Major Game Changers
This is going to be one of the most important years for EVE Online since the game went live way back in 2003. Major game systems are being retouched in ways that will make them more fun, more playable, and more in line with the lessons learned by the MMO industry since then.
DUST 514 And EVE Online
This yet-unreleased FPS was the belle of the ball. DUST 514 featured in numerous demos, tournaments, presentations, and round table discussions. As the first time anybody could actually play DUST, this was a pretty important "make or break" moment for CCP. The reception seems mixed but generally positive, with some players disliking the art and difficulty with console controllers, but others liking the fun factor and EVE-like game systems.
All-importantly, we saw a demonstration of one possible interaction between EVE Online and DUST 514 when CCP Soundwave bombarded some enemy infantry from orbit during the CCP keynote presentation. Further enhancing this link is the fact that items in DUST 514 will likely also be items within the EVE Online inventory system, and be manipulable within the EVE inventory system. If CCP works all the kinks out before release, this interconnectedness between the two games will be something new and unique in an MMO industry that most players agree has generally stagnated over the last few years.
EVE Ship Rebalancing
Though this has been discussed at length on the EVE forums by CCP in the weeks leading up to fanfest, the presentation on ship balancing was as reassuring as it is exciting. It really was a joy to see that CCP really intends to move ships around and, more importantly, ensure that every single ship actually has a niche in-game. As it is, EVE Online is a good game, but many of the ships lack either oomph or practical applications. The basic tech I frigates are especially lacking, even in their intended role as stepping stones to bigger and better things.
What may not be quite so well received is CCP's planned stratification of ship training. Rather than having players train a ton of skills to level 5 and then gain access to a mish-mash of hulls based on obsolete notions about ship game design, it seems that we will probably instead by training for specific lines of ships in a clear path of progression. It will be nice for people with new characters, but I have a "suspicion" that a lot of curmudgeonly veterans are going to come out against it.
A Breath Of Fresh Air In EVE PvP
EVE Online has been around for a long time, but it is rare indeed that the whole box of ship fittings is turned on its head. It is relatively routine for CCP to tweak something about a single ship that then forces players to re-design their fittings. But if CCP just introduces a few new modules that have general applicability, every ship fitting in the game is suddenly up for review. Ship fitting is suddenly a fresh field of discourse, with every fitting in the game potentially needing an update. This is the best thing possible for EVE PvP, a field of play that has long been dominated by relatively minor variations on the same old fittings. Shaking all that up will make it possible to again have innovative fittings.
High-Sec War Mechanics
High-sec wars are arguably the most newbie-friendly, accessible form of ship-based PvP available in EVE Online. They are also plagued by huge problems involving asymmetrical combatants, shoddy war mechanics that can easily be gamed, and neutral remote repairers that are for all intents immune to attack. We will go into more detail about the newly proposed system in the the near future. I think it is safe to say that although the proposed changes are not perfect, the new system will certainly be an improvement over the current state of affairs.
It is hard to say which has been more neglected by CCP, low-security space or faction war. Fortunately for us, it seems that CCP will be revivifying both with one fell swoop. The player-owned customs offices released in the Crucible expansion have shown us how increasing players' ability to own things also increases our desire to fight over them. CCP is going to do that again, but writ large: players in factional warfare will be able to meaningfully control solar systems, develop them by spending loyalty points, and benefit from them. It will essentially be a less open-ended sovereignty warfare system.
Players that are into factional warfare will certainly appreciate the new system, which may also include changes to loyalty point offers as well as some kind of added incentives to kill other players. There is, however, a sort of down side: players will no longer be able to dock in stations controlled by enemy factions. While this makes a great deal of sense and adds an additional dynamic to choosing sides in faction war, players that are unprepared may find themselves needing to drop out of their corporation in order to access misplaced stashes of stuff. I expect that this will work itself out after a period of somewhat rocky adjustment.
Marred By Scandal
There was, however, a discordant note amidst all this delicious information about the upcoming Inferno expansion: the alliance presentation panel went horribly awry. Though there were a couple decent presentations that included some hilarious recordings of EVE players being ransomed into sing their native national anthems, things went downhill quickly. Following the actual presentation, my fellow Ten Ton contributer The Mittani found himself dipsomaniacally revealing the in-game name of a player who had expressed suicidal ideation. Needless to say, this did not go over well with CCP.
It has possibly eclipsed the story of the upcoming Inferno expansion in the gaming media, resulted in the Mittani receiving a 30-day ban, and his removal from the upcoming seventh Council of Stellar Elections. Let this be a lession: don't drink and powerpoint.
More On EVE Online: Inferno
We will be taking a more in-depth look at the proposed changed over the next week or two, here at Ten Ton Hammer. See you soon!