For those who are not aware, Eve Online is a MMO game that takes place in a different universe (named EVE) where a player may indulge in a variety of different activities, ranging from combat to industrial scale manufacturing. Unlike many MMO games, EVE is truly open ended. No level cap means that players are constantly learning skills that further improve their characters. These skills are learnt in real time (i.e. even when the players are not logged onto the game).
What does this mean? Well, it means that older characters are, by and large, much more skilled that newer characters. With the player not really able to influence the rate at which they gain skills, this does mean that if you are being hunted by someone with two years experience on you, there is little you can do about it on your own. On the plus side, it does mean that people who play the game excessively only gain the edge on you in the amount of money they can earn and the items they can buy as a result – although this is an obvious advantage, you can work around this by playing clever, rather than playing long hours!
For those that are used to other MMO’s, and due to its popularity I will use World of Warcraft as an example, EVE online will prove a massively different experience. The first thing you will notice is how many different routes are available to a player: if you want to be a miner in EVE then you can make your avatar a miner. While this means your combat skills will be limited, your ability to strip mine entire asteroid belts will be awe-inspiring for other miners! Naturally this is very different to WOW where the only available route to a player is to “level up” – activities such as mining are secondary, used mainly to make money in one way or another.
Secondly you will notice how unforgiving the game is. If you make a mistake and get your brand new shiny ship blown up then in EVE it’s a case of tough luck! You run the risk and this time you paid the price. Unlike dying in many other MMO’s, death in EVE can be truly punishing. Scamming also plays a large part in EVE, where by other players will attempt to gain your currency by investing in a series of false business enterprises. These range from the rather obvious and dumb “If you send me X amount of money I will send you double back” to truly genius Ponzi schemes or Share scams.
So far I have portrayed EVE to be a cold and unforgiving universe: well it is. Why, I hear you cry, have you then named it as one of the most addictive games online?
One of the reasons I have named it as so addictive is the way it is open ended in a way that no other game can truly hope to be. The skill learning system means that your character is never at a “max level” and it is impossible to learn every skill in the game – meaning that no matter how good your character is, he or she will still be weak in other areas.
By removing a level cap, there is no rush to a maximum level and then sit around all day. By having no true instances, there is no repeated farming or the same enemies in an effort to get one piece of equipment. There is no one true way to do anything and this means that you can play the game exactly the way you want to!
As I have already mentioned, EVE is truly punishing if you make mistakes. There are of course ways to play the game in a cruel, calculating way that preys on other players and that is a very valid tactic – yet it is very different from the players in WOW. Repeated incursions and offence’s will result in you being marked “kill on sight” in certain sectors of space and therefore making it very difficult if you want to go into those areas: Navy ships tend to shoot first and ask no questions later!
Due to the complicated nature of the game, there are fewer young players – resulting in an environment that is more mature most of the time. Naturally idiots exist but these tend to be in a minority and most Corporations (guilds/societies in other MMO’s) will not humour these people long.
I will warn however, that this game is not for the faint hearted or people who want a quick fix! This is a game where you realistically need to have to plan to play it for a year at least to start making real headway – while this may seem like a hellish investment for a game, remember that you do not have to be on every day during this year. Many skills can take up to an in excess of a month to train and so in theory, you can start that training and not log on in that time and it will not effect your training efficiency. And while there will always be players that are older and more powerful than you, there will also of course be players that are newer and less powerful than you. Of course, not all players are combat orientated either so if you really want to shoot people, finding new and aspiring miners can satisfy your pirates mindset and start what will be the first of many bounties being put on your head!
For the first time in EVE, a recent update (of which all are free, no pricy expansions) has allowed us to see our Avatar Captains in person (before they were merely a picture and all activity was done via ships). While the Captains quarters are little more than a nice but ultimately pointless feature at the moment, it does herald a new dawn for the game and I predict it will not be long before many of the extra in game items that have no effect (such as janitors or a head in a jar!) will find their ways into the quarters for added enjoyment.
Ultimately, this is a game that truly appeals to the addictive gamer’s heart. The highs of getting a new battleship are tempered by the brutal lows as it is swarmed by little ships and destroyed leaving you nearly bankrupt. You can see your bank balance swell into the billions only to watch it be ravaged by poor investment decisions! The game is so massive that no review can truly begin to do more than scratch the surface of this giant and in many ways I feel like I am actually doing it a disservice by such a short article. I think the only true way to enjoy this behemoth is to take to the stars yourself!