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.