EVE Online in the past few years, it's the introduction of personal deployable structures that has had me most excited. I've always been of the opinion that a true sandbox should let individual players and larger organisations build their own personal empires in empty wilderness. If it were up to me, everything from mining and manufacturing to research in EVE would take place in destructible structures and possibly even player-built deadspace dungeons. The Rubicon expansion took an important first step toward this brand of sandbox-style gameplay with the introduction of several new personal deployable structures, including an item hangar and refitting service that can be deployed anywhere in space.
Four more structures were initially planned for the Rubicon 1.1 point release to expand the game's tactical possibilities, and this week two of those structures were confirmed. The Mobile micro Jump Unit is a game-changing strategic device that allows players any nearby players to jump their ships 100km forward, and the highly requested Mobile Scan Inhibitor physically hides nearby ships from probes and the directional scanner. Players on the test server have also discovered overview filter options for Mobile Jump Disruptor and Mobile Decoy Unit deployable structures, but developers were unable to confirm whether these would be part of Rubicon 1.1 or even if they'd definitely make it into the game.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I look into the tactical possibilities of the Mobile Micro Jump Unit and Mobile Scan Inhibitor and why some players have reservations about these game-changing strategic structures.
Mobile Micro Jump Unit
The Mobile Micro Jump Unit (MMJU for short) functions exactly the same way that the battleship Large Micro Jump Drive module does, charging up for a number of seconds and then teleporting your ship 100km forward in whatever direction it's currently facing. The structure can be used by any player within 5km, can't be placed within 10km of another device, and can be easily destroyed. It will be useful both for fleets of snipers who need to get within range and for drone ships that want to deploy sentry drones in a certain location and then jump to a safer distance. Jump drive battleships have seen a lot of use in PvP since Inferno, and now the tactics they employ will be available to all ship classes.
The charge-up time for the jump is 12 seconds (the same as an unskilled Micro Jump Drive module), and the deployment time for the structure itself was originally going to be 20 seconds. This would have allowed any player hit by a warp disruptor but not a short-range warp scrambler to perform a 32-second escape maneuver by dropping and activating the structure on the fly. The structure's setup time has now been increased to 60 seconds to make this less viable, and its effective hitpoints have been slashed to make sniping it a realistic possibility. Heavy interdictors can still use the device to jump with an active warp disruption field generator, but cloaked ships won't be able to activate the structure without decloaking.
Mobile Scan Inhibitor
The Mobile Scan Inhibitor (MSI) is a new disruptive technology that doesn't exist anywhere else in the game yet; it's a scanner-scattering field that hides all ships and structures within its radius from probe scans and the directional scanner. The flip-side is that the structure itself is a very strong signature that's easy for probes to lock onto, so players won't know what's hidden at an inhibitor but will be able to find and warp to them very easily. This opens a ton of strategic options for PvP, as you can hide the exact composition of a fleet being jump-bridged in until it's too late for the enemy to do anything about it.
The ships in the scan area still show up in the local channel, however, so the number of pilots in your fleet will still be visible. Scan disruption is a potentially game-changing mechanic, so naturally not everyone is happy with the idea. Wormhole corporations in particular have complained that the directional scanner is their sole source of intelligence when scouting new systems. After the first round of feedback from the test server, developers have added the caveat that ships inside a scan inhibitor bubble will also have their own directional scanner and probe results disabled. The structure can no longer be deployed within 75km of wormholes or within 40km of a control tower, so you can't use it to hide wormholes or permanent assets from explorers or invaders. It now also lasts only one hour in space before expiring, so it can't be used as a passive defense.
Free Micro Jump Drives for everyone!
Though many players have expressed reservations at the disruptive potential of the Mobile Scan Inhibitor, it's actually the jump unit that's drawn my attention. This will be the first structure that directly provides the effects of an existing ship module and so frees up an actual ship slot. Its release opens some interesting possibilities for future structures, such as deployable resistance fields, ECCM bubbles, remote capacitor injectors, or the much-requested Mobile Cloaking Field Generator. This possibility has already caused some concern amongst players, however, as it somewhat breaks EVE's ship-fitting metagame.
One of the original core design philosophies behind EVE Online is the idea that you can design your own ship setup and then test it in battle. The argument could and has been made that essentially giving ships free modules without the slot tradeoff (as happens with the MMJD) is overpowered and renders counter-fitting invalid. The problem with this line of thinking is that there are already bigger threats to strategic counter-fitting out there. Carriers have allowed players to refit their ships entirely mid-battle since their introduction in 2004, which is a far more powerful and disruptive feature than the MMJD provides. And with Rubicon's Mobile Depot, anyone can refit in space at a moment's notice.
with the Mobile Scan Inhibitor and Mobile Micro Jump Unit, but there are still complaints of potential abuse and negative consequences to address. Faction Warfare players have raised concerns that lazy PvPers will simply set up scan inhibitors inside capture sites and wait for hapless victims to arrive, and it's still not clear how the structure will interact with deadspace or warp disruption bubbles.
Similarly, players initially complained that the jump unit could allow people to easily escape from warp disruption spheres and long-range warp disruptors. Many of the fears over abuse of the new devices have been allayed by the first round of iterations on their designs, but they're sure to be strategically disruptive on release. As with any new addition to the game that shakes up the PvP landscape, those who can adapt fastest will undoubtedly benefit the most.
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.
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