This isn't a definitive guide by any means, just some idea of what to expect if you're interested in DUST but haven't jumped in yet. Sort of a "things I wish I'd known." Also be aware that things are changing fairly regularly as CCP rebalances and addresses complaints.
DUST supports mouse and keyboard controls. Yes, it's way better. CCP claims to be tweaking the DualShock controls though.
Gameplay is basically Space Battlefield. "Ambush" = wear down the enemy team's spawn tickets (clones) before your team runs out. "Skirmish" = capture and hold gun batteries to destroy enemy transport before they destroy yours. Additional modes are promised.
Don't worry about Factional Warfare as a brand new player. Your Corporation will guide you here if you choose to get involved. Quick Battles just match you up as a random merc for a random side of a random battle.
- Tomorrow's 5/14 release is supposed to change matchmaking to keep new players separated from the vets. There *should* be much less steamrolling of brand new players, which addresses one of the top complaints. (EDIT: It did, and it does. This is what "Instant Battle Academy" is)
You earn passive skill points at the rate of 1 point every 2 seconds from the time you first create your character. This happens online or off, the game's free, so jump in ASAP and start racking 'em up. You also earn additional points from playing matches.
Skills require an initial cost of ISK (in game money) to unlock the skill, then subsequent costs in skill points to rank up a max of 5 levels. First levels are cheap, level 4 and 5 cost a shitload. Hit triangle to Get Info and show what benefit each skill gives. Some just unlock later skills.
I recommend starting in Weapons and Dropsuit Upgrades. These skills passively benefit shield regeneration, weapon sway and damage, additional armor, etc, regardless of what gear you have equipped. Great stuff to have!
- Sniping costs a lot of skill points to get rid of the sway and be particularly effective. I'd recommend sticking with assault at the start, or at least, prepare for some disappointment.
When you die, you lose ALL gear in that loadout. Likewise, when you buy a gun off the marketplace, you are buying one COPY of that gun. To spawn again with that loadout, you will need to restock every piece of gear that you've run out of, or buy multiple copies ahead of time. For example, 10 dropsuits, 10 assault rifles, 10 shield boosters, etc.
The exception to the above is the "Starter" gear, which is always infinite. Starter gear comes in Assault, Sniper, Medic, and Anti-Armor flavors. Starter gear is worse than any gear you can buy, but not by much (biggest penalty is a 10 second delay in shield recharge if the shield is completely depleted). You CAN kill things in Starter gear.
You can also buy blueprints (shown with blue brackets) that offer infinite copies of that item - essentially "unlocking" it. Blueprints always cost real money. Be aware that you earn enough ISK per match, win or lose, to easily fund loadouts with basic gear. If you're low on ISK, run Starter gear for a few matches. Blueprints aren't really necessary.
Likewise, spend that ISK. You can't do anything else with it. You can't send it to other players, or feed it back to an EVE corp. It's easy to get more. Buy more copies of a favorite loadout, unlock some skills, try a new gun.
- You randomly get "salvage" from some battles. These basically let you try new guns or suits for free, provided you have the skills. You can NOT sell or trade anything from your inventory.
Guns have a maximum range. Check it before you go into battle. Assault rifles particularly won't hit anyone at longer distances, and trying is just wasting ammo.
- Look for Clone Reanimation Units (spawn points) and Supply Depots (regenerate ammo when nearby). Capture these. If it's too deep in enemy territory, destroy.
Vehicles are bad news for new players. Short of hopping in one to man a turret, don't worry about them. When you're ready to use them (or fight them), you won't need this guide.
- Medics use nanite injectors and repair guns. Nanite injectors DO NOT heal people, they only revive. As a medic, you'll need to hold down R2 to get your weapon wheel and then select the injector - there's no quick switch button for this. Fire at someone on the ground with R1 to revive them. People revive with limited health and armor, so don't revive them in the middle of crossfire.
- DUST is NOT "pay to win" - well, not exactly. You can kill a veteran with Starter gear, it will just take longer and you'll need to avoid return fire. Paid gear doesn't give you much of a one-on-one advantage. However, the other team absolutely can "spend" more than yours. If the other team is fielding tanks and prototype dropsuits, and your team has nothing (or not enough) to counter with, you'll get steamrolled.
- DUST allows for 6-man squads. You can create one to bring into matchmaking, or jump into an open one in the pre-game match lobby.
- Squads DO NOT earn you more skill points. You cannot spawn on a squad like in Battlefield (this is done with mobile spawn emitters that cost ISK and must be deployed). It's OKAY to not be in a squad; your presence doesn't automatically help them.
Squads CAN have objectives marked by the leader (capture, defend, etc) Following these grant bonus War Points (these are what the match leaderboards are calculated by; more WP gives more Skill Points after battle). Squad leaders can call in an artillery strike each time the squad as a whole earns 2500 WP. (This is different than fire support from EVE players).
That's all I've got for now. Feel free to correct me if I'm wrong, add things, or ask questions.