In October 2018 we had the opportunity to finally get hands-on with CCP Games' long-in-development first-person shooter Project Nova, a game that's meant to be the spiritual successor of sorts to DUST 514. Set within the EVE Online universe but serving as a standalone, next-gen PC shooter, the game hadn't been playable for the media or public since EVE Fanfest 2016 - and that old version, known at the time as Project Legion, was in reality a different sort of prototype.
Project Nova, built on Unreal Engine 4, was meant to launch as a playable alpha in late 2018 until CCP Games announced that they were going back to drawing board with it. We've not heard anything official since, until we spoke with CCP Games Senior Community Manager Paul Elsy, known as CCP Falcon.
At CCP's fan-focused EVEsterdam event this past weekend, the first stop on a series of events around the world under their EVE Invasion Tour, Elsy explained to me that “Nova’s in the incubator. We’ve learned some exciting things with it. It’s super cool. We’re just seeing where to go from there, basically.”
I asked if it’ll be a major departure from what we played at EVE Vegas in October before it was decided upon to be reworked.
“I don’t think so. The core gunplay is there, but it's about figuring out what is the wider purpose?”
The core gunplay is what Game Designer Steven Clark emphasized to me back in 2017 when CCP Games, while not showing Project Nova at the time, confirmed at their EVE Fanfest event in Iceland that they were committed to the game, to the shooter experience first and foremost, and weren't going to rush it. CCP Games CEO Hilmar Veigar reiterated the same to me in 2017 and twice again last year. One of the benefits of the player feedback from each version they've sent, and from the acquisition of CCP Games by Pearl Abyss, is that the company is focused on the long-term, the community, and quality so there's no rush to put out something just to have an EVE-based shooter on the market.
From the vague details we've learned however, it seems it's Project Nova's gameplay meta being worked on, what modes will make the game worth playing, etc.. When we interviewed Project Nova devs in 2018 at EVE Vegas, the modes discussed were basic objective modes and PvP squad and team based modes for up to 32 players. Perhaps that wasn't enough.
What we played was visually impressive (the videos above and below showcase the sniper and assault classes we tried), but the AI and movement felt dated for something that would be playable to the public a few weeks later. Players couldn’t mantle, climb or lean, when other modern shooters are all pushing boundaries on these fronts, and the objective-capturing involved stopping the momentum and combat for players, which seemed counter-inuitive in a co-op or competitive action title. Still, there was potential here because the gunplay felt strong.
What was playable involved only three classes, each with a unique weapon, but none of the subclasses, additional weapons, or mods described to us were available in the pre-alpha demo. There wasn’t much there so we’re curious if these issues will be addressed and what the standout modes or gameplay will be in an era where large-scale battle royales with an emphasis on movement and more dynamic gameplay are the top trending games in the genre - a mode however that Hilmar tells me they wouldn't be chasing after.
Source: CCP Games