With the recent media blitz surrounding EVE Online, I decided I would give it a shot. I’ve never really been a fan of MMOs, but with an undying love for spaceships and a free 21-day trial, I had to at least give it a shot. This article is going to outline my first few hours as an EVE online freshman, just in case any of you were wondering about picking up a 30-day subscription and trying it out.
First, some demographic information. Since much of this is going to be just my opinion, you should understand where I’m coming from. Historically, I’ve avoided MMOs as I’m not really a fan of grinding or other repetitive gaming tropes. The closest I’ve gotten to a true MMO is <100 hours playing the original Guild Wars and twenty-five minutes of World of Warcraft. However, I’m a huge spaceship fan. Kerbal, Sins of a Solar Empire, and Elite Dangerous are some of the most fun I’ve ever had. This makes EVE sort of a conglomerate of things I love and things I’m not so crazy about.
After a super quick download and a few minutes of patching, I was a ready to take my place amongst the stars. EVE drops you right into the massive “Tranquility” server that hosts most of the games players. For the first few seconds, I’m was overwhelmed by the interface. Over a dozen blinking lights on the right hand menu alerted me to incoming messages on the public chat and alerts about the market blinking away until the kind tutorial lady began to explain away what was going on. My first impression of the game was the massive sense of scale; the game dripped grandeur as I saw tons of star systems and player ships dot the horizon, with my local area scanner listing locations millions of kilometers away as “close by.” My teeny tiny capsule set against the near infinite expanses of this galaxy, dwarfed by cruisers and frigates hundreds of times my size poking around the space-station university where I began my adventure.
The tutorial (which I’m still hardly half-way through) outlines each of the basic functions of the game slowly and easily. There is a lot of stuff in this game, so while the pace of the tutorial may be frustrating at points, it’s entirely necessary. After covering spaceflight, warping, basic combat and ship management, players can then choose to accomplish any or all of the profession tutorials. Nearly a dozen different tutorial lines, each with ten or more missions, gives an in-depth look at the different things you can do in EVE. I started with the military tutorial line, though I could have just as easily chosen the market, mining, or any other profession that I would like to get a better feel for. As I loaded up on loot, I got a glimpse at one of the more infamous features of EVE: the marketplace.
The buying and selling of goods and services in EVE is handled almost entirely by players, rather than NPCs that you offload your junk on. Huge local markets dictate the price of goods to be bought or sold from players to actual other players. This makes shucking off your excess railguns, armor plates, and wheat seeds more like haggling with internet strangers and marketplace charts than simply clicking “sell all.” After twenty or so minutes of crudely fiddling with the market, I started to enjoy the buy low – sell high reaping of EVE’s currency, ISK. ISK can even be used to pay for the game’s monthly fee, giving ISK a real-world exchange rate to US dollars, though the developer’s TOS states that buying ISK with dollars with definitely against the rules. I feel like playing the marketplace could be an entirely different game in and of itself, so I decided to go shoot stuff instead.
If you were expecting awesome Star Wars-style dogfights with laser beams and tight maneuvers, EVE’s combat is going to greatly disappoint you. Fighting in EVE is less twitchy arcade shooting and more like a fast-paced game of chess. You start by queueing up locked targets and selecting any or all of your weapons to fire on them. Each weapon has a different optimal and maximum range, allowing you to customize your fighting style to your play style. You manage each facet of your tiny ship’s combat, including reloading your weapons with your choice of multiple ammunitions, managing the output of your capacitor to balance the use of your shield boosters and afterburners, and choosing how you move amongst the battlefield. Luckily, collisions with objects in space causes no damage to your ship, so my frequent altercations with asteroids hardly scratched the paint. I enjoyed the combat, though large engagement felt a bit slow and tedious after a while. This is a pretty easy game to lean against your desk with your chin in your hands clicking around while you forget how time works.
Now this is where my adventure ends. After a handful of hours playing EVE, the monster known only as “Thanksgiving” has ripped me away from my beloved desktop. If there’s anything that can be said for those thinking they may want to try out the space sim, it’s that I am positively itching to get back to the grind. This little tangent into EVE was originally sparked by this video which ignited a ton of discussion across the internet about the game.
Groups of players, known as Corporations, have been welcoming new players with open arms. Between the camaraderie demonstrated in the THIS IS EVE video and the kindness demonstrated in the allocated “Rookie Chat” show me that I barely touched the surface of the most important part of the game: the players. The game oozes community, which makes sense seeing as the majority of the game of run by players. I know that once the turkey is slain and my drive home complete, I can sit in my broken computer chair, whisper my ageing GPU back to life, and fight my way to bigger ships and better adventures. EVE is quite unlike anything I’ve ever played, and that is a very, very good thing.