On Tuesday, the first part of the Incursion expansion will go live. Eager players are sifting through the patch notes and wending their way to Outer Ring in the hopes of being among the first to get access to the new goodies.
Let's take a look at what this expansion has to offer.
The Noctis: God's Own Salvager
The most significant addition to EVE for most players is the Noctis, a dedicated salvaging vessel. It has bonuses to salvaging speed and the rate that tractor beams pull in wrecks. It also has eight high slots for fitting as many salvagers and tractor beams as you could possibly want. According to the test server, it also has excellent agility and is therefore very hard for pirates to catch.
In short, this is the perfect salvaging ship. It looks great, and it is great. So what's the catch? The blueprint originals for these are not going to be seeded in empire. Rather, they will be seeded in stations owned by Outer Ring Excavations. Unfortunately for empire industrialists, there are only four stations owned by O.R.E., and they are all located in Outer Ring, a region of NPC-controlled null-security space.
style="font-style: italic;">The Noctis is going to be incredibly popular, though getting ahold of the blueprint will be tricky.
Since each blueprint original is going to cost 390mil ISK, expect these four stations to be camped by pirates for at least a week. Some people are flying out there right now, before the pirates get cozy, in the hopes that getting out will be easier than getting in. One thing is for sure: patch day is not the right day to grab these blueprints. Wait a few weeks before getting yours, or expect to pay a premium for one that has been smuggled out by somebody else.
Close-Range Ammunition: Fixed At Last?
The second excellent change in this patch is the sprucing up of the least-used close-range tech two ammunition types. Quake, Hail, Gleam, Javelin, and Void are almost never used, so it is about time. They have mostly had their drawbacks reduced or removed, though some damage increases were included.
Tech two missiles work a bit differently than the turrets, and so were not really tampered with in this patch. Most of the tech two missiles see a good deal of use, anyway, so a balance change is not really needed. More tech two heavy missiles are likely sold in Jita, each day, than all other tech two ammo types combined, though I would hate to try to prove it with math.
Did I say that missiles were not being changed? I guess I lied. CCP is finally fixing rockets, the forgotten ammunition. The changes will make rockets deal more damage in general, but also deal more damage to smaller targets. This is important because it means that rocket-using ships will be a lot better at running low-level missions, and because rockets will probably be able to wipe the floor with flights of light drones. Since light drones are the traditional bane of frigates in PvP, this is good news for assault frigate pilots.
The other great thing about a rocket fix is that they are pretty darn easy to train the skills for. Getting tech two rockets is fast, and now an entirely justified skill point investment. Score one for the newbies.
No More Supercarriers Online?
Supercarrier invulnerability is getting a swift kick in the pants this patch, as their unique fighter-bomber drones will no longer inflict nearly as much damage to sub-capital ships. This means that supercarriers will not be able to eat heavy interdictors (the only ship that can tackle them, yet paradoxically their intended counter) for breakfast. They will still probably be able to wipe the floor with larger fleets, by virtue of their fighters and heavy drones, but the increased vulnerability may mean that pilots are less willing to field them.
None of that is the primary reason fighter-bombers are being messed with, though. All this attention comes from fighter-bombers being the likely culprit for the vast lag increases that began with the Dominion expansion. In any case, this is a good change and will hopefully fix how obsolete capital fleets have become.
Lag, Lag, Lag
The patch notes make it really look like CCP has licked the biggest lag problems. I would hate to have my heart broken again, so I am going to try to remain cautiously optimistic, here, but the list is impressive: no more modules getting stuck, no timing out when jumping into a lagged out system, no more fighter-bomber lag, no more not loading the grid on jump-in. Plus lots of little fixes and improvements all over the place.
All of this is just increasing the number of people that can be involved in a single fight, before things become unsustainable. Still, if CCP makes good on their patch notes then this will be a pretty amazing patch for those of us out in null-security space.
The Goody Bag
style="font-style: italic;">This patch is amazing for the little fixes, alone, never mind the new ship and ammo changes.
CCP has also implemented a ton of "easy" fixes to the game. Things like: probes being a toggle-able option on overviews (and thus, directional scanners), renaming ships without needing to be in them, different icons for microwarpdrives, special indicators for faction or better items, and regional sorting of corporate assets. All of these are amazing, and especially important because they represent CCP listening to their user base about what is most important to them. Most of these things are happening because of the elected Council of Stellar Management and the huge backlash against CCP's previous development plan. CCP's dialogue with their users, though hostile at times, is really exceptional in the MMO industry. At least, I can't imagine Blizzard changing their release schedule based on feedback from their users.
What Is Not In The Patch
The improved avatar design that is eventually going to tie into walking in stations has been delayed until January. So are the actual Sansha attacks, the namesake of the Incursion expansion. The removal of learning skills is going to happen in mid-December, though it seems there is a surprise addition planned then as well. These delays are for the best, though, since they mean that the final results are going to be more polished and require less fine-tuning in the long run.
See you on the flip side, pilots.
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