Tag Archives: Abyssal Deadspace

Abyssal Pocket Mania

But what has it got in its pocketses, eh?

-Gollum Aideron, Jita Local

Abyssal pockets, of which I was somewhat dismissive back when the Into the Abyss expansion went live, calling them “…solo PvE death dungeons… in space!” in my post about the expansion launch, have turned out to be popular.  Very popular.  Far more popular than I expected.

The lure of something new, the chance to make some fast ISK while prices were high, and the challenge of fitting for and fighting this new time limited content has combined to capture the focus of New Eden.

You can watch the page on zKillboard and see all the ships getting blown up every day. (Or if you just want to see the 1 billion ISK and up deaths, there is this page.  Even some pods can make that list.)  Trillions of ISK worth of ships have been destroyed so far in Abyssal pockets and players I never expected would go for PvE content have been draw in to the challenge of them.

I am seriously waiting for the Dev Blog from CCP on how things have gone… once they get the May MER and the CSM 13 election results out.  Abyssal fever may not last, but for the moment it is everywhere.  Streamers picked it up right away, though that was not without controversy.

CCP gave some streamers from stream fleet five calm Abyssal filaments (one of each type of the lowest tier) about half a day after the Into the Abyss expansion went live in order to get people streaming the sites that night.  However a streamer who did not get in on the free filament deal got angry on Twitter with the usual complaints about favoritism and fairness that come out whenever somebody else gets something for free. (People rarely complain about this when they are the recipients.)

This tempest in a teapot led to a side debate about the sanctity of the New Eden economy as well as everybody getting a free Abyssal filament, but the streamers were on the job all the same showing off the pretty new content.

Oddly, a lot of people excited about Abyssal pockets were not people I would have pegged for it, which is to say people who actually PvP regularly.   There seems to be a cross interest in the need to fit well and the constraints and difficulty of the content.  There has been a lot of chatter about Abyssal pockets.

Of course, not everybody is happy… but then I don’t think there is a feature in any game anywhere that could make all fans happy.  And those unhappy were not exactly a surprise.  There is a slice of PvE players who both seem to hate the dull current mission content but who also insist that they won’t run any PvE content that doesn’t have a predictable reward.  You cannot answer the “what’s the ISK per hour” question with any certainty, and that makes some people angry.

And the randomness of the rewards is clearly a thing here.  I have been through sites where none of the rooms dropped any rewards and sites where all three rooms have had something for me.

And that statement is a clear indication that I have spent some time running Abyssal pockets with the crowd.

My main problem with the content is that I am a cheapskate and I don’t really want to invest in expensive ships that I am likely going to lose.  So I have taken a different tack, which has been to fly the cheapest ship I can put together on an alt and still survive.  While the market for heavy assault cruisers is booming… and prices for them keep going up as demand tries to drain the market… I have been trying to keep expenses down by sticking with T1 hulls.

My first run was with a medium blaster Thorax I had sitting on an alt.  It was already insured and fit, so I just jigged it around to be a little more tanky, grabbed some faction drones and ammo, and headed off willy nilly into an Abyssal pocket.

Thorax on the move

The Thorax wasn’t a huge mistake.  It actually made it through one calm pocket, but that was mostly on accident.  However on the second run I hit a room that was all fast frigates and I found I had brought nothing to slow them down.  So while my drones worked away my blasters couldn’t touch the ships.  The frigates burned me down before my drones could finish their work and that was that.

About to collect my insurance money

Once my Thorax was kindling for the Abyssal fire, I decided that a Caracal might be a better choice.  My alt has some missile skills.  They couldn’t do tech II heavy missiles, but they could manage meta launchers and faction missiles.  Add in a pair of faction drones, a couple of ballistic control systems and a target painter to help damage application, and then pile on resists and a shield booster and I figured it might work out, and it wasn’t even that expensive.

Caracal in the pocket

That again seemed to work out fine for a few runs.  But then I drew a room with five striking Davamiks, the Triglavian frigate, and then damage application became an issue.  Theirs was really good and mine was not.  I managed to burn one down, but they were hot on me.

Davamiks on parade… and my drones on the wrong target

I wasn’t too concerned about my drones as I was learning that I needed a shield buffer and not shield boosts.

Caracal brewing up in the pocket

I dug around looking for some buffer tank examples of Caracals and hit upon the post over at INN about various Abyssal pocket fits, which included a Navy Caracal.  Since my alt could do tech II light missile launchers, the rapid light launchers in that fit were an option as were the fury and precision missiles.  The Navy Caracal is considerably more expensive, but its price hasn’t spiked up the way the popular Gila or Ishtar has, so I thought I would give that a try.

Caracal among the rocks

The buffer tank and rapid light launchers with tech II missiles worked much better.  I hit a point where I could run any of the calm pockets with my alt.  There is, of course, a temptation to start running the next tier up.

As for loot, as noted above, it can be fairly random.  I have ended up with a few BPC drops for the new disintgrator ammo and some of the raw materials for building the new Triglavian ships and weapon systems, either of which makes a run easily profitable.  Filaments are the other main drop, and there is a market for them, but supply is pressing hard on demand, forcing down the prices.  The day after the expansion went live calm filaments were nearly 20 million ISK on the Jita market.  The next day they were under 10 million.  Now they are hovering just over a million each.

I am certainly not going to get rich running the tier 1 sites.  But I am mostly playing the tourist right now.  I’m going in to see the various scenes and take screen shots, a gallery of which you will find below.  Whatever else you want to say about Abyssal pockets, they sure are some pretty stretches of space.

Lost Dungeons of New Eden

This past Saturday I wrote about the EverQuest Agnarr server, one of Daybreak’s progression servers, and passed over at one point one of the expansions slated for it, Lost Dungeons of Norrath.

The main focus of that expansion was instanced content, a brand new concept for EverQuest at the time.  They were dungeons that came in a few basic flavors that had some variations between them, allowed the players running them to choose a difficulty level, and ended up rewarding players with “augmentations” that they could use to upgrade their current gear.

It was a moment of change for EverQuest and MMORPGs in general.

Saturday evening I decided to log onto the EVE Online test server, Sisi, where early cuts at the upcoming abyssal deadspace content had been made available for people to try.

The “How to” aspect of this new feature wasn’t obvious to me, but I found the thread about trying it out in the forums, which at least got me pointed in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure what ship or fitting I ought to try, so I just used my ratting Ishtar fit and figured I would adjust from there.  Everything on Sisi is 100 ISK and the market is stocked with all the non-faction non-officer hulls and modules, so you can grab what you want.  When grabbing some ammo I accidentally bought 2,000 Ishtar hulls, but what the hell right?  It is all 100 ISK.

I then grabbed a “calm” filament, the level 1 flavor and headed out to give it a try.

Ishtar in an Abyssal pocket

The tiers run like this:

  1. Calm
  2. Agitated
  3. Fierce
  4. Raging
  5. Chaotic

And each comes in variations, the difference between which I have yet to see.

Tiers and types of filaments

I spent most of the first run fiddling with my drones to figure out what would work and what I ought to skip.  All the NPCs had placeholder names, but they were either ships or drones.  I seemed to be running into just Sleepers, but that might be related to which filaments I picked.

It seemed that 5x Acolyte IIs would eat up anything small and be able to dodge incoming fire.  Mediums and heavies were too easy to hit and I had to pull them right away.  So I plowed through a room, went through the gate, which opens up once you’ve cleared, then did another room, and then another, and then was back in normal space again wondering when I would get my prize.

I knew that ships did not drop loot, so skipped past them, but I didn’t notice the part about blowing up the structure in each room.  That is the loot pinata.  So I grabbed another calm filament and gave it another try.  This time I broke all the pinatas and came out the other side unscathed.

That run dumped a bunch of loot on me, though the loot payout is cranked up at the moment, well beyond what it will be when it goes live, to let people experiment with drops.  I got a mutaplasmid for a large shield extender so bought one off the market to mutate it.  The result was okay.

Mutated shield extender II

CPU usage went down but power grid went up.  Sig radius got a little bit worse, but the shield hit points were boosted quite a bit.  Not a bad mutation I guess.  And the newly created module shows you what was initially mutated and what got better or worse.

The after module

It also has a button to find that sort of thing in contracts, since these items won’t be on the normal market.  I am going to guess that contract usage will jump sharply when these are introduced and that we might get a pass on the contract UI after a lot of people are suddenly using them more than ever before.

I also had a mutaplasmid for a medium shield booster, so I grabbed a tech II version and ran it through the process… and ended up wrecked.

Worse for the tinkering

I also got a tier 4 filament drop so decided to give that a try.  That went less well.  I managed to blow up small stuff in the usual way… a pack of cruisers in this case… with acolyte IIs, leaving me with a Sleep battleship once they were out of the way.

Sleek Sleeper Seeking Me

And even that seemed to be going well.  I pulled in the acolytes and sent heavy drones after the battleship.  Not problems at all…. right up until my ship suddenly exploded and I was dead.

And that was that

I am not sure what did me in really.  I may have flown into a pocket of toxic space.  The timer may have run out.  Nothing in the feedback (or in the logs) indicated what happened.  Something just turned my ship into mush, ripping through armor and hull in a flash before I could react and do anything.  Surprise!

That threw me to where my death clone was set.  From there I had to move to a station that had stuff up on the market then set about fitting another ship.  I decided to go with an Eagle this time.  It could hold the five acolyte IIs I’d need and I thought the guns might speed things up.

Eagle on a run

As it turned out, nothing I could do would make medium rails track the small drones once they closed range, but my own drones took care of them as expected.  Being able to reach out and shoot larger targets seemed to work okay.  And I could pop the structure right away.

Structure going up as the gate opens

I ran some tier 1 and 2 versions just to get a feel for it.  It sure looks pretty.

Eagle waiting for the gate to open

My tour ended when I had another insta-pop event.  This time I didn’t even see things change, I was flying one moment and dead the next.  The logs don’t show anything, just my drones popping away at the small stuff… and it was all small stuff.  Maybe I hit a mine.  I don’t think the timer ran down… but there is no visible timer, so I am not sure.

Just before my sudden demise

Anyway, that was enough for me to get at least some flavor of what is in store.  I might try it again as we get closer to the Into the Abyss expansion release and things have settled down some.

But as I tinkered around with all of this my brain kept making the link with the Lost Dungeons of Norrath expansion for EverQuest.  Here we have players being given instanced content, able to choose the style and challenge up front while the actual layout comes from a set group of possibilities, and offering up items that augment current equipment as a possible reward.

Nothing new in the world I guess.

Unfortunately my impression so far is that abyssal deadspace has all the drawbacks of of PvE in EVE Online; It is fun and interesting the first couple of times, but it becomes tiresome on repetition.  And there is the insta-death timer thing.  I don’t know enough to know if that is avoidable or if we’re going to get a visible timer, but it will rile people up when it happens on the live server.  People do not like to get their shit blown up.

In the end some people will optimize and do abyssal deadspace for the rewards, and then complain about having to grind and the lack of predictability in getting what they wanted.

And that leaves aside the whole RNG module upgrade element, which already has people annoyed, as well as the strange new contract marketplace that will spring up where you’ll have to be very careful to inspect whatever you buy because every mutated module could be different.

That it doesn’t appeal to me doesn’t mean much in the larger scheme of things.  Somebody will love it.  There is a niche fan base out there for every feature.  But will it be a draw for enough people to have been worth the effort?  Will it change the game in a good way?