EVE Online Review
8.5our score

Well. Where do I start? I am sure everyone has heard of EVE Online in one way or another. Be it from seeing articles about large scale fights with losses worth hundreds of thousands of real life money, cons, blackmail, betrayal, sleepless nights. All of this has been documented many times on the usual gaming mediums but recently has been hitting the likes of BBC and Daily Mail.

EVE Online is a harsh yet addicting and fun game and has been increasing in subscriptions steadily since launch. The main boom of new players directly follows these large scale fights as they hit the news. EVE is a very large and complex game, but it can also be very simple. I will try and give a review without going into too much detail, but still covering enough information to get a grasp on the game. Before we get into the thick of this review let me break down what you can expect from this game.

  • An unforgiving universe.
  • Scams, theft, piracy, betrayal. All legal.
  • A large player run economy, so large in fact CCP employ market analysts.
  • A true sandbox. You can do pretty much anything you want.
  • Loss of sleep.

The Game

EVE Online is a Massively Multiplayer Online game in space! The persistent universe of New Eden is a single universe with over 300,000 subscribers. The universe is so vast a lot of the busiest systems have their own dedicated node in the datacenter where EVE Online is based. Battles are sometimes so large that CCP ask for notification ahead of a planned battle so they can dedicate that system to a powerful node to handle the load. Even then, the system in question is put into time dilation to allow the server to process all the requests without falling over. Most recently, there was a battle with over 4000 players and the system in question was slowed down almost 90% to handle the 14-hour battle.

The game is a huge sandbox where you can do anything you like within the confides of the engine and the skills available. I started out many moons ago when EVE Online was still young. Since then it has seen 20 free expansions, the latest of which is called Rubicon. You start as a capsular, a clone basically, of one of the four major factions/empires.

The universe of New Eden

The universe of New Eden.

Each empire has it’s own extensive background, lore, and play-style. After you have chosen your Faction, your first mission is to go through the tutorial. If you have played this before or are creating a second account, you can easily skip this part, but if this is your first time it is highly recommended you follow it. These are broken down into a number of different agents who will assign you missions to teach you different aspects of the game ranging from mining materials, manufacturing components, all the way through to exploration, scanning, and the military. Along the way you are handed certain rewards like free ships, modules and money in the form of Interstellar Kredits or ISK. By the time you have finished all these tutorials you can expect to fly away with a half dozen various ships, modules and about 5 million ISK. You are now free to do whatever you like. And I mean anything.

Skills and Attributes

It’s all about the skills and attributes in EVE. Skills are what most people would refer to as experience points – they are how you progress in the game to obtain and use better ships and modules and gain certain bonuses like increased standing with mission agents, factions and corporations. There are even skills to reduce tax, enable you to run your own corporation and so on. In fact, there are so many skills in the game it would take you over 18 years of playing EVE to train all the available skills at this time.

Training requires time, and the higher and more advanced the skill, the longer it takes. The speed at which these skills can be trained also depends on your attribute setup; each skill has a primary and secondary attribute so naturally the skill will train faster if these attributes on your character are higher. There are 5 attributes: Charisma, Intelligence, Memory, Perception and Willpower. Initially, all characters start with all attributes at 20, with the exception of charisma at 19. There are only two ways to change them. You could use a neural remap, which raises some attributes at the expense of lowering others. Alternatively, attributes can be improved by plugging in implants.

There are so many skills in the game it would take you over 18 years of playing EVE to train all of them.

As they say, time is money. Because a neural remap is only available every 12 months, players have taken to planning what skills they need to train 12+ months in advance. Attributes are then remapped accordingly to optimise the skill plan in question. But do not worry, all the hard work has been done for you to get the best out of your skill tree. Every new player is always advised to get themselves the tool Evemon that will monitor your skill training to let you know when it finishes and allows you to import plans and create your own plans to optimise your skill training. The only restriction to the system is how the skill queue works. You may only have skills queued up that can start within 24 hours, but the last skill in the queue can end in more than 24 hours. So you could have four short skills queued, then add a fifth that is many days long, as long as the fifth skill starts training within the 24 hour period.

Your early career will be spent playing with your skill queue, but when you start training higher skills, some can take over 20 days to train. This may all seem daunting but the tutorials at the start of the game run you through skill training as well. A lot of the books for training can be bought from all major trade and mission stations (hubs), though the more specialised skill books require a bit of hunting around or buying off of other players.

Getting rich in EVE

Just a small mining operation.

Just a small mining operation.

Accumulating virtual wealth is the dream of most gamers when it comes to online games, and more so in EVE due to the unique way of turning a pay-to-play game into a free-to-play game. As mentioned earlier, EVE‘s currency is called ISK (InterStella Kredits) and with any MMO, ISK can be gained by killing NPCss, running missions, selling loot, trading, mining and various other ways. Alongside this is the Pilot License Extension (PLEX) – an item that adds 30 days of game time to your account. It can be converted from any game time code or purchased with real money. Once a PLEX is redeemed, it appears as an in-game item that pilots can trade on the market. Because redeemed PLEX are treated like any other in-game item, they can be lost, stolen, or even destroyed. This offers an alternative way for people to pay for their subscription without the use of more conventional payment methods. Pilots can purchase game time simply by playing and purchasing PLEX from other pilots with in-game resources.

This can serve two purposes. If you are in need of ISK and have a good real life income, you can buy PLEX and then sell them in game for a nice little ISK injection. And if you are an in-game entrepreneur and ISK is easy to come by, you can simply purchase PLEX in-game and add 30 days of game-time to your account. Effectively you will be playing for free. Both ways CCP still get the money for the time, and this system has worked well for many years now.

If you are an in-game entrepreneur and ISK is easy to come by, you can simply purchase PLEX in-game and add 30 days of game-time to your account. Effectively you will be playing for free.

Gameplay

EVE‘s game-play can be as easy or as complex as you want to make it. Myself, I like the simple things. I go out and do some mining, I build a few small items myself, I fly around exploring, picking up a couple of missions, and go shoot some NPCs while playing with all the options and enjoying how good things look. There are however more exciting things you can do.

The universe of New Eden is divided not only by the Faction territories, but also by what is called security status. There are police called CONCORD that patrol the higher security systems. The lower the security, the longer it will take CONCORD to react. They do however guarantee punishment in the systems they police. Of course, this doesn’t deter players from attempting to kill other players in high-security space.

The system security status can range from -1.0 to 1.0 with 1.0 being the highest and generally safest systems, usually where all the new players start. Between 0.4 to 0.1 space is known as Low Sec and anything below is Null Sec. Low and Null Sec is relatively lawless allowing unprovoked attacks to go largely unpunished. In simple terms, you can look at system security as a difficulty rating which can effect the following:

  • The varieties of ore that can be found at asteroid belts within a system.
  • The presence and variety of Ice Fields or Gas Clouds.
  • The frequency and difficulty of random rat spawns. (NPC ships that spawn at asteroid belts.)
  • The average difficulty level of Deadspace Complexes.
  • The average difficulty class of Wormhole links.

As well as system security, every player has their own security status. This is your reputation. If you commit criminal activities, your security status will decrease, and if you are law-abiding and kill certain pirate NPCs you can raise your security status. The lower the status, the more likely you are to be attacked by NPC police and faction ships, even in high security space. On your interface while in space there is a nice shiny green light – this is basically your difficulty lock. While green, you will get confirmation boxes before performing certain illegal actions or actions that would lower your status. If you click this lock you can disable these warnings.

This could be considered a small skirmish.

This could be considered a small skirmish.

With the actual game-play, you are free to do what you wish. You can jump into a battleship and fly around shooting pirates, train up a freighter and transport goods from system to system hoping to make a profit, or you could grab trading skills and just sit in a main trading station and try your hand on the market. I myself dabble in a bit of everything. Flying your ship is also relatively easy. It’s not hands on like most simulators, rather it’s more a case of tell the ship where you want to go and if you want to orbit, stay at a certain range or fly towards your target. What limited free flying you can do is by double clicking a spot in space to fly to. This is a let down for some people, but EVE‘s an MMO and not a simulation after all.

The mechanics are done well. The larger your ship is, the slower it will accelerate, turn and, well, pretty much everything is slower. Of course, training appropriate skills will help with this as well as adding certain modules to your ship. The same is said for combat; larger ships have a harder time hitting smaller ones. Adding modules to your ship can increase your signature radius that will allow others to target you more quickly and for you to target them more slowly. There is a balance, and this is why there is generally a large variety of fits people use on their ships.

EVE also has a rather nice way of keeping track of your kills. There’s the combat log on your character sheet, but outside the game you have what are called Kill Boards. Many people have them hosted on third-party sites, and there are a number of large boards out there showing some impressive kills and sometimes quite embarrassing kills. A couple examples of this are the BattleClinic Kill Board and EVE Kill Killboard. All these methods can show you what the value of the loss was, what items dropped, what was lost and who was involved in the attacks.

Graphics

For a 10 year old game, the graphics are pretty damn good! Since then they have updated textures, shaders etc etc so the game still looks modern and new. One of the more recent expansions included actual visual missile launchers. Now, you can zoom in and watch the missiles being fired and reloaded in the turrets and, the pathing and trajectory has been worked on to make it all look nice and realistic. There has also been discussions on the forums pushing for even higher textures to be made available. That being said, the specifications to run the game are still relatively modest.

Just showing off my ride, a Caldari Raven.

Just showing off my ride a Caldari Raven

Even though the game revolves around you in your ship, there is, when docked in a station, the ability to walk around your quarters, sit on a sofa and watch the news on the big screen. There were plans to allow complete walk-in stations, and although it would be a very nice feature, this has not made it into the game and some say it’s unlikely to. There is, however, a very customizable and highly detailed character customization when you start the game – you can even move lighting, change facial features like smiles, eyes, and the way your head tilts. Once you are finished and happy with your character you can take a series of photos and then choose the best one to use as your avatar in game.

To enhance the customization further, CCP introduced the Noble Exchange (NEX) into the game, giving players the opportunity to purchase clothing and other items to customize your character. Currency for the NEX store is called Aurum (AUR) and can be gained by converting a PLEX into Aurum. This in essence adds micro transactions to the game. Being purely cosmetic, a lot of people opt to not use the system at all.

I am a massive sci-fi fan and just love flying around in my ship, admiring the atmosphere and scenery.

All in all, the graphics and appearance of the game in general is quite up to date. You can zoom in to ships, take a close look at your local star and planets stations, and it all looks great. I am a massive sci-fi fan so I just love the atmosphere that the game brings, flying around in space admiring the system, warping past the sun and getting light flares on the screen as you pass. The effects are also pretty – just the right amount of explosions, flashing and eye candy to make everyone happy. There has been recent discussions and dev blogs from CCP showing work on actual high detailed wreckages and physics for the explosions that when introduced into the game will make it all much more realistic and a great addition.

Sound

Sound in EVE is much like Marmite – it’s a love hate relationship with a lot of people. Sound effects for explosions, weapons fire, travel and interface are all nicely done and in just the right amount to give a good experience. The real Marmite analogy comes from the music. Personally, I like a lot of the music in the game. The music has a classical simple feel to it and can be quite relaxing, but it’s not everyone’s taste. But never fear! You have the ability to add your own music to your game by dropping your mp3s in the right folders, and they will show up on the in-game jukebox to be played while you happily fly around New Eden.

Story

There is a mass of lore to be had. Every faction has it’s own back story and an on-going story. While docked in a station, you can see all the latest news and information from your quarters. This includes current wars, pirates, bounties and even market information. EVE has recently started a comic based on New Eden, and there’s also a lot of fan fiction. There’s plenty to keep even the most keen role player interested. There have even been a number of fan made movies and videos, the most popular of which being the Clear Skies series.

Catching up on some news in my quarters

Catching up on some news in my quarters.

The only downside is the mission stories. The missions need a overhaul; there are a set number of missions and it’s pretty much random what mission you are given by an agent when you ask for one. The locations can change but the mission has the same story to it and requires the same play-through. Some discussion on the forums about suggestions on improving the missions have cropped up, including stuff with dynamic stories, more variety etc etc. Hopefully in time more lore and better writing will be introduced into missions.

Conclusion

I can’t help it I love this game. I’m no dedicated hardcore player who roams low/null sec, scamming people, waging corporate war. I’m a simple player who just enjoys the game, one of those that happily sit there with 4 accounts mining while watching Star Trek. But all that aside, if you can get pass the not-so-steep learning curve, have your wits about you not to prevent being scammed and always listen to the motto do not fly what you can not afford to lose, then this game is great.

The great thing about EVE is it could be played for free, given a small effort using the PLEX system. I have a feeling that the game will be around for a good few years yet, and the player statistics reflect that with a steady increase in subscribers. As long as the media keep covering large scale battles, it will never be hard to find new players in the game. With regular sales on Steam, buddy and sidekick programs always running, it wont cost much to give it a try.

I have a feeling that the game will be around for a good few years yet and the statistics reflect that with a steady increase in subscribers.

I noticed I’ve rambled on a bit but it’s difficult to review something like EVE because of how deep and complex the game can get and much requires a fair amount of explaining. And to think, I have only scratched the surface of what you can do. If you give it a go and like it and fancy some PvP then check out the RvB alliance. If you need help learning the ropes, then check out EVE University. Either way, there is a lot still to find out and to do in EVE so I hope to see you all in New Eden!

Pros:

  • Huge sandbox
  • Player driven economy
  • Spaceships! PEW PEW!
Cons:

  • Unforgiving
  • Legal Scamming
  • Can be a bit overwhelming

 

The embarrassing photo of me!

The embarrassing photo of me!

Here’s my Buddy Link: click for a free trial.

System Requirements

Minimum System Requirements:
OS: Windows XP Service Pack 2 / Vista / 7 / 8
CPU: Intel Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz, AMD Dual Core @ 2.0 GHz
RAM: XP SP2 – 1 GB / Vista and newer – 2 GB Video: AMD Radeon 2600 XT or NVIDIA GeForce 8600 GTS

Recommended System Requirements:
OS: Windows 7 / 8
CPU: Intel i7 Series or AMD X4 @ 2.0 GHz or greater
RAM: 4 GB or higher Video: AMD Radeon 6790 or NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 or better with at least 1 GB VRAM

the author

Author at ManaPool. Working in the IT industry but with a strong passion for gaming, Gary resides near Brighton, England. He has tactical superiority of RTS games but likes to dabble in turn-based to provide entertainment for the founder of Manapool Peter. Known for hopping from MMO to MMO Gary has a wide array of experience playing MMO's but is hard to impress after playing the likes of Ultima Online and Anarchy Online. Also known for bad typing and rambling.