EVE Online's Rubicon expansion goes live in just two days on Tuesday, November 19th, introducing four brand-new personal deployable structures and revamping PvP across the board with a seemingly innocuous warp acceleration fix. The expansion represents the first step in new Senior Producer Andie Nordgren's plan to bring true player-run deep-space colonisation to EVE Online. The new Mobile Depot that can be placed anywhere in space is possibly the most sandboxy feature since the introduction of player-owned starbases back in 2004. Players have been coming up with plans for the device since its first announcement, but I think we'll see its true potential revealed in the coming weeks and months.
If you've been saving up your Sisters of EVE loyalty points to get your hands on the faction's new exploration ships, be prepared to buy and build the blueprints as soon as the server comes up. These will be the first pirate faction ship blueprints that are available in high-security space, and a recent devblog confirmed that players have been collecting Sisters of EVE loyalty points like crazy lately in anticipation of the expansion, but those who get the built ships to market first will make an absolute killing. For the rest of us, getting ready for the expansion means planning where to set up a Mobile Depot for some quick profit-making enterprise or building a few small PvP ships to put the new warp speed mechanics to the test.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I look at some of the best places to set up a Mobile Depot, re-consider the lure of low-security space, and propose adapting your PvP fleets to take advantage of the warp acceleration changes.
Where to plonk your Mobile Depot
Costing less than a million ISK each to build and with no running costs, the new Mobile Depot structure should be thought of as a disposable tool you can use to operate in hostile territory. Many players are planning to set sail for some remote corner of nullsec to run cosmic anomalies and exploration content within an alliance's territory, and that's surely where most of the money will be. It's also worth installing a depot close to where you already operate as a kind of temporary back-up station. Anyone who's been involved in a corporate war or lived in nullsec will know the pain of logging in to find your home station's being camped by enemies. Installing mobile depots in nearby systems you regularly farm means you don't need to return to base as often to restock on ammo and offload loot, and so can avoid the pain of being stuck in station.
Mobile Depots will finally make personal exploration of wormholes possible without a starbase, but it's actually in low-security space that I see the structure's biggest potential. The unfortunate truth of life in lowsec is that the rewards currently just aren't worth the added risk of pirate attack and the constant effort of staying safe. Your daily routine will involve dodging through gatecamps, keeping tabs on the local pirates, and hammering the directional scanner every five seconds when in space. But there are plenty of underused systems out there that get barely any traffic because they aren't on common trade routes and don't have stations, and they could become fertile farming grounds with the help of the Mobile Depot.
Setting up in lowsec?
Mission-runners in particular should be very interested in setting up shop in lowsec when Rubicon hits. Not only are mission rewards higher in lowsec, but good missions are more frequent, and there are lowsec mission hubs that each contain several level 4 and one level 5 agent. Deadspace missions are also spawned at random points in the target solar system, so it's possible to get one that is over 14 AU from the nearest celestial object and therefore outside directional scanner range. Setting up a mobile depot in locations like this will help it avoid detection; it'll still show up if someone uses scan probes, but there's nothing on the directional scanner to attract attention. If you're a pirate hunting for depots, use scan probes and cast a wide net over the entire solar system.
Rubicon also adds yet another good reason to set up shop in lowsec with the addition of Ghost Sites, a new form of high-risk but high-reward PvE. CCP has already confirmed that there will be separate loot distributions for Ghost Sites in highsec, lowsec, nullsec and wormhole space. Lowsec has disproportionately few inhabitants compared to the rest of the EVE universe, which should decrease competition for the rare and valuable cosmic anomalies. Possible loot includes blueprints for advanced mobile depots and the Ascendancy warp speed implant set, but be careful if you venture into one of these sites. The NPC reinforcement waves will warp scramble you and the research lab you're hacking could blow up in your face with enough force to turn an exploration ship into a metallic smear in space.
Adapting to the warp speed changes
If you regularly PvP in something larger than a cruiser, I'd strongly recommend giving the new warp speed mechanics a try by fitting out a few tech 2 cruisers and frigates. The average warp distance between stargates is about 28 AU, which will now take battleships around 60 seconds to cross and battlecruisers over 50 seconds. Cruisers will land at the gate a solid 10 seconds ahead of battlecruisers, and nobody's going to want to wait for them to catch up every jump. The upshot of this is that cruiser fleets will more easily be able to chase down larger prey, and entire fleets of frigates will be able to locate and harass cruiser fleets much more effectively. The effect of the warp speed changes will be most strongly felt in faction warfare, where frigates will now be able to easily catch stragglers from cruiser fleets.
Interceptors are now immune to warp disruption bubbles, but that doesn't mean you're safe to charge head-first into nullsec. We'll likely see a rise in players parking smartbomb battleships on the warp-in path between two stargates to automatically destroy incoming frigates before they drop out of warp. Pirates already do this in lowsec to catch players in covert ops frigates and interceptors who think they're safe carrying high-value but low-volume loot like blueprints. This has been largely unnecessary in nullsec as warp disruption bubbles and interdiction spheres provide an easier strategy for dealing with covert ops pilots. Without this option, some may revert to smartbombing tactics. Make bookmarks about 300km from chokepoint stargates (such as those between empire and nullsec) and warp to them to check that the coast is clear before proceeding.
Rubicon is the first expansion in a long time that's got me excited for the future of EVE. CCP has a reputation for releasing expansions as the "first step" toward some grand vision that never comes to fruition, but this the first time I actually believe it. In a recent press call, CCP confirmed to Massively that three or four additional personal deployable structures are currently in the works and will be released with the Rubicon 1.1 point release. The marketing angle for Rubicon -- that ultimately control of the entire sandbox will be given to the players -- is as a point of no return for EVE, and it certainly seems on track to do just that.
All but one of the structure ideas being currently worked on have been sourced from player suggestions on the forum, which included a mixture of tactical weapons and industrial infrastructure designed to augment the functionality of the Mobile Depot. Players have suggested ideas from ore compressors and wormhole generators to cloaking fields and transponders that fake a signal on the directional scanner, and I can't wait to see what makes the cut.
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.