Shortly after the Retribution expansion's deployment, a thread popped up on the EVE Online forums that proved to me that the expansion had been a massive success. In the thread titled So that's what victory in this game feels like, miner Tiberius StarGazer explained that he has always felt like he had no way to get back at people who wronged him. After losing millions of ISK in ships to pirate attacks, he was almost ready to give up on EVE. But when Retribution landed, he was able to sell his kill rights to the public so that every player vigilante who crossed his attacker's path could try to take him down without warning.
After just a few hours, Tiberius got a notification that put a smile on his face: He had his first taste of revenge. He'd dealt more damage back to his attacker by clicking a button than had ever been done to him, and the attacker wasn't happy about it. He threatened to find Tiberius and kill him again, and that simple miner's reply said all I needed to know about how successful Retribution has been:
"I have deep pockets. Every kill you make on me, I will add as a bounty on your corp; every kill right, I will sell. I can't fight you but others can and you will have to lose five times my loss for wronging me."
Retribution has finally given industrialists a reliable way to get revenge and use their wealth as a weapon! In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at the PvP that's springing up in empire space, how the new flagging mechanics affect baiting, and what the ship revamp means for new players.
Though revenge and consequences are the main parts of the expansion, at its heart Retribution is a total PvP revamp designed to get people fighting everywhere. Loot thieves used to be attackable only by the corporation or player they stole from, so players would steal ore from miners who couldn't defend themselves or use the system to trick people into attacking and getting themselves killed. Stealing now globally flags a player as a suspect, so anyone who happens to be in the area can jump in and attack.
Players have started using the suspect flag as a way to advertise their availability for PvP, deliberately flagging themselves and then flying around looking for a fight. An icon next to the person's name in the local channel shows that he's a suspect, so when you see it, you can start trying to track the person down before the flag wears off. This is leading to some random combats at stargates when flagged players take a chance and roam between systems looking for fights.
The baiting game
The global flag for stealing has made baiting people into fighting a lot more risky. If you enter a complex, mission or asteroid belt and steal someone's loot in the hopes that he'll fire back, you're making yourself vulnerable to everyone in the area and anyone who happens to come along in the next 15 minutes. This makes counter-baiting and public defense fleets possible for the first time because the ability to defend against thieves isn't just limited to your own corporation.
If someone is clearly baiting you, you can now get into a well-tanked ship with tackle gear and hold him in place for a few minutes while your backup arrives to turn his ship into molten poop. The new baiting game is all about setting up a careful trap and exercising patience. You can leave bait somewhere in a cargo container or ship wreck and sit cloaked next to it ready to pounce when anyone steals it. You could do this before Retribution, but only members of your corporation could attack the baited victim. Now you can bait with anyone you like, and even random passers-by can join in the attack.
Massive ship revamp
The new destroyers pack a serious punch for their cost and and give new players significantly more cost-effective ways to PvP, but the biggest part of the ship overhaul for me was the removal of cruiser tiers. Every single tech 1 cruiser is actually now viable in PvP! We still have two combat ships, an electronic warfare ship, and a logistics ship, but now they're all on par with regards to stats and can all be tanked enough to last in small-scale PvP. If you've always wanted to try out corporate warfare or faction warfare but don't have a lot of ISK to throw down on ships, now is most definitely your chance.
I've played with only a few of the updated cruisers, but already the difference I've seen is staggering. The Vexor used to play second-fiddle to the Thorax in raw damage, but it's turned into an absolute monster able to dish out over 750 DPS thanks to drone damage mods. The Omen can actually fit appropriately sized guns, the Caracal has the speed to be useful, and tech 1 logistics cruisers can set up capacitor chains just like their tech 2 counterparts. Cruisers are well and truly back in the game, and that means PvP has just become a whole lot more accessible to new players.
The Retribution expansion's PvP overhaul has been a long time coming, but I can honestly say it was worth the wait. To a player who just loves flying cheap cruisers, the ship revamp has been a god-send. The new suspect flag gives people a way to defend against thieves and lets you take part in all those little scuffles that spring up randomly throughout high security space. Stay tuned to EVE Evolved over the next few weeks as I test-drive the new ships, figure out how to fit the tech 1 cruisers now that their stats have changed, and try my hand at piracy and bounty hunting using the new mechanics.
The real magic of Retribution is in giving industrial players ways to get revenge on their attackers without ever firing a shot, a way to use ISK to pull some strings and punish anyone they want. With that in mind, I'd like to leave you with another quote from Tiberius StarGazer, a typical picked-on miner whose story is probably similar to a lot of ex-players:
"I have not once, in all of my game time in EVE, felt like I had actually "won." I felt like the beaten-up bottom-of-the-pile peasant that gets kicked around all the time. I didn't make this kill, but it felt like I did and it felt good."
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.