Dust 514 Eve Online

Free to play is going big on PlayStation 3 next week.

Studio CCP Games is launching the open beta for its Dust 514 first-person shooter on January 22. The game costs nothing to download or play for anyone with Sony’s current-generation home console.

Dust 514 takes place in the same persistent universe — and exists on the same server — as CCP’s massively multiplayer online sci-fi role-playing game, Eve Online. The two operate separately, but the status of one greatly impacts the other.

This is the first time that a developer has linked a shooter and an MMO into one online experience.

“The launch of the Dust 514 open beta is another step toward our long-term vision for CCP and Eve,” said CCP chief executive officer Hilmar Veigar Pétursson. “But this is just the beginning. As we have done with Eve Online, in the coming weeks, and for years to come, we will continually improve upon and add to the Dust 514 experience as well as add deeper integration between the two games and their communities.”

While everyone can participate in the open beta beginning Jan. 22, the impatient can still get in early by purchasing the Dust 514 Mercenary Pack from the PlayStation Store. The specially priced $19.99 downloadable content contains access to the closed beta; 40,000 Aurum (in-game currency); and a bunch of items. That add-on normally costs $50. Players who take part in a match before Jan. 22 will receive an automatic bonus of 100,000 skill points.