Fanfest 2016 Feature Retrospective

2017-03-31

As the politics and meta of New Eden turn, the time has come for the árshátíð—yearly party—for CCP Games and its surrounding community. Fanfest is a time to revel in the company’s successes, have a few human moments with those that make the games that we love so much, and showcase new projects and features for the coming year. We will be focusing on the announcements made last year for EVE Online: which ones made it into the game and changed the sandbox, and those which we have yet to see delivered.

Fleet Boosts Rework

One of the longest standing pain points for many “lone wolves” and small organizations was the off-grid mindlink pilot, or “booster.” In low-security space, this often took the form of a Command Ship pilot, sitting on the undock of a friendly station. In nullsec and wormholes, the more common form was Strategic Cruisers, fitted to be extremely difficult to find with combat probes. No matter what form they took, these ships greatly altered the balance of power in any engagement. They could turn a Garmur into a practically unassailable, small ship killing machine, or skew larger fights to the point where no significant fleet would undock without them.

The change to boosting not only touched niche gameplay, but was a significant shake-up to large fleet metas as well. Boosting alts quickly became a thing of the past. Boosting is now an active support role that is done on-grid with the rest of the fleet, and which is as essential as logistics.

This change, along with changes to heavy interdictors, shaped the small gang meta to really put emphasis on the Command Destroyer. This flexible and formidable small platform has come to dominance due to the absence of Cancer Garmurs. Recently the Heavy Interdictor scrambler changes have been rolled back a bit, so it will be interesting to see how this will again shift the small gang meta.

In larger fleets, the Command Destroyer is replaced by the battlecruiser-sized Command Ship. The heavy tank on Command Ships gives them good survivability against all but the heaviest incoming damage. Overpowering alpha-strike damage can still destroy Command Ships quickly, and destroying enemy Command Ships has become a standard tactic for fleets like Machariels, Maelstroms, and other doctrines capable of delivering the massive volleys required.

The heaviest tanks available for subcapital boosting comes on Strategic Cruisers, which often see other uses, or even form the primary line ship. This allows the boosting ships, to be largely hidden among the other Tech 3 cruisers. Between the increased tank, and the greater concealment offered, the boosting Strategic Cruiser’s survivability is substantially increased over other options.

Rorqual Upgrades

Out of all of the wondrous things brought to us last year, one of the most far reaching has been the changes to the ships that gather resources. EVE’s industrial capital ship saw substantial changes to gameplay, utility, and productivity. Rorquals stepped outside the POS shield and into the new world of mining, supercapital tackling, and on-grid boosting.

The second of these roles is still a hotly debated application, with changes to the functionality of the platform coming. The Rorqual’s jump drive, combined with the extended range for industrial ships, allows the ship incredible mobility, on-par with pre-Phoebe capitals. When combined with a large number of mid-slots, and the damage immunity of the P.A.N.I.C. module, a Rorqual fitting heavy warp scramblers was suddenly transferred into a jump-capable tackle platform, able to hold down a supercarrier by itself, and remain completely invulnerable for up to seven minutes.

Initially, this was seen as fine, and simply ‘emergent gameplay’ by CCP developers. As the months passed and complaints mounted, however, it was decided that the usefulness of the invulnerable jump-hictor would need to be rolled back. The change to the P.A.N.I.C. module to require an asteroid be a locked target makes supercapital tackling more difficult, unless of course the supercarrier is in an anomaly with an asteroid.

Even the mining yield has seen nerfs, with more on the way. The power of the platform has become apparent, and many in the community stand divided on where it should go from here. While the initial mining yield of a Rorqual was able to exceed that of half a squad of Exhumers, the changes have brought that down to closer to 2-3 Hulk-equivalents. While many felt the original strength of the Rorqual was excessive, at the same time, the reductions have made others question the economics of the ship. A fully-fitted Rorqual, including Excavator mining drones, can easily exceed 6b ISK—significantly more than even a full squad of 10 Exhumers.

It is safe to say that this change was delivered spectacularly to the game, but at what cost? Much of the raw material trade in high security space (highsec) to sovereignty null security space (sovnull) has ceased due to ore composition and mining efficiency changes. There are many advocates for both sides of this debate. Feel free to share your own thoughts in the comments.

Pirate Capitals and Supercapitals

The Serpentis line of capital and supercapital ships were announced with some fanfare and excitement. They were released during the Shadow of the Serpent event, and since have not seen too much use. The Vehement, Vendetta, and Vanquisher have all seen the light of day on PvP kills, but have not done much in the grand meta. Of course the ships are very rare, and so are the pilots that can fly the Vanquisher, but they are still cloistered station queens or ratting platforms as far as the numbers show.

Still on-tap are the promised Blood Raider capitals, including the Molloch-class titan.

The EVE Mobile App

As technology evolves, so too must a game’s ability to stay on the minds of its players. When the EVE Mobile App was announced, there was excitement about what may be waiting for EVE players when it comes to out-of-client activity. Many have clamored for the CREST API to allow for more meaningful gameplay outside the main EVE Online client, but this is not something that CCP is exploring at this time. However, the EVE Mobile App does allow for checking your character’s current ship, skill queue, and checking jump clones’ status and their current implants, in-game calendar, and Notification Feed.

The one thing we are able to interact with out of game is the EVE-mail system. This has been the case since the long past launch of EVE Gate, but it is still a nice feature to have in the mobile platform. PLEX and Aurum can also be bought through the app, which is convenient for those who play EVE with a single monitor, or just have to know they will have Aurum for those awesome boots when they can get home and log in. As a first step into the mobile platform possibilities for EVE, the Mobile App is headed in the right direction. There were some hiccups and bugs when the app first launched, but most of those shortcomings were ironed out in the following months.

EVE Data

Last year CCP Quant brought us some interesting insights into the EVE economy, as well as some interesting stats that would become monthly metrics for those like LockeFox of EVE Prosper to sink their economic teeth into. Due to the economic shake-ups which happened during the launch of Citadel, the Rorqual change, and other large power plays in the sovereignty holding community, these numbers became a very hot topic.

This removal has sparked many conversations about what these metrics may have given away in terms of tactical information. Many contend that the issue does not outweigh the interest that is generated for the economic side of the game. How do you feel about it?

New Titan Doomsday Devices

Another change looked to bring some shininess to the shiniest of ships in EVE Online; the Titan class. Doomsday Devices were fruitful and multiplied into four different types for each racial titan. Along with the classic single target device, throwbacks to the area of effect (AOE) Doomsday now come in two flavors: Lances, which hope to do damage in a relatively small area over a long range, and Reapers, which do damage over a shorter range, but larger area. There is also a Phenomena Generator that allows for the Titan to give a unique racial bonus to the fleet around them at expense of other attributes.

Out of all of these new variants, the Reaper was deployed in spectacular fashion by multiple titans on a large number of dreadnaughts in Operation: Blunderbuss. Sister Bliss and his crew in The Initiative [INIT.] deployed this secret weapon against PanFam and friends. This ace up their sleeve served to even the playing field against such a large opposing force. I’m sure there are more examples of how these game-changing weapons have been used. Feel free to tell us your story in the comments!

New Capital NPCs

A not quite-so-small addition was made randomly to some of the largest combat sites that spawn in nullsec space; dreadnaught and larger NPCs will now randomly come to the aid of their subcapital ships. This is both a blessing and a curse to ratters. These ships can be difficult to take on alone and add to the risk of running certain sized sites, but like all things in EVE, risk equals reward. These ships are the source of pirate faction blueprints, and as more factions get the Serpentis treatment their presence will become a very lucrative one for the whales of EVE. Who wouldn’t want to sport one of the most powerful ships in the game, and who wouldn’t want to be the lucky owner of such a rare blueprint?

Ship Bumping

Out of all of the changes heralded by CCP, this one had many a carebear cheering. There would be a hard limit on how long anyone could “bump” another ship. This tactic, used against freighters and other large ships, can keep the ship from going into warp literally forever if done correctly. Sadly for our “never gank” comrades, this was never implemented. It would be interesting to see if any of the kills during Burn Jita 2017 fell prey to the idea that this change had gone live. I guess twisted metal doesn’t answer polls very well.

If anyone was aware of this non-starter, it was the Goonswarm Federation’s very own BoneyTooth Thompkins ISK-Chip. Time and time again he and his band of Lovers from the Ministry of Love (MiniLuv) told Burn Jita participants not to fret. Their marks would be stranded in space indefinitely until one of the fleets of DPS ships could land and lay waste to the target.

Looking Back

Altogether, FanFest 2016 brought us monumental shake-ups to EVE Online. From small-gang warfare to massive fleet combat to mining and PvE, the effects were felt across New Eden. How do you feel about these changes? What new ideas will CCP reveal next weekend in Iceland? Get involved with the conversation, and leave your thoughts in the comments below.

UPDATE: The original text of this article indicated the regional data had been removed from the Monthly Economic Report. While this was announced, the planned change has so far not actually gone into effect.

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Comments

  • Arrendis

    It’s always interesting to look back at what’s happened over the last year. Here’s to looking forward to what the next will bring!

    March 31, 2017 at 6:27 PM