EVE Evolved Extra: Revamping PvP in Inferno

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When Inferno arrives on May 22nd, it will introduce a whole new wardec system, war UI improvements, and iteration on faction warfare. We'll also see a ton of new modules released over time to completely mix up how people currently fit ships for different roles. For those who started playing EVE Online after 2007, getting new modules and having to rethink all your ship setups will be a very unusual state of affairs. For older players, it signals a glorious return to the way things were before Empyrean Age expansion -- players will have to learn to adapt to a constantly changing PvP landscape or stagnate and die.

The only people immune to wardecs will still be those in NPC corps, and all current loopholes like EVE University's infamous decshield will be removed. The number of wars the target corp is fighting will no longer be factored into the war cost, but the base cost is rising to 20 million and an additional 500,000 ISK will be added for every active member in the target corp. The number of wars the aggressor is fighting will still factor into cost, so you can sort of do a reverse-decshield by having alt corps wardec the target and waiting a week for his bill to recur. There are flaws with the system as presented, but those may have been at addressed at the roundtable, which was not streamed.

In this special EVE Evolved Extra edition, I delve into the information revealed at Fanfest on revamping PvP as presented at those talks that were streamed live.

EVE Online side imageMaking war meaningful

CCP's intent with the war changes is to make wars a commitment for the aggressor and give them a higher chance of backfiring. The aggressor can no longer retract the war in the middle of the war week, but he can stop it by deciding not to pay the bill. The defender can make a plea for surrender in the form of ISK, after which there's a week-long enforced peace in which the other side can't re-wardec you.

Players quickly pointed out that most wars are undertaken by alt corps that won't mind being stuck in a bad war for a few days and that surrendering would give your corp a reputation as an ISK piñata. A new war report interface will give details of the war all in one place, tracking kills and losses in realtime, and a new mercenary marketplace will let players targeted by wardecs easily hire mercenaries into the war. To make wars risky for the attacker, the defender can call any number of allies and mercenaries into the war, though the aggressor can't call any in.

I can't help but think this system is fundamentally flawed, as the aggressor can just get other corps to wardec his target manually and the two corps can work together informally. He would have to pay two war fees, but ISK has never been a good balancing factor for warfare; just look at titans. Ex-CSM member Dierdra Vaal asked whether there was any way for the defender to actually win the war militarily and so end it. I've suggested similar systems before, such as the aggressor's having to create a military structure into which the war fee must be poured. The defender could then kill the structure to get the ISK and end the war. CCP said that this hadn't been considered and won't be part of the wardec revamp.

EVE Online side imageFaction warfare iteration

Faction warfare was 2008's big feature; it aimed to get new players into casual PvP without reducing the consequences, and it immediately succeeded beyond all expectations. Rather than iterating on it and fixing the few issues that cropped up, CCP left faction warfare to die, and it did just that. At this year's Fanfest, developers discussed preliminary ideas they'd had for revamping faction warfare and invited players to visit the roundtable discussion to voice concerns and make their own suggestions. Over a hundred people turned out for the roundtable, but so far, only those present know exactly what was said.

All we have to go on are CCP's initial ideas, which are not concrete plans and are subject to change. CCP aims to make faction warfare a stepping stone to nullsec, eliminating occupancy and instead letting players affect system sovereignty itself. The control bunker in each system will become an infrastructure hub, and players will be able to upgrade systems by dropping faction warfare loyalty points into the hub. To encourage donations, CCP will ensure that corporations and individuals who donate LP into a system will get temporary bonuses. When enemy players complete complexes in a system, they steal some of the loyalty points invested in the system, and when the pot is empty, the hub becomes vulnerable.

EVE Online side imageIdeas CCP is considering

System upgrades may include cheap clones, reduced market fees, navy NPCs spawning at gates, and even potentially cyno jammers. Perhaps the biggest change is that militia members won't be able to dock in enemy stations, making it more dangerous to be behind enemy lines. Some of the more interesting ideas include getting LP for kills proportional to the value of the destroyed ship's cargo and fittings that are destroyed. This way, LP for kills can be increased without making the system exploitable, as you'll have to destroy several times the value of the LP you gain.

Faction warfare could also be linked to DUST 514, possibly by making the system's infrastructure hub vulnerable when matches are won on the surface of nearby planets. CCP may also replace passive datacore production through research agents with active datacore production by listing them in the faction warfare LP store. Combined with LP gains for killing enemy ships, this would theoretically provide the income that players need to keep fighting. Players raised some pretty big concerns at the faction warfare talk, and CCP urged them to attend the faction warfare roundtable to discuss them.

EVE Online side imageNew modules

EVE Online's PvP landscape has remained pretty static for the past couple of years, with a few thoroughly tested cookie-cutter ship setups for each ship that are rarely challenged in effectiveness. Developers want to fix this by introducing a number of new modules that will fundamentally change how we fit our ships. A new adaptive resistance module is on the way; it will actually read the type of damage you're hit with and shift your resistances to counteract it.

A tactical warp module will charge up and then make your ship almost instantaneously warp 110km in the direction it's facing, ignoring all warp scramblers. New tactical variations of existing modules will be released so that higher meta levels may provide tactically different operation and not just better stats. We'll get new light and medium web drones and a new salvage drone, and drones will finally get damage mods. We'll also be getting a new UI for controlling drones that puts them into a module button.

A new fueled shield booster will be able to draw energy from either your capacitor or charges stored in your cargo. An anti-blob target breaker module will have a chance to break all targets on you, and that chance will be increased based on how many people are currently targeting you. Capacitor batteries will give a chance of reflecting nosferatu and neutralisers back on the attacker, and tracking disruptors will affect the damage of incoming missiles. CCP is also experimenting with extreme rigs with massive bonuses and penalties, such as a rig that lets frigates or destroyers snipe at 150km.

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One of CCP's most interesting ideas still in the early stages is the introduction of PvP seasons and themed expansions. The core of the idea is that new modules might be introduced only as limited-run blueprint copies dropped as loot or sold in loyalty point stores. CCP may decide to phase a module out of existence by removing the blueprints from the drop tables, leading to the module's becoming more expensive over time and eventually being infeasible to use. This may change up tactics enough to provide a certain type of gameplay for a limited time only. We could see active-tanking expansions that introduce charge-based shield boosters and armour repairers, for example, or a capital-warfare-themed expansion.

All in all, the warfare revamp seems like a bit of a mixed bag. There are some great ideas being passed around, but the new wardec system doesn't seem like it'll achieve anything. It has some pretty serious fundamental flaws, and it's worrying that they weren't spotted early in the design stage. I can't help but feel I have an incomplete picture of the new wardec system, as I wasn't able to attend the roundtables or interview any developers on it. It will be interesting to see how the new system turns out, as CCP has only a few short months to build it.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

This article was originally published on Massively.