EVE Online: The Second Genesis
This MMORPG is already a couple of months available, but it takes time before you understand most of it. So this review is not the first to appear on the web… but at least it is not made after 2 hours of gaming. And actually it is not made by me alone, I’ve called the help of a friend who is playing EVE for the last 5 months. (The maniac…)
EVE is set in the far future. No dungeon and dragon stuff, but intergalactic travels. Around the year 7700, mankind has travelled a long way into know space already, and settled on many planets. Then a strange wormhole (they called it EVE) is discovered, allowing travel to unknown area’s of the galaxy. Scientists are afraid this wormhole is not very stable and they start to work on a device that can replace the wormhole. Some time later the hole disappears indeed, but mankind keeps on travelling via the new Star Gates. Until for some reason that also becomes impossible! Mankind is spread across the Universe but they can’t get back to mother Earth. Every colony has to become self-sufficient or dye.
This goes on for thousands of years, and humanity evolves. 5 different species are the result: the Amarr, the Caldari, the Gallente, the Minmatar and the rather mysterious Jovians.
At the start of the game, you have to create your avatar. You can choose from the four available races, (Jovians are not possible) all with their own strengths and weakness. Choose carefully because there is no way back. You can have up to 3 characters, so you can just as well do this by trial-and-error, but that is time consuming. On the other hand, reading the 80 pages of the manual is also taking some time…
There is a lot you can choose. Not only your physical appearance but also you have to determine in what direction you want to go. Will you be the leader of a corporation? Will you become the fighter to protect the valuable miners? Will you be the miner who is important for the wallet of the corporation? Or are you the pilot who delivers the goods? Trader? Pirate? Researcher? You see, the points that you give to the different parameters will affect how good you will be able in certain skills.
The physical appearance is important if you keep the little picture of yourself in the corner of the screen. You don’t have to do that, almost everything is customizable, and thus it is not even sure your friend or opponents will see it because they can choose to not see it. But still, you would want to show the rest of the community who you are, not?
What others will see is the spaceship you are in. That is a small beginners ship, worth nothing, capable of flying at minimum speed and only good to mine some cheap minerals. But you have to start with something to get the oh-so-needed money to buy a better ship. Money is called ISK’s in EVE and you will spend an important part of your first days to try and get as much of it as you can.
Those first days are not funny at all, you have to get through them to start getting more involved in the vast world that EVE delivers. And that this world is huge is something you’ll discover when you want to start selling your precious minerals to a market a little further away. It takes minutes in real time to travel to other places. If you know that there are more then 5000 possible destinations, you see that it will take some time before you can say that you’ve seen it all. One thing is good; you don’t have to be a good pilot to go to other destinies. You don’t notice that you are flying upside-down… Just click on your destiny and the rest goes automatically.
The travel to other markets, planets, asteroids and so on, is not without danger. You started in a 1.0 zone. This zone is safe, the Police will protect you, together with huge sentry guns. If you travel further away from your starting point, you will encounter lower safety area’s. From zone 0.4 on there is no more police, in 0.0 the law of the strongest rules. But before you get to those places you will be a lot stronger yourself. Your noob ship from the start will be a battleship by then, equipped with a bunch of lasers and more armour then you can imagine. And you will not be alone probably…
It is possible to play this game on your own, without working together with others. You can become a pirate if you like, but even then it is better to join a player corporation that is interested in doing that. Why would you play an online game if you like to solo? Play Homeworld or Freelancer instead, that’s cheaper. The mentioned corporations are player-made. It is best to join a corporation in your starting area. These corporations can communicate with other corporations to work together, or to start a war, whatever you like. Not all is about fighting of course, there are other possibilities to party…
As said, mining is not the only thing you can do. Name something that is useful in outer space, and you can do it. There are no levels in this game, instead you have to train yourself in certain area’s. For example, you can learn to get smarter, to be able to do something with that rare blueprint that you’ve found. That will make it possible to refine your minerals quicker. This training happens in real time. The first level of specialization takes 15 minutes. The higher you are in an area, the longer the next level takes. Very nice is that this real time training can be done when you are offline… During your real life sleep, you will become better, smarter, faster in EVE! Planning your 3 weeks of vacation in function of your career in EVE is a little over the top, but it is possible. And I am sure that people are doing that. Not really planning when they go on holiday, but before they are away for a longer time they are starting a new training… You can only train one skill at the time so don’t expect to be a number one player when you return, but it helps.
Let’s talk a bit about the pro’s and contra’s of EVE. On the pro side: the graphics are wonderful. If you think about it, that is something you would expect, most of the screen is black in space, but the parts that are coloured really look nice and very active. You’ll see lights everywhere, be it the result of your lasers on other planes, the mining traces or whatever. What you hear is nice also. The soundtrack is never overwhelming but it does what it has to do. If you don’t like it you can even listen to your favourite mp3’s although that would spoil a bit of the atmosphere. So for eyes and ears: only pro’s. The contra’s are the same for all online games I’ve come across. There are bugs in this kind of games. I can’t name one, because you’ll see that this is just the bug they removed with the next update. These updates happen on a regular base. Every day in fact. Indeed, every day there is a 1 hour lasting period that the development team can use to implement new things or remove bugs. Wine and games like this one get better and better in time.
So, no special contra’s. Only the steep learning curve can be a problem for the beginning player. You won’t master this game quick, but on the other hand, it is meant to be something to keep you busy for a longer time. And it will keep you busy; once you get the feeling for it it can even become too addictive. But if you are the social player who loves futuristic settings, with a lot of possibilities, a lot of flying around and fighting when needed, this is your game. Just don’t forget your real life friends!