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The latest Blog Banter, number 36
“With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?”
It has been a long, long road.  I joined Eve (the first time) back during the Exodus: Red Moon Rising.  I had just joined so the RMR expansion didn’t really effect me as anything different really.  About three months later, after losing a few ships foolishly to a high-sec war, I moved on from Eve.  I came back between the Revelations II and Trinity expansions and I seen that the game had improved.  Plus, I got with a great group of guys in m3 Corp.. and that got me hooked til even now.  So, here’s my take on the Expansions that I’ve seen since playing:
Revelations II – 6/10 – For me individually, this expansion made little change to how I played Eve (even though, with the heat changes it should have).  We were more interested in bombs and finding ways of using them.  Much of the other additions like Level 5 agents, new Tutorials, and the various null-sec changes pretty much had little to do with us.  The expansion ticked me off at the time because I was still learning Minmatar ships.. and now Amarr pilots suddenly and violently became the new hotness.
Trinity – 7/10 – Even though this expansion came out with the legendary Boot.ini error, it also brought in some cool ships that motiviated me and my compatriots to train for some of those ships, dreaming about how Black Ops would be soo awesome (it wasn’t and still isn’t).  Also the graphics update was a welcome change but it did require me to update my own graphics card.  The worst part about this expansion?  Rigs.
Empyrean Age – 4/10 – “Potential Wasted” or “Potential Unrealized” should have been the title to this expansion.  Faction Warfare came out and pretty well was dropped on the Eve community utterly unfinished and just.. pointless.
Quantum Rise – 7/10 – This was a good, solid, smart expansion.  Weapon Grouping?  Oh yeah baby!  Cert system?  Hmm.. interesting.  Ingame Medals?  Now, that is a nice idea.  Staged Updates?  Not bad.  However, probably one of the more important parts of this was the change to speed.  The Good?  Interceptors and Faction frigates could no longer fly at 10km/s to 12km/s and Vagabonds no longer could fly faster than interceptors.  The Bad?  Minmatars got the shaft big time.  All ships in the game were reviewed and given mass updates and base speeds were also adjusted.  Unfortunately, Minmatar Battleships and Battlecruisers were adjusted according to their class, and not so much according to their ability to fight.  By this time, Minmatar battleships performed so poorly that Minmatar pilots were often asked to re-ship into a Hurricanes.
Apocrypha – 10/10 – Apocrypha rightly sets itself up as the best Eve expansion.  It introduced brand new locations (wormholes), brand new skills, and an entirely new way to play the game.  It also had some interesting changes in that the CCP devs actually started to seriously listen to the player base about game ideas.  Fuel bays were added along with changes in Rig sizes.  One other thing that was pretty cool, Sleeper AI.. a smart combat system that requires people to be seriously prepared.  In addition, Tier 3 ships were introduced.. though even three years later, the prices have not decreased to the target costs that CCP was expecting.
Dominion – 2/10 – The ONLY redeeming values to this expansion was a very sorely needed update to Projectile weapons across the board and planet models.  The main reason for Dominion, however, was the change in sov mechanics.  These changes are pretty much considered a failure since their inception and CCP is still trying to figure out how to fix it.
Tyrannis – 3/10 – Commonly referred to as the “Farmville” expansion.  If the plan was to see how more unexciting a game can get, then yes, Tyrannis hit that mark with Planetary Interaction.  It is the only aspect of the game that actually makes five minutes feel like an hour.
Incursion – 8/10 – I for one actually thought this expansion was really, really cool.  Incursions added yet another new and interesting dynamic by giving players a way to simulate PVP (without being in PVP) through the tactics required for the Sansha Incursions.  Learning skills were removed as well.. a much loved change.
Incarna – 1/10 – Formerly “Ambulation” or “Walking in Stations”.  The concept of this was to give a full, rounded Sci-Fi experience.  The problem was that they spent so much time on making the character creator perfect that CCP ran out of time to actually give any reason to having a full fledged avatar.  You only got a small, spartan room that you could walk around in.  That was it.  You couldn’t go talk to other people in station, there wasn’t any place to go, there wasn’t anything to see.  What made it worse was that despite the top of the line character creator (which is still top of the line), you couldn’t do simple things like run or jump, features common in all avatar style MMOs.  The graphics requirements for the new character creator also had the tendancy to melt video cards.  Incarna also brought out the NeXt stores and Aurum, which ignited a major controversy because most players didn’t like the “pay-to-win” concept that was the antithesis of Eve itself.  Along with several badly timed releases of internal documents, this expansion easily fits as the worst in Eve, and probably one of the worst in the industry as a whole.
Crucible – 10/10 – In a brilliant mea cupla, CCP did a 180 degree turn and started remembering the lessons that made Apocrypha a good expansion.  In addition to releasing four new ships (all player designed), there has been a distinctive change in the attitude of CCP with a heavy emphasis on customer retention and love.  Additional captain’s quarters helped ease some of Incarna’s avatar concept (but not to any serious degree).  Multiple updates and changes and improvements that had been sitting, languishing for years got addressed and those changes were in the hundreds.  But of course, I’d save the best for last:  Engine Trails.
Inferno – 8/10 – A great expansion with V3 Amarr updates, better (but still incomplete) wardec and mercenary changes.. and most importantly, and addition that has been years in the making.. Missile turrets and missile trails!  Some good graphical changes were made and various updates made to make the GUI easier.
Without a doubt the two best expansions ever have been the Apocrypha and Crucible expansions.  Apocrypha changed the very nature of Eve Online and gave it wild new worlds and places to explore.  Crucible also changed the very nature of Eve Online in that it brought CCP back to its customers and its friends, undoing the damage (though well intentioned) of the failed, poorly thought out expansions of Dominion and Incarna.
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