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Eve Online Retribution Launch Review

It’s that glorious time of the year again; a time when Eve Online, the widely successful sci-fi MMORPG from CCP launches a new content expansion. This happens twice a year, every year, and for many of the capsuleers in New Eden, marks the most important dates on the calendar.

Earlier this year we saw the launch of Inferno, which, among other things, brought with it a new faction warfare system that offered loyalist players the opportunity to fight for territorial control on behalf of their chosen faction, greatly enhancing the PvP elements of the game by offering new combat scenarios for all players of all skill levels.

Today, December 4th, 2012 marks the launch of Retribution, the 18th free expansion for EVE, and the first in a long time to redefine a plethora of game mechanics, successfully bringing many older and less refined features, such as Bounty Hunting and Crimewatch back to life, alongside the addition of 4 new destroyer-class ships, plenty of rebalancing, UI and NPC AI enhancements and a new mining frigate, which, when combined with several changes made leading up to this release, effectively redefine how mining works in New Eden.

IT’S A GAME ABOUT SPACESHIPS

Much of the success of Eve Online is owed to CCPs constant vigilance in refining game concepts; remember, EVE’s been around for over decade, and yet, just by looking at it, you’d think it was preparing for release sometime next year. It’s visually stunning, and CCP are determined to keep it that way, but beneath the surface lay thousands of systems and features, many of which are dated and in desperate need of refining.

That’s why these expansions are so important; alongside adding new features, they step backward to refine older ones, effectively keeping EVE as current as possible. Retribution is no exception.

One of the key concerns CCP noted in EVE was the lack of use players seemed to get out of many of the frigate, destroyer and cruiser class ships. These ships, while great for new players, are also regularly used by veterans for a variety of different reasons and roles, and CCP felt that only a small handful were being used.

So they added 4 new destroyers – one for each faction – and rebalanced the rest, effectively making them all viable for use in specific roles: combat, attack, disruption, support, exploration and mining. It’s a little too early to tell whether or not these changes are enough, and too, whether or not the new destroyers will fulfill their roles as expected, though so far, things are looking good. You can read up on all the specific changes, ship-by-ship, here.

COMBAT IS KEY

Combat is a core component in EVE as much as it is any other MMORPG; wander unprepared into the wrong region and you’re sure to find yourself in a fresh clone without delay, but for a while now, it’s been clear that there were improvements to be made.

Retribution has done a lot to improve how combat is experienced; though, in essence, they haven’t altered the combat at all. Instead, many of the changes have occured in features where combat is commonly a factor. The interface is the first of these changes; Retribution has added a healthy amount of new interface options and enhancements that help immensely in combat-orientated scenarios

From simple reticle improvements to a complete overhaul on how enemy players are analysed, the interface in EVE is better now than ever before. Simply put; it’s a lot easier to identify enemies now, and easier again to ensure that you’re outside of their range. Many of these enhancements are a result of Crimewatch, which has also received a hefty amount of attention in this expansion, again, attempting to make it easier for players to know what’s happening in the world around them. You can read up on the interface changes here, and Crimewatch here.

MORE PEW PEW

This leaks over into the next feature quite nicely; that is, the improvements made to Bounty Hunting, of which there are many. Bounty Hunting, and by extension, Pirating, are the most sought-after careers in New Eden. Though not the most common, they’re definitely the most renowned, and I’m sure you already know why.

That said, the systems that support these careers haven’t changed in a while, and it comes as no surprise that CCP noticed this, and refined it posthaste. I won’t go into any great detail here yet; it’ll be months before I’ve had the chance to experience the full extent of these changes, but in a nutshell CCP have redefined these careers to better support them as a viable choice for new players and veterans alike.

You can read the full list of changes here.

MINING, THE OTHER WHITE MEAT

Next to hunting down other players and blasting them to oblivion, mining is one of the most popular pastimes in EVE – and rightly so; it’s how minerals are obtained, and minerals are responsible for building everything. So, it makes sense that mining would receive a few enhancements – and so it has.

Though the majority of the recent changes made to mining happened prior to the release of Retribution, it’s the ORE Mining Frigate that completed the package. Enter, the Venture.

The first and only mining frigate, the Venture was designed to fill a missing role in mining; it’s durable, helping to keep miner’s alive long enough to make their escape; it’s flexible, allowing a myriad of set-ups for a variety of situations, and with a 5000m3 cargo hold, it’s one hell of a starter ship. Oh, and it’s got a hefty bonus to gas mining, so it’s nothing if not versatile. You can check it out yourself here.

ONLY THE BEGINNING

It’s always ‘ónly the beginning’ in Eve Online, but like so many expansions before, the launch truly is the first step. There’s plenty of other features I’ve not had the chance to discuss – including the new NPC AI improvements that I’m sure will come as great news to the EVE PvE community, and not to mention to epic-beyond-awesome Salvage Drones that can now be manufactured and purchased on the market – and there’s likely plenty more to come.

Over the coming weeks we’ll try to discuss the changes made in Retribution in more depth, as more of the community has the opportunity to put them to the test. Stay tuned – or alternatively, check out our Eve Online Game Page.