Cody “Micajah” Bye, Managing Editor
Every game has a learning curve. No matter how long you’ve
been playing MMOGs or video games, the first time you pick up a
controller or set your hands on a keyboard in a new fantastic realm,
you’re essentially starting from square one. You may have
your experience to help guide your initial steps, but you still
don’t know exactly what to expect (unless you’ve
done ample amounts of research). Every game has a particular nuance; a
slight variation on a given theme, even if it’s only to the
smallest degree. Some games have a much gentler learning curve,
allowing players to learn in small steps and keeping them educated on
every single new game mechanic that jumps to the forefront. If
you’ve played a particular style of game in the past, and the
new game you’ve decided to play begins the same way,
you’re already several steps ahead of the learning curve. But
if you’re totally new to the whole experience, even the
simplest game’s learning curve may be a struggle to
EVE Online has a distinct learning curve.
Before I thoroughly begin my editorial on EVE’s combat, I
must apologize to all the EVE
Online aficionados and researchers who have been following
my articles and are kind enough to leave comments on the forums. I
appreciate all of your support as I continue to get my feet wet in the
wide open universe. The reason for the general lack of articles over
the last few weeks comes from a distinct life-changing experience in my
life: the birth of my baby boy, my first child.
For those that haven’t had the opportunity – or
courage – to brave the waters of father/motherhood,
it’s a totally life-altering experience. In a flash, your
world of routines, schedules, and extra time gets tossed out the
window. Everything you’ve ever learned – your life
experience – will be totally twisted around as you try to
figure out why this ooey, gooey little creature continues to wail even
when you’ve done everything that the doctor, nurses, parents,
and random strangers have advised that you do. It’s a
thrilling, and terrifying, experience.
As I was sitting down to write this editorial, I realized that having
my first child was eerily similar to what I’d felt when I
first waded into the combat of EVE
Online. Don’t get me wrong, my young son makes
my heart race every time he looks at me funny, but there are some
definite comparison that can be drawn between the combat in EVE Online
and the thrashings of a newborn.
From the very outset of being a father – and engaging in
combat in EVE Online
– you realize that you really have no freaking idea what
you’re doing. Although you’ve gone through all the
tutorial classes, learned about all the complications that can occur,
and done your best to get a fairly good grasp of what you’re
getting yourself into, you’ll still find yourself fumbling
through web pages on the Internet while trying to keep yourself from
doing something incredibly stupid.
Learning to engage in combat in EVE Online is eerily similar to learning how to take care of a small child.
To put it simply, the combat in EVE
Online is nowhere near as simple as it looks, and it
really does not compare to any sort of combat system you’ll
find in any other MMOG. While I love to go out onto the battlefield and
wet my blade (missles) with the blood of my enemies, I often tend to go
at combat like a go at life, head first and with only the goal in mind.
Researching? Bah – who needs research when you can go out and
learn through action? Although I liked EVE’s tutorial (it
moved at a very nice pace and allowed me to keep my attention focused
on the goal at hand), the combat that it explained is nowhere near as
complex as what I experienced out in the real game, with a ship that
was outfitted to the (newbie) teeth.
For those of you that are unfamiliar with the style of combat in EVE,
you’re basically playing a game of strategic resource
management. Your ship has a set CPU output that it can generate which
allows for a variety of weapons and shield upgrades to be outfitted
onto your ship. However, each of these weapons and or miscellaneous
upgrades uses part of that CPU potential, which forces you to determine
what kind of equipment you’ll plop onto your ship. Once the
weapons and upgrades are fitted, you then need to fly out into the vast
universe to find your next target.
As you intercept your enemy, you need to first “lock on to
the target.” Since EVE plays out in space with distances
reaching thousands of meters apart, you don’t simply click on
a target to lock on. Instead, you watch a sensor tracker that
identifies enemy ships or potentially hostile and once
they’re locked you can open fire. Most of the weapons in EVE
have a range limit, and so a player’s best bet is to orbit a
ship at range then unload on them with your guns.
While that sounds simple, it is anything but. If you have more than one
ship that you’re attacking, you may end up in a boat load of
trouble in a hurry. Most ships only have a limited number of targets
they can lock on to at the same time, and (as far as I can tell) you
can only concentrate fire on one ship at a time. Also, as your ship
continue to get bigger, badder and nastier, you’ll have a
whole mess of weapons and boosters that you’ll need to keep
track of. Though weapons (at least missles) fire off without using much
energy, you’ll have to manage your Power Grid (another output
measure) in the midst of combat to make sure your ship
doesn’t end up being a flying hunk of powerlessness.
I thought I had everything well in hand, all of the options teased out
of my little starter ship and with a whole heap of confidence to help
me take down the universe. Boy was I in for a surprise. To my
knowledge, most new players opt to do the simple starting missions
available to them in the area right outside of the initial tutorial
missions. However, as far as I could tell there was no distinct way to
determine whether a mission was too dangerous for your character to
attempt or not. Thus on my first mission out in wild space, I was
dropped to an inch of my life and barely warped out of the area with my
If you're learning how to compete in EVE's combat, you're going to have a lot to learn.
You see, my ship (a Condor for those of you that are interested) has
only enough CPU space for two missile launchers and a mining laser.
While I would love to strap a Shield Booster into one of the slots,
I’d hate to see the small amount of damage output
I’d produce without that additional missile impacting on my
enemies. So it was up to me to figure out what I needed to upgrade (and
what I could upgrade) on my ship that would still give me enough cash
to purchase a new ship. And shopping is a whole different topic that
I’ll save for another day; gamers could spend hours jumping
from station to station looking for the best deals. Eventually I did
find the items I needed, upgraded my ship and took down those jerks
that nearly did me in the first time. It took brain power, patience,
and a whole lot of luck, but eventually I conquered my combat fears.
Again, it just goes to show that EVE Online is a game that breaks away
from the traditional norms of MMO gaming and strives to make its own
complicated nest somewhere on the top of the massively multiplayer
online gaming mountain. Like trying to handle a newborn baby, style="font-style: italic;">EVE Online is full
of questions for new players, but if you simply stick with it and do
some research, you’ll eventually find the answers you need.
And if you don’t find them, simply cross your fingers and go
with your gut.
To read the latest guides, news, and features you can visit our EVE Online Game Page.