EVE Online: Retribution First Look
EVE Online: Retribution is the game's 18th free expansion in all its nine years piracy and pod-killing. While CCP has painted Retribution in broad strokes in the past, CCP's Ned Coker was ready to talk details following a special fan reveal at Eurogamer Expo this weekend.
Bounty System Revamp
EVE Online's bounty system was an early attempt at something CCP has perfected over time: supporting player-created gameplay. Unfortunately, the system has progressed about as far as the game's paltry scripted content in those 9 years. What was meant as a means for player punishment of pariah behavior became exploitable - as players had friends kill them and split the proceeds. High bounties and the accompanying visibility also became a form of advertising for EVE poker purveyors and others.
Ned explained that the new bounty system will be modeled on the payout system of factional warfare, meaning tha when a bounty target is destroyed, the gang that gets the killing blow will get a split of a portion of the bounty funds, which is calculated from insurance cost and other variables. The new bounty system will allow players to put bounties on corps or alliances as well as individual players
Crimewatch & Weapon Safety
Another aging system due for a retrofit in Retribution is Crimewatch, EVE Online's aggression flagging mechanic. Crimewatch held its own as a system that allows criminal players to be killed without penalty, but over time it's become, in Ned's words, "a jumbled mess." Many players aren't exactly sure what's legal and not, so they're naturally hesitant to explore the more cutthroat side of the game. Worse, griefers have used Crimewatch to bait new players into criminal actions like removing items from seemingly abandoned containers floating in space, tricking new players into firing with non-criminal actions, and so forth.
Details are still forthcoming, but a big part of CCP's plan is to simplify the criminal code. Edge cases - such as when a criminal ejects and moves to a bigger ship to escape without penalty, or when a player repairs a criminal ship - will be removed.
Between crime watch and the new bounty system, CCP seeks to put what's criminal and what isn't in players' hands and describe the clear consequences of actions before the action takes place. But some offenses will always be criminal, and players will be able to lock themselves out of criminal acts with a new weapon safety setting. Weapon safety replaces the criminal action pop-ups, which did a poor job of warding off potential evildoers and simply annoyed the hardened criminals.
Penalties will be enforced with one of the following three icons (right). Icons appear in the upper left part of the UI, wrapped in handy cooldown circles that show how much longer you have to stay in the penalty box. As with other EVE UI elements, just mouse over to get the exact countdown.
Factional Warfare & New Ships
While CCP will continue the Factional Warfare revamp they began with Inferno - what Ned described as an "iteration" on payouts, upgrades, etc. - details were sparse. What did get airtime was the wave of new ships coming to EVE as part of the December expansion.
First up, a second tier of frigate-killing destroyers will be coming online (one for each race).
The new ORE mining frigate is intended for quick, high value mining operations, and, according to Ned, is the most yellow you'll ever see in an EVE Online spaceship.
Frigates, destroyers, cruisers are all getting a boost in order to "refresh all levels of engagement" and revitalize previously little-used ships. The question marks in the image below are the newly introduced ships.
Finally, the Stabber and the Vagabond have gotten a redesign:
These new ships, much like the promise of Factional Warfare, are the latest step towards making EVE's day-by-day gameplay less manpower-intensive, more fractious, and more open to new players than in the past.
And the rest...
Interestingly, DUST 514 was only mentioned in passing, so it's unclear how (if at all) CCP's ambitious PS3-exclusive shooter will tie into the December expansion for EVE Online.
What was promised on the catch-all last slide of the presentation was a return of EVE's sprawling backstory to the "in- and out-of-game experience", the incorporation of the Sleeper AI characteristics into the rest of the game, the ability to perform actions through the effect bar (such as targeting the ship disrupting your warp drive), and another swing at the unified inventory.
While perhaps not as novel as panda monks fighting on the back of a giant tortoise shell, Retribution has many virtues that should address EVE players of all levels. From a much-needed revisit of aging systems like the Bounty System and Crimewatch, to a rethink of the small fleet game, to the introduction of 5 new ships and the reintroduction of two favorites, Retribution has a little something for everyone.
Our thanks to Ned Coker and CCP for allowing us to ask questions about the EVE Online: Retribution expansion, tentatively scheduled for release on December 4th.