This entry has been written from an ‘out of character’ perspective to discuss the recently announced winter expansion, EVE-Online: Retribution.
The winter expansion recently acquired a name; Retribution. Now we have also started to learn some more details of its content, I have to admit I’m feeling pleasantly reassured by a few things we now know.
As I recently wrote, my concern over the winter expansion was centred on how CCP would present it to the players and if it would contain much to excite the players who don’t take part in Factional warfare. I am still a little wary on that point, but thankfully less so than I was a couple of weeks ago.
The early messaging coming out of CCP was that this winter would be dedicated to finishing the work started with Inferno and on polishing ‘what is already there’ in EVE. ‘FW 3.0’ appeared to dominate the expansion, which is good in terms of delivering a polished game but bad in terms of not touching much else. The majority of players do not participate in FW, even if you do include the numerous farming alts, so what would be in it for them?
Four new destroyers is a good start. They probably won’t generate the same level of excitement as the tier 3 Battlecruisers did last winter in Crucible, but players always welcome new ships. There will also be the ORE mining frigate which may turn out to be quite popular given its mobility and gas mining bonus.
There will be continuing ‘tiericide’ which is gathering pace and will stretch as far as rebalancing all of the tech 1 cruisers. The re-purposed logistic frigates and substantially boosted T1 logistic cruisers could have an interesting effect on fleet compositions as these ships promise to be both affordable and useful. T1 cruiser gangs will probably be a thing again, so the PVP’ers will be getting a fair few toys to play with there. There may also be the controversial changes (nerf) made to Heavy Missiles along with Medium Artillery grid usage and the Hurricane.
Others have talked about those changes at length, but I’m inclined to agree with CCP. The Drake, Tengu and Hurricane are out standing ships that outclass just about everything else around them. If T1 cruisers are to be properly rebalanced then these changes need to happen now, ahead of the main Battlecruiser rebalancing. If nothing else, these changes will shake up null sec fleet doctrines and push many players towards experimenting with other ships for awhile.
And now I can’t wait any longer to tip my hat towards CCP’s curve ball in the Retribution feature set. Bounty Hunting. I did not see that coming! CCP did promise to ‘iterate upon the existing’ and as features go I expect its a relatively simple thing to implement, but I would not have guessed that an overhaul of EVE’s ever-broken bounty system might get the limelight this time around. It is a great move and I expect it will be a very popular feature.
What I am finding quite striking about Retribution though is the amount of ‘under the hood’ work that Team Five-O seem to be doing. These are the guys working on both the new crimewatch system and new NPC AI (for everything but Incursions and Sleepers). Both of those systems are truly ancient code and have remained largely unchanged since the earliest days of EVE. They both hugely important systems that could benefit EVE greatly to update and improve on.
They are also both highly sensitive topics with the players. Team Five-O get both my respect and sympathy (should they need it) for tackling these monsters. Get either very wrong and the players will not be gentle with you. If the new AI is too tough/breaks then players will resent you for ruining their income streams. Whatever you do with crimewatch someone is going to be unhappy with you, particularly the can flippers.
There is an assertion going around that high sec is going to be made even safer with these changes to crimewatch. I tentatively agree with that sentiment, mostly because some of the odd griefing loopholes of the old system are being closed. But I do think that low sec will become a more fluid PVP environment as a result, and this will far out weigh any concern I might have over making high sec a more cosy place.
Under Crime watch 2, we will be able to PVP much more often without the fear of sentry guns discouraging fights. If you attack someone out of sight of a sentry gun, then the guns will never fire upon you even if you do then warp to a station or gate. We will no longer have those long 15minute waits while a fleet sits out its criminal flagging for attacking some guy at a belt or FW plex. Instead, the gang can all immediately move on and carry on playing the game.
With the first release of Dust514 around the corner and this feature set clicking into place, Retribution is shaping up to be a more interesting expansion than first expected. I don’t think that we’ve seen the full roster yet as there was that promise of time for ‘little things’ being built into this development cycle and some new modules that didn’t make it into Inferno. All we need now is to see a few more dev blogs…