EVE Online, first impressions.

As I wrote last week, after a few years of Warcrafting, I’ve switched to playing EVE Online as my main MMORPG.  Well so far because of delays in receiving my copy of the game, and a major game update, I’ve only managed to play for a grand total of three hours.  But those three hours have been some of the most enjoyable gaming hours I’ve ever had.

I’ve played around with the idea of playing EVE more or less since it came in existence.  Initially I didn’t join in because my PC was a lumbering dinosaur.  With 500mhz of processing power, 63mbs of ram and a miniscule 10 gigabyte hard drive, it struggled to play anything at all.  So EVE was out of the question.  Even after I later upgraded, well at 900mhz it was an upgrade for me, I still couldn’t have played EVE.  Besides I was busy playing my way through half a decades worth of other games.  But even after I did get a machine that would run EVE I didn’t play, not even on the free trials.  And I don’t regret that at all.

Why?

Well three days ago I finally had a three-hour play session.  It was polished, well thought out, fun, beautiful to look at, and above all else had a built-in tutorial, which made learning the basic control and gameplay reasonably easy but above all else, very enjoyable.  I’m happy I waited so many years to play because I am now playing a very nice product.  Of course my long wait has some detrimental effects, the main one being that I will never, ever, catch up to the big boys, who have played since the beginning.  But while they had to spend years dealing with a game which was essentially half-developed when it was launched, I believe I’ve started at just the right time, for maximum enjoyment.

So all that said, what are my first impressions of EVE Online?

Firstly bear in mind that I have had three hours of play time.  That means that I’ve done the tutorial and two extra missions, so I’ve only barely scratched the surface of what is very obviously an incredibly deep game.

Secondly, the entire game client had a major update last night.  This means that in all likelihood, I will end up starting a second character, just to experience the new updated tutorial.

So those two facts mean that my first impressions really are nothing more than that, first impressions.  But I have to say that they are very, very good first impressions.  Let’s start with the graphics, they’re gorgeous.  To date I have only played one space based role-playing game with graphics to match EVE, X3 – Terran Conflict.  They’re smooth, beautiful, with so far at least absolutely no glitches.   Because the system requirements for EVE are so low even my slightly elderly, Radeon HD 4800 video card, can run EVE at maximum settings.  The ships are works of art, from the smooth flowing lines of the Calderi warships to the rough ‘garden shed with an engine strapped to the back’ look of the Minmatar fleet, the attention to detail in this game is nothing short of a wonder to behold.

The sound is pretty good, a little above average.  The in-game ambiance music is bearable and the sound effects and beautifully crisp.  It may not be quite as beautiful to listen to as it is to look at, but EVE is still no slouch where it’s audio is concerned.

In fact one of the nicest features of EVE, is sort of part of its audio existence.  It has a built-in MP3 player.  I know that these days that probably seems like small potatoes to most of you reading this, but for me this is one of my favourite things about EVE.  Whenever I play games I either play them in silent mode while I watch the television, or I listen to something loud and violent.  But that usually means having a separate MP3 player running in the background.  And, that, means switching back and forth to change playlists or to pause my music to answer phone calls.  So a built-in player with in-game controls is a nice thoughtful addition to any game, but especially a game as immersive as this.

Which brings us nicely to the gameplay.  Well it can be summed up with just one word, complex.  Seriously, seriously complex.  The controls are pretty intuitive, your mouse controls the camera, left click confirms choices and right-click runs a drop down contextual menu where most of the important controls are hidden.  The keyboard is a huge mass of shortcuts to various controls.  So lot’s of controls, but as I said they’re all pretty self explanatory when you read them.  The complexity comes in when you realise that this game is not set on rails.  It’s a genuine sandbox, where you choose where to go and what to do.  Want to be a pirate, well then be a pirate.  How about a miner?  Yup, you can do that too.  But, to do it effectively you have to train your character accordingly.

Let’s say you want to play a pirate, who flies a destroyer built by a specific faction, armed with a specific set of weapons and some electronic warfare gear.  So right off the bat, you have to train to fly a destroyer, a destroyer by that faction, those weapons and electronic warfare pieces.  More than that though you have to train you character to a point where she can actually learn those skills.  You have to find the ship for sale, or build it.  Develop the right reputation with the right people to buy the ship and the equipment.  Of course all this takes time, money and effort, but with how quickly you can train the first few levels of each skill you can get into the action very quickly.

Well so far my main impression of EVE is extremely good.  It seems well thought out.  It seems to be a deep game that can be played in as many ways as your own imagination can create for you.  What it definitely is up to this point, for me at least, is fun and relaxing.  So, all in all, it seems to be a wonderful MMORPG.  And in some ways perhaps I’ve finally found the role-playing game of my dreams, one where your destiny truly is your own to create.  A true second life, which is as rewarding and enjoyable as you yourself make it.

Play time will tell and when I have an answer, expect a second part to this review.

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2 Comments to “EVE Online, first impressions.”

  1. I miss ninja salvaging in Eve. And suicidal nullsec runs. Computer graphics chip died so I can’t do shit like that any more. I never got to the point of major faction warfare because computer probably wouldn’t have coped but there are some nice videos on youtube. Did end up in a corp war with some corp muggers for a while (“give us ISK or we’ll raid your corp til all your noobs are crying and have gone”), and we had a giggle baiting them, giving them the run around and going pew pew.

    Most of EVE is either being an arsehole or defending yourself from arseholes (whether you’re playing as a pirate or “carebear”, sooner or later you have to deal with thieves and pirates and everyone has to mine/build for ISK somewhere). Both are a lot of fun. Grinding missions quickly becomes a somewhat tolerable side-interest. 🙂

    • Well I got a good session in last night and discovered just how much I love baiting wannabe pirates who don’t carry warp inhibitors.

      “Oh, oh you’re catching me….ZOOOOM…oh, I’m sorry did I warp away from you? You 14 year old numpty who doesn’t even know how to get your second ship.”

      I could do that happily for hours, and did.

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