I often have a rather fanboy-ish attitude when it comes to Dust 514. I love the concept of the game, and I really hope that its future will be bright. However, I'm not so blinded by devotion that I can't see that there are some serious problems. In the hope of helping to solve them, I’ve decided to put together a few of the more glaring problems with the game at the moment. I’ll also try to brainstorm some possible solutions that will at least combat these issues. Bear in mind this is by no means a comprehensive list, and I’d encourage a constructive discussion either in the comments or on the Dust 514 forums.
Arguably, the most serious problem in Dust revolves around the complaints concerning the aiming system. By far, this is the issue that CCP has to solve. Having a broken aiming system in an FPS game is akin to having a semi-responsive targeting system in Eve. All gameplay hinges on it.
While there have been serious improvements to the aiming system since it was shattered with the deployment of Uprising, there is still room to improve. I can only speak for aiming with keyboard and mouse, but there are still problems with finer movements. An example would be keeping the targeting reticule on a strafing enemy at close range or making the precision movements required to dial in a sniper shot.
Formulating solutions for the aiming problem presents some issues. Aiming is generally a very subjective experience, and there are a multitude of variables to consider between sensitivity settings, differences in hardware, and overall user preferences. A solution I can come up with for the issue of finer movements is to slow the aiming reticle movement when it’s over an enemy, much like many other console shooters. This sort of adjustment would need to be fine-tuned to find the sweet spot, and better yet users should be able to adjust it themselves. It's hardly the end-all-be-all towards the goal of fixing aiming, but it's at least a step in the right direction.
Map size vs. Weapon effective range
Currently, maps in Dust 514 are excessively large. It can easily take several minutes to cross a battleground from one end to the other on foot. While I don’t have a problem with expansive battlefields in general, there seems to be some disconnect between weapon ranges and map design.
Let me take a moment to describe how the weapon ranges in Dust work. Every weapon in the game has an associated optimum range. It is within this distance your weapon will do full damage to your target. As your distance to your target increases, damage will decrease until there is a point where you weapon is doing no damage at all. This effectively creates a hard cap on weapon ranges. As it stands now, most weapons seem to favor a closer engagement ranges, which flies in the face of the map design. Battle locales are generally large and have expansive areas of virtually no cover. The result is that the weapons with longer ranges dominate in most situations, leaving the shorter range weapons significantly less optimal.
The obvious solution to this problem is to increase the effective range of all weapons, but this was the problem that CCP was attempting to solve when they instituted a hard cap to weapon range. I highly doubt they will backpedal on their fix. As an alternative, I think it would be best to redesign the maps a bit. Terrain elevations should be more varied and additional cover from enemy fire should be added. This will allow players using shorter range weapons to break line of sight with a longer range foe while still keeping longer range weapons competitive. However, this tweak has to be implemented carefully; otherwise, we will end up with the opposite problem as we have now.
The forming and management of squads has become a higher priority issue in my mind since the addition of planetary conquest. I was privileged to observe my corp, the Pink Fluffy Bounty Hunterz, as they attempted to organize in preparation for one of their first mercenary contracts. Frankly, it was a clusterfuck. Comms were chaotic, nobody had an idea what was going on, and it was generally hectic. The overall problem largely revolved around the organization of squads.
Squads have been a bit unwieldy for quite some time. You can easily spend a disproportionate amount of time trying to figure out who in your corp is squaded up, who is still looking for one, which squads are full, and which are unresponsive due to being in a battle. These problems have only been compounded with the addition of planetary conquest.
As a solution, there needs to be a in game tool to see who in your corp or group of friends is in a squad and who still has open slots. This sort of tool already is familiar to CCP: the Fleet Finder in Eve Online. If a similar tool could be introduced into Dust, it would be a major boon to organizing and coordination. Ideally one would be able to advertise free room in your squad, see who among your social circle is in a squad, and being able to group squads together.
This hardly an exhaustive list of the issues in Dust, as it is one of those complex games that will always need tweaking in one way or another. Hopefully CCP can solve these problems in a timely fashion. Once they do, Dust 514 will have taken a big step towards being the game that everyone is hoping. If you have issues of your own, talk about them below.