I first played ‘EVE Online’ some years back and greatly enjoyed it. I revisited the world of ‘EVE’ just before Christmas last year purely in an attempt to familiarise myself with it prior to reviewing a tie-in novel, ‘Eve: The Empyrean Age’ by Tony Gonzales. This rekindled a love for what is the largest and most intricate game I have ever played.
‘EVE’ is rooted in some fairly standard SF back story. The descendants of Earth have been transplanted to a far-flung region of space. Here they found thousands of habitable worlds and spread and fragmented. Thousands of years later, there are competing factions, politics and business. The human groups rediscovered space flight and, along with it, competition and war.
As a new player, you choose a race and a background. Partially, these determine some skill boosts, but mostly they determine where in the huge map your character begins. As you might imagine, belonging to one faction gives you advantages with some races and disadvantages with others.
Initially, a new player is advised to do all of the tutorial missions. This gives you a few ships, some skill training and some start-up funds. After this you are on your own.
The sheer number of option and career paths are incredible. You might follow the in-built storyline and take missions from agents. These give you some ISK (EVE’s currency) and increase your standing with some factions. As your standings increase, you get better missions offered to you. The player has to make decisions about ship and weapon specialisation. Do you want to snipe at long range or cause huge damage up-close and personal? An alternative to the mission storyline is player versus player or PvP play.
After some levelling and training, you can move to low security systems and battle it out with other players. This is hard. There are players who have been levelling up and fighting for over 12 years. Fortunately, these legendary fighters tend to ignore small fry but who would take that risk? After each encounter, there may be items worth salvaging from wrecked ships. These can be utilised or sold on.
Some characters specialise in salvaging the wrecks of large battlefields. The biggest and best battles happen in the low security systems where obviously the risks may be greatest but potential rewards may be highest.
Most players start their career in mining. This forms the basis for EVE’s economy and, one way or another, all wealth comes from processing asteroids into ore.
Here we come to the short story aspect of this review. When I started my time in ‘EVE Online’, I was keen to try a bit of everything. I started in a high security system in the same way as all newbies do. Eventually, I split my time 80/20 between mining and missions. Each mining trip in my trusty Venture ship would net around 80k ISK and take an hour or so. If you calculate the skill training and ship purchases to be about ten times that amount you can see that it is a hard slog initially.
Eventually, I levelled up my skills and saved my money and bought a Covetor mining barge. This was a beast of a ship. More efficient strip mining lasers and the ability to carry defensive drones for a bit of protection meant I could mine in lower security systems and get more valuable ores. Each solo mining mission would earn about 5 Million ISK.
At this point it is worth talking about how you pay for’ EVE Online’ in real life. It is based on PLEX or pilot’s license extension. You can pay for this with real life money or you can try and finance it in game. At the moment, one month’s worth of PLEX costs 750 million ISK, subject to market fluctuations. Now my goal was to make the game self-financing. Each mining mission would last 45 minutes or so. Each game session would earn me about 25 to 30 Million ISK, so at this rate it would be almost a second job to finance the game.
One day, I warped into a belt and found 5 abandoned drones. This is usually a sign that someone was attacked and made a hasty dash for it. Getting your drones back on board can take a few seconds but you have to weigh the value of five 5k ISK drones against the cost of a 200 Million ISK mining barge. Each of these drones was clearly marked with the name of the corporation which owned them. I had a look through the local chat channel and found someone belonging to this corps. It was easier to simply credit them the value of the drones so this is what I did along with a quick note explaining how I had found them. It turns out this was an unusual occurrence.
Later, Mcopiate, a senior officer in the corps, contacted me to thank me. Along with a very generous reward, which was unnecessary but very welcome, was an offer to join the corps. This was a whole new level of game play. I have a RL job and a RL wife so did I really want a virtual boss as well? There is a great pleasure to be had watching the stunning stellar views as your mining lasers turn rocks into profit but the thought of increasing profits and the security of belonging to something bigger won out.
I couldn’t have been happier. In ‘EVE Online’, as in real life people, can do more as a group than as individuals. The sight of five mining barges working together with an Orca fleet support ship and freighters to move the ore to market is amazing. An evening of fleet mining earns 4 to 6 times as much for an individual as an evening of solo mining. The goal of being self-financing looked more likely than ever.
Here is where the story takes a darker turn. It was a regular evening with no fleet ops when I started a solo mining mission. The system of Akes has 16 asteroid belts and our corps, co-existed happily with a number of independent miners. I warped out to the first belt and found a strange mining fleet decimating the belt. I warped into two more and found them both 90% destroyed. The next warp took me to where another mining fleet was operating.
Opi, one of the senior corporation officers, started to talk to one of the miners in system chat. Now the exact conversation is long past but the gist was that although we were only a small independent mining corporation, we did have some powerful friends and can take care of ourselves. Within a minute, the interloping corps had declared war on us.
Over the next few days, we lost a few orbital structures and our system filled with diamond hard PvP players who were in allied corporations to the original aggressors. The events unfolded like the build up to world war one. A small event snowballed into a huge nightmare because of alliances and friendships. Soon 5 corporations and their allies were at war. Our small system which was usually home to perhaps ten players now had three times that number. Our allied fighters tried to meet the aggressors on level terms but they seem to specialise in fighting small targets when they had a huge numerical advantage. We are now stuck in the equivalent of trench warfare. When our hastily built and equipped ships gather outside stations to wait for them they refuse to undock. Our mining barges are set upon by overwhelming force and destroyed.
The war has proved costly to our corporation in many ways. The financial losses both in lost productivity and ship losses are huge. Kira, the CEO, is covering the losses both of members and allies and these are now measured in the billions. We have lost senior officers who clearly have no stomach for this difficult and protracted war. We have gained a new member who defected from the aggressor corps. This act is enough to cause tensions amongst our mercenary allies but frankly, at this point, we need all the help we can get.
If you are a person who likes a challenge and the thought of playing a huge Science Fiction MMORPG with numerous varied career paths than ‘EVE Online’ is highly recommended to you.
If you are interested in helping battle poor plucky miners defending their home from waves of aggressors then we can help you with that, too.
My EVE handle is: Andibi Kado at Akes V Moon 2 Emperor Family Academy.
a new player gets 14 days free play or if they know a player they can have 21 days free play with a buddy bonus. To buy PLEX costs £15.00 (UK) and this gets you 30 days play.