EVE Online E3 Report: CCP Builds a Player-Driven Future
EVE Online is known for two things: its especially rabid fanbase and its dedication to regular, free expansions. CCP highlighted both this year at E3, and they talked about expanding fan involvement in EVE (specifically, the True Stories project) and their plans for the next few years of EVE’s development. It’s looking like a bright, star-filled future for CCP, and they want to drag their loyal fans with them. Whether they can deliver is something else entirely.
EVE Online: Odyssey
A major focus of CCP’s E3 presence was on the recently-released Odyssey expansion. This EVE patch focused on improving exploration through better interface design, new minigames, and a shuffling of exploration mechanics. It has been a good expansion so far, but not their best; Odyssey falls into the realm of “strong improvement” more than “revolutionary.”
The largest change to Odyssey is in how exploration works. Before, the probe interface was obtuse and terrifying, and scanning for a hidden site was tedious work. Now probe management is greatly simplified, thanks to a less irritating interface and the fixing of probe skills. A new player can scan down just as well as a pro, if they are good enough, as both use 8 probes. A new interface that gives greater visual feedback on exploration sites was also added. It looks slick, too: a scanner sweep of green crosses the stars, highlighting the different points in space that you have found.
To make exploration more interesting, minigames were added to hacking and archaeology drops, and completing them properly gives you much nicer rewards than stumbling through them. The minigame feels similar to the hacking minigame of Deus Ex: Human Revolution: you have nodes, and must avoid viruses and complete certain objectives. It’s a minigame I’m quite fond of, but its implementation in Odyssey feels a bit confusing. There’s not enough feedback to the player.
Sweeping changes to ships also accompanied the expansion, with many receiving various buffs and nerfs, and a few getting visual makeovers. The most prominent of the visually-changed ships is the Apocalypse, an Amarr ship that was one of the first battleships created for EVE Online. It’s much nicer-looking now, with oodles of details to interest the in-depth observer.
Finally, resource reshuffling in Odyssey forced some big changes to the infamous free-for-all of the EVE Online market. Ice belts — which are used for lots of important activities — were removed, and must now be scanned for by players. They also yield far less — the number given was 80 percent of estimated needs — in order to drive player conflict. Changes to production materials (too esoteric to mention here) also sparked the largest war in ages: Goonswarm – the EVE Online arm of SomethingAwful – and Test Alliance Please Ignore – the EVE Online arm of Reddit – have gone to battle over resources that received a significant increase in value with Odyssey. This war is dragging in almost every major organization of EVE, and is shaping up to make for the best batch of space stories yet.