So, having nothing better to do with my time until Pandageddon and poking around for Something Else To Do On The Netherweb, I came across a free 14-day trial of EVE Online. I’ve only heard a few things about it, though a guildie did tell me that “EVE’s the kind of game that every MMO player needs to experience, if only to see how a toxic community can obliterate an otherwise excellent game.”
So I tried it. And because I did, you don’t have to.
First, let me get something out of the way. People tell you how hard EVE Online is. They tell you that the learning curve is brutal. They post links to pics like this one:
Well, here’s the secret: It’s really not.
The tutorials aren’t as friendly as WoW’s are, but if you go through them carefully and pay attention, you’ll have the basic skills down solid. Read the mission text, do what they tell you to, realize that the game is based around skills not levels or items, and use the in-game web browser to Google where your understanding of the tutorials fail. Then, Arthas help you, you can ask for help in the Rookie Help Chat channel, where one brave, helpful ISD volunteer will help you and four or five or twenty other players will mock you with bigoted epithets.
I really enjoyed playing. Here’s my character, Korobase Aulx-Gao:
Even kinda derping around, I learned to keep an eye on the certificates – which have no other purpose than to give you some idea of how to prioritize your skills (and isn’t that enough?). I learned that there were four factions, and I put my time in helping out the least objectionable factions and corporations and avoiding the rest. I learned to avoid anyone whose name came up yellow or red on my overview unless they were in a shuttle or a pod. And that took me about two days.
About the “hardest” thing to do is use scan probes (basically satellites) to scan a system for anomalies, which can lead to various kinds of goodies. Once you get that you can use more than one probe at once, and the more probes you have getting a signal from whatever-it-is the better chance you have of finding it, the task moves from “difficult” to “tedious”. And this is the part of the game the game company put a supplemental tutorial on YouTube for! Look, I get this, and I live in a quasi-medieval culture where “orbit” is where you go when you listen to a goblin when he says “Here, hold this a minute. I’m sure I’ve got it working.”
So what the game like? The game, itself, is pretty fun. Skills are everything in EVE Online – proper skill advancement can let you use bigger ships, get more damage out of the ship you have – even use equipment that you couldn’t use at lower skills due to power and CPU constraints. You can start as any of the factions, and learn to use any of the other factions’ ships as well as your own. There’s a lot of combat, both against NPC pirates (or “rats”) and other PC gankers/griefers (or “assholes”) but that’s not the only path to success in EVE Online. You can improve your mining skills and be able to make a decent amount of money getting raw materials for industrialists within a few days of starting.
This graphic shows the things that you can do in Eve Online. Notice how many of them involve ruining someone else’s day (or in the case of wrecking player-owned stations for lulz and profit, wrecking someone else’s year). Yeah.
The other thing my guildie said was “EVE is so big that it could probably support 10x the playerbase and still be pretty spacious. Even in this environment, the griefers have still turned it into a murdering and corrupt series of kleptocracies only tolerated because its too late for change.” And with that, I think she nailed it.
Korobase Aulx-Gao will still be there waiting for me to subscribe. And unless a lot of the culture of the player community changes, the culture that lets players tell me “EVE Online is completely based on group play” and then say “You cannot trust anyone you meet in EVE, at all, ever” in the next Arthas-damned sentence then I expect that she’ll be waiting a long, long time.
If you do play, drop in the E-UNI channel. A number of the players there are helpful, or at least not actively malevolent. Try not to tell them where you are, though. Shoutout to Heo Hyungie, who offered to help me with the Sisters of Eve story arc and then actually did it without stabbing me in the back or anything, despite piloting a battlecruiser that could one-shot every ship I ever owned in the trial simultaneously.
And good luck. You’ll need it.