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From the Glorious Seismic Stan, the latest Blog Banter.. number 42:

“A gaming universe as vast and unique as EVE Online is constantly evolving and the experience is different for every participant. Conventional games review techniques cannot possibly hope to provide an accurate measure of every aspect of EVE’s gameplay. However, with a community initiative like the Blog Banters, we have the resources to deliver the most thorough and up-to-date review ever.

By combining the experiences of contributors from across the EVE metasphere, we get a wealth of opinions from veterans and rookies alike. We’ll be able to combine input from faction warfare specialists, wormhole residents, null-sec warriors, missioners, pirates, industrialists, roleplayers, politicians and more to paint a complete picture of the health and progress of EVE Online in its current Retribution incarnation.

Who better to review EVE Online than those who know it best?”

As usual, the Blog Banter is both challenging and complex.  I have been in Faction Warfare, fought during the worst of the Dominion expansion in Null-sec, fenced with Roleplayers (wizard hats anyone?), and started out in a low-sec “home” where we battled pirates and superpowers alike.  Of any game, Eve Online has the most potential.  But it also has disappointed and has done things the hard way.  And hopefully, my review of Eve Online will delve into a few of the aspects that I think make for a good review.  Two of the things that were criteria for this was that we have a focused analysis as well as a point system.  So here is my review of Eve Online, as it currently stands:

Lore – Or Why You Try the Game

Lore is what brings you into the game, so I think it is critical that it be addressed from the git-go.  Now, Eve Online has really two sets of Lore.  It has the “Game Lore” and it also has the “Meta Lore”.  Eve Online is unique in that it probably is the only game that relies almost exclusively on Meta Lore versus Game Lore.  If you don’t understand, let’s compare Eve Online to a game which has a tremendous amount of game Lore, for example, Lord of the Rings Online (LOTRO).  LOTRO draws you in because it is a game that is directly tied to the founder of the fantasy mythos, J.R.R. Tolken.  Four popular books, published back in the late 30s, early 40s established the baseline for all fantasy related games.  Add to that three (well, now four) epic movies bringing those adventures to life for the latest generation.  But Game Lore is not just history, but relatability.  There isn’t anyone on this Earth that doesn’t want to be the hero, the one who made the difference, the one who at the right time did the best thing when all the odds were against them.  Fantasy, particularly the foundation established by J.R.R. Tolken, really keys into that human desire, that human need.  And bringing that possibility into your own life, even if its a game, definately brings in people.

So, how good is Eve’s Game Lore?  Well, its okay.  And I mean, just okay.  There really isn’t a compelling reason why anyone would side with one or the other (which may have been the point.. but you gotta have your bad guys).  Eve’s lore suffers a bit in a way that is hard to explain, but suffice it to say, it just doesn’t make you part of it.  You are just a little demigod in a universe full of demigods.. some of which can smack your immortal backside harder than a neutron bomb.

So, if that is “Game Lore”, what is “Meta Lore”?  “Meta Lore”, well.. “Meta Lore” is based on game occurances causing waves in real life, and subsequently, drawing people in to play.  Events like Hulkageddon, Burn Jita, The Guiding Hand Social Club heist, the battle at LXQ, the defeat at D-G, the fall of BoB (Band of Brothers) and many others all capture the interest of many players, hearing about those epic events.. things that simply JUST CAN”T HAPPEN IN ANY OTHER GAME!  As people read about all these events, they hear about the backstory, read up on all the intricate details that led to something major.  Sometimes it was planned that way from the beginning and well executed.  Other times it was people being the right place at the right time when random chance intervened.  And every single bit is player generated.

  • Game Lore: 5 – Compelling story, didn’t “jump the shark” by bringing in aliens, but could have been presented better and be developed in general gameplay.  However, I think this will be much easier once WiS actually comes online.
  • Meta Lore: 10+ – Only thing that comes close is League of Legends, but really, even they aren’t close.

Gameplay – Or What Makes You Have Fun in the Game

Without a doubt, Retribution changed the way Eve operates at its most fundamental level.  The interface is still a bit dated, but there are clear improvements with the targetting and the DPS readouts, as well as indicators of who is attacking you and what they are using against you in E-war.  This makes the interaction much more fluid and easier to comprehend.  Add with that the changes to crimewatch system.. from 44 pages to a few simple rules.  This is a HUGE change and one that will open up low-sec once again.

As far as the overall game goes, right now we have several types of environments: Null-sec, Low-sec, High-sec, and Wormhole, which then are mixed up with missioning, faction warfare, industrialists, explorers, PVP’ers, etc.  Currently I think High-sec operations are operating at a pretty decent capacity.  Missions, while they have suffered from the nerf hammer, also seem to have gotten a lot faster to do.  The changes to Mining ships was a big boost to all miners in that now mining can be financially rewarding at a much lower level and gone are the days where you have your PVP players and your Mining Players.  Low-sec is still in the process of adjusting I think, the new Crimewatch rules AND the new Bounty Hunting rules allow for an old career choice (and one that people tend to gravitate towards), that of “Pirate Hunter” become viable again.  Wormhole residency is still popular so that mechanic is still attractive.  The only downside thus far has been null-sec, which is still plagued by the Dominion mechanic, and suffers from an underburden of real purpose.

Of all the more popular groups out there, Faction Warfare has benefited the most from the recent Retribution update.

Another recent feature has been the new “Tiercide” progression, which has made everything old, new again.  If you’ve played Eve Online in the past, but were put off by how difficult it was to get into PVP, or how you weren’t even considered for many corporations because you didn’t have “x” number of skillpoints, well now is the time to come back.  Tiercide quite literally changes everything.  Revised Tier 1 ships now dominate PVP combat in their class, with Tier 2 ships being just as good, but having subtle improvements rather than glaringly huge disparities. 

The downside for any new player however, is that there is little (well, none really) avatar interaction.  You can easily put hours into CCP’s avatar customization system.. only to be shocked.. and shocked hard that all you can do is walk around your cabin.  This of course will be addressed and hopefully soon, as I think this is now the biggest damper on getting, and retaining, new players.

Gameplay: 8

Graphics – Or What WOW’s You About the Game

Simply the best.  The best looking ships*  and the best looking environment.  There is no other game that even comes close.  Seriously.  The only thing more beautiful is the real thing.

Graphics: 11 out of 10. – *(some ships could use a rethink..)

Community – Or What Makes You Stay in the Game

Wow, probably the most extreme of any community in the gaming world.  In the same hour, you could meet up with some guy who will try to trick you and rob you of all your isk as well as some guy who will take you under his/her wing (yes, we have women in Eve Online) and get you involved so deeply in the game that you’ll never know what you’ll do if you try to leave.  But at the same time, it could steal your soul away and you can become a bit of a hermit.. course, if you are reading this, you probably are already there, so no problem!

Community: 9 out of 10 – Watch your back, but Eve Online proves that thinking too critically can be as much of a detriment as it is a help.

For Me Personally

Retribution was another significant step in making all of Eve Online better.  Bounty Hunting, a poorly done mechanic when it was cobbled together, was given new life and as such along with transferably killrights, have made Bounty Hunting a true career option in Eve.. FINALLY!  The new Crimewatch, a simple set of rules designed to replace the 44 pages of “possible” options for getting aggression, has been a significant success that not only makes it easier for pirates to hit you in low-sec space.. it makes it much easier for you to hit back.  Tiercide, which revamped the entire concept of what Tech 1 and Tech 2 ships should do, amazingly fixes a lot of veteran versus new player issues that lingered in the background, as well as gave people plenty of good reason to try something new!  Faction Warfare changes, started with Inferno, were now cleaned up to make those who actually worked for them be the ones rewarded.

All in all, Retribution and Eve Online overall has stepped up its game and it is more than just a simple Indie title now, it is a major contendor in the MMO world for the title few developers even dream about… longevity.