It is the day, the day the Ascension expansion hits EVE Online.
Today is one of those dividing points, a time when everything changes, a point from which will be reckoned a brand new era in New Eden. For many long time subscribers, everything before today is now history, and everything after will be
the new shit that ruined the game the grand experiment that changed the universe.
Free to play has come. CCP has opened the door and invited everybody in without a cover charge or a two drink minimum. And seriously, this can be a game where two drinks often aren’t even enough… literally or metaphorically. Clones states are here.
We can split hairs over what *really* constitutes “free” in “free to play,” whether the restrictions on Alpha clones make this more of an unlimited trial or a bonafide free experience. All I know is that you can make a character, fly in space, shoot people, and never be asked to pay a dime. That sounds pretty damn free to me.
Well, you will be asked to pay a dime. Many dimes. In fact, I am pretty sure you will be pestered to do so incessantly.
It would be remiss of CCP to not throw some of that Candy Crush Saga-esque “Oh, you want more? Well pay up!” persuasion in the game. But you will not be obligated in any way to do so. You can choose, as I do with Candy Crush Saga, to look at free to play as challenge mode where anything you accomplish is all the sweeter because you did it the hard way.
If all Ascension had for us was free to play and things related to that, it would be a huge deal. That alone could be the biggest thing in a long time for EVE Online, a game that thrives on having more players.
But that is not all that Ascension brings with it. What is left would still be a super feature packed expansion even if the whole free to play thing was not part of the deal. That list includes:
- Engineering Complexes
- Revamped Fleet Boosting
- Updated Titan Boosts
- Seriously Updated Rorqual Abilities and other Mining Foreman Changes
- New Explosions and Wrecks
- New Ship SKIN Tech, News SKINs, and SKIN sales
- A Completely Redone New Player Experience (Newly created accounts only if I recall right)
- New Character Sheets
- A New, In-Game Ship Fitting Simulation
- NPC Mining Operations with Defense Fleets and Strongboxes (which we’re promised won’t become free to play lockboxes)
That is most of the list from the Updates page, but there are also the Patch Notes for the expansion, which include many smaller items going into this release. And little, of any of this, is non-controversial. EVE Online is like any MMORPG where every feature is somebody’s favorite so changing any feature pisses somebody off… and Ascension is changing some fairly substantial features.
But there it is, deployed already.
I am excited… but also a bit anxious. There will be bugs… there is already a patch set to drop at the next downtime. And then there is the whole New Player Experience, the fourth since I started playing the game. It is a directed story line that gets players involved with the empires and their lore, different for each of the four empires. That is a fairly radical departure from the opportunities system that was in place until today.
So, if you have been waiting to try EVE Online… erm… maybe wait for the weekend to jump in, once there have been a few post expansion fixes deployed. Or just jump right in. Sometimes a good bug can be a formative experience in a game. But CCP wants you to come give it a try. There are many things you can do with an Alpha clone. I expect all groups catering to new players will have Alpha clone compatible doctrines. I even have my own Alpha clone trained up. His skill plan wrapped up yesterday (though I had already brought him out for a trial run), at which point I started on a second one.
Others are talking about Ascension naturally enough, and while the focus is on Alpha clones, there is a lot of other things in play today as I noted above.
Finally, it wouldn’t be EVE Online if there wasn’t a new song for a new expansion.