Now that I have gone a good bit in to how EVE functions, I believe that the time has come to actually tell you how I feel about the game. This is all my opinion on the game of EVE of course, and I’m sure some people will strongly disagree with me on several points. I should first note that I played the game over the course of a month-long free trial. One of the biggest complaints I have seen about the game (and ones I share on some levels) are that the game requires you to commit a lot of time to it in order to get something out of it. For some people this could be a huge draw, and for other people this could be a severe deterrent. EVE is not a game where you often get instant gratification. EVE is not a game where you can just jump in and expect to be successful with little effort. This is a game where I would recommend finding a veteran player or a Corporation to show you the ropes (and even then you still might be scratching your head quite a bit). Now, you can certainly make many aspects of the game easier by looking up guides and tools to help you with tasks such as choosing skills, fitting your ship, or figuring out what to do next. I would highly recommend that any new players at least download external programs that allow for designing ship fits and skill acquisition plans. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that these sort of programs are almost required to be successful in the universe of EVE.
I have seen some people suggest that your first week of playing EVE Online should be devoted to reading about the game rather than playing (though I personally feel like this is going a bit overboard). I think you can jump in and not feel overwhelmed in EVE if you keep your focus narrow and take things one step at a time. Also, you could just do your thing and not even worry about more complex parts of the game, but ultimately your experience might be more successful and more rewarding if you understand most of the game concepts though. I’m not sure that I would call the learning curve in EVE too steep. I think it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the information and all the things you can do in the game. I personally had my friend to help me, who is an EVE veteran, and I still found myself getting frustrated with some things in the game.
To CCP’s credit, they seem to offer many resources to help new players. The launcher prominently displays a link for helpful resources for new players, there is an in-game tutorial that provides advice on what do, there is a rookie channel where people answer new player questions, and I even got an e-mail from a CCP employee to ask if I had any questions. Some Corporations will also take in new players and show them how the game works. So there are certainly resources for new players to look up and learn the game for the first time.
This leads to one of my first criticisms of the game. I enjoy games with some complexity such as strategy or RTS games, but the planning and problem solving takes place entirely within the confines of the game. In EVE I often felt like I was being taken out of the game in order to figure things out such as ship builds, character builds, or what the best equipment to buy was. For example, I need to fit my ship with some weapons. So, I determine what size of weapons fit on my ship, the type of damage I want to inflict, and my desired weapon range. Then I go on the market to purchase that type of weapon and find out that it comes in several different options. Each option offers different amounts of damage, power requirements (the power required to turn the weapon on), and price point. I’m sure that some people can run all the numbers required through their head to figure out the best option, but I think it’s not that difficult to see how an external fitting program can be very helpful in this situation, if not required.
I’m Just Going to Fly Around in my Pod, Fitting is Too Complicated!
Even buying and selling items can require a good bit of micromanagement because players may need to move goods to locations where products sell faster or for more money (not always the same), change prices to make sure products sell, and hunt down the best deals when making purchases. As you progress in your EVE knowledge you will probably find more efficient ways to do many things, but in other games this aspect is often very simple and straightforward. The need to do this does create a much more dynamic selling environment and economy, but you have to balance and weigh your enjoyment of playing in a more ‘realistic’ environment versus the extra time you have to invest in the game. I think in EVE you have to find a sense of enjoyment out of helping to create this more organic environment to really enjoy the game and make the higher time commitment feel worth your time.
Unfortunately, after all this work purchasing a new ship with a well planned out fitting, people can blow up your ship and make a good portion of that hard work feel like it was for nothing. As discussed earlier, this usually only happens in Low Sec space, but if you aren’t careful (maybe you are carrying very valuable cargo) people may still come after you. Also, I think most players will ultimately want to end up doing activities in Low Sec space. Some would argue that this penalty is not that high, is just part of the game (or, sort of the entrance fee for playing EVE), and adds a sense of tension to enemy engagements that is not available in other games. Eventually players can make money pretty easily, or much more quickly, and if you join a Corporation they may be willing to give you ships for free. You can also insure your ship so you get some of the money back after losing it. But, the frustrating part for me is that my ship involved a lot of finding the right parts, traveling around to get the best prices and the best equipment, and just investing my time and energy in general. Even if the money cost of losing a ship is not that high, I think I would still feel like I am losing something that I worked for and had meaning to me. Losing (or dying) in a game feels like enough punishment without losing my equipment also (sort of akin to having your sword become useless or broken if you ever die in a fantasy MMO). I enjoy the feeling of my equipment and stats continuously getting better in a game, and I don’t care for the feeling of being able to lose my progress. You can even lose some of your skills if you don’t set up some options properly (your clones in this case), which is something that I didn’t even realize could happen until someone mentioned it to me.
I did not find that many options for small groups playing together or interesting solo play in EVE either. One of the main options available to individuals or small groups is working on missions (quests), but none of the ones I did were very satisfying. I’m not always that in to being social with strangers in MMO’s (as odd as that may sound), so it is nice to have something small that my buddies and I can do together or I can do solo. Missions always seem to boil down to go in and blow up stuff (sometimes you do have to use a certain skill on an enemy). The mission locations also aren’t that interesting, and the open outer space environments of the game do not really allow for interesting navigation, puzzles, or strategy. Speaking of the game’s environment, the universe of EVE initially feels colorful and interesting to behold, but I found that it eventually became fairly dull to look at. A cold and often lonely universe awaits you in EVE (largely by design I am sure), which stands in start contrast to other MMO’s that offer lots of bright colors and lush environments (often full of skinny well endowed elf women). I think a large part of the appeal of MMO’s, or even doing quests in MMO’s, is finding unique and interesting locations while you play the game. I suppose there might be some appeal to just having quick and not overly taxing events to make some quick money on.
As I said, I don’t think this is a bad game, I think it’s a great game for the right kind of person. It creates a great big open universe and gives players a great platform to build their character the way they wish. The player doesn’t have to do take part in any activities if they don’t want to. This approach may appeal to people who easily get tired of the typical MMO game-play where you have to constantly do often silly side quests to advanced in the game (kill 5 goblins for me… yes I know they just re-spawn in a few minutes!). You can truly impact the universe around you if you put the time in and there are opportunities for truly epic almost no rules space battles (with dire consequences for the losing side) where massive fleets go up against each other only limited by their imagination to utilize their in-game resources.
I have heard people say that in EVE you create your own stories and that these can be more epic and organic than anything someone could write. I am sure for some people this is true and that they have a lot of fun not having to follow a scripted path, but for me, I play games often to experience a story and a unique and diverse landscape. EVE is designed so users create the end game content, but creating and enjoying that content feels like it can take quite a bit of time and commitment on the players part. But, maybe I just don’t really understand the scope of all the cool things you can do in EVE if you stick with it and how sweet that ultimate payoff is. For me though, when I play a game, I want to get on and actually feel like I’m playing a game and enjoying myself. I don’t want to spend a lot of time researching things outside of the game, have to worry about losing my ship or having other players take advantage of me, or potentially come on looking for some epic fleet battles and then fly around with nothing happening for an hour.
Maybe a lot of the activities in typical MMO’s (dungeons, raids, map exploration, gear grinding, daily activities, etc.) are largely superficial distractions that yield very little and ultimately lead to just wasted time and little fulfillment and EVE offers a more meaningful and rewarding experience to those who put the time in. I have seen people say that other MMO’s are like going to an amusement park where you can ride on all the rides but EVE is like an MMO where you design the rides. Eventually, people will get bored with riding on the same rides over and over again, but in EVE you don’t have that problem. I understand what people are getting at with this analogy, but I think it’s flawed because in EVE you do not have total freedom to do anything you wish and people seem to design very similar rides (mining, fleet combat, exploration, ect.). Also, I kind of like amusing parks, and I don’t see anything wrong with just signing on and having some simple not too complicated fun, though possibly uninspired and linear. Part of me enjoys simple quests that reward the player with flashy mission accomplished signs and new gear with +1 to strength when you finish them, fighting random trolls out in a field just because I can, and being able to jump in for one or two dungeon runs with little effort.
It’s quite difficult for me to put my finger on why I don’t care for EVE (as you can probably tell by my rambling), but it’s just not exactly to my taste I suppose. This marks the end of my EVE adventure for me. Regardless of anything I have said above, overall I enjoyed my time in EVE. I had quite a bit of fun trying out a game that was radically different from any other game I have played. Now I venture forth on to the much more traditional style of MMO’s. I expect there to be a healthy dose of wizards, warriors, ancient kingdoms, and evil warlords! And, if you are looking to play Fantasy MMO’s, you might as well start with what many consider the biggest and the best: World of Warcraft. Fair warning, I tried it once and was largely unimpressed. Thanks for reading as always!
Captain Dangerous Departing the EVE Universe
Check out this article for reasons to play the game! http://massively.joystiq.com/2011/07/17/eve-evolved-learning-to-let-go/