Before reading this review we recommend you read the ‘New Player Review‘
In the distant future mankind has consumed most of Earth resources and the population has grown too large to be housed on the planet any longer. Mankind turned to the stars and began to colonize the Milky Way, although it didn’t take long before fighting over resources resumed as it once had on Earth. The rivalry continued until one fateful day when a wormhole was discovered, leading to a new galaxy of stars dubbed New Eden.
A structure was built to stabilize the wormhole to New Eden in the form of a gate known only as EVE. The ambitious began to use EVE as a highway, travelling to New Eden in order to bring civilization to this newly discovered galaxy and its untapped resources. Dozens of colonies were founded and began to prosper, until one day the wormhole collapsed, cutting the colonies off from our own Milky Way forever. Without food and vital resources, the colonies struggled and began to die out and over time their ancestral knowledge of Earth and their own origins were lost.
Now more than 21,000 years in the future, five societies have risen up and restored themselves to glory. Technology has advanced far enough to allow the cloning of humans, interstellar spaceflight and the ability to colonize the stars once more. This is the background story to EVE Online, a sci-fi MMO renowned for being one of the most complex games on the market.
What is EVE?
This is such a difficult question to answer because EVE is so many things. First and foremost it is a sandbox MMO, but even that doesn’t do it any justice. I like to say that EVE Online is a ‘life simulator’ set in space. The game tries to imagine what life would be like if we inhabited space in the distant future and offers you the tools to live that fantasy out in your own way within the game universe.
Players colonize solar systems, form corporations, manufacture spaceships and equipment, fight to control territory and at the end of the day, fight to survive the harsh galaxy. Being a sandbox game means it is almost entirely player driven and as is the trend, players are free to attack whoever they wish. If your ship is blown up, it is gone forever and your killer can loot whatever equipment is left behind. So what is EVE? An online sandbox where the actions of every player matters and the decisions they make shape the universe.
One Universe, One Sandbox
The interesting thing about EVE Online is that every player co-exists on the one server; there are no separate realms or population caps. New Eden consists of over 5,000 explorable solar systems, with another 2500 extra systems waiting to be explored in ‘wormhole space’. Each of these solar systems is home to space stations and structures, planets, asteroid belts and of course, the players themselves. Each of the 5000+ systems that exist are linked by large stargates.
If you picture the Stargate SG-1 gate except transporting ships in space rather than people from planet to planet then you would be pretty close. The game universe is so big that it actually the largest in existence for any MMO. The game world is 8500 square lightyears, if that doesn’t give you any idea to the epic scale of this galaxy then the game world is 1,510,433,021,127,445,683,512,428,260,896,738,816,554,417,604,813,324,915,076,883,564,
191,950,173,306,880.00 square miles. Yes, that a real number.
Becoming a Capsuleer
In the future there isn’t a reason for people to die permanently, with cloning technology and all. Capsuleers are the immortals of the stars, spaceship pilots who upon death can be re-animated in a fresh new clone with the appearance of your choosing. The character creation system is detailed enough to allow you to shape every last detail of your pilot. Pulling on certain parts of the body with your mouse will alter the shape, allowing you to get everything looking just as you want it. The choice in hair styles, clothes and accessories still remains more limited than I would of hoped but it a huge step over your average character creation.
Players must align their character with one of the four playable factions: the Amarr Empire, the Caldari State, the Gallente Federation or the Minmatar Republic. The four factions are locked in a never-ending war, the Amarr and the Caldari fighting against the Gallente and Minmatar. Following this choice, players must select from one of three bloodlines and decide what type of pilot school they are affiliated with. The choices made for your race, bloodline or school is used to specify your starting location but other than that your choices are purely aesthetic. For example, a Minmatar pilot can defect and join up with the Caldari if they wish.
What kind of skills do you have?
One of the first things a player might notice is the absence of any leveling grind or any levels at all. Players don’t gain levels; they gain skills which are learnt by placing them in a training queue. Different skills take different lengths of time to learn, some taking a few hours or even a few months. Your skills train in real-time whether you are online or not and there are no restrictions on what type of skills you can learn.
Everything you could ever want to do in EVE generally requires a specific skill or set of skills to even do it. Skills are ranked from 1-5 and with each level providing better bonuses or knowledge for your pilot. One of the first things that will stump players is what to learn, with hundreds of skills that can be trained by any pilot, it is very easy to become overwhelmed with choices. The system is very deep and allows you to craft the exact type of pilot you want. Once you can maintain a focus on what set of skills you want to specialize in, your character will become powerful quickly, spread yourself too thin however and you will never be great at any one thing.
Who am I?
As you might expect, given the skill-based system and having no restrictions means there are no classes either. Instead of classes there are Career Paths, different industries and roles in the universe that a player can choose to follow in pursuit of wealth, power and fame. The career paths themselves aren’t a permanent choice either, to join a particular career you merely perform missions and tasks associated with that particular career. Think of them as a guideline, different virtual jobs that can be completed in the manner of your choosing.
Players can choose to follow the paths of Military, Science & Industry, Business or Exploration. Each of these paths are simply a category for sets of closely related jobs. To keep the world running there needs to be players to fight on the battlefields while others manufacture ships and equipment to supply the wars. Other pilots however mine and gather the resources to use in manufacturing and so the list drags on. Players rely on each other to keep the world moving forward, your decision lies with choosing what role you will play in society.
The beauty of this really is that there are no actual pre-defined roles for players to fill, two pilots becoming miners will approach it in completely different ways. You can even go as far as creating your own roles, if you see an opportunity to make money then there is a job there. You might make your money buying equipment for a cheap price the hauling it to distant areas of space where people are willing to pay more to save on travel time. You might also decide that you want to become a Pirate and attack players hauling these goods. Once again, these aren’t classes, just roles that are defined only through your actions.
Do what you want to do, be who you want to be. Really though, for once a developer isn’t just exaggerating their game when they say that you can ‘shape the world’ because in EVE, you really can. I find that most new players have trouble with this after playing other MMOs. When you are still learning about a new game you don’t really know exactly what you want to do yet. Players can easily be frustrated by the lack of direction that having no classes offers, but if you think of this aspect with the same mentality as you would jumping in to a game like Skyrim rather than an MMO, you might have an easier time wrapping your head around it.
Only fly what you can afford to lose
Flying a ship in EVE isn’t twitch based, it isn’t a flight sim and you can’t use a joystick. Instead players navigate by selecting locations to warp (think jumping to hyperspeed) or fly towards through a navigation menu or by double clicking in the direction they want to start moving on the screen. Combat might appear basic and dull to a viewer but it a completely different story mid-battle. Players must target each other and activate different ‘fittings’ attached to their ship. These fittings can be weapons or modifications that enhance your ships capabilities.
The type of ship you fly, how you equip it and how you fight with it all determine how effective you are. There is one key difference here though; racing to buy the best ships and equipment you can afford is the fastest way to fail. As I mentioned before, when your ship is blown up it gone for good and because of that players should never fly a ship unless they can easily replace it. While it nice to have a big powerful ship, I have seen week old players take down veterans.
Combat in EVE, especially PvP is an adrenaline pumping experience. Engaging in a fight, it isn’t long before you realize that your heart is pounding like crazy and your hand is shaking as it hovers over the keyboard. While many ships will be lost, getting your first player kill in EVE Online is something that has to be experienced by any serious MMO gamer before passing judgment. For those combat fans there is warfare in many forms, battles can range from small gangs of players to thousands in all-out war.
Even though there isn’t any twitch-based action combat to be found, some gamers will appreciate the extreme depth of the combat system. There is a massive and I mean massive choice in how you fight, whether you use close range guns and gadgets that stop the enemy from escaping or long range artillery to sit back and blow away your enemies without being touched. Combine that with the ability to add hundreds of different functions to your ship and you have an overwhelming amount of depth in your combat.
Reaching the ‘end game’
There isn’t really a defined end game in EVE Online instead players determine their own idea of what end game is. To any player end game could be owning a territory in null sec space, the lawless stretch of the galaxy or it could be as a powerful business tycoon making billions of ISK without leaving a station or even just running a successful corporation. One of the vital mistakes new players make is trying to rush to end game, get that out of your head right now.
This isn’t like other MMOs where you hit level cap, clear dungeons and raids and wait for more content. Living a virtual life means just that, there is no real end game; instead your pilot possesses enough skills to perform their chosen career on a gradually increasing scale and at a potentially much more profitable rate. Don’t worry so much about where you are heading, rather focus more on where you are now.
Free to be bad (or good)
I think it worth mentioning one of the most controversial features of EVE. This feature is the ability to completely screw over other players any way you wish. Scamming, extortion and ransoming players is all acceptable in-game. Of course this is all within the game only, scamming a player for their account details or hacking in to someone account is still against the rules. This opens up many possibilities for players and once again is a byproduct of freedom.
Players are free to trick other players out of their hard earned items or Interstellar Kredits (ISK), the currency in the game. For example, a player can create a contract to sell a ship and disguise it as a similar looking, but more expensive version in hopes that a player will mistakenly buy it. Other possibilities are joining a corporation, gaining trust of their members in order to gain a position of power and then stealing everything from their hangar and disappear completely.
One of the harshest things that can happen in this game however is to lose real money, it quite possible. CCP has a cash shop, which while it has been the matter of controversy, the main item of interest is the PLEX. A Pilot License Extension is a 30 day game-time card in the form of an in-game item; now remember when I said that when you are blown up people can loot the wreck of your ship? I think you get the picture.
Trust me when I say there are some downright evil players in this game and it common for no one to trust a player they don’t know. When there are bad players however, there are also good. Players can place a bounty on other player heads, opening up the Bounty Hunter field. Other players are just good natured and will help whenever they can. While EVE is unforgiving and cruel at times, it also possesses one of the best communities around.
EVE is for gamers who”¦
If you like sci-fi and you like sandbox games, I really don’t know why you aren’t playing already. Without trying to insult anyone, EVE is for the more ‘intelligent’ gamers. That not to say everyone who plays EVE is intelligent but if you have some common sense and creativity you will get more enjoyment out of the game. Those who excel fast in this game are those who don’t mind doing a bit of reading and research. EVE Online is such a massive game, no one knows everything and everyone has to research at some point.
If you want to enjoy EVE you must be looking for a challenge, the game will punish you whenever you stop paying attention. If you have ever complained that games are too easy these days then I don’t see why you wouldn’t want to play EVE, it hard as sh*t. I’ll say it again only because it true but if you are looking for a game that gives you ultimate freedom and limitless potential, EVE is about as good as it gets. The real-time training also offers busy gamers a way to keep progressing even when they can’t play. Have a busy week at work or a holiday? Queue high level skills in your training list, it only takes a few minutes.
EVE is NOT for gamers who”¦
This review is actually coming after nearly six months of play and research and I can’t honestly say it a bad game because it in my opinion the leading sandbox MMO on the market by an incomparable amount. I can say though that of course not everyone will like it, the developers are aware of this as well and are even proud of it. EVE Online is made for a certain type of gamer (like the type above) and not everyone can mingle with these guys (and girls).
If you like theme-park style MMOs and gameplay that holds your hand every step of the way then sadly EVE isn’t for you, at all. Being a player driven game you have to make your own decisions and decide your own actions, the majority of the time when I see players saying that EVE was boring for them it was because they refused to interact with other players or make their own decisions. Once again this falls back to the theme-park experience they thought they would find at least some resemblance of. It not here, don’t bother looking.
EVE Online stands to be the best sci-fi sandbox MMO on the market and I doubt that will change any time soon. Running since 2003, EVE has come a long way and continues to improve all the time thanks to a dedicated development team. CCP want to make the biggest and best virtual sci-fi universe ever and because of that they will always work on improving the game and releasing free expansions.
With DUST 514, the upcoming PS3 MMOFPS that will tie in directly with the EVE universe in real time is the next step forward and an exciting one at that. Player driven MMOs generally die out due to inactivity, if there aren’t any players driving the world then there isn’t anything to do. EVE shows how sandbox games can work extremely well, with such a dedicated and active community they ensure that something is always happening in New Eden no matter where you go.
The game is constantly being updated with new awe-inspiring features and the graphics overhauled to keep them up to date with modern day expectations. If you are looking for an MMO to really get in to, one that will be around for longer than you could ever imagine playing, don’t look any further than EVE Online. What started out as a quick peek at this infamous game has turned in to an obsession that now has me running three accounts and micromanaging multiple characters.
The only real complaint I can make against EVE Online is that the tutorial isn’t executed as well as it should be. While completing your tutorial missions you think you are getting the hang of it, once they are over though, that when the confusion sets in. You are left to your own devices with little more than ‘visit one of your career agents’. Just remember though, this is the point where your decisions are made, the game isn’t abandoning you it is just stepping back for a moment and letting you decide how to proceed. Still having trouble? Check out the resources below that should help you get over that initial ‘wtf do I do’ stage everyone goes through.
Visit the EVE Online game page to find out more!
In anticipation of comments: There are many things I didn’t touch on like medical facilities, jump clones, standings with factions and too many more things to list. EVE Online is too big to fit in to any one review or tutorial, there is too much to discuss and it wouldn’t be enjoyable to read that much information.
There are probably many veterans also who might have issues they would pick with the game, as with every MMO, but being so complex and in-depth I could not experience everything that every player would over the years in just a few months. Keep in mind, any ‘end game’ issues will probably be long resolved before a new player reaches them. If there is anything you feel I missed however, comment below and let everyone know your perspective!
EVE Online Resources:
New Player Review – Cody Hargreaves reviews the experience of a new player in EVE.
Diary of a Noob – Follow Daniel Owens in this series of articles that takes an in-depth look at his journey through EVE.
Video Beginner Guide – Prefer to watch rather than read? Check out our EVE Online beginner guide on Youtube.