Updated Thu, Jan 03, 2013 by The Mittani
Ship Rebalancing: In theory, Eve got five new ships in Retribution: four destroyers and a mining frigate. In practice, Retribution added more than forty ships to the game, because the Tiericide changes took ships which were so suboptimal as to be effectively useless and elevated them to viability. Frigates and Cruisers were ships used only for novelty, newbies, or in Red vs Blue; after Retribution fleets of Cruisers have taken down equal-size fleets of T3 ships, something that was previously impossible. Crucible lifted many ships out of the muck with the changes to Hybrid weapons, and Retribution expanded significantly on that. The lesson of the Incarna crisis was that Eve is a game about spaceships, and if there are not enough spaceships the players will abandon the game; Retribution has proven that an existing hull can be made ‘new’ even without a new name or new art through rebalancing.
General Polish: UI tweaks, redesigns, and new sound effects don’t seem like much on their own, but Retribution included enough of these improvements to give the Eve client what feels like a fresh coat of paint. Making a ten-year-old game seem fresh is an impressive feat; when you load up a game like SWTOR it feels like you’re slumming in 2004, yet Eve looks thoroughly modern (except for the dreadful overview). Also important from a quality perspective, Retribution’s features all worked at launch; there were a few post-patch hiccups and tweaks, but nothing significant.
Putting it all together, the lessons of Incarna, Crucible, Inferno, and Retribution are stark and obvious - thus are the player frustration when CCP forgets them. Players prefer polish and iteration in an expansion over grand new features, which historically are delivered in a broken state (Incarna, Tyrannis, Inferno); players respond well to new methods of messing with each other, and players want spaceships, spaceships, spaceships. It’s gratifying to see CCP ‘get it’ again, and to see Eve’s subscription and PCU numbers resume their rightful steady upward climb.