Odyssey isn't quite the Apocrypha-level expansion I've been hoping for, but it certainly seems set to shake things up. Changes to moon minerals will throw nullsec into chaos and hopefully ignite some big territorial wars, and battleship buffs may change EVE's popular fleet compositions. The Discovery Scanner Overlay will make exploration much easier for new players to get into, but will also give pirates another tool with which to hunt down explorers. A new co-operative hacking minigame will also make exploration more of a team sport. But how can you make the most of the expansion from day one, and what can you do today to prepare for it?
In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the new exploration system and other changes you can expect when you log in on Tuesday, and what you can do now to make the most of them.
The new exploration system
Exploration is one of EVE's most enjoyable PvE professions. Staying in one place and running predictable missions over and over again may produce a steady income, but there's something very enticing about scouring empty space in the hopes of striking it rich. At the simplest level, players can currently use the scanner built into every ship to find small cosmic anomalies full of NPCs to farm. But the big money is made by using scan probes to hunt down cosmic signatures, which can be anything from a hacking or archaeology site to a wormhole, hidden asteroid belt, or deadly NPC complex.
When Odyssey lands, the new Discovery Scanner interface will automatically scan each new system you enter and immediately highlight all of the cosmic anomalies and signatures in the system. This may seem like it's just window-dressing on an existing feature, but it removes a lot of the boring downtime in system scanning. We'll now know instantly when a system is empty, and will even know roughly where the signatures are in the system. The new probe system can also launch seven probes in a pre-set formation to streamline all the repetitive and time-consuming parts of the scanning process.
Making the most of exploration
in the first few weeks following Odyssey's launch, the big money in exploration will be in Data Sites and Relic Sites. These sites no longer have any NPC spawns and will drop salvage components, limited-run tech 2 rig blueprints, and decryptors for tech 2 invention. This loot currently isn't worth the effort, but Odyssey will add capital rig blueprints and new optimised decryptors that will be worth a fortune in the first few weeks. Once prices for these come down, DED military complexes will be the most valuable finds.
Exploration sites respawn in a random system shortly after completion, so popular systems such as those near trade hubs will slowly empty out as sites will build up in unused systems. Players also tend to leave sites with low payoffs uncompleted, so the few sites remaining in populated areas will usually be rubbish. For the best results, take a cloaked ship into an underused area of low security space or fly an interdiction-nullified tech 3 cruiser into nullsec. If you want to stay in highsec, hit up Dotlan maps and look for systems with low numbers of jumps in the past 24 hours.
Should you speculate on battleships?
The Retribution expansion continued CCP's plans to remove ship tiers in EVE by buffing all tech 1 cruisers up to the same level of power, with awesome consequences. Odyssey will continue this trend by buffing the tier 1 and 2 battleships, but will also see their prices rise to around the 200 million ISK range. The increased price will be accomplished by adding a list of "extra materials" to blueprints that can't be reclaimed by reprocessing the ship and won't be used in insurance calculations. This will stop people from buying ships now to recycle for profit on patch day, but will have the unfortunate side-effect of destroying the production market for tier 1 and 2 battleships for some time.
Many players are attempting to profit from this change by building as many tier 1 and 2 battleships as possible before Tuesday. It won't ever be possible to produce them this cheaply again, so existing stock will be the only market supply for months to come. You won't get rich quick doing this, however, as prices are unlikely to rise much until speculators run out of stock. The most extreme case of this problem so far is the Procurer mining barge, which went from a build cost of around 3.7 million to a whopping 23.7 million in the Inferno expansion. So many people built the ships in preparation for the price increase that prices are still steady at around 9 million ISK nine months later.
The moon mineral redistribution
If you're a member of a territorial alliance -- even one that just claims an area of low security space -- now's the time to stock up on moon surveying probes. Once the Odyssey expansion goes live, over 200 existing moons randomly distributed around lowsec and nullsec will be seeded with new deposits of Neodymium, Dysprosium, Promethium, and Thulium. Starbase reactions have also been changed to make these four rare minerals more important than ever to tech 2 production. This means over 200 moons will become valuable strategic resources overnight.
The change is designed to rebalance the distribution of nullsec wealth, taking value from unevenly distributed minerals like Technetium and providing more evenly spread out flashpoints for territorial conflict. If you do happen to find one of the newly improved moons, be prepared to defend it against large alliances or abandon it when a thousand-man fleet comes knocking on your door. Odyssey won't be another Apocrypha-scale expansion, I'm still excited for the new exploration features. Odyssey has managed to provide something that few expansions have over the past few years: an incentive to make elaborate launch plans with your corpmates. Some corporations will be rapidly scanning moons in search of new cash-cows, others will be exploring space in search of data sites to hack, and pirates will be hunting any new traffic into low-security space.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.