I often hear people say that EVE Online is a lot more fun to read about than actually play, and I've even caught myself saying it jokingly to friends and writing it in articles. But the truth is that amazing stories like the recent world record-breaking Bloodbath of B-R5RB are a hell of a lot better when you're a part of the action or have the first-hand experience to put the event into a wider context. All of EVE was impacted by that battle, with its effects rippling through the in-game markets and reshaping the political landscape of New Eden. But to read about it, you'd think the carnage in B-R5RB ended when $310,000 US worth of titans went up in smoke.
EVE has seen a huge influx of fresh faces since that colossal battle at the end of January, with thousands of new characters being created and the Rookie Help channel bursting at the seams. Whether you've always been a closet fan of EVE who has finally been convinced to take the plunge or you just want to join the ranks of the warring alliances you've read so much about, starting out can be a daunting experience. The sheer amount of information there is out there to absorb and sort through is overwhelming, and not all of it is up to date. CCP released a great new player guide recently to help newcomers assimilate, but I've still received several emails asking for advice on getting started.
In this week's EVE Evolved, I delve into the new-player experience with a 14-day free trial and reveal my top tips for starting out on the road to creating your own sandbox story.
Your first moments in EVE
New players will first be greeted by the amazing Origins trailer from Fanfest 2013, which explains the game's setting. You're then asked to to select a race, bloodline, and gender before sculpting your character with the Incarna character designer. While you'll be tempted to pick a race based on the lore videos for each empire on the race selection screen, my advice is to check out all four races' character designs. The videos give background lore for each race and show what their ships look like, but you can train to fly any race of ship without penalty. Just pick a race that you like the look of because you could be playing this character for years to come.
Tip #1: Do all the tutorials
When you're finished with character creation, you'll be dumped into a space station in nothing but a naked escape pod and presented with the game's first tutorial. Even if you're a seasoned gamer, resist the urge to skip through the tutorial by rapidly clicking the "Next" button. These aren't the short tutorials you might be used to from other games, and you can't realistically blitz through them to get to "the real game" any faster.
EVE doesn't quite play like any other game, so its tutorial is more like a crash course on starship operations that you should work your way through at your own pace. I'd strongly advise setting aside the time to sit down and complete it, as the game and user interface won't seem nearly as daunting once you're done. You'll even get some free ships and skillbooks for your trouble and can move onto career agents to explore the various facets of the game.
Tip #2: Find a corporation (No, seriously)
While I usually play EVE solo these days, I would probably have quit back in 2004 if I hadn't joined a player-run corporation with similar goals to mine. Guilds in some MMOs are just glorified chat rooms full of familiar faces or groups that tackle PvE content together, but in EVE they're also your support network and often financial backers. It could take you weeks to save up for your first cruiser once you've trained the appropriate skills, but many corporations give them out for free to new members.
You start the game in a faceless rookie corporation run by NPCs and can use the Corporation window to find a suitable player-run organisation. Whether your goal is to get some PvP experience and join the ranks of the warring nullsec corporations or just run PvE missions and manufacture goods, there will be plenty of good corps that can help you get there.
Tip #3: Ask for help
Have you ever asked a question in the general chat channel of your favourite MMO and been told to shut up by older players? For all the flack EVE gets for its cutthroat players, the community is actually extremely friendly and most players will give a newbie a helping hand. EVE is a complex game with a lot of depth, and older players often see it as their duty to mentor newcomers. Never be afraid to ask a question if you don't understand something or just want advice.
You'll be automatically enrolled in the Rookie Help channel, where players will typically answer any questions you ask, and you can always ask questions in Corp chat channel. Most player-run corporations will give you a helping hand with advice and will even bring you along on PvP roams and PvE missions. There's no level system in EVE, so you can contribute to group activities right from your first week in the game.
Tip #4: Read up as much as you can
EVE Online has a dedicated community that has ostensibly grown year-on-year for more than 10 years, and that means there's tons of information out there to read up on. The EVE Evolved column has been running for almost six years and has hundreds of guides and articles on a variety of topics, and there are plenty of other resources out there.
Just keep in mind that EVE gets a free major expansion every six months, so old articles may not necessarily be as relevant as when they were first written. EVE University is one of the game's primary training corps for new players and maintains an extensive publicly accessible wiki full of guides and useful information that's kept relatively up to date.
Tip #5: Set goals and stick to them
As a sandbox MMO, EVE won't hold your hand or lead you to content you might be interested in. It'll be up to you to determine your own endgame goals, and the real challenge for a new player will be figuring out how to get there. If you want to take part in huge alliance wars or become a pirate, join a corporation that specialises in those gameplay styles and ask what ships and setups they use.
The new Isis interface will show you the different ships you can train for and the skill training routes to get there. Clicking on a ship will bring up more information on it, and the Mastery pane will show the skills you'll need to train to use the ship effectively. Tools such as EVEMon will help you keep track of your skill training goals, and the in-game wallet will help you track your financial progress toward getting a bigger and better ship.
The idea that EVE is more fun to read about than play has become a common refrain in the comments sections on gaming blogs and EVE videos, but I've honestly had more fun playing EVE than any other game. The times I've spent exploring wormhole space with my closest in-game friends or engaging in PvP with the Gallente Faction Warfare militia were more immersive and memorable to me than reading any story.
Only the biggest stories tend to break the global gaming media, but hundreds of smaller events occur throughout the New Eden star cluster every day. Just being in the right place at the right time could lead you to become part of EVE's living history. If you're just starting out on your EVE journey with a free trial, keep the five tips above in mind as you dive into the sandbox.
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.