuSan