It's been a fantastic year to be a fan of EVE Online, with CCP announcing its long-term vision for deep space colonisation and the game being revitalised through the Odyssey and Rubicon expansions. I've had the opportunity to explore both expansions in this column and to share some hands-on experience with DUST 514 and CCP's upcoming dogfighter EVE Valkyrie. There's been no shortage of opinion pieces this year either, with articles on everything from PvP consequences and twitch controls to whether Star Citizen and Elite are a threat to the sandbox giant.
In this edition of EVE Evolved, I round up the best articles from the column's sixth year of operation in one place.
Year in Review: Guides and information
Guides have always been a core part of the EVE Evolved column, and most of the big topics were already covered at some point in the column's first five years. Thankfully, EVE is frequently updated with new content and gameplay, making some old guides obsolete and making way for new all-new topics. Following the Odyssey expansion's PvP revamp, I released an updated two-part guide to fitting the Tech 1 Battleships and a new guide to roles in fleet PvP. On special request from a reader who was interested in how the empty space in the EVE universe is chopped up, I went on to write a guide to the bizarre art of Grid-Fu -- literally bending the shape of space itself to gain a tactical advantage.
Following complaints about players abusing the Rubicon expansion's Mobile Depot deployable structure, I wrote an article exposing the feature and two other very exploitable game features. And when Rubicon began bringing in an influx of new players, I delivered my top five tips for new EVE players who want to make the game click with them the first time around. For new players willing to risk entering the more dangerous parts of New Eden, I gave some advice on how to safely break into low-security space and explored the top five most dangerous solar systems in EVE. With news of huge boosts coming to mining as a profession, the most recent guide detailed the anatomy of a mining op, exploring all of the ships available.
Year in Review: Expansions
The biggest driver of hits to the column by far this year was news of the Odyssey and Rubicon expansions. Both expansions contained so many satisfying small tweaks that I can confidently say that EVE is now in the most solid and playable state it's ever been in. Odyssey also streamlined the exploration profession with the new discovery scanner that reveals cosmic signatures in every system, fixed the moon mineral distributions, and introduced an awesome new hacking minigame. Odyssey 1.1 continued CCP's PvP balance plans by overhauling Heavy Assault Cruisers, Command Ships, active tanking, Nosferatu, and turret-based weapons.
Fanfest 2013 revealed CCP's incredible long-term vision of deep space colonisation and player-built stargates, and the Rubicon expansion took an important first step with its new personal deployable structures. The Siphon Unit broke the passive income of moon mineral cartels by providing a way to steal minerals from unguarded starbases, and Ghost Sites provided new warp speed implants that will reportedly be part of the plans for player-built stargates. Rubicon 1.1 further expanded on the new deployables with specialised versions of the siphon unit, a micro jump drive structure, and a mobile scan inhibitor that hides items from the directional scanner.
Year in Review: Events and launches
This has been a big year for CCP in the media, with several high-profile EVE battles hitting the news, DUST 514's official release, and the announcement of CCP's new virtual reality dogfighter named EVE: Valkyrie. I wrote about my hands-on experience with Valkyrie on the first generation Oculus Rift at EVE Fanfest 2013 and later speculated on whether Valkyrie could actually be merged with the EVE Online universe. DUST 514 launched with big hopes in May and immediately fell short of the mark; I delivered my less-than-positive first impressions of the game in July after the dust had settled and went on to speculate on whether the game is pay-to-win and whether a few changes in game design could have made it huge.
CCP crashed its biggest piece of PR in months when the server disconnected thousands of players in the battle of Z9PP-H just as it was beginning to go viral online. It wasn't long before massive spaceship carnage hit the news again, however, when thousands of players clashed in what became known as the Bloodbath of B-R5RB. Claiming dozens of massive Titans and Supercarriers, this was the most expensive battle to date. Organised battles like the Alliance Tournament didn't attract nearly as much attention, even with this year's explosive grudge match of Hydra Reloaded vs. Pandemic Legion. But the best event of the year was undoubtedly the organised fund-raising for relief aid in the Phillipines following Typhoon Haiyan. Players raised over a trillion ISK, allowing CCP to donate $190,890 US on behalf of the EVE community.
Year in Review: Opinion pieces
Most of this year's articles were opinion pieces, ideas for future features, or commentaries on EVE's game design. I recently looked at why mining as a profession is broken and how it could be fixed and how the ship repainting feature in Rubicon 1.3 could be adapted to provide awesome gameplay tie-ins. With players forever complaining about the state of nullsec territorial warfare, I wrote an article on how the game could be adapted to make much heavier use of strategic resources. The growing popularity of Star Citizen and Elite: Dangerous this year has also sparked a great deal of debate online, and I weighed in with my thoughts on whether the games could harm EVE.
Following a discussion on a Soapbox article, I admitted that EVE really has no consequences for bad behaviour due to the ability of players to easily evade retribution. I went on to take a somewhat critical stance in asking whether CCP was really serious about its deep-space colonisation plan and asking why it's made hardly any progress on it so far. From a more positive perspective, I also penned a two-part series called Designing EVE Onland that looked at how the various core features of EVE could be adapted to a land-based and even possibly fantasy-themed universe. I also discussed whether EVE could feasibly adapt to use twitch controls, sparking some interesting discussion.
Stay tuned to Massively's Fanfest coverage next week for a sneak peek at EVE Online's upcoming summer expansion, future plans for DUST 514 and EVE Valkyrie, and more. The next EVE Evolved article on May 11th will celebrate EVE Online's 11th anniversary with a summary of all the year's important EVE news and a brief look at what the future holds for the world's biggest sci-fi MMO sandbox.
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the bi-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.