The Inferno Expansion (EVE Online Guide)
The next expansion for EVE Online has almost arrived. Inferno will arrive on the 22nd of this month, boasting some huge game changers for EVE pilots old and young alike. Like all expansions for EVE Online, Inferno is free. Read on to find out more!
One of EVE Online's main assets in the MMO industry is that it has consistently updated graphics and graphical systems. While other big-name games have aged less gracefully, EVE has remained one of the most gorgeous games in general.
Even Gamers that might not particularly enjoy the space-based science fiction genre or the hardcore nature of EVE's meta-game can still appreciate how cool the ships and solar system environments look. This expansion continues that tradition by upgrading and fine-tuning the appearance of most of the ships associated with the Amarr race. Since their ships arguably look the coolest to begin with, this can only increase EVE Online's wow factor.
One omission in EVE Online's otherwise impressive graphical repertoire is the lack of external missile bays. Ships have beautiful, totally cool turrets, but missiles are fired from what amounts to holes in a ship hull. It's boring, and totally inconsistent with EVE's general standard of artistic excellence. Well, no longer.
The Inferno expansion will feature actual turret bays, with new and improved missile graphics, smoke trailers, movement graphics, and most importantly, explosions. Since Caldari missile ships are generally the most popular path of progression for new players, with the Drake holding particular appeal to newbies and veterans alike, this was definitely a wise place for CCP's art department to focus their efforts. I am particularly looking forward to seeing what happens when massive Drake fleets attack each other at once, with time dilation running. It's going to be like taking a bath, except instead of water there are explosions.
War System Overhaul
We are told that this theme of this year's EVE Online expansions is war. It is therefore fitting that the war declaration system, one of the oldest game mechanics in EVE, is getting a huge makeover. Everything is getting looked at, from the cost of war, to how they are prosecuted, to who can participate, and otherwise entirely revitalize what amounts to most players' first experience with PvP.
As things stand, war amounts to a convoluted snarl of often slap-shod game mechanics that, in tandem with similarly arcane high-sec space aggression rules, make PvP in high-sec experientially more complicated than in null-sec. That is not how it should be, especially since a bad war could potentially turn a new player off from EVE PvP, forever.
After this expansion, wars will have more defined beginnings and ends. There will also be more information about their progress available, in the form of kill and loss reports. The new EVE war system will also allow corporations to pull in allies or hire mercenaries to help fight their enemies, which it seems to me might have the delicious side effect of causing wars to spiral out of control into giant pan-high-sec World Wars. Still no total fix for corporation hopping, but I suppose Rome wasn't built in a day, either.
EVE Online has long relied on third party sites to track or analyze ship kills and losses. With the Inferno expansion, CCP is giving us much prettier reports, that allow a player to save dead ship's fitting, for later use or analysis. As in all things game-related, a graphical user interface is always better than a wall of text, so this is a nice change, even if it isn't turning EVE on it's head.
Though the precise details are still unrevealed, we know that there is to be a way for mercenary corporations to sell their military talents to the highest bidder, for use in war. Right now there is often a marked asymmetry in warfare, as industry-focused corporations sometimes find themselves unable to take on extortionist high-sec war corporations. By hiring mercenaries with proven performance records, ISK-rich yet PvP-poor players will be able to discourage carefree war declarations.
More than any other change in Inferno, I think this one will help make EVE even more interesting and change the high-sec player experience for the better.
Low-security space has long been imagined to be the doorway to null-sec, with the PvP there acting as a stepping stone for those looking to make the jump to null-sec and wormhole space. In practice, the low-sec experience has left much to be desired.
The key to making low-sec interesting to a broader experience is by giving players an increased degree of control and ownership over the space, via faction war. And that is exactly what Inferno will do. Players in faction war militias will be able to control and invest in contested systems, improve their value, and defend them from encroachment. There will also be new incentive to kill pilots that are members of enemy militias. Like the changes to customs offices in the Crucible expansion, I expect this to radically increase the amount of conflict in EVE and thereby also increase the amount of dynamic player content. Since that's what makes EVE Online so special, I'm pretty excited about this, to the point where I am considering getting a character just for faction war.
This new expansion will have at least sixteen new modules, probably including modules that boost drone damage, allow on-the-fly resistance tweaking, shield boosters that utilize special charges, different sizes of web drones, and lord knows what else. Unlike a new set of ships, these new modules could potentially change every ship fit in EVE Online, which will give players lots of new things to theorycraft about. Whether you are going to use these modules or want to be ready to deal with other players that are, this is going to be interesting.
EVE Online's character generator is impressive, everybody agrees. But more is better, and CCP is giving us more options, probably including the option to make characters of mixed ethnic background. Since race is such a big factor in EVE, this will probably make roleplayers pretty happy. Since having a cool looking character is such a big factor for everybody, this will definitely make players happier, in general.
She may not look it, but EVE Online is a pretty old game. One place where some of the gray hairs are readily apparent is the inventory system, which is basically Windows 2000. Though long overdue for an overhaul, the new system is definitely generating some push-back from players, most of whom probably just don't want to have to learn a new system. Having tried it but not for long enough to develop proficiency, I can see how veteran EVE players might get annoyed. Still, things need to improve, and the inventory system more than most. I feel sure that once people try the new system, the filters and holistic interface will win them over. If nothing else, this will give players something new to adapt to, which is a big part of what EVE Online is about, at least to me.
Incursions have proven to be one of the most popular major features in EVE Online, for a while. This is partly because they have a dynamic effect on the game world, partly because they are really cool, but mostly because they are crazy, crazy lucrative if you grind them. CCP apparently feels that their risk-reward ratio is out of whack, as is the ease with which people run the most valuable Incursion sites. So they are taking a whack at them with the nerf bat. On the one hand, I some people are pretty unhappy about this, and others are going to get downright mad when the changes go live. On the other hand, they did not nerf them as much as I and many others were expecting, and it is pretty nuts how much ISK people could farm, all in the (relative) safety of high-sec space. We'll see how things shake out.
Whether in a mission, a sleeper exploration site, or in PvP, it can be pretty darned tough to figure out what is happening. Processing a lot of information at once is a valuable PvP talent, but with EVE Online's in-space user interface parsing things can sometimes be an uphill battle. Any change that improves that situation is a welcome one, especially this: post-patch, non-damage effects being used on you will have a much more prominent place in the user interface. After all, the only thing worse than being warp disrupted is not even noticing that you are being warp disrupted. This will help new players understand what is happening in fights, and also allow veteran players to make better-informed tactical decisions. Delicious!
It says a lot about CCP and EVE Online that they chose to showcase the opportunities that the Inferno patch has created. Any time there is a major change to EVE Online, some portion of the game's economy or political meta-game is thrown into chaos. This chaos allows smart, lucky, or dedicated players to earn ISK, seize power, or just have a lot more fun than they otherwise would.
In this expansion, there will be new opportunities to carve out swaths of space in low-sec, new opportunities to make ISK on the wildly fluctuating mineral market, or just to be the first to develop a popular new ship fitting.
The run-un to Inferno has already showcased several major improvements to the user interface in EVE Online. The most important of these is that players can now see which orders are theirs on the market, just by browsing the market. It sounds both obvious and simple, but the effect is astonishingly helpful. Now you can modify your orders to be the most competitive with just the market window, and no need to open your wallet orders window. Other changes along these lines have been made, like the option to open the category to which an item belongs in the market browser, the ability to create shopping lists in the quickbar, and a miraculous ability to clear all content from a chat channel (a must have for Jita). In the world of user interfaces, everything is a matter of baby steps, and these will all go a long way toward making players' lives more livable in the world of New Eden.
The Inferno Expansion
This expansion does not boast any of the huge, messianic features that previous expansions like Incarna or Incursion did. The biggest changes to the game itself have probably already happened, in that the drone regions have stopped producing minerals in excess of the rest of EVE, thus making mining a viable profession, again. On the other hand, the main part of this expansion could bring low-sec space to life, and turn PvP upside down with new fittings and ship specifications. It's hard to say what the results will be, but it should be interesting. See you on the 22nd.