Updated Fri, Jun 24, 2011 by Space Junkie
The biggest part of Incarna is the release of the captain's quarters, where pilots can finally emerge from their ships and stretch their legs.
As far as main features go, it is important to keep in mind that these quarters are only the first step. CCP has taken an incremental approach to expansions, and this is just proof of concept more than anything else. Over the next few months and years there will be more quarters, more stuff to do, and more furniture.
Only Minmatar quarters are currently available, the others come later this summer. I'm certainly looking forward to the Amarr quarters. In the meantime, pilots get a convincingly Minmatar dwelling, complete with the expected spartan accommodations and mood lighting. The decor could use some improvement, but customizing furniture probably comes later. Brushed metal and grates aren't bad, though.
The ship hangar looks good, with the ship spinning over a balcony connected to your quarters. They are suitably huge, and the scale is especially apparent if you look down the hallway at them as you approach the balcony. Whatever your corporate logo is, is placed above the door to your quarters -- nice touch.
The most newbie-friendly expansion for EVE Online, ever.
Overall, there is no functionality unique to the captain's quarters. That is to say, there is nothing one can do walking around that could not also be done by pressing a button on the sidebar. I think that is fine, though, since the main point of Incarna is to make EVE more accessible to new players. Starting out in these quarters with all the tools represented graphically will make things much easier, especially the agent finder device and the corporate screen. The latter is especially important because of the improvements that CCP has made to the corporation finder.
Even more than the miraculously handy mission agent finder, the new recruitment process is incredible. Instead of the old, clumsy, region-based advertisements, we now have concise advertisements that are searchable by rather advanced criteria. Even if no corporation offers a perfect fit, the search engine will show matches based on how closely they conform to your search criteria. Having a big panel on the wall of one's quarters that deals with this will go a long way toward getting new EVE players out of the NPC corporations and playing EVE the way it is meant to be played.
The changes to the tutorial and new player experience will certainly improve player retention, as will the periodic advertisements from career tutorial agents, epic mission agents, and the location of Sansha incursions. Basically, it juxtaposes much of the fun stuff in EVE that is not immediately apparent to new players. Overall, this is a total win for newbies.
The first step of captain's quarters only involves solitary play, so it is just you walking around in your little space home. That's fine by me, the other stuff will come later and an incremental approach to software publishing is probably best for CCP, anyway.
The avatars end up being a bit less detailed than in the character creature under reasonable settings, but that's all right. The movement is fairly realistic and the camera moves all right. It is kind of clever the way the character will glance at things if they are significant or if you move the camera.
I do wish there was more for the characters to do aside from click on things and sit down on a couch, but again, all that comes later.
Because I am a player used to doing all of the usual EVE things with buttons, I can't really see myself using this mode of play until there are more things to do. When CCP adds more content in addition to developing a nice-looking graphical framework. On the other hand, a new player that has never played EVE Online before will find the captain's quarters to be invaluable. As a gateway to starting to play EVE Online it can't be beat.
So in that it makes being a new player much easier, congratulations on a successful expansion.