Have you ever wanted to jump into a new high-profile MMO, but wondered what the experience would be like ahead of time? Let us take the uncertainty out of it for you. Today, we look at CCP Games EVE Online to see what it is like being a noob.
CCP's EVE Online is one of the biggest MMOs of the past decade, maintaining popular interest and thriving in a market where most competitors were forced into free-to-play markets. It features a massive science-fiction universe, extensive lore, player-run corporations, and economy-destroying starship battles. It's also, depending on the reviewer you're talking to, one of the most boring MMOs ever conceived, operating more as a business management game instead of a proper space simulator. It's a bizarre dynamic that has both fascinated and frightened away many new players, myself included.
Thankfully, the EVE Online: Rubicon expansion and all-new EVE collector's edition provided a great chance to finally try the long-running MMO for myself. With no prior experience or knowledge of EVE Online save what others have told me, I dove into the game's starting missions to find out what new players should expect from this decade old title. The good news is my player character hasn't died yet. The bad news is that's because I'm still trying to get through the tutorial.
In EVE, a universe of unbounded opportunity awaits new capsuleers, whether they lust after wealth, crave the fight or simply yearn for adventure among the stars. The venerable and ever-updated science-fiction MMO lets you create a spaceship pilot, mine the stars, engage in corporate warfare, and live in one of the deepest MMO communities available.
After creating a democracy-loving Gallente pilot and watching an opening cutscene, I was dropped into a friendly docking station where an AI agent offered to teach me the basics. After all the background details I'd created for my character, a barebones tutorial wasn't exactly what I expected. Since the cutscene ended with ships readying for war, I expected a tutorial mission that tied my character to the universe and told me who my enemy was. Perhaps I would be trained on the fly during my first space battle, or learn that a homeworld was under attack by hated enemies. Nope, none of that, unless you find flight controls and clicking on skills emotionally invigorating. All CCP provides is your ship, a tutorial window, and cold, hard gameplay mechanics. It's simple enough to understand, but doesn't feel especially engaging for a game about spaceships and corporate intrigue.
I think I expected more simply because long-running MMOs like EVE Online tend to redesign their tutorials with story and player engagement in mind. World of Warcraft's Cataclysm was the most dramatic example, destroying entire starting zones while throwing new players into battles with enemy forces. More recently, Star Trek Online completely reimagined its Federation tutorial, telling a story of Borg and Klingon invasions that foreshadowed upcoming quests. As it turns out, EVE Online actually did redesign its tutorial last year, although the changes had nothing to do with EVE's plot. CCP decided against a cinematic introduction, opting to refine the game's first tutorial, trim unnecessary segments, and streamline everything else so players have a better handle on basic controls. Before these changes, CCP noted that many players would quit the game mid-tutorial, refusing to stick around and find out if EVE was right for them. These changes must be working; after completing Basic Training, I opened the Rookie chat and saw that 4500 players were posting comments faster than I could read, many located in later portions of the game.
With the tutorial finished, I thought I was ready to join other players, but my training wasn't done yet. Not by a long shot. Instead, EVE Online directed me to over 30 additional tutorials covering major career paths: Business, Exploration, Industry, Military, and Advanced Military. I certainly wasn't obligated to complete them, but members in the Rookie chat channel strongly encouraged new players like myself to complete each possible branch. Even if you have no intention of mining ore, completing each path rewards players with skill injections, starter items, and even a small fleet of ships to help get you started. These tutorials also dig into the meat of EVE Online's features, letting players experiment with different playstyles to see what suits them. If you already know what playstyle you're going for, you'll probably complement it with something you learned here, earning you more in-game currency, called ISK, down the line.