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EVE Online's Crucible Expansion (EVE Online Guide)

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EVE Online's next expansion is almost here! Check out what's coming in our guide to the Crucible expansion for EVE Online. Crucible will be available for download November 29. Like all expansions for EVE Online, it will be free.

What's in a Name?

The name Crucible is not an accident. This is a particularly important expansion for Crowd Control Productions, or CCP, the company that makes EVE Online. Crucible could either be where CCP revives EVE Online from its recent troubles, or soars to new heights of gaming glory. With Crucible, CCP promises a renewed focus on the "flying in spaceships" aspect of their game. The expansion will contain a smorgasbord of new ships, newly iterated content, and polish for player experiences. Based on the huge slew of things they have done with a relatively limited time frame, I am betting the expansion will be a success.

New EVE Ships: Battlecruisers With A Bite

EVE Online

Introducing new ships is always an incredibly popular move with EVE Online's playerbase, especially when the ships are readily accessible to new players. We have seen this in the past with industrial ships like the Noctis and especially battlecruisers (like the Drake). Indeed, an expansion with new battlecruisers is almost guaranteed to be a home run.

The Crucible expansion will include four entirely new battlecruisers. Sorted by race, the new battlecruisers are:

  • Amarr: The Oracle.
  • Caldari: The Naga.
  • Gallente: The Talos.
  • Minmatar: The Tornado.

According to CCP, these ain't gonna be your momma's battlecruisers: instead of having an oversized tank like the last batch, these ships will be able to fit and use battleship-sized weaponry. They'll be all gank, with little tank, and that's the way we like it. When fleets of these new ships meet on the battlefield, expect heavy losses on both sides as their damage quickly out-paces any remote-repairing logistics ships. This will give a much-appreciated kick in the pants to the EVE Online economy, as each ship that explodes needs to be replaced. It could be a good time to invest in low-end minerals, if you are into that sort of thing.

The new battlecruisers also demonstrate CCP's continued willingness to experiment, especially when it comes to involving their players in the creation of their game. Case in point: CCP has crowdsourced the appearance of their newest roster of ships. Each of the ships was designed by a fan in a DeviantArt contest. Expect to see the winner's design as the Minmatar Tornado, and the three runners-up as the Amarr Oracle, the Caldari Naga, and the Gallente Talos.

Stay tuned for the exact statistics of the new ships, which are still being fine-tuned on the test server. So far, each of them appears to be a turret-using ship with seven or eight turrets capable of using battleship-sized weapons. Their ship bonuses are, of course, all bonuses to using their turrets, variously including damage, tracking, rate of fire, and capacitor cost. It is looking like the Minmatar Tornado will be the best ship, as befits the first place winner of the art contest.

EVE Online Crucible: Captain's Quarters

The long-awaited new captain's quarters are here: each of the remaining player races will receive their own space apartment. These are beautiful and will probably be much more pleasing to players' general architectural preferences. Players are certain to like the sculpted, bright Gallente quarters, the all-business polished metal of the Caldari quarters, or the Amarr's gilded church quarters. Any one of these should be easier on the eyes than the rust bucket look of the previously-released Minmatar quarters, which I think many players found alienating despite being aesthetically consistent with EVE Online game lore.

EVE Online Crucible: New Nebula Art

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While I am not one of those people fiendishly downloading NASA's latest deep-space snapshot, I can definitely appreciate the majesty and wonder of our universe when one of these "space porn" pictures wanders across my web browser. EVE Online is giving their solar systems a major facelift, including tons of new stellar backgrounds with incredibly complex background nebulae. These things are gorgeous, and will be a big part of EVE Online keeping its artistic edge over the other MMOs out there.

One of my favorite details about this change is that the backgrounds will vary depending on what area of space you are in. High-sec will be brightly colored, with hues representative of the NPCs in charge of that area. Meanwhile, low-sec and null-sec will be darker and, well, spooky looking. Null-sec is about to become a much colder, darker place. Notably, W-space backgrounds will not be changed this expansion, as they are already much more recent than the other areas, and are representative of the local stellar phenomena like black holes and so forth.

EVE Online Crucible: Player-Driven Content On Planets

CCP's upcoming console game, DUST514, is expected early next year (perhaps as early as January, though that seems optimistic). It will feature teams of Playstation 3 players fighting as mercenaries for control over EVE Online's planets. Because planets are a source of incredible wealth in EVE Online, this will be a very important and competitive portion of the game. There will also likely be armies of NPCs fighting each other for control of planets in high- and low-security space.

That all comes with DUST514, but in the meantime, Crucible will represent a sort of stopgap situation, where spacefaring EVE pilots will need to build their own customs offices on most planets outside of high-security space (at least the ones people want to use). Controlling a customs office will allow a player to levy taxes on those players that use it, permitting players that live in low-sec and NPC-owned null-sec to develop their own little financial empires. Players will be able to blow up each others' customs offices and replace them with their own, of course. Low-sec customs offices will be initially replaced by NPC-owned customs, that can then be taken down and replaced by players (or not) as they like.

This will be particularly interesting in low-sec systems that are accessible from high-sec, where pirate corporations will surely fight it out for the right to tax those heavily-used planets. There may even be some attempts to protect the people trying to use those planets, though in light of how cutthroat those pirates are I kind of doubt it.

EVE Online Crucible: Time Dilation

EVE Online is all about epic fleet fights involving hundreds of pilots slugging it out. But the size of the player base and organizational ability of the large alliances has long outstripped CCP's abilities to host fights on that scale. This despite CCP's incredibly dedication to fighting lag and innovative changes to facilitate huge fights. Players explode without ever seeing the ships attacking them, guns stop firing or cannot be reloaded, and the response time of the game slows to a drip feed.

Fortunately for us, a new mechanic is going to change all of that, and hopefully revivify null-sec and factional warfare in the process. Time Dilation is a game mechanic where the server slows everything down to the point where the server can handle things. Fights will happen in slow motion, with everybody's commands being treated equally by the server. Though this may sound a bit weird, in practice this will mean an entirely new era of EVE warfare where jumping into a system is not like playing Russian roulette. Of all the new features in the Crucible expansion, I think this one excites me the most.

EVE Online Crucible: Starbase Changes

As discussed in a recent Ten Ton Hammer guide, running a starbase is about to become a heck of a lot more convenient. The chief changes include a huge reduction in the wait to anchor or unanchor modes, the consolidation of fuel requirements into fuel blocks, and an increase in the size of faction tower fuel bays. For advanced industrialists that are into starbases, this is a godsend.

EVE Online Crucible: Polish And Fixes

EVE Online

As far as this expansion goes, CCP has really outdone themselves with general balancing and reducing the general hassle involved with playing. Incredible changes include:

  • A new font that will allow us to better differentiate between Os and zeroes.
  • A panoply of capital and supercapital balance tweaks, including titan doomsdays that can't really harm sub-capital ships, rebalanced carriers and, most importantly of all, a fantastic set of nerfs to that penultimately annoying ship class: supercarriers.
  • Exploration will earn more ISK, and now includes small and medium rig blueprints as possible drops.
  • New T2 modules. While it's not set in stone which modules will make it into the next expansion, there will likely be new tech II versions of siege and triage modules, bomb launchers, warp disruption field generators, some drone modules, and possibly even gang links.
  • A buff to hybrid turrets, including reduced fitting requirements, less capacitor use, and more tracking. In this author's opinion they are still a pale shadow of autocannons, but it's a start.
  • Some of the less-used tech two ammunition is getting buffed, including javelin, gleam, quake, and hail. I am definitely going to be using these.
  • The much-loved Cosmic Anomalies will be worth more ISK to the pilots that run them. This will hopefully see a lot of players moving back into null-sec.
  • Tons of other improvements and fixes to the way windows work, the way ship orbit ranges are stored, and an easier way to loot wrecks. They added a way for CEOs to remotely un-rent offices. Perhaps most impressively, alliance jump bridges show up on the in-game EVE map. Oh, and you don't need passwords to use them, anymore. Missile ranges now show on the tactical overlay in a similar way to turrets, and bomb launchers show where they will detonate (!). This really is the best damn expansion in a long time.

General Thoughts

I expect Crucible to be the best expansion since Revelations, the expansion that (amongst many other changes) introduced the Drake, invention, salvaging, and rigs. CCP pulled much of the Crucible expansion together in less than two months, after laying off 20% of their staff and completely re-orienting their business strategy. It's really impressive when viewed in that context, and auspicious regarding future expansions where they may actually have time and resources to develop EVE Online. Here's to you, CCP, and also to flying in spaceships!

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