EVE Evolved: 2016 EVE Online year in review

It’s been another busy year for sci-fi MMO EVE Online, and an absolute roller coaster ride for both players and developer CCP Games. On the development side, we’ve had two major expansions with Citadel and Ascension and a significant business model change with the introduction of a free-to-play account option. Fan events EVE Fanfest 2016 and EVE Vegas 2016 brought us some fantastic insights into the future development, including a peek at some amazing work on future PvE gameplay and an all-new EVE FPS codenamed Project Nova.

Proving once again that the players in EVE are the most engaging content, this year brought us the political twists and turns of the now-infamous World War Bee, which became the largest PvP war ever to happen in an online game. We also delved into some absolutely crazy sandbox stories, including one player using $28,000 worth of skill injectors to create a max skill character as a publicity stunt, and the controversial banning of the gambling kingpins behind World War Bee.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look back over all the biggest EVE stories of the year, from the political shenanigans of World War Bee to the surprise free-to-play option and how expansions have changed the face of the game this year.

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EVE Evolved: Getting started with EVE’s free-to-play

Just under two weeks ago, EVE Online launched its new free to play account option with the introduction of clone states. Subscribers are now given the new Omega clone state that allows access to everything the game has to offer just as before, while free players get a new Alpha clone state with a limited set of skills available and reduced skill training speed. The people this helps the most are new players, who previously had to get a 14-day free trial to check the game out but can now just sign up and take their time with it. The Ascension expansion also delivered a brand new fully voiced tutorial that developers hope will retain more players.

Thousands of new players have poured into EVE Online over the past two weeks, so many that last week’s peak concurrent user numbers reached over 51,000 players for the first time since 2014. The Rookie Help channel is now regularly packed with 6,000 to 8,000 players every night, indicating that over 15% of the active playerbase is currently composed new players. I’ve been playing on a new alpha character this week to explore the new tutorial and see what I could do solo within the alpha clone restrictions, and it’s been an extremely interesting experience.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at what new free-to-play players will experience in EVE, give my impressions of the new tutorial and alpha clone limitations, and deliver some important tips that should help all new players make the most of their time in EVE.

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EVE Vegas 2016: EVE Online is finally getting a real tutorial

One of EVE Online‘s developers once described the new player experience with the line “Welcome to EVE, here’s a Rubik’s cube, go f**k yourself,” and he wasn’t wrong. EVE has a well-earned reputation for being a difficult game with an incomprehensible user interface, and new players are just dropped into it at the deep end. CCP has tried to overhaul the new player experience several times over the years and even implemented an achievement-style Opportunities system, but 51% of new players still quit by around the two hour mark.

This was the monumental problem inherited by CCP Ghost, the weird chap who showed us all a scan of his brain at EVE Fanfest back in May. Ghost had some interesting ideas for revamping the tutorial using a story based approach, and this weekend at EVE Vegas 2016 we got to see the final result of this work in action along with details of how it was designed. Under the codename of Inception, the first stage of EVE‘s new fully voiced story tutorial will be going live with the Ascension expansion on November 15th. After seeing the Inception tutorial in action, I finally see what has been missing all this time and realise that EVE has never actually had a proper immersive tutorial before.

Read on to find out what makes EVE‘s upcoming Inception tutorial so different, how it was designed, and what the future may hold for EVE‘s new player experience.

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Skyforge’s game-rewriting Ascension update has finally arrived

Skyforge’s Ascension expansion is fully live for everyone today, and make no mistake: This is no cheapie patch. Ascension is a massive overhaul to core game systems, a fundamental rewrite of the way the MMORPG is played,with simplified pantheons, revamped divine specializations, content that scales to player gear, better inventory management, overhauled invasion mechanics, a MOBA-ish PvP mode, a streamlined order system, a new campaign progression map, and character development that’s been redesigned to be more casual-friendly.

Check out the launch trailer below and get caught up on all our Ascension coverage to date!

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CCP outlaws gambling in EVE Online, bans RMT organizations

Changes to EVE Online’s EULA coming in November with the launch of Ascension and the free-to-play conversion will effectively outlaw gambling, which has been a popular and lucrative in-game pastime in EVE for over a decade.

“You may not use, transfer or assign any game assets for games of chance operated by third parties,” a new line in the document will read.

In conjunction with the ban on gambling, CCP says, it’s shut down two gambling organizations and permanently suspended the accounts of everyone involved in them based on an investigation that allegedly shows they were involved in other illegal activities, including RMT:

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Skyforge simplifies Pantheons, pushes the Outlaw live

Skyforge’s simplification with Ascension continues. First it was operations, then currencies. Next up is Pantheons, which have gotten a once-over to both simplify them and to provide more benefits and boosts to commanders and regular players alike. The size of the bonus will depend on the Pantheon rank. What kind of bonus? For one, a top ranking Pantheon will add 10% to the damage and health points of each of its members.

As for simplification, Pantheons only have one stat now: rank. Players don’t have to spend any time managing the Pantheon Stronghold, collecting extra resources, distributing energy, or working with obelisks anymore. Instead, as a Pantheon’s rank increases, its capacity, access to the academy, and participation in Pantheon tournaments are unlocked. Pantheons can also establish a coat-of-arms and increase standing stat bonuses. To rank up a Pantheon, members will gather construction resources by completing Directives and by participating in competitive activities, then be able to vote on the upgrade once enough is accumulated for each rank.

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EVE Online’s free-to-play switch, engineering complexes arrive with Ascension on November 8

EVE Online’s world-changing Ascension update has been formally dated: November 8th. That just a week after the company will close out the EVE Vegas convention in Nevada, and of course, that day is important to Americans for an entirely different reason.

So far, CCP has outlined Ascension’s changes to mining, subscriber rewards, and the new player experience, which is being revamped yet again in preparation for swarms of newbies. Its headline feature, of course, is the “clone state” system that effectively transitions EVE into a hybrid free-to-play title with an optional sub, one that has concerned some players over its potential for abuse but is being welcomed by even our own EVE columnist for its potential to rejuvenate the game.

This afternoon, the studio built out its plans for Ascension with promised details on engineering complexes that will add massive research and manufacturing bases to rival existing citadels. Think of them as the biggest factories in all of MMORPGs.

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Slay your enemies with their own limbs when Skyforge’s Ascension patch drops October 19

Don’t call it an NGE, but when Skyforge’s Ascension patch is live next month, it’s bringing sweeping, casual-friendly change to the game. We’ve previously covered’s plans for the game’s equipment system, new boss, invasion mechanics, MOBA-like PvP mode, order system, campaign progression map, and character development. An Outlaw-themed collector’s edition will also grant players access to that new class when the patch is live. Calling it massive is no exaggeration.

And as of today, we know exactly when that expansion will land: October 19th. In fact, the pre-patch is expected to go live on October 5th. A dev blog out today details the studio’s strategy for making Skyforge’s combat more dynamic. The studio says it’s adjusting class skills to add “intensity” and is updating monster AI, but the big news is a bit more grisly: body parts as weapons!

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Skyforge demos Ascension’s upcoming campaign progression map

Since announcing the game-rewriting Ascension expansion for Skyforge at the end of August, has been busy explaining everything the update will entail, from the new raid and class to the politics system and the buffed up combat system. Today’s reveal is the new campaign map, described as “an interactive map of Aelion and the interface that will be the key location for character development”:

“All the current systems in the game for progression and development of characters (symbols, ascension atlas, divine specializations) will be represented on the Campaign map. Here players will be able to unlock new classes and explore new skills and symbols which were previously spread across multiple interfaces. The map will let players choose their own rewards on their journey through Skyforge. Progression will now be represented by opening up regions you play through towards your goals – currencies will be a thing of the past.”

There’s a new trailer showing off the campaign map itself below; get busy watching it as you wait for the expansion due out “as soon as this fall.”

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Here’s how Skyforge’s Ascension is rewriting character development

Skyforge’s Ascension expansion isn’t just another content drop — it’s virtual rewrite of the way characters are built and played in a way that is distinctly casual-friendly. Today’s team dev blog explains how the character development system is being redesigned to reduce unnecessary complexity and reduce build screw-ups, from merging Ascension Atlas stats to replacing Sparks and Spark Replicators. Even class unlocking is different now: Players will have to travel to its temple first.

“The unlocked class has a limited amount of predefined starter skills, which still allow you to go into battle. To obtain new abilities, you must complete the quests issued in the class temple. Usually, they will be linked to defeating enemies with that specific class. Characters can only have a quest from one class temple active at a time but as soon as it has been completed, a new one can be started either in the same temple or in any other that is available to you. As the class temple is developed, you will get access to new Talents and Skills. First you will develop the class by exploring basic skills, which will be active amid any selected set, the latest of which is the Ultimate ability.”

If you’re a former Skyforge player tempted by the changes, definitely give the whole piece a read!

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Skyforge’s Ascension expansion promotes casual-friendly changes, new map, Outlaw class

Allods Team and have announced a “massive” new expansion for Skyforge due out this fall. Called Ascension, the update includes a badass new class for players called the Outlaw (he’s the dude dual-wielding pistols above) and a new “extended game campaign” called the Regions map.

“Each mark on the map is an entry point to an adventure or mission that will improve character stats. Temples and Strongholds will replace atlases. All the familiar interface screens, such as Equipment, Symbols, and Orders will also be located here. The amount of resources required for development will also be significantly reduced and now your actions are the main currency! Do you want to obtain a new symbol? Select the relevant mission on the Regions Map. Do you thirst for a new class? There will be a mission just for you!”

Invasions, meanwhile, will stretch from two to eight weeks in duration with a new invasion boss on the warm-up deck; expect also an “improved battle system” with dodging — sorry, dashes — tweaks to currencies, and a new political system called the council of gods.

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