After a turbulent patch day and numerous server issues, the March Release for EVE Online has finally arrived, and with it come substantial changes to several areas of gameplay, as detailed in the patch notes. Primary among these are changes to jump fatigue, post-jump tethering, and sovereignty. Other changes include balance passes on several types of ships and the addition of the Monitor, the first of a new ‘flag cruiser’ ship class. The patch brings ‘under the hood’ technical changes to the chat interface, and several ‘quality of life’ adjustments to the user interface. There is also a new event, “The Hunt,” which offers the same opportunities to earn rewards in a similar format to recent Guardian’s Gala and Rogue Swarm events.
The patch notes also include an update to an emergency 1.1 March Release, which helped to increase server cluster stability, and claimed to have “made the universe function properly again”. Given that after the emergency 1.1 patch, NPC pirate bounties were not being paid out and chat systems were still laggy and unreliable, this is a bold claim. Nevertheless, 1.1 has made the server playable again, at least for anyone not reliant on in-game chat channels or NPC bounties.
Mar 20th, 2110UTC UPDATE: A hotfix has been deployed to deal with the NPC bounty issues. These should now be paid correctly. Any missed wallet ticks will be reimbursed in the days following the patch deployment.
Jump Fatigue and Structure Changes
The maximum timer for jump fatigue has been reduced from 4 days to 5 hours, as detailed previously. The jump bridge reactivation delay has scaled accordingly. These changes mean that prolonged use of jump bridges or jump drives will no longer result in a ship being unable to use them again for many hours, with the longest enforced delays lasting only thirty minutes. Capsules and shuttles will now also receive a 90% reduction to their jump fatigue timer accumulation.
Ships jumping to a structure will now experience a 30 second delay before they are able to tether, meaning jumping to citadels too small to dock at can no longer be considered fully safe. There is no delay to the ability to dock, however. Also, the standard 30 second invulnerability after undocking now applies to Upwell structures as well. And, it is possible to lock blueprints in corporation hangars within Upwell Structures.
Sovereignty and Entosis Links
Subcapital ships with an active entosis link can now receive remote repairs and other remote assistance, but the entosis link ranges have been significantly reduced to 20km to T1 and 50km for T2 links. The fitting requirements for T2 entosis links have also been reduced. Additionally, any ship with an actively cycling entosis link will receive a 100% boost to sensor strength.
The actual capture events have also been updated, with the score gained per node increased to 7%, from 5%. The number of starting nodes has been reduced to 4, and the chance of a random node spawn has been increased to 14%. These chances will undoubtedly have an affect on how sovereignty capture operations are managed.
Balance Passes and the “Monitor” Flagship
Multiple ships have undergone minor balance adjustments, most notably the Orthrus, which has received a -100 reduction to its power grid, -15 reduction to maximum velocity, and +15 signature radius. Feroxes have also received a nerf, with -100 power grid and -15 CPU. The Machariel has received a reduction to its large projectile turret falloff bonus from 10% to 7.5%, and has exchanged a low slot for a mid. Additionally, all Tech 1, Pirate and Navy class battleships have recieved a 20% cargohold increase, as well as a 20km buff to locking range.
The Drake Navy Issue has lost its bonuses to shield resistances in exchange for a per-level bonus to missile damage. It has lost a launcher slot in return, however. The Cyclone has gained straight improvements with a 7.5% bonus per level to missile launcher rate of fire, increased from 5%. The Eagle, too, has benefited from the patch, gaining 12 maximum velocity as well as +25 drone bandwidth and drone bay capacity.
The Muninn may be back in the spotlight now, with a series of changes meant to improve its viability. In addition to an increase in its per-level damage bonuses from 5% to 7.5%, it has also gained +150 armor HP, +20 maximum velocity, a reduction in mass by 750,000kg, a -10 reduction in signature radius, and an additional mid slot, while losing a high slot.
The Monitor-class Flag Cruiser has been released, in an attempt to provide options for fleet commanders wishing to avoid being “headshotted.” The ship has several unique role bonuses, including; the ability to use medium micro jump drives, a 99% reduction in powergrid and CPU requirements for propulsion modules, and a 99.9% reduction in powergrid and CPU requirements for scanner probe launchers and target painters. The Monitor also has a 300% bonus to target painter optimal ranges, though the target painter effectiveness is reduced by 99%, a feature meant to allow fleet commanders an option for getting their names on killmails. The Monitor is 100% resistant to ECM effects and has a strong 70% resistance to sensor dampeners, target painters, neuts, and nos. The ship receives bonuses to armor, shield, and hull resistances of 4% per level of Flag Cruisers skill, and 5% bonuses per racial cruiser skill level to armor hitpoints (Amarr), shield hitpoints (Caldari), agility (Gallente), and signature radius (Minmatar).
Chat Backend and Technical Updates
The backend system for chat has been changed as covered in a previous article. Constellation and regional channels have been removed. Player created chat channels will now always show all members in the member list, with no member limit. Operators can no longer add other operators, change channel passwords, or change channel modes. Instead, the channel owner will have to make these changes. EVE Voice, the in-game voice chat functionality, has been removed entirely.
At time of writing, these new updates have been causing considerable chat server instability, though this can potentially be expected during a mass deployment of a new service.
Quality of Life and User Interface
The patch comes with a wide variety of small adjustments and improvements to user interface which improve quality of life and visual updates which provide players with information.
Structures now have a visual event to indicate being reinforced or successfully finishing a repair timer. Additionally, players can now use a few more symbol characters in structure names. Structures in “low power” mode will also have visual differences such as reduced exterior lights and holograms. Corporations can now set their default reinforcement time, so that new structures will default to a standard time.
Friendly target locks will no longer “yellow box” the player, but instead be highlighted with a box in the color of the fleet tag (purple by default). Broadcasts for reps now state the type of ship making the request. Fleet tags can now be removed, and are displayed on targets in the target bar. It is also now possible to set colors for players on the “watch list,” allowing quick identification of why they have been added to the watchlist.
A mouse-over tooltip will now show what standings in the show info window are based on, without having to review the standings tab. Also, a tooltip in security status on the character sheet will indicate at what level of security faction police will attack. Other visual indicators for station menus have also been added, such as a loading icon, when necessary, in the industrial tab.
The compare tool can now be filtered to only show different statistics, making it far more practical. Previously, what statistics to show had to be manually selected.
Right click menus will now highlight potentially destructive options in red, so “Reprocess” and “Repackage” will be far more visually distinct. In addition, salvage drones will now have the “salvage” option near the top, which just makes sense. And, an “Open Jump Navigation” option will now appear when in a jump capable ship when right clicking the HUD. The item interaction contextual window and the jump shortcut will now also work for jump bridges.
Graphical and Gameplay Fixes
The patch addresses a wide variety of bugs and unintended behaviors. For example, fighters can now be repackaged, and charges will stack appropriately when reloading weapons. Contracts located in structures that no longer exist will now be appropriately canceled. The little-known “Broadcast Radial Menu” now works when assigned to a mouse button.
Because there have been many graphics engine optimizations and extensive refactoring to optimize for future improvements, there may be unintended or unexpected bugs not found in testing. Many other small adjustments and fixes have also been applied, available in the full patch notes.
The updates to jump fatigue have been much needed, and should introduce a new era of capital ship mobility. Sovereignty updates will also introduce a new meta for sov capture operations, as the reduced ranges and availability of repair will necessitate changes in fleet compositions. Sovereignty control fights will also take place more or less on the nodes now, improving the options for defenders. The quality of life changes are much needed, and many of them are small changes that players have been requesting for years. Whether the Monitor Flagship is going to find use in the battlefield is unknown at this point, as many fleet commanders prefer to fly more versatile ships. Long-time users of the Orthrus or Machariel may be disappointed, but these kinds of adjustments in ships help keep the meta from stagnating.
While these patches leave little to be complained about, many players have speculated that the good will being generated portends something terrible. For now, though, it’s a refreshing update that continues this year’s series of strong patches with very few downsides, as CCP prepares for the 15th anniversary FanFest.