Tag Archives: MMO Expansions

The Invasion Expansion Arrives in EVE Online

Today is the day, the Invasion expansion for EVE Online is here.

The Invasion is now

The Triglavian theme is right up front as the expansion features three new Triglavian ships.  They are:

  • Nergal – Assault Frigate
  • Ikitursa – Heavy Assault Cruiser
  • Draugur – Command Destroyer

These are tech II ships, which means that there must also be the related skills, Triglavian Encryption Methods and ,Triglavian Encryption Methods as well as Triglavian Quantum Engineering datacores and Triglavian tech II components, so that players can go through the invention process to build these new ships.

There will also now be Mutaplasmids for modifying Damage Control and Assault Damage Controls modules.

In addition, there is this item in the patch notes:

The Triglavian Collective have begun to exert influence on systems within of the Hi-Security regions of New Eden. Escalating System-wide effects have been observed and Triglavian forces are roaming these systems in varied fleet sizes and compositions. Rumors spreading from capsuleer expeditions into abyssal deadspace indicate that these first waves of Triglavian vessels may be the vanguard of a larger invasion force yet to reveal itself.

This is no doubt the “invasion” to which the expansion refers, but as to what it means and how intrusive it will be in high sec space is left to be seen.  The trailer for the expansion is clearly focused on something happening as well.

However, we don’t know what it all really means, whether these will be like incursions or pirate faction FOBs or something completely new, though I am sure the whole thing will make somebody angry.

The expansion also brings round four of the War Declaration revamp.  With the expansion any aggressive war will now require the attacker to declare an Upwell structure as their HQ.  Destruction or removal of the HQ will end the war and the attacking party will not be able to declare war on the same target until a two week cool-down has passed.

The cost of wars has now been simplified.  They are a straight up 100 million ISK per week.

Mutual wars have also been simplified and do not have a weekly charge to maintain.

There is also a big revamp of The Agency as part of the expansion.

The New Agency?

The old user interface of The Agency represented the conflict between good intentions and poor execution, so we will see if CCP has been able to act on the many complaints about their all-in-one PvE content finder.

Other highlights from the expansion:

  • Faction, storyline, and office weapons can now use tech II ammunition
  • There is now a button to get a rookie ship, a corvette, rather than just handing you one automatically when you dock up in an NPC station in a pod and have no ship in your hangar
  • A new pointer tool has been added to help you explain the arcane EVE Online interface to friends you rope into playing
  • You can opt-in for the 64-bit client beta

There are lots of other details in the Patch Notes and on the Updates Page for the expansion.  Word is that the expansion has been deployed successfully.  Now we’ll just have to see what those Triglavians are up to.

No Good Expansions*

*Some expansions excepted

A post somewhat sparked by what Kaylriene wrote, though I have been harboring bits and pieces of this for ages now.  Ready for a Friday ramble?  Here we go.

I suppose that EverQuest needs to take some of the heat on this.  Coming up to its 20th anniversary it already has 25 expansions past the base game that launched back in 1999.  While expansions and updates and sequels and such were clearly a thing long before EverQuest came along, the success of EverQuest in the then burgeoning MMORPG space made it a standard bearer and template for games that came later, including World of Warcraft.

EverQuest went more than a year before launching the first expansion for the game, Ruins of Kunark, which I sometimes refer to as “the only good expansion,” and then embarked on a quest to launch two expansions a year in order to keep the community engaged and happy with new content.

Maybe the only fully good MMO expansion ever

That kept that money machine printing, but brought with it a series of problems like keeping people up to date, rolling past expansions up into consolidated, all-in-one packages like EverQuest Platinum, and what often felt like an exchange of quality in the name of getting another expansion out.  And some expansions barely felt like expansions at all.

SOE eased up on that plan in 2007, opting to dial back to just one expansion a year for both EverQuest and EverQuest II, which also launched with similar expansion plans.

So, if nothing else, EverQuest solidified the norm that expansions are a requirement, something the players expect.  That we complain about Blizzard only being able to crank out a WoW expansion every other year is directly related to the pace set by SOE.  Sort of.

But the one thing we know about expansions, that we complain about yet never think all that deeply about, is how they undue what has come before.

An expansion to a live MMORPG, by its very nature, changes the overall game.  And change always alienates somebody.  As I have often said, every feature, every aspect, no matter how trivial or generally despised, is somebody’s favorite part of that game.

MMORPG players also represent a dichotomy.  If they’ve played through the current content, it is likely because they have enjoyed it as it was laid out.  They’ve reached the end, they’re happy, and they want more of the same.  Mostly.  Some played through and were unhappy about some things, but happy overall.  Ideally an expansion will give players more of what made them happy, plus adjusting the things that made people unhappy.

Adjusting, of course, will make other player unhappy, as you’re pretty much guaranteed to be changing somebody’s favorite thing.  And every expansion brings change to the world, on top of the usual restart of the gear and level grind which, as people often point out, replaces their top end raid gear with better quest drop greens almost immediately.

Just handing out more of the same when it comes to content can feel repetitive and uninspired, but changing things makes people angry, because change makes people angry.  But leaving everything as it is means people finish the content and eventually stop giving you money via their monthly subscription.  The theoretical best path forward is the one that engages the most people while angering the fewest.

I refer to Ruins of Kunark as the one good expansion because it seemed to thread the needle almost exactly right.  I delivered more of what people were into, more content, more levels, more races, more dragons, more gear, all without having a huge impact on the game as it already stood.

Ruins of Kunark isn’t really the “one good expansion,” if only because “good” is very subjective.  And there are other expansions I have enjoyed.  It is more that it represents an expansion that did more to expand the game than annoy the installed base.  But first expansions can be like that.  Or they used to be like that.  Desert of Flames was like that for EverQuest II in many ways, and certainly The Burning Crusade had that first expansion magic for WoW.  I’d even argue that WoW, ever more fortunate than one would expect, got a double dip at that well, as Wrath of the Lich King continued on and did very well without disrupting the apple cart.

Eventually though, expansions begin to work against the game.  There is always a core group that keeps up, both others fall behind.  For EverQuest, the every six month pace meant a lot of people falling behind.  Expansions also put a gap between new players and the bulk of the player base.  That’s not so bad after one expansion, but each new expansion makes it worse.  And then there are the changes that anger the core fan base.

That leads us to Cataclysm.  The team at SOE, in their attempt to crank out new content, often neglected the old.  If I go back to Qeynos today it looks pretty much the same as it did in 1999.  There are a few new items, some new vendors scattered about, and the new mechanics added in to the game over the years.  But I can still stand out in front of the gates and fight beetles, skeletons, kicking snakes, and the occasional Fippy Darkpaw.  Yes, they redid Freeport, much to the chagrin of many, and the Commonlands and the Desert of Ro, but they have mostly left the old world looking like it did back in the day.  Enough has changed over the years that can’t go back and relive the game as it was at launch, which brought out the Project 1999 effort, but at least  I can still go bask in the eerie green glow of the chessboard in Butcherblock if I want.

Cataclysm though… well, it had a number of strikes against it from the get go, not the least of which was following on after two successful and popular expansions, which together played out the Warcraft lore as we knew it.  So Cataclysm had to break new ground on the lore front.

Cataclysm also only offered us five additional levels, a break with the pattern so far.  We also didn’t get a new world or continent, with the five new leveling zones being integrated into the old world.  We also got flying in old Azeroth right away, a feature that can start an argument faster than most.  I suspect flying is something Blizzard regrets in hindsight, but once they gave it to us they had to keep on  finding ways to make us unlock it all over again.

But most of all, Cataclysm redid the old world.  Zones were redone, new quest lines were created, and the 1-60 leveling experience became a completely different beast.

Arguably, it is a better experience.  I have run all of the redone zones.  I have the achievements to prove it. (Another divisive feature.)  And the zones all now have a story through which you can progress rather than the, at times, haphazard quest hubs which had you killing and collecting and killing some more over and over, often without rhyme or reason.

To give J. Allen Brack his due, for a specific set of circumstances, you don’t want the old game.

The rework, which was also necessitated by the need to give us flying throughout Azeroth, save for in the Blood Elf and Draenei starter zones, was spoiled by a couple of things.  First, the level curve had been cut back, so that the pacing of the new zones was off.  You would easily end up with quests so low level that they went gray if you chased down every quest in a zone.  And second, the rework of the 1-60 instances made them all short and easy and the optimum path for leveling using the dungeon finder.  You could run three an hour easy, even queuing as DPS, so you could, and probably did, bypass all that reworked content.

But, bigger than that, at least over the long haul, the removal of the old content led to something we might now call the WoW Classic movement.  There was already a nascent force in action on that, since the first two expansions reworked classes and talents, so you couldn’t really play the old content the way you did in 2005.  Vanilla servers were already a thing.  But they became a much bigger deal when Blizzard changed the old world.

Overall though, Cataclysm wasn’t a bad expansion.  It took me a while to get to that conclusion, because I did not like it at first, to the point of walking away from the game for a year.

The new races were fine.  The 80-85 zones were good.  Val’shir might be the prettiest zone in the game.  It is like playing in the most beautiful aquarium ever.  (A pity about the motion sickness thing.)  I ran and enjoyed all of the instances, with the reworked Zul’Aman and Zul’Gurub raids being particularly good.  Being at level and doing the content was a decent experience.  I still use my camel mount regularly in no-fly areas.  Regardless though, the changes burned.  They were divisive. Blizz pissed off a lot of the core player base, even if the whole thing ended up getting us WoW Classic.

I think, even if Blizz hadn’t done all of those changes… which I guess would have meant calling it something other than Cataclysm… that it would have been a let down of an expansion.  Having to follow on after TBC and WotLK was a big ask.  How do you follow up Ice Crown Citadel?

Mists of Pandaria revived things a bit, though I think that was as much by being a really solid expansion as it was that expectations were low after Cataclysm.  But Warlords of Draenor?  Doomed.  The expectations set by reviving the themes from TBC meant eventual disappointment.  Garrisons were not great.  They were not the housing people wanted.  They took people out of the world, just like Blizz said housing would, without being a place people cared about and could make their own.  But I think the fact that it wasn’t the return of Outland and the excitement of 2007 was what led to the eventual drop in subscriptions.  People realized there was no going back to their memories of the old game.

As every feature is somebody’s favorite feature, the thing that keeps them in the game, every expansion is somebody’s breaking point, the thing that gets them to walk away.  The more expansions that come along, the more people end up dropping out.  Or, if they don’t drop out, they return to play casually, as much out of habit as anything.  The investment in the game isn’t as deep.  You play for a bit, see the sights, do the tourist thing, get the achievements, then unsubscribe until the next expansion.

Eventually there is an equilibrium it seems.  EverQuest and EverQuest II seemed to have found it.  They still do an expansion every year that plays to the installed base, that gives them just enough of what they want… be they invested or tourist… to buy-in and spend some time with the game.

Basically, expansions are change, and change has a habit of breaking the bonds players have with your game.  However, if you sit still and have no expansions then people will leave over time anyway, so you cannot simply avoid expansions and change either.  It is probably better to move forward in the end, make the changes, earn a bit of extra money, and carry on.

Just don’t expect everybody to thank you for it.

An EverQuest II Expansion Coming in 2019

We saw a Producer’s Letter for EverQuest already this week, which was focused on the 20 year anniversary celebration.

Following that up is a Producer’s Letter for EverQuest II which indicates that both sides of the House of Norrath will be doing some celebrating in March.

The celebration will start with a new server, which will be up as a beta next week.  Called Nagafen, it will seek to bring back the PvP style that was once part of the game.  We’ll see if PvP nostalgia fares better than it did originally, as PvP servers and PvP outside of battlegrounds was shut down due to lack of interest in the past.  Of course, this quote seems to be hedging a bit on the whole plan:

If it gets a good following in Beta, we’ll look to launching it live!

Maybe if they add a battle royale mode…

There will also be celebration and events on the Plane of Mischief in EQII as well as a new progression server, both to coincide with the 20 year anniversary in March.  As with the two planned EQ progression servers, the details for the EQII progression server are not out yet.

EQII is also having its own anniversary event this year, as it is turning 15 come November.  Included with that will be another expansion to the game that will “take you to a whole new unexplored location of lore and legend” according to the Producer’s Letter.

There isn’t much in the way of details, so we’ll have to wait for that to show up.

Addendum:

Bhagpuss has his own post up about the Producer’s Letter at last.

EverQuest II Launches Chaos Descending and Celebrates Another Anniversary

The regular pattern of annual autumnal launches for EverQuest II expansions fits in nicely with the history of the game as they tend to hit pretty close to the original launch date, so you get some new content and a celebration of the history of the game all at once.

And so it goes this year, with today being the launch date for Chaos Descending, the fifteenth full expansion for EQII, and that doesn’t include the various adventure packs that SOE and Daybreak have tried now and again.

Chaos Descending the Library Staircase

While I wrote a bit about the expansion before, along with the various purchasing options, the bullet point summary from Daybreak is:

  • New Adventure Quests
  • New Signature Tradeskill Quests
  • New Signature Adventure Quests
  • New Achievements
  • New Zones
    • One Quest and Services Zone (Myrist)
    • 4 Outdoor Zones (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Detroxxulous)
    • 4 Dungeon Themes (Doomfire, Vegarlson, Eryslai, Awuidor)
    • 13 Solo Instances
    • 12 Heroic Instances
    • 7 Raid Instances
    • 1 Contested Raid Dungeon
  • Mount Equipment Feature
  • Mount Equipment Bundle
  • New Mercenary Equipment

That is a pretty nice chunk of new content being delivered, and on par with what the combined EverQuest & EverQuest II team delivers annually.  There is none of this “every other year” talk for expansions, and they still deliver a sizable mid-year update along the way as well.  They might be the hardest working team in the genre.

In addition, EverQuest II just celebrated its 14th anniversary last week.  The official launch date was November 9, 2004, with the Europeans getting their launch two days later, on the 11th.  And the anniversary brings out the Hero’s Festival for players in Qeynos and Freeport.

No Firiona Vie on EQII boxes

But wait, there’s more!

While the game launched on November 9th, my own anniversary with the game actually falls on November 13th.  That is when SOE, no doubt expecting the same rush for servers that they experienced with the EverQuest launch back in 1999, rolled out their second wave of servers for US players.  So on that date the Crushbone server went up and and what ended up being our guild, a mix of players from EverQuest and TorilMUD, started making plans for how we were going to attack post-cataclysm Norrath.  We were the Knights of the Cataclysm.

Our day two guild on Crushbone… I left in 2005 and came back in 2006

And so began a year of playing… and fighting with… the new game as both we and the in-game systems evolved.

My earliest screen shot of EQ2 – Nov. 14, 2004

It was a strange time.  I have fond memories of it, though I am sure I have blocked out many of the problems and irritations that plagued the game back at launch.

Well, I can certainly recall some of them.  I could go on about crafting, no off-line selling at the broker, locked encounters, dupe bugs, experience debt, five minute buffs, the tiny quest log, having only four character slots, guild leveling, mounts, the experiments with risky boat travel, and that graphical processing bug in Qeynos Harbor that made you machine slow to a crawl as you came and went from using the bell positioned out at the end of the dock.

So yeah, if I remember all of those right off the top of my head then there were probably a lot more I’ve forgotten.

But it was still exciting and new and probably all the more so since I had stopped playing EverQuest actively a couple years before, only popping in to visit now and again, so there was very much a new to MMOs again aspect to it.  And having Meclin along, who had skipped EQ so was really in his first MMO experience made it a pretty special time.

Meclin swinging for gnoll necks… original gnoll models

And the game looked good.  Well, it looked better than EverQuest in any case, if you could run it with the graphics settings turned up enough to appreciate it.  I recall tales of people coming for EverQuest and finding the system requirements for the new game so onerous that they had to turn down the settings to the point that they couldn’t see the faces on character models.

I think this was called “future proofing” or some such, but it seems to sacrifice the necessary today in favor of a theoretical tomorrow.

Fortunately I had a decent rig… a big purple Alienware box with an okay nVidia card in it… so I could appreciate some of the graphical quality of the game.  I couldn’t go full settings, but enough to get a decent screen shot.

The catacombs under Qeynos back in the day…

It was also an awkward time for video cards, with the horrible, power hungry nVidia 6800 GT series ruling the roost and burning out motherboards and power supplies in the name of graphical fidelity.  The 6800 design stayed around for ages, being continuously improved as time went along.  I never went for the initial mode due to its horrible reputation, but had a couple of the follow-on 8800 GT boards (LOTRO burned out two of those), then a GTS 250 and a GTS 450, both of which had their roots in the old 6800.  At the time though I stayed with the more reliable 6600 GT and then an ATi 800XL.

It is amazing the amount of little details that lurk in my brain and yet I still can’t remember somebody’s name ten seconds after they’ve been introduced to me.  And I’d have to check the settings to tell you which video card I have installed now.

So it is something of a triple, the 15th expansion drops, the game celebrating its 14th year, and I celebrating my 14th anniversary of joining the game.  Though, if I look at my character, it actually puts me in line for the 15th anniversary present in another ten days.  I wonder what we’ll get.

SOE gave me time

Of course, the timing is all off as well.  Last month I was playing and writing about EverQuest II.  Now LOTRO has captured my fickle heart with its Legendary server.  Still, I might have a post or two left in me this year about Norrath.

The EVE Online Onslaught Expansion to Bring Big Changes

The expansion arrives tomorrow, and usually I would have the post go live then, but I have a post already set for tomorrow, so you’re getting this today.  I’m busy this week and a year from now it won’t matter that I posted this a day early.

Anyway.

One of the recurring comments that came out of EVE Vegas was the lack of a named winter expansion for EVE Online.  While there are updates pretty much every month, the tradition is to have a named update twice a year, one close to the beginning of summer, the other close to the start of winter.

However, it appears that CCP was keeping the name under wraps… or didn’t present it very clearly… or realized they forgot, I don’t really know… because the news finally came along that we would be getting EVE Online: Onslaught as our next big update.

Onslaught, with frigates!

For null sec, the biggest change is the new Upwell Consortium navigation structures that will be showing up with the patch.  There is a dev blog about them here.  Those will be replacing the cyno jammer, cyno beacon, and jump bridge functionalities that were previously part of the player owned starbase (POS) mechanics.

I have already written about the impact of the jump bridge replacement.  And while the capital ship loophole has been closed, it will still mean the ability to bring subcap fleets across long stretches of territory without jump fatigue.

The new Ansiblex Jump Gate

But that isn’t all that will impact the null sect meta.  The new Tenebrex Cyno Jammer will have a big impact as well.

Tenebrex Cyno Jammer

Back in the Keepstar War over the summer, much of the battle in the Fade region was over the cyno jammer protecting the CO2 Keepstar in DW-T2I.  Cyno jammer mechanics thwarted the first Imperium assault on the Keepstar and led to a drawn out fight over ihub that took weeks to settle.

That will be all different starting tomorrow.  The POS based system was subject to dynamics that made systems vulnerable to things like dropping lots of dreads on the jammer and killing it quickly.  The new FLEX structure will have a damage cap and will take 27 minutes to kill whether you drop every titan in creation or a few dozen bombers on it.  This will change the dynamics of these sort of fights dramatically.

And, of course, with the change tomorrow the logistical arms of all null sec entities will be scrambling to get these structures in place as the current cyno jammers and jump bridge networks go away with the expansion.

Also affecting the capital meta is a rebalance of force auxiliaries… well, a nerf to faxes if we’re being honest… to reign in their effectiveness.  The changes will be:

  • All capital remote repair modules duration increased by 25%
  • All capital remote shield booster modules duration increased by 25%
  • Capital Emergency Hull Energizer duration decreased by approximately 25%
  • Capital Emergency Hull Energizer active resistance bonus reduced to 95% (was 99.9%)
  • Capital Ancillary Shield Boosters limited to 1 per ship (goes for all capital ships)
  • Apostle and Minokawa bonus to capacitor pool removed
  • Lif and Ninazu bonus to capital cap injector amount removed

We will see if this just ends up people just bringing more faxes or not.

Abyssal deadspace is also getting an expansion with the Onslaught release.  As was shown at EVE Vegas, co-op play will now be possible for Abyssal pockets as you will be able to enter them with three frigates as opposed to with just a single cruiser.

There will also be an optional PvP mode, where an extra gateway will appear offering up extra loot.  However, you will have to fight anybody else who uses that same gate from their pocket.  Only one can leave.

There will also be two more Triglavian ships.  There is the Kikimora, a destroyer, and the Drekavac, which is a battlecruiser hull.

The Kikimora destroyer

In addition there will also be updates to loot.  All of this is covered in a dev blog, which includes the spec for the new ships.

Another new feature that CCP has been talking about since EVE Fanfest is the Activity Tracker.

Activity Tracker

There is a dev blog that goes into detail about this, but essentially it will let you know what you’ve been spending your time on in New Eden.  While I applaud this idea, I have to admit that my enthusiasm is somewhat tempered by the fact that tracking was only recently turned on, so most of my twelve years playing the game is unrecorded.  Such is life.

There is also further changes to ECM following up the changes that went in with the October update.  These are detailed in a forum thread, but sum up as:

  • All ECM modules jam strength increased by 10%
  • All ECM modules optimal range increased by 20%
  • Signature Radius reduced for several ECM Bonused ships
    ** Griffin reduced to 40 (was 42)
    ** Kitsune reduced to 42 (was 47)
    ** Griffin Navy Issue reduced to 38 (was 40)
    ** Blackbird reduced to 135 (was 150)
    ** Rook reduced to 158 (was 170)
    ** Falcon reduced to 165 (was 175)
    ** Scorpion reduced to 440 (was 480)
    ** Widow reduced to 405 (was 432)
  • Fitting has been adjusted for some ECM bonused ships to allow more room for tank
    ** Griffin powergrid increased to 28 (was 24)
    ** Kitsune powergrid increased to 30 (was 26)
    ** Rook powergrid increased to 740 (was 680)
    ** Falcon powergrid increased to 760 (was 700)
    ** Scorpion powergrid increased 9500 (was 9000)
    ** Widow powergrid increased to 9800 (was 8800)
    ** Widow CPU increased to 800 (was 760)

Also on the list of new things are a new global search function, so you can find your shit scattered all over New Eden, a new compact Planetary Interaction view, and an update to the graphics on gates.  They will show details like sovereignty, some status about the connecting system, and will have the same awesome travel effects that the Ansiblex Jump Gates are getting, which means people will be gawking at them for days I expect.  I know I will.  The busy gates in Jita should be fun.

a sample of the gate information graphics

And, while there are a number of the usual bug fixes, I want to highlight one in particular:

A ship’s modules will no longer be offline after it has been contracted.

This one took me by surprise and almost got me in trouble last month.  I contracted a ship between alts and then undocked without checking, only to find everything offline.  Glad that is fixed.

The update is planned to be deployed tomorrow, November 13th, at 11:00 UTC, which is 3am for me, so I plan to be asleep.  In addition to the dev blogs I have linked to above, there are also the usual Patch Notes to go through and the EVE Updates page to explore.

Addendum: The expansion is now live and there is a two minute feature tour video to go with it.

EverQuest II Chaos Descending Expansion Announced

Daybreak started off being a bit coy by announcing on Thursday that pre-expansion events had started and calling on adventurers to fight an onslaught of raging elementals without ever mentioning the actual expansion.

However, they could only stay mum for a day it seems, as yesterday they followed up with a short Producer’s Letter announcing the upcoming expansion Chaos Descending.

Featuring E’ci

Details about the expansion are pretty scarce.  We know the name, that it will carry on from last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion in exploring the planar realms of Norrath, that you’ll encounter E’ci the Wintery guardian (because half of the names in original EverQuest were just something spelled backwards), and that it will launch in November.

Beyond that… well… I suppose we can guess about zones and raids and such.  There will certainly be three flavors of the expansion, normal, collector’s, and premium, if the past is any guide.  But we do not know if they will raise the level cap or not.  There is some mystery in that I guess.

the Producer’s Letter has a few other items to follow on the expansion announcement.

Last year’s Planes of Prophecy expansion is currently half price and will remain so until October 1, 2018 if you want to catch up.

The Days of Summer event is still going, having a good four weeks left to run, which will put it into autumn for all practical definitions of the season in the northern hemisphere.

Finally, there will be a “gear up, level up” event starting on September 24th to help you get ready for the upcoming expansion.

Not to be down on this, but it sounds like the usual expansion plans complete with the unpredictable announcement cycle.  I expect we should be hearing something soon for EverQuest as well.  Still, any game still getting expansions after fourteen years (or nineteen in the case of EQ) can’t be doing that bad.

We’ll see if the rumors from May end up coming true.  A couple have already (Just Survive is down and PlanetSide 2 is getting a new map) but I haven’t seen anything indicating that these are the last expansions for the current Norrath franchise yet.

Find Your Own Private Abyss in New Eden

The EVE Online expansion Into the Abyss went live earlier today.

Into the Abyss

Announced at EVE Fanfest last month, the expansion is centered on new PvE content for the game in the form of abyssal pockets.  These are solo PvE encounters.  However, you need to take care.  Once you start one of these encounters you have 20 minutes to complete it and come out the far end.  If you fail, the pocket will collapse and you will lose your ship and your pod, ending back up where ever you have your death clone set.

A new way to stimulate the market?

The pockets come in multiple flavors (5) and levels of difficulty (also 5), but you can only get into one if you have an abyssal filament.  You can find those at data sites or, likely, on the market.  I am sure enterprising explorers will be happy to see some.

In the pocket you will face three encounters with Sleepers or the new Triglavians.  But when you go into a pocket a marker is left that lets people scan down where you will re-appear once you are done.  And if you do level 4 or 5 difficulty pockets you will also have a suspect timer when you exit, so anybody can shoot your likely damage ship and take your stuff.  Fun fun!

So why, given the drawbacks, would anybody bother with abyssal pockets?

Well, loot of course!

Rewards include blueprint copies for one of the three new Triglavian ships, entropic disintegrators and related modules, the hot new weapon system the Trigglavians bring to the game, or those Mutaplasmids, special items that can mutate the stats of current modules in New Eden, making them better… or worse… or just different.  For the new ships and modules there are new skills you’ll need to train up… because of course there are.  For the Mutaplasmids though no special skill is required, just a willingness to gamble with modules.

Or maybe you will want to go just for some screen shots.  Those abyssal pockets are pretty.

Eagle in a pocket

Just don’t go out of bounds in search of a good screen shot, that’ll blow you up as well.

Maybe try abyssal pockets out on the test server first.  That’s what I did.

That is the big anchor feature of this expansion, solo PvE death dungeons… in space!

But that isn’t all there is to the expansion.  Also announced at EVE Fanfest was the fact that somebody at CCP actually tried Planetary Interaction and found out that the interface was confused shit.  So they decided to try and fix that.  The feature’s only been around for eight years, coming in with the Tyrannis expansion back in May 2010, so it was about due for a pass.  There is a whole dev blog about how CCP plans to make things better.

Of course, if you’ve grown used to the unintuitive psycho-clicky interface over the last eight years, I am sure the new one will seem a burden, at least for a while.  Time to re-learn.

Aside from that, you can no longer have a warp core scrambler stabilizer fit if you want to use a Factional Warfare acceleration gate.  Unless you have a mobile depot out and quickly refit after activating the gate… or so I hear.  CCP was going to fix that by not allowing people to refit while aligning for or in warp, but it turns out capital pilots use that feature pretty often.  After dismissing the capital pilot outcry for about a day by pointing out that this was an unintended feature they had been using for years, CCP relented and left things as they were.

There is also the usual range of big fixes and the like.

And then there was one more item.  CCP also updated the recommended computer specifications for playing EVE Online.  Those are now:

Windows:

  • OS: Windows 10
  • CPU: Intel i7-7700 or AMD Ryzen 7 1700 @ 3.6 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16GB or higher
  • VIDEO: NVIDIA Geforce GTX 1060, AMD Radeon RX 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

Mac:

  • OS: Mac 10.13
  • CPU: Intel i5 Series @ 3.8 GHz or greater
  • RAM: 16 GB or higher
  • VIDEO: AMD Radeon Pro 580 or better with at least 4 GB VRAM

That came as a bit of a shock.  CCP defended this move by pointing out that they haven’t updated the specs since 2013, but in the world of video games, where “recommended” often really means “minimum” and where “minimum” usually means “the publisher wouldn’t let us ship if they knew how demanding our game really was, so theoretically you can play with this config, but it will likely be frustrating” that seems like a pretty high bar to set.  People may assume that they shouldn’t bother if they don’t have the recommended config.

However, the minimum specs didn’t change, so I guess we’re all still okay with this update.  I assume I’ll still be able to carry on running two clients with graphics turned up, in the manner to which I have grown accustomed.   But I am now fairly far behind the recommended spec with the following:

  • OS: Windows 7 64-bit
  • CPU: Intel Core i5-4590 3.3GHz Processor
  • RAM: 12GB of RAM
  • VIDEO: nVidia GeForce GTX 960 video card with 4GB of VRAM

Oh well, we shall see.

The expansion has been successfully deployed.  Details are available in the Patch Notes and on the Updates Page.  There is also the Known Issues post about what has been found so far with the expansion.

The next big update will be coming next week when, on June 5th, CCP retires all of the null sec outposts, converting them into faction citadels.  At that point all of the lost goods, trapped in hostiles stations, will go into asset safety, leading to… I am not sure what.  INN has some speculation on that front.