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October 10, 2007
Eve Online: Revelations II
 

By: Michael Dougherty

A couple weeks ago my editor asked me if I would be interested in doing a bi-weekly editorial on Eve Online, and to be honest, at that point I hadn’t heard much about it (good or bad). I accepted the assignment and proceeded to download the client and create a trial account which was, shortly after, upgraded to a full paid account for a year (thanks to the people at Eve Online!).



I will first tell you a little about myself (as a gamer) so you are better able to weigh my opinions/first impressions. I started playing MMOs with the release of the first Everquest in 1999 and played it for over 5 years. Over the years I’ve spent countless hours achieving the highest levels on multiple characters in other MMOs such as; Dark Ages of Camelot, Everquest II, Star Wars Galaxies, and World of Warcraft.
This first editorial will focus on what the new player (newbie) can expect from Eve as well as my initial experiences within the Eve Online world. This editorial is not meant to be a review of Eve Online per se; however in the long run you will hear many of my personal opinions of the game. Please keep in mind these will be opinions from the perspective of a new player and may change as I spend more time in-game.

The first thing you will be doing when you start Eve Online is character creation. Initially you will choose your race and heritage group. You will be presented with the choice of 4 different races; Caldari, Amarr, Gallente, and Minmater. From there you will go on to choose your heritage, distribute your 5 additional attribute points, and finally the school of studies you wish to pursue (miner, soldier, tradesman, and craftsman). One thing of note as far as character creation goes is, although you do have the ability to customize how your character looks (hair, deco, lighting, shape of face, etc), within the game itself it is rare that another gamer will ever see your character. While other gamers can right click your ship and “show info” to bring up a box which includes your character portrait (among other attributes) they rarely do and focus almost exclusively on your ship. Finally you will choose a name for your character and off you go into the Eve Online World.

Upon entering the game you will start to see the true beauty of the Eve Online World. Some of the most stunning and realistic (Yes, I’ve been to space! … you know what I mean) graphics / visual effects I have seen in an Online MMO. The attention to detail in this area, for me, really made me feel like I was in space; which is what they were going for I’m sure. Once you are finished staring at the screen in wonderment you are greeted by your tutorial agent. She will walk you through many basic aspects of the world of Eve; navigation, ships, missions, crafting, the market, and mining to name a few. The tutorial is well done and during it you will obtain your first ship upgrades and complete your first missions. In the end though no matter how well done the tutorial is it does very little to prepare you for what is ahead of you. Don’t get me wrong … it is very important to complete the tutorial as it will teach you the basics, however, upon completion you may still find yourself lost as to what to do next.



This leads me to my next topic. What you do once your character is created, tutorial is completed, and you have your first new ship. To be blunt you are pretty much on your own. Eve Online is a “sandbox” type of game; that is to say, you find your own paths and create your own adventures. If you are the type of person who likes to have your hand held in an MMO and be told exactly what to do next you may just want to log out at this point. You have to decide what you want to do next; whether it is mine, do missions, craft/trade, or join a corporation and get involved in the politics of that corporation, you will have to make the choice and take the steps to make whatever path you choose fun.

Here I would like to mention my impression of several of the aspects of Eve Online. My first character was a miner and following character creation and the tutorial my “best” path to follow was to start mining so I headed out into space to search for asteroids. It didn’t take me long to locate a huge asteroid in space so I approached the asteroid, locked onto it, and started mining. Would pirates attack me? Would I have to fight off a bunch of drones deployed by a fellow player to protect his mining area? Oh the possibilities! No sir, I will have to rotate this asteroid for what seemed like hours to extract a few hundred ore … Wow, I would rather watch paint dry than do this for more than, oh say 2 minutes. Keep in mind if you choose mining as your specialty you will be doing this for hours on end! Don’t get me wrong; you can make money (ISK in Eve Online), and if slowly rotating an asteroid while a mining laser does its unexciting job of extracting ore is your thing, then by all means … enjoy.

Also, one thing to note is that mining in low-sec (low security) section in Eve can be exciting, often requiring the killing of pirates and/or an armed escort to protect you from hostile corporations or player controlled pirates looking to steal your ore. This is many months into your character development though and we are looking at mining from a new player’s perspective.



So I decided to “reroll” and create a soldier. I again went through character creation and the opening tutorial. As a soldier my missions were geared towards killing pirates instead of obtaining minerals and I found this slightly more exciting. Each mission was well thought out and interesting as far as the story went; however, the actual combat system in Eve Online is slow and tedious. You lock onto your enemy, set your ship to orbit the enemy, left click your weapons, and wait … perhaps activating a shield or hull repairer every now and again. Most movement and attacks are completely automated aside from the initial left click to activate your attacks. While I understand that once you get further into the game combat may take more thought and/or ship control at this point as a new player you will be immensely disappointed if you were expecting fast paced, action packed, and intense fights to be taking place.

Additionally the missions get very repetitive. You will often get the same mission several times in a session from the same “agent” (quest givers in most MMOs). I did find the “storyline” missions to be a nice addition to the mission system. Basically you get a mission that furthers a storyline after completing 16 regular missions. In my experience these missions were slightly more interesting and rewarding.

Another aspect of the game I would like to mention is the skill system. Eve Online uses a “time-based” skill system which allows skills to train in real-time thus continuing to train even while you are offline. This is a major plus to me as it allows characters to progress without having to spend insane amount of hours logged in. Being able to play a MMO on the same level as most other people and maintain a healthy real life is a great alternative to spending 12 hours a day logged to make sure your skills are up to date for the next time you want to do battle with other players. It should be noted that as you progress further into the skill trees that many of these skills can take insane amounts of time to train (longest I’ve seen as a new player is 12 days). Sadly this results in players logging in, starting their skill training, and logging off to play another game for 12 days or more until their skill training is finished. I was recently talking to another player in-game who had just started playing his account again. When I asked him why he had stopped playing this was his response:



“I had played for a substantial amount of time and invested a great amount of time into the game. I had flown most of the ships available in Eve and wanted to train for my next ship. I purchased the ship and then went into my character sheet to start the training for this ship. I was told the training would be completed in 80 days. I didn’t know what to do in-game for 80 days before I could use my new toy so I logged out until now. I haven’t logged in for 77 days and still have to wait 3 more days for my training to be complete before I can fly my ship.”

I was told by this player that this ship is indeed one of the best ships you can fly in Eve Online, but … 80 days. I was shocked to say the least and have been told it can take even longer if you have not trained the proper skills beforehand. The 80 days is only to train the actual Level 5 skill and not all the pre-reqs.

This leads me to my overall impressions of Eve Online as a new player. In the world of Eve the learning curve is steep. You will need to be patient and willing to learn the game over the first few weeks to start getting any enjoyment out of the game. The game is well documented (tutorials & in-game “rookie chat”) and has numerous online resources to help you do this. As a new player you will have to be patient and willing to create adventures for yourself or you will find yourself watching TV while your ship rotates an asteroid for hours on end.



In the end Eve Online is a deeply complex game that you will either play for years or quit after a few days. As a new player, this is not the game for you if you are looking for a quick fix as the learning curve for new players is quite substantial. The overall appeal of the game is the long-term goals you can set for yourself and spend months (even years) achieving. As a result this game isn’t for everyone. If what you are looking for as a new player is a steady stream of action and easily obtainable goals with immediate rewards I would definitely recommend installing one of the many Action MMOs on the market.

In future articles we will take a closer look at different aspects of the game such as the market/player economy, low-sec PvP, and how the game changes for a player the longer he/she is in the world of Eve. If you would like more information on Eve Online or would like to try the 14 day trial, feel free to visit them at http://www.eve-online.com/ .

 
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