Counterviews: EVE Online

Back in 2003 a new studio named CCP Games put out a bold and unique title, EVE Online. With a scope rarely seen in gaming, the potential for thousands of players to fulfill their sci fi dreams, and an approach that would become truly unique, CCP hoped to thrive in the still young massively multiplayer scene. Now ten years later CCP have slowly fine tuned and fulfilled their promise of turning EVE into a game unlike any other. A game with its own economist, a game with completely unique stories, and a game that many die hard fans live by. Ten years on and with a big update incoming Counter Attack thought this was the perfect time to send two of our MMO veterans into New Eden with a piece as big and convoluted as the game itself.

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Chris’s View

If you have seen my previous content here at CA! you will know that I am an avid MMO player; besides reviewing Guild Wars 2 and writing down my impressions of Tera I, along with Chuck, have played almost every big MMO on the market. For my portion of this piece I will be sorting my thoughts on this totally unique take on the genre into two sections: the bad & the good.

“The Bad”

Eve Online is a space game, You start the game off like every other MMO. You create a character, you get into the game and you start doing tutorials. The main issue I had with starting the game was your first contact. She’s presented as an A.I, which in itself is fine, but the game really doesn’t give you a sense of itself. Sure it shows you how to mine, or how to shoot people in space, but it doesn’t really give you a sense of what’s what in the game. Now that I’ve been playing for a while and learned stuff on my own I really wish I would have been told about it with the training; it would have made a big difference weeks ago when I first picked it up. Theres a whole section to planet building, where you build a city on a planet and it will make you money, I still have no idea on how exactly to pull that off because it doesn’t tell you anything about it!

CCP have managed to keep the game looking good all these years

The graphics in the game look good, especially for a game going on 10 years. It’s easy to hide though considering you really never make it too close to anything in the game except your own ships, and even that you have a limited zoom on. Of course the backgrounds are fairly easy to manage, your in space what do you think you’ll see? Even with mining though, you can clearly see which rocks are what, even from a very far distance. They did a really good job at making sure the asteroids all look slightly different to a trained eye.

The game lacks some functionality as well. In order for your ship to move you double click the vacuum of space to move in that direction. You can right click space and a drop down menu will appear where you can pick what you’re looking for and it will show you all those things and how far they are from you. In the end however it just makes you wish you could control your ship a little bit better. Stopping your ship can be a pain sometimes too. Theres two options for this, you can either right click on your ship and tell it to stop moving, or you can left click on your ship and slide the mouse over and another menu will pop up where STOP is located. I have to wonder which one of these options was in the game originally.

The boxes! THE boxes are taking over!

The other big issue I personally have with this game is the windows you need to have up. If your mining or your probing for materials it’s stupid how many windows need to be opened. Make them too small so you have more screen and you can’t see the text, make them too big and you have a small monitor your not gonna be able to see your ship. I really wish there was a way to tab some of your information together into one box. I don’t always need to see where Asteroid Belts are, or where the nearest planet is. Now you can minimize these boxes and they go to your Task bar but they don’t label them for easy access, they look like a text file, so if you forget which ones you closed first, then your gonna have to open all of them up for that one box your looking for and then go back and minimize the rest…again.

Another thing I really don’t enjoy is the community in game. In other MMO’s you run by a rogue or a warrior and you can help them out, you can wave to them, you can interact with them in some way…hell you can pretend your pissing on their shoes if you wanted to! This game however takes you out of that sense of community. You see another ship every once in awhile when your mining and now you’re fighting to mine the same asteroid belt and it makes you want to slap them for ever showing up. Playing GW2 so much it brought me a sense that everybody I see is a friend of mine that I can stop and help, this game strips that away really quickly. Every asteroid belt only has so much of a certain ore and now your both racing to get to it and you both can collect the same ore but then you’re fighting on the stat page. If he’s got a bigger ship and a higher skill at mining he’s sucking up twice as much as you are so now its a 70/30 split instead of a 50/50 or 100/0. this might not seem like a lot but it just makes you want to hate anybody you see.

“The Good”

EVE Online is very different from any other MMO out there, and its a great vacation from the third person fight fight fight others offer you. It is super easy to pick the game up and just start flying around. There is a strong learning curve if you really want to get involved in the mechanics and the different jobs the game offers, but I’ve only been mining to get used to the controls and how everything works and for that all you need is an hour open in your day and you can jump into the game and feel like you accomplished something. At the very least help yourself and 1 other person buying your supplies, infact I’m in the game right now mining some ore to sell as I write this!

Things go boom!

Combat is easy to get into and easy to forget you still have Hit Points. I’ve never actually died because the NPC’s in the game will never shoot your pod but from what I hear players will. Once you get a ship its a good thing to insure it as you would your car when you buy one in real life. If anything happens to that ship you get the money it was worth and you go and get something else. Mind you its gonna take awhile to get to any space station because your pod thrusters are nowhere near as powerful as your ships. You will also lose everything in your ship if you don’t go back to your wreck (which is clearly marked) within a certain time frame. You’ll need a ship that has the cargo capacity big enough to haul your stuff back or you can just pick and choose some things you really don’t want to lose.

Its nice that pretty much any ship can do pretty much anything. Its like having a rogue that can off tank or minor heal your group. All ships can do everything if you have it equipped to do so but not all ships are created to do that job. I had a ship good for exploring so it had gun slots and a good amount of extra space so I started mining with it. I got the cargo hold up to 1400m3 which held around 15,000 ore, now I have a ship thats meant for mining and it comes standard with a 5,000m3 ore cargo hold, which allows me to hold 44,000 ore. This amount will pretty much pay for the ships cost in one sitting if I can find a good buyer for it on the Auction house.

Just pirates doing their pirate thing

I know I said above that I was mining and writing this article and you can do that but another function I like about this game are the pirates. If you’re in a location for a certain amount of time you better have some guns ready bc pirates will come and try to kill you and jack your stuff. These pirates are all NPC’s so you don’t have to worry about them being too difficult to battle. some have a high threat level, some don’t so they’re easier to defeat. This feature in itself presents a good change of pace. You’re sitting there mining and then out of nowhere 3 ships exit warp and start firing at you, so you kill them and go pick up their cargo which can yield some really nice rewards. It seems every pirate is also worth a bounty, now i’m not sure if the bounty is rewarded to you once you kill the person but every so often you’ll get trash from their ship that says it’s worth the same amount of credits their bounty was, so you go back to any base station and collect the reward, minus fee’s and i think your standing with that station also plays a part in rewards as well.

The monthly subscription for EVE is $14.99 but another feature I love about this game is PLEX. Plex stands for Pilot License Extension I believe and is a way to purchase more game time. The awesome part about Plex  is you can buy it on the Auction house from other players. So lets say a guy buys six months worth of game time and wants to sell a month to someone else that person can send him in game money and buy a months worth of time. Now of course its a lot of in game money to buy one but its still possible, which means you may never have to pay for your monthly subscription fee, ever! Thats a pretty great concept and a nice steal given i’m sure there are people in this game that do that because they make enough income. You’d think the company would be losing money annually, but they don’t seem to care so i’m game!

Peaceful time

Eve Online is fun to play because its so different, but more importantly its so simple to play its hard to get into. They basically made a game as simple and open as possible so that you, the pilot, can go in and do whatever it is you want to do for that day and you have 500 thousand other players doing the exact same thing, which makes for a very interesting game. The Politics and how much people really get into this game is unheard of, i’m sure chuck will go into some more details for he’s the one that told me about it. People really take this game seriously. It’s fun, it’s easy for those who want it to be and hard for those who want a challenge. It’s different enough to want to keep playing.

The only thing I really wish it had was a bar or something that you can go hang out with other players characters. Maybe have some personal stores like Aion does so people can come up to you and buy your stuff instead of it all coming out of the Auction house. Like I said, the more I play this game the more I’m realizing community wasn’t exactly planned for or desired in this one. I love to solo as much as the next guy but I’ll find myself in a Cantina in Star Wars, or a main city in GW2 just for some interaction with real people. I mean when Pirates attack, NOBODY in the area will help fight them off. I did it once bc my sense of nobility knows no bounds and the guy actually wrote me and started talking to me like he hasn’t seen a real person in years!

Takeaway

“Positive”

Space, its kind of a big deal

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Chuck’s View

EVE Online is a strange beast. One part appears to you as a friendly laid back alternate life simulator, allowing you to become whatever your hearts desire out in space, the final frontier. The other half will eventually show itself however, a crude massive beast that is now stomping on you repeatedly for ever thinking things would be so simple! EVE is a hardcore title, don’t let Chris’s “its simple to just fly around in” motif fool you, EVE will chew you up and spit you out if you come in unprepared. In New Eden patience is king and anyone who doesn’t have it will come to find out space is a nasty nasty place. But if you do, well then there is no limit to what you can accomplish.

Lets go get lost or something!

I first tried EVE many years ago at a time where I was unprepared for the hurdles that it would lay before me. I am not a big fan of tutorials or long learning curves and so after playing this game for two hours (after purchasing it) I put it away and vowed to never play that monster again! Today the game has had several more years of refinement and has even had an actual character creator put in, one with great character graphics as well. After hearing so many stories from players of EVE I knew it was time to truly put in some work, time to just grind my teeth and push through the boring tutorials and find some meat on this bone. After putting in roughly ten hours of playtime I still haven’t found exactly what I was looking for, hell, i’m not even really sure what I spent those ten hours doing! But I now better understand and can better appreciate the game that EVE is and in fact its a game I may continue to delve into.

EVE is a game where the more time and effort you put in the more pleasure and reward you will get out. The players who experience all that EVE has to offer are the ones who have built entire corporations and conglomerates and who are constantly dealing with backstabbing, thievery, intrigue, and war. Yes, EVE allows all of that to happen and on a scale never before seen. EVE truly is a game made by its fanbase, a world that lives and breathes by not only the basic rules installed by its creators but by the rules birthed by its participants. This is a universe fueled by many but ruled by few. A world that allows you to live out your deepest Star Wars, Star Trek, Firefly, and even Futurama fantasies.

Oh boy…I think i’m dead

Once you are done with the (very) basic tutorial that still takes up a decent chunk of time somehow you are let out into the world of New Eden and, as Chris has mentioned, you will probably be slightly lost. While you are told to choose a school to further familiarize yourself with the galaxy at hand you will still feel as if you are missing out on the entire point of this game. If you keep at it however you will (very) slowly begin to pick up on concepts and methods of play that had eluded you. As I mentioned earlier patience is of utmost importance in EVE. If you are of the sort who bypass help boxes and just run headlong into the fray then you will find yourself dead or completely lost and wishing you were dead. Yes the screen is cluttered, particularly if you have a small monitor, and the UI is overall pretty terrible, but in time you will become familiar with the setup and find yourself plotting courses for star systems millions of lightyears away.

In New Eden you can live the American dream, that is, be anything that you want. Unlike other games that claim that feat but come up short, CCP has made it so within EVE. Want to become a simple miner just trying to get by? You can. Want to make yourself into the galaxies most feared bounty hunter, hunting both computer controlled and live players? Go ahead. Want to make your living by acquiring important intel on the political dealings being made by real player companies and selling them to the highest bidder? Do it. Want to become a fierce pirate who travels the stars and steals, pillages, and ransoms anybody you come across? Sure! Or do you want to simply explore space and discover its many secrets, from ancient wrecks to entering dangerous wormholes? The choices are seemingly limitless.

That training was totally worth it

In EVE Online there are no real “classes” you are forced into, it is only what you wish to become. Obtaining new ships and outfitting them with an ever growing arsenal is good fun and the feeling of always advancing, even if you only jump on for a half hour, is always present. You get a true sense of fulfillment with EVE and that is rare in this space. To further add to this sense of ever growing knowledge CCP have chosen a unique skill points system for EVE. There are no levels within the game, instead EVE uses a system similar to reality, forcing your character to put in the time necessary to progress their abilities. After you obtain a Skill Book, either through purchasing or finding one in a wreck, you will have to have your character study up in real time. What this means is if you want to better understand the inner workings of an Amarr frigate to better pilot one you will have to study long and hard, from three hours to a week to a full month, to better hone your abilities.

I have spent ten hours taking down AI pirates and completing objectives for the Minmatar military school, ten hours where it feels like I really haven’t done anything at all, because in the grand scheme of things, I haven’t. There is still so much that I do not know, so much that I have not seen, heard, or experienced. It is very easy to see how people can put in a hundred hours and still be missing out on large chunks of game. While I too have not had much in the way of human interaction I disagree with Chris that this game admonishes that style of play, on the contrary, it encourages it! Like I hinted at earlier, the real meat of EVE comes with its intense and very real player fueled wars. There are dozens of player controlled factions that are all vying for territory in this new world. If you want to succeed you better start forming your own band of pirates or join up with one of these powerful organizations; you will not get far in EVE on your own. Whether accepting high paying jobs to hunt down infamous players or playing the part of a mole and infiltrating an organization before taking it out from the inside; player interaction is the beating heart of this game.

EVE Online is a great experiment in the gaming world. It is a game like no other that has managed to stay relevant ten years into its lifecycle and continues to push forward with exciting plans for the future. If you love sci-fi and have always dreamed of exploring uncharted space than I believe you owe it to yourself to give this one a try. Yes the game is cumbersome with the developers seemingly getting off on confusing players and yes it can be rather slow as well, but if you have the patience and the drive to press on, then there is no telling what you may accomplish in this exciting new frontier.

Takeaway

“Positive”

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