EVE Online has had a rocky year, no doubt about it. The Incarna expansion failed to thrive, due to a lack of meaningful gameplay and some poor decisions regarding e-clothing prices. However, it was followed up by the Crucible expansion which has proven to be the best EVE Online expansion in years. This guide is a look back at 2011 in EVE Online.
The Incarna Expansion
Firstly, we have a sour note. Sorry, CCP.
As far as EVE Online expansions go, Incarna was a dud. First of all, the expectations for it were through the roof. People had been waiting for literally years to get out of their spaceships and walk around. Here is where the problems started: people didn't just want to walk around, they wanted to hang out with other players, stab them in the back, poison them, plant bombs on their hulls, and generally mix it up. None of that happened. Indeed, it was not until months later, with the Crucible expansion, that we actually got more than the single Minmatar quarters. The pricing of the fashion items in the new NeX store was completely nuts, as well, which served to worsen an already tepid reception to the feature. Some unfortunate cosmic anomaly balancing decisions caused a mass exodus out of null-sec space, as well, further angering the most vocal portion of the EVE Online fan base.
It wasn't all bad, though. Some quality of life and balancing issues were addressed. There was a pleasing overhaul to the new player experience. Turret and ship are got a polish, too. And there is that whole thing where Incarna might some day actually have meaningful content or gameplay, and most of the heavy lifting has hopefully been done on it. I'm not saying CCP should be devoting huge amounts of resources to it, but it would be a shame to drop the virgin ten feet away from the volcano, if you get my drift.
The Crucible Expansion
Thankfully, CCP have pulled up out of their Incarna nose dive. The Crucible expansion was jam-packed with things that players love. It righted ancient wrongs, like how terrible hybrid turrets are, and the fun-killing effects of supercapital ships. It gave us four more eminently usable specimens for the battlecruiser ship class. It showered players with gifts, whether new or old. It gave us more of the dynamic player-generated content that EVE Online players love, in the form of player-owned customs offices. It gave us new tech two modules for sub-capitals and capital ships. It introduced the preliminary stages of time dilation, the feature that will eventually kill lag in battles involving over a thousand players. It did all of this in what amounts to less than a month.
I grant you that CCP really pulled out all the stops for this one. Importantly, they showed us that the company is really, really serious about improving EVE Online. More importantly, it shows that they actually have the wherewithal, corporate structure, and competency to implement their plan to improve EVE Online. EVE Online could potentially receive an expansion like that every few months, and get back to its eternally increasing subscription curve. If EVE Online got even a single patch with the sheet get-it-done-edness of Crucible that included faction war, wormhole space, and high-sec war in its purview, it would draw back thousands of frustrated players and CCP could then merrily laugh on to their next big space thing that they had in mind for EVE. If all is as it seems, and the people working on EVE Online are also the people decided what they should work on, then that will without a doubt be a good thing.
As of this writing, EVE Online seems to have saved itself. It has been a boring year for many players: we had hoped for more. This is especially true for those of us interested in the politics of null-sec space, where the ubiquity of supercarriers and unpredictable nature of the servers regarding the massive fleets needed to destroy them made many of the larger political blocs refuse to engage during the latter half of the year. This trend seems to be coming to an end, as the major mega-alliances all seem to be gearing up for total war, again.
Politics In EVE Online
The first half of the year was dominated by the complete collapse of the Northern Coalition. The house of cards came crashing down, if you will. As with most huge territory exchanges in EVE Online, the war was lost by the defender far more than it was won by the victor. The leadership and membership of the Northern Coalition threw in the towel, ending the longest streak of a single power bloc controlling the same space. In one fell stroke, the most stable conquerable space in EVE Online collapsed in on itself.
Another development that I find noteworthy is the rise of TEST Alliance. Though usually associated with the Goonswarm power bloc, they are notorious on their own for their numbers and relatively low-skill membership. Newbies turn into veterans over time, though. With pals like Pandemic Legion hanging around, I expect this to happen sooner rather than later, and convert into a long-term advantage as TEST pilots mature into skilled EVE players.
The tail end of the year has featured a long-coming fracture in the drone regions, where the Solar Fleet bloc seems to be in the process of removing the Shadow of xXDeathXx b loc from the area. We'll see what happens with that, going into 2012. I reckon it should be pretty interesting.
Forecast For 2012 In EVE Online
Some predictions for the upcoming year in EVE Online:
- CCP will continue churning out top-notch quality, especially if their subscriber base has noticeably improved since the Crucible expansion. I expect competition with Star Wars: The Old Republic will make for some un-statistical rough spots, but them's the breaks.
- There will be a huge supercapital fleet loss that will spook most alliances into avoiding committing their entire fleets to single battles. This could happen sooner or later.
- I hate to say it before things really heat up, but I am pretty dubious about Shadow of xXDEATHXx's survival odds. I think we can expect the drone regions to be under the control of a single group within the next few months.
- Finally, I predict that in 2012, there will be more mayhem, mischief, and downright piratical behavior from EVE Online players than ever before. Also, I will probably lose at least ten capital ships.
Until next year, pilots!
For your reference: