I attended the last mass test for EVE Online ahead of the Onslaught expansion, and got the first-hand experience of the changes to the Abyss. Those changes include the introduction of mining platforms as well as the new solo PVP Arena. I feel both are a great improvement to the quality of life, and I will be covering that as well as the co-op Abyssal sites.
The co-op sites provide a lowered requirement to get into the Abyss, and widen the availability to Alpha Clones. They provide a new way for corporations and alliances to work together in the Abyss. These sites allow players to form a fleet of three frigates, including T1, T2 or faction ships. CCP changed the sites and rats to reflect upon the fact that you are in frigates, not cruises. The Loot Table also changed to accommodate the fact that there are three ships in the Abyss, with three times the rewards. I’m excited to see what people build for fleets going into the Abyss as a team.
Abyssal Drilling Platforms
CCP also added Abyssal Drilling Platforms to help address the lack of building materials for the construction of the new ships, and the new Jump Gate structures. When warping into a site you will see on your overview 3 to 4 structures to destroy and loot. These drop building materials and/or survey data sheets from the Abyss. This addition adds value to the sites as well as providing a much needed infusion of resources into the market. During a T1 site run through, I got more loot from the drilling platforms than I got from the catches. The amount of loot scales as well—you see the least amount in T1 (Calm) sites, and the most in T5 (Chaotic). The drilling platforms are also spread out over the pocket, but can be pulled in by a tractor beam
The new PVP arenas represent the first step into a brand new pathway being explored in the Abyss. This allows cruises with inside a Tier 3-5 to enter a special pocket at the end of the Abyss and engage in a PVP situation. Players access the new arena through a gate spawning next to the normal exit Gate in the third pocket room of the site.. They have the choice to go through into this additional bonus round room, or back out through the normal exit and return to known space.
Inside the bonus room, players must start capturing an objective which requires 5 minutes. However, this room connects to other Abyssal sites and other ships may come through and contest the site. In this situation, the two players have 30 minutes to destroy one another before looting the container and escaping through the portal. On the test server, once a ship gets destroyed, the container explodes and the gate opens up, allowing pods to escape. This will help during a blue on blue situation when ships of friendly standing appear into the PVP Arena. Players will at least get their pods out, possibly after working out which ship has the lowest isk value and has to die.
With these changes to the Abyss, the coming week should be an interesting meta shake-up. We’ll see what people are bringing into the Abyss—ships and fits—and how they change, as well as how many people decide to take up the bonus room challenge.