EVE Evolved title image
When EVE Online's upcoming Odyssey expansion was officially announced last week at PAX East, the anticipation from players was almost palpable. Odyssey aims to follow in the footsteps of 2009's blockbuster Apocrypha expansion by revamping the exploration system and filling the void of space with thousands of new hidden treasures. We've been promised new ships, a new scanner mechanic with sleek new UI and additional functionality, and a rebalancing of industrial resources across the game.

Though CCP is saving most of the expansion reveals for next month's EVE Fanfest and beyond, we can make some fairly educated guesses on what the expansion will contain from the press release and teaser site. It's pretty much a given that we'll get some kind of new exploration ship, and there's pretty strong evidence that moon minerals will be changing somehow. We're also almost guaranteed to get new faction battlecruisers, and the evidence is mounting that Jove space may finally be about to open for exploration.

In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the evidence for Jove space finally opening, explain why we desperately need a new scanning system, and make some educated guesses on what else the Odyssey expansion might contain.

EVE Evolved side imageIs Jove space about to open?

I was excited for Odyssey the moment I heard it was going to focus on exploration, but it was a small snippet from the Odyssey press release that really stood out to me: "Odyssey greatly expands the opportunities for players to explore all corners of the massive EVE Universe and its 7,929 solar systems." This is interesting because there are currently only 7,699 accessible solar systems in the game, with 5201 in known space and 2498 hidden wormhole systems. But there are 230 additional systems in Jove space that have been closed to players since EVE went live, and that would bring the total to the magic number of 7,929.

I would normally dismiss this as a press mistake, as the Jove Directorate long ago shut down all of its stargates linking to empire space, but the faction has come back into the storyline recently. During the Sansha live events, we discovered that Sansha's Nation was able to control the unstable wormholes leading to and from hidden Sleeper-controlled systems. They were found to have successfully invaded the Jove Directorate and hijacked one of its space stations. I don't think an exploration expansion can ever top Apocrypha without opening new systems to explore, and opening Jove space would certainly qualify. If Jove space does open, I hope it will be reachable only via some crazy unknown mechanic like hacking terminals inside wormhole systems.

EVE Evolved side imageWhy do we need a new scanner?

Even though no details of how it will work have been released yet, the Odyssey feature I'm pinning most of my hopes on is the new Discovery Scanner. This might just be a graphically updated probe system or replacement for the current cosmic anomaly scanner that comes with every ship, but I'm personally hoping that it will completely replace the current directional scanner. The directional scanner is hands-down the most essential tool in the whole game, but it generates a lot of server load and puts players who don't know how to use it effectively at a huge disadvantage.

Players have recently extended the scanner themselves with new tools to automatically parse directional scans and extract relevant information. If you're developing an MMO and players start making their own tools that vastly improve part of the game, it's probably time to update that part of the game. It would be awesome if the new scanner system were a 3-D visual grid system that let players quickly filter results and share data with fleet members. It'd also be amazing if we could set up perimeter alerts so that we don't need to constantly hit the scan button every five seconds to get warning of incoming ships.

EVE Evolved side imageResource distribution changes

In the Odyssey expansion's official press release, CCP promised that universe-wide resource redistribution would shake up the EVE political landscape and lead to "shifting allegiances amongst EVE's player alliances." Jon Lander added during the PAX reveal that people will not be able to remain comfortable in Odyssey, explaining that "EVE is not supposed to be about a place in equilibrium; it's about people fighting over things." I think we can all read between the lines on this one: Moon goo is finally getting changed.

For years, nullsec alliances have hoarded moons with valuable materials like Technetium and Promethium. Odyssey could potentially solve this problem if it makes moon minerals a finite resource that depletes and then respawns on another moon. This would force alliances to move their industrial bases around rather than just sitting on what they've got. The valuable moon goo would also inevitably sometimes appear on the other side of a border, which could spark more wars.

EVE Evolved side imageNew ships and anniversary presents

The Odyssey expansion webpage states that "the four factions will issue forth with the latest tools of war and re-designs of old favorites," which the PAX slideshow essentially confirmed means new navy issues of existing ships. We're almost certainly getting navy-issue battlecruisers, and I'd be surprised if pirate battlecruiser blueprint copies didn't start appearing in the loot for some of the new exploration sites. Each race might also release a specialised exploration cruiser or battlecruiser to go along with the expansion's exploration theme, but another interesting possibility has recently appeared on the test server.

The Society of Conscious Thought, a faction with Jovian ties, released a neutral exploration battlecruiser on the test server that has stats which make it good for every single race. The Gnosis gets a bonus to energy weapons, projectiles, hybrids, drones, missiles, and the scan strength of probes. It can fit a full rack of turrets or missile launchers and a scan probe launcher and can equally handle a full armour or shield tank with its six mid and six low slots.

I assumed this was a debugging ship devs could use to test the new exploration content, but the more I think about it, the more I think those stats would actually work. Getting all those bonuses just makes the ship more versatile; it doesn't make it overpowered. Since the last SoCT ship released was the Apotheosis shuttle given to every player as part of EVE's fifth anniversary, the chances are good that this is going to be the 10th anniversary reward! Be sure to be subscribed on May 6th when the anniversary present is given out because you won't want to miss it.

EVE Evolved title image
With its new scanner interface and exploration content, the Odyssey expansion has the potential to bring back the magic of Apocrypha and get EVE players exploring again. There's a ton of information still to be revealed at next month's EVE Fanfest, but that hasn't stopped players from speculating on what the expansion might contain. Jove space opening for exploration may be a bit of a stretch, but the new scanner interface and unknown exploration sites to find and figure out are sure to keep players engaged for a long time.

The resource distribution changes are likely to throw nullsec alliances into chaos, but it will give alliances new reasons to go to war and should give industrial players something else to do. If it contains proximity alert features, the new scanner may also be the first step toward finally putting a delay on pilots appearing in local chat in nullsec. CCP has always said that it would consider doing this only if there were a viable way to detect nearby enemies without hammering the directional scanner button and lagging the server out.

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.
GDC 2013: How APB exploded into a franchise