As I toured the exhibition room today, I sat down with Reynir Gudradsson of EVE Online (pronounced like the woman's name). For those of you that haven't had a chance to check out this MMO, its worth taking a look at. EVE has broken out of the standard fantasy mode. Instead, gamers play individual space ships in a far away galaxy (not to be confused with a galaxy, far, far away). EVE is set up on a single server with 250,000 gamers playing and Reynir said he's seen as many as 45,000 online all at once.
The gaming "world" spans 6,000 solar systems and is built around player made Alliances (read guilds, monarchies, etc) that war for control of the various systems. Players don't gain levels, they just improve their skills. Even when you aren't online, your ship trains and improves itself. You can choose between ships of various sizes from very small to very large. In my demo I was a destroyer that, while cumbersome and slow to maneuver, shrugged off massive amounts of damage as it opened up on enemy ships with a trio of ion cannons.
Though PvP is a large part of the game, you can also go on PvE based missions. Additionally, politics plays an important role between all the rival alliances. Ship equipment is 90% gamer made through an extensive market. In fact, Reynir told me, if politics or trade are your cup of tea, you can play with those for weeks at a time without ever going on a combat mission.
EVE looks like it has a little bit for everyone and is breaking new ground in allowing players to impact their environment. They are offering free 14 day trials at www.eveonline.com and I, for one, am planning to check it out.