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Hands-on: CCP's Project Nova melds fast-action gunplay with EVE Online's universe

Hayden Dingman | April 22, 2016
Rising from the ashes of Project Legion.

Reykjavík, Iceland—Project Legion, we hardly even knew ye’. The PC-centric first-person shooter CCP unofficially-officially announced two years ago is now unofficially-officially dead. Not that you’d necessarily notice, because a new PC-centric first-person shooter has stepped in to fill its shoes.

Thursday at EVE Fanfest 2016, CCP unofficially-officially announced “Project Nova.” It’s the heir-apparent to Project Legion, which itself was the successor to almost-dead-PS3-exclusive Dust 514.

The broad strokes are pretty similar. Project Nova is a free-to-play shooter that draws from the EVE Online universe, set in a future New Eden. It’s hard to say how much that will actually factor into the game because, you know, multiplayer shooter. But I expect it’ll be similar to EVE Valkyrie, which used the lore for flavor, mostly.

So how does it play? Because yes, it’s playable—which is more than could ever be said about Project Legion. Earlier today we had a brief hands-on with a super-early version of Project Nova (I’m not even sure CCP would call it “Alpha” yet). And by brief, I mean I played two rounds of a node-capture mode, similar to King of the Hill/Crazy King.

Project Nova

There’s only one map at the moment, set in a massive hangar. Matches are six-on-six, which seems a bit sparse for the size of the map. The objectives give teams enough direction to fuel conflict, but if you get lost or separated from the group you’ll be off on your own for a while.

It’s a class-based shooter. I spent most of my time playing as a Vanguard—a semi-heavy assault trooper with two high-volume SMGs. Classes in the demo are your standard assault/sniper/shotgun/heavy for the most part, though equipment varies—the “Cloaking-and-Shotgun” class proved pretty popular in our tests.

What’s missing from this demo however is any sense of the big picture. That’s a shame, if only because a fair number of people are going to get their hands on the game this weekend and...well, at the moment it plays pretty much like an amalgamation of other shooters. The ultra-clean look of the new Unreal Tournament. The shooting and movement of late-era Halo. The class system of a lightweight Battlefield.

And it does those things well. Dust 514 was often criticized because it had some amazing gimmick ideas tying into EVE Online, but the core shooter component was underwhelming. With Nova, CCP’s Snorri Árnason says they’re focusing on the “Through the Gun” experience—sounds, feedback, movement, et cetera—to create a game that’s “immediately accessible to all shooter fans.”

“This has to be a great shooter, before anything else,” said Árnason. Which is all well and good. There's no use making the same mistakes as Dust 514, and it’s safe to say Project Nova needs to be a decent shooter first and foremost.

 

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