There is an incredible amount of stuff to do in Eve Online, and every new capsuleer enters their first ship with dreams of what they want to become in New Eden.
One might dream becoming a well-known Fleet Commander for a huge alliance, while another might dream of becoming one of the feared and mysterious mercenaries. Some people want to be part of the backbone of their alliance and become industrialists or logistics specialists.
Some of them even might be not that much into playing the actual game, but are more into the ‘metagame’ of Eve. These players go on to become diplomats, alliance leaders, and espionage legends. Then there are the curious people who want to discover unknown secrets and want to visit every system in both the known and unknown space.
People want to become one of the above because they feature in the many wonderful stories we hear about Eve every day.
But has anyone ever heard of a legendary outlaw feared by everyone with a bounty on their head? I doubt that most players have ever heard such a story. In my opinion, it is because the bounty hunting system in EVE is not well-designed; it is not worth attempting to make a career out of it for most people.
How Bounties Work
Any player can place a bounty on whoever they want for whatever reason. However, this does not mean the person with the bounty is declared fair game everywhere for everyone. In high security space, a bounty target cannot be shot at without CONCORD taking down the bounty hunter. If a bounty target is killed, the victor receives 20% of what the killmail is worth from the bounty put on the target’s head.
The system in its current state is very straightforward. However, imagine finding someone with a two-billion-ISK bounty. You want to collect it, but this guy is just flying in high security space and his ship is a Rifter worth about 1,000,000 ISK.
In this scenario, you first need to find a legit way for killing this person without CONCORD killing you. You might obtain the kill rights from another player, declare war on your target’s corporation, or you are lucky, your target has such a low security status that he can be shot by everyone. This can be problematic if your target has no kill rights which can be obtained, is only active in high security space, has a high enough security status, and is member if an NPC corporation.
If this is the case, you have to either find a way to lure him into low security space to avoid getting CONCORDed, or you suicide gank him. Given that you will need to kill him ten thousand times to obtain the full bounty, this will do terrible things to your security status.
In its current state, bounty hunting is not worth the time and money investment. It is, at best, a mild bonus that you will stumble upon from time to time. It is more a gimmick rather than a system to be mainly used for enjoying the game.
A few thoughts on fixing Bounty Hunting
The system needs a radical revamp, starting with moving bounties to a contracts system. Accepting a bounty contract should require a positive security status, and grant kill rights, including podding. In exchange for this, bounty contracts should only be released when you turn in the frozen corpse of the target. Lets be real for a moment—when placing a bounty, would you rather pay for a bit of scrap metal, or your target’s head?
To assist in this, a new high-slot module could be introduced. This module would work like a command burst that affects the pods of targets the bounty hunter has killrights for (even when the pod is within a ship), adding mass to them and preventing easy, instantaneous warping away from the bounty hunter. As a way of keeping people from accumulating a massive rolodex of bounty targets, players should need to refresh their bounty contracts on a weekly basis.
Blueprints for the aforementioned module, and other bounty-hunter-themed gear could also be purchased through a loyalty point store, providing more loot and income to those following this profession.
Meanwhile, those players with a bounty on their heads could also visit the bounty office to see just who is aiming at their head in order to prepare their defense—most likely spending their time in a fleet, whether composed of friends, corpmates, or trusted mercenaries.
These thoughts are just a start, but bounty hunting has the potential to be a real career in Eve Online instead of a niche bonus from regular PvP. Whether you are a passer by, a bounty hunter, or simply wish to see the system reformed, please leave your thoughts in the comments section below.