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Final Frontier: The Future of EVE

Space. Mankind has always been captivated by the stars and the mysteries they hold, long dreaming of exploring the vast extents of the universe and one day even colonizing other planets. While this dream has remained out of reach, there is one universe where this is already possible. The EVE universe.

In our latest column, Final Frontier, we will cover everything EVE so you our reader can stay up to date with what’s going on in the ever evolving universe developed by CCP. In this first edition we will take a look at the current state of EVE and the future plans the developer has in store for its players.

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Each year CCP Games hosts a convention for its fans in Reykjavik, Iceland. Gamers from all over the world travel to the convention each year to meet the devs, other players, and find out exactly what the future holds for their favorite games. At the most recent Fanfest this year, CCP had plenty to talk about. Their universe doesn’t just exist in EVE Online, but several games that are all interconnected.

At Fanfest 2014, CCP Games announced their plans for their subscription based PC MMO EVE Online, free to play MMOFPS for the PS3 known as DUST 514, a new concept for a PC version of DUST 514 known as Project Legion, and the upcoming VR dog fighting game EVE Valkyrie.

So for the gamer looking to dive right in to this expansive universe, what is there on offer? And what is there to look forward to as development of these games moves forward? Well, let’s take a look shall we.

EVE Online

EVE Online has held the crown for the past decade as one of the most complex and comprehensive scifi MMOs available. Players take on the role of immortal pilots known as capsuleers, born in to the universe with the freedom to lead a life of their choosing. With the largest online game universe ever created, there are endless opportunities and career paths for players to follow in a game with very few rules and a risk vs reward model that has given players a reputation for being extremely unforgiving.

Whether you want to live as a fighter combating either AI opponents or other players, an industrialist building ships and components, a businessman playing the market for a profit, an explorer reaching out to the depths of the universe, or one of many other countless jobs – there is literally no end in sight to what players can do in EVE Online. It’s one of the few sandbox MMOs which truly offers players the opportunity to live out their dream life as an intergalactic citizen, however they may choose to do so.

With constant updates every year the sandbox MMO continues to evolve, adding new gameplay mechanics and updating its graphics to make sure it’s always on the cutting edge. Traditionally following an update model which consists of two free expansion packs every year, CCP have announced they are abandoning that model for a new structure which will offer ten updates per year.

The next expansion to be released will be called Kronos, overhauling industry to make it more accessible to new players. Additionally, industry will become much more interesting for players as many changes from the way industrial ships work to how manufacturing efficiency is handled create new opportunities for pilots. Besides the many changes to industry, CCP will also be introducing new changes to faction pirate ships as well as allowing players to build starbases in any high-sec system.

EVE Online: Kronos will mark the first release under the new 10 updates per year model. Players can expect it to go live on the EVE Online servers on June 3rd, 2014.

DUST 514

DUST 514 released on the Playstation 3 as the first ever free to play MMOFPS for console. However that wasn’t the biggest attention grabber, what had players riveted was the fact that this console shooter is connected to the EVE Online universe – sharing the same server with players on PC. As a first person shooter, players can fight against each other in traditional competitive multiplayer. These battles however take place on the many planets littering the EVE Universe and can be claimed through victory in warfare to allow for EVE corporations (guilds) to use the planets facilities to further their profits.

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In addition, players on the planets surface fighting in DUST 514 can call upon pilots in EVE Online to perform orbital bombardments – raining down heavy firepower from space on to the battlefield in real time. Players can represent their corporation in EVE Online or even take on contracts as paid mercenaries. Players fight for who they choose to align themselves with, not just a factional backstory.

DUST 514 hasn’t been without its troubles though, at the end of the day it failed to deliver on a lot of promises made by the developer CCP Games. Also it really isn’t that great of a game, it’s pretty average as far as shooters go – and the developer knows they failed on this front. At Fanfest 2014, DUST 514 was almost entirely left out of the picture, with the focus moving towards the companies PC based titles and support for the PS3 exclusive dying down. CCP Games have stated that in the future the game will only be supported for as long as there are players on the battlefield keeping the game alive. With the PS3 coming to the end of its life cycle, it’s unlikely the game will last very long without fan support.

Project Legion

When DUST 514 was announced as a PS3 exclusive a lot of gamers were left confused as to why the game would not be released on PC. Many fans have always wanted the game to come to PC and have begged CCP Games to do so. Now it seems like that may just happen, sort of. Project Legion was announced at Fanfest 2014 as a prototype for a new free to play MMOFPS for PC set in the EVE Universe. While it appears to be essentially DUST 514 for PC, CCP Games argues that it’s separate.

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Project Legion will draw on some of the concepts in DUST 514 to offer a much more comprehensive shooter experience that ties in to the EVE universe. Rather than offering structured team deathmatch battles on planets with set objectives, CCP Games hopes to offer players a new experience more aligned with the companies usual portfolio – just a set of tools that will allow players to choose how they want to fight their battles, not how the developer dictates. Through this players never fail to impress with the ways they will use the game mechanics to create new ways of playing and fighting.

One of the core features of Project Legion will be its co-op PvE game mode. AI corporations in the EVE universe send down salvage drones to salvage loot from battlefields from scraps leftover to the weapons and gear on soldiers – both living or dead. Players will be able to venture to planets and battle with these salvage drones to take their loot for their own, rewarding them with gear and ISK.

Whether or not Project Legion will continue to be developed or even released depends on the feedback CCP Games receives from fans and gamers alike. If the majority of gamers turn around and tell CCP that they do not want the game, they will go back to the drawing board and look for other ways to improve the EVE universe. Judging by the reception at Fanfest 2014, fans seem keen to see it made.

EVE: Valkyrie

EVE: Valkyrie is an upcoming team based dogfighting virtual reality game set in the EVE universe. Putting players in the cockpit of a starfighter, players can engage in battles with twitch based controls and intense action combat. Announced for the Occulus Rift headset for PC, players will be offered an immersive experience like never before using the cutting edge virtual reality technology.

Starting out initially as a tech demo by some of the devs playing around with the Occulus Rift after supporting the Rift’s Kickstarter campaign, CCP Games took their tech demo to E3 and won several best game of E3 awards – even though it was only a tech demo. Blown away with the reception by media outlets and EVE fans at Fanfest 2013, CCP decided to continue development on Valkyrie.

I had a chance to play EVE: Valkyrie myself last year and was instantly blown away by how fun the game was. Shooting out from the side of a capital ship and instantly engaging in battle, I maneuvered my way through the battlefield shooting down other journalists and using dodging missiles. Wearing a virtual reality headset only heightened the experience as I flew just a few meters away from the surface of an asteroid, circling it to avoid missile fire while looking up at the asteroids surface – feeling as if I could just reach out and touch it. This short time with the tech demo was enough to make me fall in love, and has been the sole reason why I will be buying the Occulus Rift once Valkyrie releases.

At Fanfest 2014, CCP Games announced that not only will EVE: Valkyrie be releasing on the PC for the Occulus Rift, it will also release on the PS4 with the Project Morpheus VR system. It’s an exciting step forward in VR gaming, and a fantastic addition to the EVE universe that has many fans excited.

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It’s been an exciting year so far for the EVE universe and there is plenty more ahead. Keep your eyes peeled for our next column where we will take a deeper look at the next expansion for EVE Online, Kronos.