EVE Online is a fantastic game, and noteworthy as one of the few successful MMOs that are not essentially WoW clones. The game has a lot of salient characteristics, but the economy, meta-game, and politics are probably the most important. This isn't your mother's MMO. Read this list and see why.
#10: EVE Online Only Has A Single Shard
EVE Online ain't your grandmother's MMO.
There's just the one server, and on it you can find anybody that plays the game. If somebody insults you on an EVE Online forum, you can find them and mess with them. If you want to start a business plan with somebody that you know plays, it's on the same server. It's all one world.
#9: EVE Online Is Always Growing
EVE Online has had a steady increase in players since its release date. Despite being a sort of dark horse MMO game because it deals with science fiction and is not associated with any intellectual property, it continues to grow. EVE Online has two free expansions a year, with lots of things going on in them.
A sample: this year we were given the ability to set up factories on planets. The feature itself lacked in many capacities due to its basic nature, but the point is that it was something completely new and interesting, and that it will continue to grow over time. Lots of things in EVE Online are like that. If you start playing EVE Online, you can be sure that things will continue to improve. It's not one of those games that is abandoned or relegated to a skeleton crew after a few months.
#8: EVE Online Is Full Of Mystery
There are all kinds of weird easter eggs, niches, and sites throughout EVE Online. It's rather baroque, really. There are agents floating in space that can only be found with probes, that give rare missions that only a few people will ever know about. There are complex riddles and puzzles that reward solvers. There are strange sites out on the other side of wormholes that no player has even seen, and that expound on the story of EVE Online ways that other players have no ideas. There are entire areas of industry that are not well understood by the general EVE Online population, that you can explore and exploit. And that's just the developer content.
Players have all kinds of weird things going on. Swarms of fifty ships all mining at once, with almost no protection. Satellites that have run out of fuel but still contain equipment worth billions. People flying extremely expensive ships without having any idea what they're doing. Supercapital construction yards with minimal defenses. All kinds of stuff. It's all out there, waiting to be found.
#7: EVE Online Rewards Intelligence
EVE Online isn't a "twitch" game. It rewards intelligence and patience. Players that come up with ideas, first, are rewarded appropriately. Innovation happens in ship fittings, fleet composition and, most especially, in business. Lots of people spend their time trying to figure out how other people are innovating, and why, in all of these categories.
If you are good at combining seemingly unrelated pieces of information to form a picture that nobody else has seen, yet, then EVE Online is right up your alley. Although often slighted as having a difficult learning curve, those players that are skilled at educating themselves can quickly find themselves more competent than players that have been at it for years longer than them.
#6: EVE Online Is Intensely Political
No matter what area of space you are in, there are dozens of corporations all competing for the same resources. In null-security space, there are hundreds of corporations trying to stake out a claim and defend it against all comers. In high-security space, there are hundreds of corporations trying to get an edge over each other in trade and private wars.
All these interactions make lots of room for personal charisma, interpersonal guesswork, and manipulation. Larger corporations often have specially appointed diplomats, whose job is to be the public face of their corporation. These people spend lots of time developing ties with other organizations, sounding out possibilities regarding ever-shifting alliances, and negotiating truces. If that sounds like your style, there is ample room to play.
#5: Real Life Skills Matter In EVE Online
A broad set of personal skills can be leveraged in EVE Online. Are you artistic? People will pay you to make forum signatures for them. Can you code? Corporations need projects done with CCP's API. Are you a smooth operator? You can find a place gulling easy marks and stealing everything they own. Are you good with people and think clearly under pressure? Commanding fleets might just be the thing for you.
The point is that no matter what you are good at, you can probably find a way to make it work for you in EVE Online.
#4: EVE Online Plays For Keeps
Also, EVE Online is a great place to learn exotic cooking recipes!
Everything in EVE Online reflects this hard-core ideal. It makes PvP in particular a lot more exciting. Consider: I still get shakes from even low-stakes PvP, and I have been playing for years.
#3: EVE Online Is A Sandbox
The company that makes EVE Online has essentially given us a giant, messy universe to play in. And what one decides to do in that universe is up to you. There's no defined end-game. No maxed out levels or areas that restrict you out once you have a certain level of skill. You can do whatever you want, and define your own goals.
Does your vision of success include leading a successful corporation? You can do that. Does it include flying a titan or supercarrier, the largest kinds of ships in the game? You can do that. Really, whatever your self-defined goal is, you can pursue it and make it happen. But nobody tells you what that goal should be. There are no victory conditions, no final battles. You are your own master. It's really very post-modern.
#2: EVE Online Has An Astounding Economy
EVE Online's economy is true to life. Sometimes amazingly so. Speculation and market trends rule entire industries. Players start IPOs to build up investment capital. Disgraced CEOs embezzle entire corporations, leaving thousands of people out in the cold. It's all there, intricate and active, ready to be exploited by the right man or woman.
There are dozens of industrial niches, tens of thousands of items, hundreds of sought-after commodities used for manufacturing, and tons of alternate approaches that can be taken toward accumulating any of them. There are luxury markets, commodity markets, financial markets, and stock markets. Brimming with possibility.
#1: EVE Online Has The Most Devious Metagame
All's fair in love and war, but what happens when one loves war? EVE Online's metagame is fantastic. The high value of in-game items, protracted nature of war, and value of intel, all make the metagame an all-important aspect of EVE Online. Spying, social engineering, and even the occasional violation of real life laws, are all the rule of the day.
Real life nationalities play a big part of corporate politics, as do personalities. People cultivate modest (or not so modest) cults of personality that can command loyalty or even give them a special role within the game. It's as devious and sketchy as can be, but an edge in an intel war can give a corporation what it needs to triumph over its foes, sure as the sun shines.
So that's that. Go try EVE Online, or show this list to your friends and maybe we can pique their interest.