(Recommended listening for this post).
Between Skyrim, Orcs Must Die!, and picking up Serious Sam HD for a ridiculously low price, I thought I would have my hands full… but the social side of me has been craving something game related, and so I decided to try Eve Online. At its best it has been described as beautifully complex — at its worst, “spreadsheets in space”. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle. The technical will be tackled later, because the first thing I noticed in Eve is how fucking great it looks. If Stanley Kubrick had the opportunity to make a game, it just might look like Eve.
Everything. Looks. Stunning. The character creation is immensely detailed and elegant, which is a pleasant surprise. After all, most of the time you are flying around in a ship, not walking around your hangar and captain’s quarters. Still, being able to walk around adds a nice level of immersion. Back when I first tried Eve, you simply popped into the universe as a ship, bound to it forever, never able to leave. The most you ever saw of your character was an avatar in the top left screen, which made you feel more like some weird automaton, rather than a pilot. This time around was quite different. I was able to customize my character to a wonderfully excessive degree, and had a chance to see all those customizations as I strolled around my quarters.
Though the game is really fucking complicated — or at least it seems to be, so far — the tutorial eases you into things excellently, without making you feel like a useless newb. The loving A.I., “Aura”, guides you through the beginning of the game. She kindly teaches you about ships, combat, the market, missions, weapon fitting, warp drives, webifiers, wormholes… the list goes on. If Aura isn’t enough for you, the game automatically puts you in a channel called “Rookie Chat”. The channel is filled with thousands of other rooks being helped by a few hundred natives. The same questions are inevitably asked over and over again, and after a while its nice to find yourself answering and helping others. Everyone that I have chatted with has been very helpful so far, with most my questions being answered immediately. The silliest ones, (e.g., how do I shoot), are inevitably answered quickly. The more complicated ones don’t have straight-forward answers, and often involve a nice debate between veteran players. This is the mark of a good sandbox, or, do-what-you-like, type of game. It’s almost frightening how many things you can do. You can run missions, incursions, rat, explore, wormhole, grief, pirate, gatecamp, ninja-loot, gank, ransom, roam, scam, steal, mine, chat, loan, trade and build. You can do a lot more too, but I’ll spare you. Besides, I don’t even know what half of the previous terms mean.
At the moment, I’m just doing the simple beginning missions; they reward you nicely with some cool ships, and make you feel strong and accomplished. (Notice the key word, feel). There are people that have been playing Eve for years, and I’m not sure if there is any real way of “catching up” with those players. You see, Eve doesn’t work through the standard gain-experience-level-up formula. That would be too simple. Instead, you purchase the skills you wish to train, and select “train” — or something like that. In other words, the only thing stopping you from having a particular skill is the money you need to buy it, and the time it takes to train it. Skills are trained while you are off-line too, so there’s no need to just keep Eve running 24/7. I’ve heard that it’s entirely possible to be flying a decent PvP ship in a month. I’ve also heard there is no way to ever catch up with the veterans, and so there is no point in even playing Eve. Again, the truth is probably somewhere in the middle — hopefully closer to the former.
As of now, my goal is to simply stay on track with my missions, and get into a Corporation that can teach me the ropes. There are many “rules” of Eve. The most common is, “If you can’t afford it, don’t fly it”. In other words, expect to get blown up. I assume I’ll be losing at least a few ships when I start PvPing, so I’ll have to have some back-up cash before I get really involved in it. Another rule is to never trust anyone. As some of you may have heard, the largest virtual heist of all time took place in Eve. It’s a hostile universe; people want to blow you up and steal your stuff. But, that’s OK. The universe in Eve is big, and beckons to be explored.
Now I just need to figure out where to start...