BB42: Harkconnan’s Eve Online Review

Link to the Blog Banter Breif
This is going to a long one, stay with me people…

Before I begin if you are reading this while considering joining the game register and start downloading now no review can truly tell you if your going to enjoy eve online. That said it a big download, so you should keep reading, just to be sure.

Every review needs an introduction, this way you get to know me, and thus can judge if my views an opinions match your own. I’m Harkconnan, an eve player of 4 years (with a 1 year break). I started playing, as every one does, in highsec doing missions. After just under a year of mission running I got bored and quit eve (playing other MMO’s [wow and others]) however eventually I got bored of elves and pixies and the call of space brought me back into eve. Here I found my long time cohorts were in lawless space (called 0.0) with an Alliance (Clan) so after a short exchange I flew out to join them. My main has called 0.0 home ever since.

In 0.0 I have participated in small gang warfare, I have lead roams (kind of like free form Raids, but in PvP form, think running around with a group of friends looking for pvp) and helped form and build an alliance. I’ve worked my way from flying small fast frigate ships all the way up to capital class carriers. I would consider myself and well rounded experienced 0.0 player, with a lot still to learn. With this in mind let us commence the review.

This review will use a somewhat usual scoring system. I have laid out a series of headings some of which I consider important to any MMO and some which are important to PvP only. I will score this game out of 100 (100 good, 0 bad), but this will evolve as I go along. starting with a Score of 50/100, representing the expectation of mediocreness I presume when I start any new game. Every time I mention something bad I will subtract from the score (depending on how bad it is) and every time I mention something good I will add to it. Each time this happens I will note the change in square brackets like this [-50] or [+5] (each bad thing can only be marked down once) and at the end of each paragraph I will show what the tally is and the amount the section changed it. At the end we will see how well it scores.

Interface & Controls
Lets get the biggest disappointment out of the way: new players, please understand that if you are expecting a control system similar to Privateer, Wing Commander or X3, you are going to be disappointed. Eve online is all about point and click. A lot of early players come into to the game expecting joystick and keyboard controls and come away upset[-1]. But don’t let this discourage you, if you come in thinking of eve’s spaceships as behemoths manned by a crew of hundreds you should be able to understand why the ships don’t have a “Fly by Wire” system. Think back to watching popular SciFi; Kirk wasn’t sitting at the helm of the enterprise with a joystick, and Darth Vader didn’t do barrel rolls in the SSD Executioner; they both pointed to a bit of space and said “Make it so” (well they didn’t Pickard did), and so will you. Thinking in this way the point and click interface actually makes a lot of sense [+1].

Moving on from the mouse controls to the rest of the interface, we can begin to see the games heritage;  launched in 2003 some parts of the game haven’t really changed much [-5], interfaces like the chat channels and the clunky corporation management pages really show their age. That said eve has a history of graphical and interface updates [+10] with the graphics engine in its entirety being overhauled in late 2007, and the last patch (2012) updating and elderly part of the interface (Targeting UI). The interface as a whole is however quite quirky, which I don’t think is either a good or a bad thing, and accentually sums up the entire game very well.

Total: +5 (55/100)

Early game
The equivalent to level 1-25 in other MMO’s takes around 3-6 months in eve, as it skill system is not based on grinding quests for XP [+5] but instead on time (both logged in and not). Some have expressed fears that this would cause older players to have an unbeatable advantage over younger players. Fortunately between the player skill needed to fly ships and the level 5 cap on any in-game skills younger players specialising can quickly outstrip older players [+5]. Indeed even when an older player has specialised in the same area, a new player can quickly level the playing field to leave player skill as the only remaining decider. Although eve has a pretty fair system for newer players, there is the sticky issue of the games community. Although I will expound on the benefits of the eve community at great lengths later, in this early game section I need to express its darker side. The eve community is ruthless and harsh to new players, the learning curve is famously steep, and new players are expected to keep up or fall off the curve [-5]. No place is safe in eve online, once you leave the almost-but-not-really safety of the starter systems, your fair game to scams and ganks. You need to be preprepared for this and ready to weather the harsh storms of life in space. To counter act this though there are many communities and groups who will help you getting into eve, and even a charity for new players, of course you need to find these first [+3]. Eve is a very hard game to get into, but those who do survive tend to have a great time.

Total: +7 (62/100)

Entry to 0.0
I said at the start of this that I am a 0.0 player through and through. As such I am pretty much reviewing my experience in the game, which revolves around 0.0. Getting into 0.0 was the biggest change in my career, and without which I doubt I’d still be playing today. My transition was pretty easy, I had friends in a 0.0 (sometimes called Nullsec) space who invited me to join them. Simple as. I think this transition was maybe a little bit easier than most, but really it represents the average transition [+5]. Of course you wont be able to join one of the top alliances off the bat (unless you come from an external community like Something Awful or Reddit), but you can have fun in a lesser alliance until you have enough skill and experience under your belt to make that jump. Joining a NullSec Corp/Alliance usually follows this process:

  • Make a list of potential Corps
  • Join their Public channels (think private text chartrooms)  and chat with people about the alliance to get an idea of the group
  • Pick one that fits and speak to their recruiter
  • Jump on their Communications server (TS3, Vent or Mumble generally) for an interview
  • Join
Sure its a little officious and convoluted [-2], but that’s for their and your protection, spies are a very very real worry in eve online. Its not as bad as some people make out. Once your in (assuming you picked a good group) you should find a very welcoming and warm sub community of eve doing everything they can to earn your loyalty [+3]. Getting physically out to NullSec is potentially a little more difficult [-1]. If you have a carrier, its pretty easy going, but as a new player, the chances are your going to have not much more than a battle-cruiser at most. My best advice would be to save up around 200-300 Million Isk (it’ll seem a lot to start, but its really not) and fly out in a pod, to by the ships you need out there, but chat to the alliance recruiters about the best way of getting set up, you’ll be fighting for sovereignty before you know it. Really getting into 0.0 is as hard as you make it, and less difficult the more you plan ahead.
Total: +5 (67/100)

0.0 Life
I’m expecting to find a lot of +’s in this section, it is after-all the bit that’s kept me playing all this time. I had to describe eve online in one sentence the other day, and I went with the following: “Its a bit like Corporate espionage mixed with cowboys and naval combat, but in space” and I think that really describes what Nullsec is really like. Let me break it down for any potential new players reading. Nullsec is lawless space, unlike Highsec, where a police force hunts down criminals for committing physical crimes, in Nullsec you are free to do what ever you want to whom ever you want [+5]. Space is held and controlled by player created and maintained Alliances who jostle and manurer to exploit the space to their own means. like the ultimate Player owned housing, in eve players can have player owned Continents [+10]. Alliances are formed, wars are fought and backs are most defiantly stabbed. Actually I should revise my statement its a bit more like feudal China than cowboys, or perhaps medieval Europe. Nullsec life has many many facets; keeping up with the latest political manurers [+5], fighting wars against the sworn enemy (“We’ve always been at war with Eastasia”)[+5], or if you climb high enough, leading a nation of 5000, pilots to victory (or defeat) over another nation[+10]. Its not all ponies and rainbows though. Certain game mechanics can make the process of claiming or defending your sovereignty of a system long and boring [-5], there is also a certain aspect of luck to getting the combat you want. The best analogy really is pets; A single player game is like owning a dog. Its a bit stupid but its loyal and you can take it out for a walk any time you like. A game like World of Warcraft is a bit like the Zoo, you have to wait till you have enough friends on-line to make the visit worth itt, but as long as its open and you have the friends its great. Eve is more like owning a cat, it doesn’t love you, it puts up with you. You can feed it all you like, but it will never come to you beck and call. Sure sometimes it will sleep on your lap and rub your legs, but if you try and pick it up for a cuddle when it doesn’t want it, it will scratch you face. In null-sec the shear numbers of people and logistical pre planning that goes into a battle means that you cant just jump in to combat when you want to (there are other areas of eve where you can of course). A lot of the time when your spoiling for a fight there just wont be any combat about [-5]. This is to the point where most organised alliances have an “on call” system, where available players are logged into a chat interface like IRC or jabber. Most of the time you’ll be logged out of eve and playing other games or doing other things. Then suddenly a “ping” goes out and alerts you a fight is about to happen and you log in. You don’t so much play eve online, as eve online plays you.
Total: +20 (87/100)

As I said above, in 0.0 you don’t necessarily get to pick when you get combat, but when you do oh boy was it worth the wait. Combat in eve is varied and intense. I am going to tell you now that I have done top level raids in wow, and nothing, nothing compares to the thrill of pvp in eve. Even the last 1% of the boss you have been trying to down for a month with only 5 members of your raid group left alive gives a fraction of the adrenalin of the smallest engagement in eve [+20]. Like the rest of the game combat has lots of different aspects to it, its more than just throwing slugs at each other through the void of space[+10]. There are weapon types, damage types, tank types, ranges, tracking speed, electronic warfare and that at the lowest level of abstraction (one vs one) zoom out to fleet combat and add; tactics, searching for the enemys co-ordinates to warp to them, battlefield manipulation (called grid fu), betrayals and even dropping reinforcements into the fight. You honestly never know what’s going to happen. Even better there is very little in the actual combat system which is truly bad since Time dilation (time slows down the more events are happening in the fight to combat server lag) fights have been amazing, with the only true downside being when the enemy decided to not show up (called blue balling) which always sucks [-1].

Total: +29 (116/100)

eve is often praised for its amazing level of community which may seem a bit odd considering my statements in the Early Game section. But its one of many doublethinks in this game. The eve community is at the same time harsh and cold, and warm and welcoming[+5]. We don’t suffer fools, but we do nurture potential, if you mess up bad people will smack you down, then teach you how to do things right next time. Not only that, but in this game, if you really, really want to succeed you will need to engage with the community and research your moves to progress[+5]. You cant just log in and play, you have to join the meta game (for current eve players: meta isn’t just about spying you know, its about gaining information), and that makes for a great community [+5].

Total: +10 (126/100)

Average play session
Average is a very misleading word, the average (median or modal) play session for me would be:

  • Revive Ping
  • log in
  • fight
  • log out
but if you have read the Combat section of this review, you’ll know how un-realistic that is. Instead I will attempt to convey the Average Mean of my playtime by expressing what I do in percentages. Graph one is playtime on my main account (Nullsec combat). Graph two is my playtime across all accounts. All values are estimations on my behalf:
To score this section I am going to use Chart 2 giving each activity a fun factor from -1 to +1 and multiplying it by the number of hours played.
Combat – See Combat section
Score: +1 x 9 = 9
Moving Ships – In eve there is no real quick travel method, although carriers can kind of do this, it requires a bit of setting up first and isn’t exactly *click map and go*. every time the fights move region, you have to move with them. Its pretty boring tbh.
Score: -0.5 x -2 = -1
Fitting ships – This is actually kinda fun, but its not exactly combat really.
Score: 0.1 x 1 = 0.1
Waiting for combat –  I’m including moving to and from my home station to a fight in this section. Its kinda boring but also at the same time a good build up to fights. Assuming the fight happens. I would leave this neutral at 0 because of the anticipation, but because some times fights dont happen its gona get:
Score: -0.1 x 3 -0.3
PvE – Repetitive and kinda boring, but also required for money. It is still blowing things up (good) but nowhere near actual combat
Score: 0.3 x 5 = 1.5
Trading – My main source of income. Its a real discipline to keep doing but is in its own way a kind of pvp.
Score: 0.5 x 0.5 = 0.25
Total: +9.55 (135.55/100)
Final Thoughts
So there we have it. A 135.55 out of 100 score… well what did you expect? I have been playing this for 4 years with a total play time of over 150 days. Yes that’s an actual logged in time of just under a half year. You don’t log that kind of time unless you think its the best thing since sliced bread. This was always going to be a bias review but here is the kicker. This Blog banter will likely contain 20+ reviewers with a similar story, and lots of people are devoted to this game. The question is, “Is it for you”? well there is only one way to find out: Give it a go
Score Break down:

Starting assumption of mediocrity: 50
Interface & Controls:
Early game:
Entry to 0.0:
0.0 Life:
Average play session:

Final Score:
130.55 out of 100

One thought on “BB42: Harkconnan’s Eve Online Review

  1. Anonymous says:

    I give your review 11 out of 10.

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