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Blog Banter 31 – EVE is what the player makes of it

Welcome to the thirty-first EVE Blog Banter, a community conversation between anyone and everyone with an interest in discussing EVE Online. For more information on how this works, check out this link or for details of this edition’s topic, read on.

As any games journalist would probably tell you, a true and complete review of a Massively Multiplayer Online game is impossible. MMOs are vast, forever evolving entities with too much content for a single reviewer to produce a fair and accurate review. However, a collection of dedicated bloggers and EVE players (past and present) with a wide range of experience in various aspects of the game might be able to pull it off.

This special ‘End of Year’ Blog Banter edition aims to be a crowd-sourced game review. Using your gaming knowledge and experience, join the community in writing a fair and qualified review of EVE Online: Crucible. This can be presented in any manner of your choosing, but will ideally include some kind of scoring system. 

With each Blog Banter participant reviewing the areas of EVE Online in which they specialise, the result should be a Metacritic-esque and accurate review by the people who know best. 

The first thing many note upon entering EVE is that piloting your spaceship is not done via WASD or arrow keys, nor are guns activated by hitting a mousebutton or the space bar. This sets the tone for the game – EVE is not a normal MMO.

EVE is not a “twitch shooter”, and it’s vital anyone contemplating to try this game gets such a notion out of their head.

The second thing many people note is that there is a lot to do. EVE Online is a sandbox, in one of its many forms – it’s a player driven sandbox. Almost anything can happen in EVE and a majority of the stories that you hear in EVE are completely player driven – massive battles, espionage and market manipulation are all daily occurrences in this space universe.

Fortunately, the tutorial is a lot easier on new players thanks to a revamp last Summer with the Incarna expansion. Players are helped given some direction to make ISK (the in-game currency) through a “career funnel” of NPC agents which teach the basics of combat, manufacturing and more.

In order to “protect” newer players, new pilots start in a region known as “High-Security” space, as opposed to “Low-Security” and “Null-security”. This simply means that another player who fires on your ship unlawfully (i.e. without being at war with your Corporation (EVE’s equivalent of a guild)) will have their own ship blown up by an NPC Police faction known as CONCORD.

This is where it gets interesting – CONCORD may not always arrive in time and you may still lose your ship first. This presents the most exciting aspect of EVE’s sandbox – nowhere is truly safe. If you fly a ridiculously expensive ship all day, someone is going to take their time and effort to try and make it space dust. EVE is a PvP game, whether people want it or not. (The trick is not to fly a ludicrously costly ship all day)

The PvP aspect extends beyond mere combat – the entire market and economy is player driven, which means that every trader and manufacturer is vying for the best prices and deals. Millions of ISK can be made and lost within mere seconds. It’s terrifying and glorious at the same time.

Sadly, this PvP-centric format is both what makes the game worth playing and what turns a majority of new players away – that and the grinding.

Making ISK in EVE can be done a massive number of ways, but the most reliable and arguably the safest is done via NPC missions. This is the path most new players will end up. For myself, however, it is also the most dull. This is what turns away quite a few players, and even I stopped playing my trial account because missions just seemed boring to me.

I made a new trial, and tried another way of making ISK – scamming.

Here we get to see another example of EVE’s sandbox nature. Scamming for ISK and Assets is allowed, even encouraged, and can be an excellent way to make some cash from those too greedy to double check that Item trade. Within a day I had scammed enough ISK to buy myself 3 or 4 basic Frigates with the items to fit onto them – and that’s awesome. It’s not a reliable source of income, at least on the scale I was doing it, but it was more exciting than missions and that mattered more.

Combat PvP itself in EVE can vary wildly – many thousands of pilots fly in massive battles in “Null Security space” where player alliances hold control of dozens of systems, whilst many more fly in much smaller fights across the whole Universe. No two fights are ever the same and no two experiences ever mirror each other.

It’s sometimes said that EVE is 90% waiting, 10% combat and this is a bizarre thing. The bizarre thing is that it works. Many EVE Players, particularly those new to PvP Combat, experience “the shakes” – essentially an adrenaline rush. All the 90% waiting does is enhance your nerves for the 10% of combat. Putting (potential) hours of your missioning ISK into one ship then potentially losing it in 5 minutes is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced in a game, especially in a MMO. It doesn’t make a loss any easier, but the more losses you experience, the easier it gets (mostly).

Now, this obviously might not appeal to a variety of people and that’s fair enough. The greatest thing about EVE is that this doesn’t matter. It is a player-driven sandbox, and that means you can go and do whatever the hell you like. Just be careful it doesn’t cross with someone else’s path unless you have the bigger guns.

I’ve heard many a reviewer call EVE boring – if you find EVE boring, make something up to do. Go shoot someone. Go scam. Go scan down and salvage people’s missions. Go mine. Build a ship. Explore a wormhole. Infiltrate a corp and steal everything. Make EVE exciting. This game is only as good as you make it.

I would love to give EVE a unbiased number rating – the graphics are excellent and the in-game jukebox has an excellent music score, but the gameplay varies so wildly from player to player it’s impossible to do so. Go make your own number rating.

On a personal gameplay level, I’d give it the following:

Graphics – 9/10
Sound – 7/10
Gameplay – 9/10
Lifespan – 10/10