Following the less-than-spectacular performance of Dust 514, no one would blame EVE Online developer CCP for backing off from the first-person shooter genre. Learning from their previous mistakes however, the team has instead turned around and started development on a new game, one currently code named Project Nova.

Even though free-to-play, a first person, team-based shooter, and set in the EVE Online universe, all like Dust 514, CCP is approaching the game differently. Showing off Project Nova for the first time at Fanfest in Iceland, Senior Director Nova, Snorri Árnason, spoke to Polygon, detailing the new thought process behind the game.

“We’re trying to stand out in the free-to-play area niche, not against any FPS that’s going on right now … we’re kind of going into the sci-fi, semi-realistic, tactical, kind of old-fashioned in a sense, just a great shooter. That’s where we want to be … we want to be perceived as a really good free-to-play shooter. Sometimes you sit down and say ‘holy shit, that’s free-to-play?’”

Project Nova Screenshot

In this way, CCP wants Project Nova to be a great shooter first, and an EVE game second. One of the major selling points for Dust 514 was the fact it was actually connected to EVE Online. Though this connection manifested in different ways, the most direct (and arguably the coolest) feature allowed players in the space-based MMO to fly to planets and engage in orbital bombardment, an effect that would then be seen and felt in Dust 514’s matches.

“It worked for the people who were very invested in it, it looked cool and felt cool, and felt real, but you had to be a corporation in planetary conquest and you had to have a friend in Eve who really wanted to help you, so you’d schedule a match in planetary conquest and say meet me here in 24 hours and blast these suckers.” Ultimately, it was just too abstract and cumbersome of a system to build and market a game around.

“If we were to ever go into connected gameplay [with Project Nova],” Árnason said, “I would assume it’s on the economy or more thematic stuff like that.”

As for how Project Nova will stand out in the free-to-play space, CCP has some ideas about that too. Focusing on making players feel powerful out of the gate, Árnason wants full loudouts and the (currently) eight or so classes to all be unlocked from the beginning. Investment in any particular class will then allow for the mixing and matching of weapons and gear.

“Instead of saying I know I want these things in the equipment tree, I’m giving you everything in the equipment loadout, and then you say ‘OK these are the things I like, and I’m going to start customizing my experience.”

Still early in development, Project Nova is only running on PC and still has a lot to prove before CCP is even sure they want to pursue the game to completion. As we learn more about it, you’ll find it all right here on Gamespresso. What do you think of how CCP is approaching the game so far? Let us know in the comments.

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