Stick and Rudder: So you’ve completed the EVE Online tutorial – now what?

    
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Since rejoining the player ranks of EVE Online, I’ve noticed a common sentiment from fellow newbies: Most agree that the environment is beautiful, the ships are fun, and the prospect of discovering New Eden intriguing, but once the tutorial is completed, new players often feel lost and unsure of what to do next. We’re so used to some kind of story or themepark progression option in our MMOs that the idea of a pure PvP sandbox environment can be overwhelming for a lot of gamers.

Since I’ve started EVE twice now, I’ve picked up a few pieces of advice that I’d like to pass along to fellow newbies or those thinking about trying the game.

Sisters of EVE

When the question “I’ve finished the tutorial, what do I do next?” is asked, one answer that continually surfaces is to play through the Sisters of EVE storyline. People might be surprised to find out that EVE actually does have a story. This is probably good advice, since the story arc does provide a quick and easy way for new players to obtain in-game currency (ISK) and starter items, and goes about a half-step beyond the tutorial in introducing a few more mechanics.

But I’d argue that it’s not a great introduction to the EVE experience. The missions are boring and repetitive and not all that representative of what a player can actually do in EVE, not to mention the final boss fight is famously magnitudes higher in difficulty than any other mission in the entire arc. Many a new player has coasted through the entirety of Sisters of EVE only to be slaughtered by Dagan again and again. It’s probably still a good place for newbies to start, but don’t give up on EVE based on this mission chain.

AdVenture Capitalists

Mining

I really didn’t want to become a miner in EVE when I first started to play. But I somehow fell in with an industrial corporation. Since that seemed to be the default group activity, I found myself out there in my little Venture ship, mining away. And you know what? I didn’t hate it. Sure, it’s not like blowing up the Death Star, but if you’re in the mood for sitting on Discord and socializing while gathering up the material on which the entire economy of EVE is based, it can actually be pretty enjoyable. And while there are certainly more lucrative activities in EVE, mining can be a relatively safe and easy way for new players to make a decent pile of ISK. It’s also not too costly skill-wise, so newer players can get into it fairly quickly. A large percentage of EVE ’s industrialists got started by mining, after all.

Ratting

In most systems in EVE, NPC pirate ships (called “rats” by the playerbase) roam around looking for trouble. If a newbie is in search of some combat, hunting down these rats can be a good way to practice while also earning a little in the form of bounty payments and salvaged materials. Highsec ratting can easily be done in the frigate or destroyer used for the Sisters of EVE arc, so players can jump straight in after the storyline is complete. Different systems offer larger or smaller bounties for rats. The higher the risk, the higher the bounty. Ratting in nullsec might see higher payouts, but watch out for other players, lest you become the hunted!

Please, just... potter less.

Exploration

I’m a little torn on whether exploration is a good new player activity or not. This is the career path I started down last year when I first tried the game, and while it can be done solo, it requires a decent number of skill points for the successful hacking of nodes. It also places new players in some very dangerous situations. The most rewarding exploration sites are in the most dangerous parts of space, and players without bookmarking and directional scanning experience or quick probe scanning abilities can find themselves quickly killed by other players.

Yes, failure is a part of EVE, and there’s no teaching tool like personal experience. Plus, exploration pulls players out of the high-security space and into lesser-known regions. But new players who are struggling to successfully hack and loot nodes, not to mention safely transport them back to a hub for sale, suffer much more when losing a fitted exploration ship, no matter how small, than a wealthier seasoned player would. Saving up two million ISK for a prototype cloaking device only to have it blown up in low-security space thanks to lack of practice and understanding could be just the event to frustrate a new player out of the game.

Abyssals

MMO players who frequent dungeons in fantasy settings would probably equate those to EVE abyssals. Abyssals can be competed solo or in small groups and vary in both difficulty and rewards. They are entered by purchasing and activating an abyssal filament. Filaments come in seven difficulty levels, so new players can start at the lowest level for a greater chance of success.

A couple of things to note about these space dungeons, though. First, if a player’s ship is destroyed by the abyssal NPC’s, it’s gone, and so is any loot that was in the hold. Second, they’re time limited. If they are not completed within 20 minutes, the abyssal deadspace collapses and the player also loses everything. Lastly, while the abyssal is active, other players can scan down the exit and sit there waiting for the player to exit, so find a nice, quiet system where the chances of that are small or just pop it in high-security where any gank would have to be a suicide attempt.

Join a corporation

I know, I know, you’re a solo player. You’re so independent that you named your EVE character Juan Solo. I get it, I do. I wanted to be the plays-all-sides smuggling space pirate myself.

But the truth is, EVE is a game of enormous complexity and uneven playing fields. Corporations not only provide some element of companionship and protection but also serve as a tremendous resource for teaching and providing services such as ship replacement, transport and buyback programs, and skill book libraries.

I’ve heard the arguments against large newbie corporations (you’re just cannon fodder; you get lost in the crowd, etc.), but it has been my experience that the resources and opportunities available to new players outweigh any drawbacks. The sheer number of people in the large newbie corps ensures that somebody will always be available in various time zones throughout the day to answer questions and hang out with.

I won’t name any here to avoid my own bias, but doing a quick search on the /r/eve subreddit will quickly reveal some potential targets. There’s also an entire subreddit for corporation recruiting if the big ones don’t tickle your fancy. But my advice would be to start out in one of the biggies, and then you can decide whether to carry on and join a large nullsec block or if a smaller environment is best for you. Just don’t try to do it alone. Space can be lonely.

It’s a big wide universe out there, and the MMO industry is busy filling up the space between the stars – with sci-fi MMORPGs! Join the MOP team here in Stick and Rudder for intermittent voyages into all the big space-trucking, dog-fighting, star-flighting MMOs of the moment.
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