With the recent changes to EVE Online and their effect on nullsec, CCP have tried bringing new dynamics to our beloved game with varying degrees of success. The very inspirational discussion on a recent Metashow inspired me to share my thoughts on “making nullsec great again.” To be fair, most of the ideas covered in this article did not come out of my own head. As a member of TEST Alliance Please Ignore and PvP-focused nullsec resident for over four years (whether collecting tears or crying them outrageously myself), I have been noticing suggestions and ideas on how to create a bigger blueprint for a more dynamic nullsec experience for a long time. This article attempts to bring some of those suggestions and ideas onto the theorycrafting table.
What makes Nullsec feel a bit stale?
After giving much thought to why nullsec feels stale from my own perspective, I have identified the following reasons:
- Local Chat. With Local chat being updated the instant someone enters or leaves a system, a lot of potential gameplay – be it surprise tactics or even more advanced guerrilla tactics – becomes compromised or even impossible. The most surprising thing you can experience currently is not even necessarily a hot drop (unless you are not paying attention), but more likely a fleet of our beloved anarchists from unknown space pouring into a system via a wormhole.
- Passive Gameplay. With the removal of off-grid links as well as the Rorqual overhaul, CCP has been tackling passive gameplay very successfully recently. But there is still a passive game style remaining which has an enormous effect on the life in nullsec, namely cloaky camping.
In my opinion, these are the major issues preventing nullsec from becoming a much more dynamic environment for both attackers and for space police fleets (in the form of rapid response fleets and standing fleets) that every major alliance is running in their space.
How to approach these issues?
Let’s start with the obvious approach here: removing the ability to see how many and which pilots are in Local chat, but with the possibility of some way to restore it. I can imagine Infrastructure Hub upgrade module that has requirements similar to the upgrade which lets you to build jump bridges. This theoretical upgrade might let you to fit a module or service into a citadel. It would consumes fuel, of course, but could restore Local chat in the following way:
Based on the system’s Activity Defense Multiplier, a delayed version of Local chat is restored to the sov holder and his allies. I can imagine the following scaling for this:
- ADM 2 = 30 seconds delay
- ADM 3 = 25 seconds delay
- ADM 4 = 20 seconds delay
- ADM 5 = 15 seconds delay
- ADM 6 = 10 seconds delay
Now, you might say this favors only sov holders, but here’s an idea: an active module for covert ops frigates (except bombers). This high slot module might enable fleet members to see Local chat with the same delays as the corresponding module on a citadel, but its effects are based on the covert ops skill of the pilot using it:
- Covert Ops 1 = 30 seconds
- Covert Ops 2 = 25 seconds
- Covert Ops 3 = 20 seconds
- Covert Ops 4 = 15 seconds
- Covert Ops 5 = 10 seconds
Of course, this would need to be balanced because otherwise you could simply put an AFK alt into a target system and watch. For this reason, the module would have cycle times based on the racial sensor skill:
- Racial Sensor Skill 1 = 2 minutes
- Racial Sensor Skill 2 = 4 minutes
- Racial Sensor Skill 3 = 6 minutes
- Racial Sensor Skill 4 = 8 minutes
- Racial Sensor Skill 5 = 10 minutes
A Tech II variant could have a bonus to cycle times, allowing for a doubling of the cycle time and requiring Level 4 of the racial sensor skill.
Additionally, to ensure a bit of safety for these fragile ships I would make this module able to run while the ship is cloaked, with the catch that after the end of each cycle the ship is decloaked and then has a recloak delay of 3 minutes. This way, a passive playstyle on the attacking site is in a way mitigated.
Now you might say this at its best 10 seconds make the life in Null still very risky. And in a way I agree with this, hence I have a second citadel module in my mind but this time with the restriction that it can only be fitted to a Large citadel upwards or perhaps an X-L Industry Complex.
This second module is a probe launcher able to launch deep-space surveillance probes which are consumed after launch, remain active for 30 minutes, and cannot be recalled. Launching these probes into neighboring systems enabling a pre-warning system. When a hostile or neutral player enters that neighboring system, a notification or message would be issued based on the pilot’s standing in Local chat with wording such as: “Neutral/hostile small/medium/large/xlarge ship signature detected in neighboring system.”
The size of the signature indicates the following:
- Small = Rookie ship / Frigate / Destroyer
- Medium = Cruiser / Battlecruiser / Industrial
- Large = Battleship / Freighter / Jump freighter
- Xlarge = Capital / Supercapital / Titan
Let’s move on now to cloaky camping. With the ideas for Local chat considered, the cloaky camper issue is simplified. Local is no longer visible, so a little bit of fun is gone for the camper and his friends already, and the Covert Ops would be decloaked through use of its Local chat restoration module.
But this does not solve the problem of people parking their cloaky campers (bombers, T3s, recons, etc.) in a system just to create the fear of a hot drop while they are not even at their computer most of the time. Therein lies an opportunity for yet another citadel module which forces a decloak of neutral/hostile cloaky ships, and which would require the previously mentioned IHub upgrade as well. This module consumes fuel and creates a signal disruption wave in the whole system every 30 minutes, and would need to be activated once fueled. In this case, a recloak delay would not apply to the attacker (that would be a bit too harsh, in my opinion), but the cloaky camper would at least have to be actively monitoring his computer so that he could recloak.
The ideas suggested in this article have the potential to introduce lot of interesting dynamics in nullsec by removing passive play. They would also give nullsec players far more control in our claimed home systems as well create the need for many new tactics in bigger conflicts. I’d love to see your opinions in the comments below. Did I miss something? Could these new mechanics create new annoying playstyles? More interesting choices? Is there something overpowered here?