Throughout its over 10-year life span, EVE Online has always been regarded as having an insane learning curve. New players are dropped into the sandbox at the deep end, confronted by a complicated user interface and gameplay that is very different to anything else in the MMO genre. A common refrain among players is the fact that they had to try the game two or three times before it finally clicked, meaning the new game experience could use some improvement. The developers at CCP Games have made huge strides in overhauling the user interface in recent years, and the game’s tutorial has been overhauled several times, but they’re not finished yet.
At last year’s EVE Online Fanfest, developers revealed the early stages of a potentially revolutionary new feature called Opportunities that they hoped would eventually replace the in-game tutorial with a more immersive experience. It was little more than a vague concept at Fanfest 2014, but this week the first prototype of the finished gameplay has made its way into public testing. Players who log into EVE‘s test server Singularity will find the feature available for testing and can provide feedback on the test server forums. Read on for a brief breakdown of how the new feature works.
The Opportunity system is a more freeform style of tutorial that’s better suited to a sandbox universe. Players are presented with a series of general tasks that can be completed in any order and anywhere in the universe, acting more like achievements than a standard tutorial. For example, one opportunity covers ship combat and provides a simple list of bullet points for the steps in engaging an NPC ship, from locking the target and activating weapons through to destroying the ship and collecting the loot.
The key difference between this system and the current tutorial is that it should be next to impossible to accidentally veer off from the provided instructions and get stuck with no idea of what to do next. Rather than trying to hand-hold players through a series of instructions to dock at specific stations or click particular buttons, the Opportunity system will provide general instructions for tasks that you can complete almost anywhere in the game. It’s hoped that this will stop new players from getting lost and giving up on EVE before giving it a fair chance.[Source: EVE Online Devblog. Thanks to Manic Velocity for the tip!]