Eve for Everyone

2021-08-18

Header art by Quendan Comari

For years there have been cries about breaking up nullsec blocs and how the epitome of Eve Online gameplay is roving groups engaging in small gang warfare. The Blackout period is often attributed to CCP listening to these voices and trying to appease them. There are posts about how people need to be rescued from only flying in large fleets and need to be shown how much better it is to fly solo or in a small gang. My response to all of that is simple: I like fighting in large fleets, and I’ll hazard a guess and say that many others do too.

The Trend in Gaming

A lot of video games these days are focused on instant gratification. Games can be picked up at any time and dropped just as quickly. Mechanics, such as match-making, toss random people together for a quick fight which have little to no significant lasting impact on future gameplay or progression. That trend can be seen in a number of games. I myself have played them for a little while; logged on, watched the timer count for a bit until there were enough players, played the game for the round, repeated with the time I had, then logged off. And yes, sometimes I saw some small level increases, new weapons unlocked, cosmetic upgrades, but there was no real impact on the game if I won or lost. EVE Online has done a number of things to increase the options for that style of gameplay, specifically the introduction of filaments and the Proving Grounds. There is nothing wrong with wanting that: obviously, many players do enjoy it. That is not why I play EVE though.

Why I Fly

To me, as a nullsec bloc player, EVE is a game about forging empires through the coordination of thousands of people all over the world working together. When I see a ping for a random roam through space, I typically ignore it. But if there is a ping that goes out asking for people to help accomplish an objective, that’s when I log on. I want to be part of something larger than just my own ship. I find the coordination of hundreds of people, following the lead of a skilled Fleet Commander, to be a beautiful thing. You can zoom out and watch as the ships anchor up and the fleets dance around each other; a battle of wills as much as skills.

Even if you’re “just” a mainline DPS ship, you are trusting that the logistics pilots will heal you, and they are trusting you to protect them in return. At the end of the fight it isn’t just a matter of tallying killmarks; rather, you look to see if your efforts were enough to secure the objective. The work that you put in during that fleet will hopefully be another brick that will be built upon by the next fleet, one you might not be in, and you count on them to put another brick in place. That cycle repeats and you realize that together you’ve done something that would be almost impossible to achieve on your own or in a small gang. You’ve built an empire, or torn one down, and left a mark on the very landscape of the game.

Now, if you zoom back in on those fleet fights, yes there are some less glamorous aspects. The most obvious is the, at times, soul crushing TIDI that can drag out a fight so that it ends up spanning many hours. I won’t go so far as to say that I enjoy that kind of play, because that’d be a lie, but I do appreciate that the TIDI mechanics allow for fights to be larger. This is something that is completely unique to EVE Online, so much so that when we break records, we are often breaking the one we previously set.

There are often complaints about the use of capitals, particularly supers and titans, but those ships aren’t limited to large scale fights and you don’t have to fly them if you don’t want to. I don’t. And yes, you often lose some individuality in what you are flying in exchange for uniform efficiency, but that’s typical of most organizations that encompass hundreds, if not thousands, of individuals. However, your individuality is important on the human level when you talk with the other people with whom you are sharing that fleet. There is nothing wrong with this style of gameplay; it’s just a different set of priorities.

Diversity in Play

With all of that said, everyone’s play style is valid. We don’t need constant attacks and efforts to change the mechanics which would cripple one playstyle over another. Every time someone who just wants small gang warfare cries out that nullsec should get broken up, they are wrong. When a nullsec player says highsec is less important and just a newbie safe haven, they are wrong. If a wormholer advocates another blackout, they are wrong. If someone who stays in highsec complains about ganking or scams, they are wrong. EVE Online is a sandbox game and that means that there is no wrong way to play.

This game is what we make of it. Time and time again, we as players take the mechanics that CCP gives us and run with them till something breaks or we discover a whole new way to play the game. Changes and updates are important, but trying to dictate how others should play is never the right answer.

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Comments

  • Guilford Australis

    Most nullsec players prefer to aggregate into big blocs. Very few prefer the Wild West small-gang stuff or solo hunting. CCP advertises the game as a sandbox, so players should be left alone to play however they want.

    CCP wants to have it both ways. They know the big-bloc nullsec wars are what made the game famous. But CCP also wants to hamstring the big blocs that made EVE famous with endless ratting/mining nerfs, “scarcity,” resource redistribution, industry mega-nerfs, and so on. They’re killing their own brand.

    I can’t remember the last time a story about a five-man gatecamp fleet in Black Rise made mainstream news. You know what does make mainstream news? BR, UALX, and M2.

    August 18, 2021 at 11:35 AM
    • Because of what happened in M2, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any record breaking fights being picked up by mainstream news for quite some time, if ever again. And I doubt CCP wants to promote a fight so big it broke their servers.

      Even if CCP swears they’ve upgraded their servers to handle it, who will take the chance? And if until that happens, it is possible to be too big to be defeated, what’s the point? A Serenity endgame is inevitable.

      August 18, 2021 at 1:53 PM
      • Guilford Australis Noob

        A fight doesn’t have to be record-breaking to be newsworthy, and a coalition like PAPI doesn’t have to jam 150,000 players into the same region to get big newsworthy fights. That was their choice. They wanted to fight the Imperium with server-crushing numbers, then complained that they crushed the servers.

        And the point was that big nullsec fights are what make EVE famous and draw people to the game. I joined after B-R5RB because I wanted to be in big fights. It’s foolish for CCP to take steps to make big supercapital fights less likely and less rewarding when those fights are literally their bread and butter.

        August 18, 2021 at 2:11 PM
      • Romulus Loches Noob

        When B-R happened, no one thought an event like that would happen again. It took years, but we’ve now had multiple giant titan brawls since then. Making absolute statements about an ongoing situation is just a bad idea in general.

        The point of my article though is to say that while some people might hate those large-scale conflicts with massive tidi, others do. Advocating game changes to aspects of the game that you don’t engage in is not how you build a healthy sandbox game.

        August 18, 2021 at 5:42 PM
        • Nate Hunter Romulus Loches

          At B-R titans were still hard to make and couldn’t dock. Since then thousands more titans were created and even then there’s only been 3 events in 7 years that have surpassed B-R in number of titans destroyed.

          August 18, 2021 at 9:07 PM
          • Romulus Loches Nate Hunter

            And that’s alright. Wars that reshape nullsec take time to build up and happen. It might be another couple years before the next one, but you can’t say it will never happen again unless you can see the future.

            August 18, 2021 at 9:35 PM
          • Ange Amarov Romulus Loches

            Simple, kill or force the top 3 – 5 system holders to consolidate into having smaller, more valuable and more defensible positions (40 systems each) and prevent them from moving until their lost positions are taken by smaller and cuter alliances.

            Either working under the auspice of their more member intensive friends or beating the hell out of each other.

            August 23, 2021 at 4:40 AM
      • Garreth Vlox Noob

        “Because of what happened in M2, I don’t think we’ll be seeing any record breaking fights being picked up by mainstream news for quite some time, if ever again.”

        The first round of M2- went PERFECT FINE, everyone was able to play and fight with the tidi we have all gotten used too. Then vily and progod went and fucked around and showed up late to M2- round 2 and yolo’d 5000 players onto a preloaded grid without even making an attempt to enter the system without crashing the node. One wonders if maybe they was intentional and they were hoping to evac their trapped supers in the hoped for log on rush they thought would follow? Regardless TEST leaders caused that game breaking situation through sheer stupdity and lack of planning, they later outright admitted this fact.

        August 18, 2021 at 10:46 PM
  • Nate Hunter

    What we need is CCP to mechanically cater certain areas of space to various playstyles. They do a pretty bad job at this aside from a few differences between nullsec, lowsec, wormhole, pochven.
    Aside from Abyssal PVE CCP should aim to make various playstyles possible but they need to change at least PVE to a point where the best income barrier of entry is not having a capital umbrella ready to pounce when a ratting super gets caught. I know everyone loves to catch paper thin PVE capitals in space but if CCP really wants caps to PVE then they need to make PVE sites for capitals not just have carriers meme through content meant for subcaps.
    I guess i just wish CCP would tweak things more often to hopefully improve some other experiences.

    August 18, 2021 at 3:43 PM
    • Romulus Loches Nate Hunter

      I am in favor of having certain areas of space geared to encourage certain play styles. However, if the space is used in an unexpected way, it shouldn’t be criticized. Wormholes were never intended to be lived in, but we as players made that happen. That’s what it means to play in a sandbox game.

      August 18, 2021 at 5:35 PM
      • Nate Hunter Romulus Loches

        I agree players using something in game creatively isn’t a problem at all. I just wish CCP would improve or remaster content more often. Make different space different. An example, I think Pochven was a great cool addition but its mostly empty because the PVE was either not existant or now its barely soloable. And everything is competing with extremely safe Abyssal PVE right now.

        August 18, 2021 at 9:15 PM
        • Romulus Loches Nate Hunter

          Sure, but people are living in Pochven right now. If you aren’t there and engaging in that mechanic, then maybe you shouldn’t be the person to decide what it is or isn’t. Same with the other areas of space.

          People should keep their ‘yuck’ out of other people’s ‘yum’.

          August 18, 2021 at 9:39 PM
  • Brian Martin

    Very well said. I think you have spoken for a lot of us. Eve is large enough for everyone to play as they want without trying to force that way on others.

    August 18, 2021 at 5:10 PM
  • I don’t think CCP are intentionally attempting to funnel people into a Big Fleet PvP Playstyle, but it’s fair to note that CCP kind of *have* waged a long war against small-gang content, if that kind of thing is what floats your boat. Interdiction nullification, tethers, jump freighters for big freight and blackops bridges for dinky shipments, and the ability to anchor heaps of Upwell structures all on grid with one-another (and with stargates) have really, *really* eliminated vast swathes of what used to be fertile ground for smaller-scale, non-consensual PvP. All that’s really left is slosh-op style roaming (where you don’t care that your gang will inevitably be hotdropped by supercapitals or 100 dudes in deadspace-fit Lokis) and whaling (or at least this was the case a while ago– I’m not sure if anyone is dumb enough to undock ratting capitals or Rorquals anymore after all the PvE nerfs).

    When you remove so much of the small-gang activity, it does tend to push would-be PvPers in the direction of fleet combat. I know with our Delta Sqad experiment, we were only able to go so far using 10-20 dudes before the HAC/Logi meta comps that were consistently fielded against us basically forced us to resort to special weapons and tactics while simultaneously increasing our gang sizes.

    Basically, CCP removed most ganking opportunities and have also insisted on retaining logistics ships in their overpowered state, which means that a lot of would-be “small gang” fights immediately escalate into larger fleet engagements because things quickly devolve from back-and-forth exchanges into scenarios where the only way to kill anything is to have enough people to one-shot hostile ships. We found a way to do that using only moderately-sized gangs of 20-ish people, but it was pretty skill intensive and required an insane amount of pre-fight preparation– not a type of fighting you could just spontaneously engage in. To accomplish this in a spontaneous manner you need an absolutely massive ball of your own HACs, since cruiser alpha sucks.

    TL;DR: you can’t expect the game to have and abundance of small-gang content when you basically code traditional ganking out of the game and also perpetuate a ship meta where a blinged-out cruiser fleet can essentially perma-tank any gang that can’t alpha-strike a logistics ship off the field.

    August 19, 2021 at 3:59 AM
  • Elithiel en Gravonere

    The small gang player who has it out for big blocks, thinks that sort of gameplay is impossible. But these very same people, are the ones that come to Delve to attack us and then get blobbed by supercapital umbrellas. Surely if they want gudfites, they just need to go to lowsec to find it? Nine times out of ten, most of these so called small gang pvp’ers are just gankers out to get ratters and miners in large nullblocks for easy prey.

    But as someone who prefers black ops style game play some of the best fights I’ve ever had, has been deep behind enemy lines, fighting hopelessly outnumbered, taking out large numbers of foes as our little elite nullbloc squadron makes a retreat after achieving our objective. I’ve had this gameplay with space violence, with black ops, with ghostsquad, with welp squad and countless other imperium sigs over the years and it’s been an absolute blast.

    The challenge for pvp players is fighting UNDER an enemy supercapital umbrella and still doing great. That to me, is the epitome of skill and the more heart racing gameplay. There’s no need to nerf nullbloc power at all, if you’re good enough, you’ll still do fine. That’s the situation 90% of my ‘roams’ or pvp gameplay operates under. I really don’t get the moaning done by small gang groups at all. It’s not like they have to come to a super power’s space to challenge them. They CHOOSE to come and then wonder why the hammer gets dropped. In contrast, I go to a super power’s space, EXPECTING the hammer to get dropped and then allowing and planning for it and fighting outnumbered. Playing on hardmode is what makes me log in.

    If you come to a nullbloc looking for a fair fight, you’ve come to the wrong place. Go back to nullsec and join factional warfare groups instead maybe?

    I think capital gameplay also has a place, I really enjoy flying capitals and having capital on capital engagements. Especially fun is when two carrier groups engage in a air superiority war. It’s rare these days but that’s what I was hoping for in the 1DQ constellation but PAPI let the game down and instead of that, we only got carrier on subcapital gameplay which isn’t anywhere near as much fun. The last time we had a capital air war on any scale that I remember was in Hakkonen. I long for the day when we can have another one…

    August 23, 2021 at 4:21 AM
  • Ange Amarov

    In all honesty with regards to Null sec the main thing I hate is simply the lack of diversity in states and names shown owning systems, I don’t actually mind coalitions but what I do despise are gargantuan alliances such as Solyaris Chtonium (2331 members, 82 systems) or XDeath ( 3963 members, 154 systems) who possess way too many systems for their member count.

    It simply makes space look empty and stagnant, as they have claims on so many systems but nowhere near enough pilots to inhabit or fit them out with enough infrastructure and it simply makes null sec look devoid of life as even through Fraternity space I’ve been able to go for over ten systems plus without meeting a single pilot let alone ten or twenty.

    August 23, 2021 at 4:37 AM
    • Romulus Loches Ange Amarov

      A lot of space is under utilized, it is usually held for ego reasons more than actual use. It is my opinion that there should be less space, but that’s a topic for a different article.

      August 23, 2021 at 4:51 PM