The following offering is the sixth in a series of articles intended to showcase the powerful potential of having an open mind while exploring EVE online as a brand new player. During the course of this project I will be assuming the guise of a new Caldari player. I am without skill injectors, plex, and the massive mound of SP which I am generally used to.
Not So Newbie:
We are nearly one million skillpoints into training a fresh character as I write this article. My sum total of SP stands at 1,492,175. Deciding to pursue PVP from the get-go has been a tumultuous experience, with victory and defeat tasted in unequal measure. Despite how tough this experiment has been, I cannot help but find it quite fun. I have enjoyed the challenge and unique situations you can find yourself in when you’re an underdog who refuses to let the difficulty of a task end their enjoyment. That said, I am not quite a ‘newbro’ anymore.
I have crossed the threshold of the trial account, passed the crucible of repetitive burnout, and come through the other side with a new horizon to aim for. I have often given the advice that new players are welcome in null, but will find it difficult to contribute. The question burning within me at the moment is how difficult can it be? After all, I am no longer a few days old, I am a seasoned rookie with a solid amount frigates skills. I have stashed away a sizeable nest egg of roughly 400 million ISK, and I have been probing the waters of the Recruitment channel looking for an opportunity to make my move.
For a new player who is running a single account and looking to break into nullsec life, one has to understand that there is a significant difference between surviving and thriving. Any player can survive in null by relying on the assistance of corpmates, but to truly thrive in this environment there’s a few specific goals one needs to aim for: Solvency, Security, and Viability. Essentially, can you earn what you need to subsist with activities in your chosen home? Can you engage in your desired activities without unwanted death and destruction? And lastly, do you consider this a way of playing that is engaging enough to keep logging in? How you answer these questions can determine if a relatively new pilot has a chance to thrive in nullsec.
My search for a nullsec corporation via the recruitment channel has left me with a few very specific options. Provibloc member Severance offers me one of the most convenient options for getting into null. Only 10 short jumps from Amarr with a highsec entrance, the Providence-based group is a solid choice. Logistics alone is a breeze, and I know from experience the space is very liveable.
The second option is a startup corp in deep in the Delve region attached to the Confederation of xXPIZZAXx. The space is difficult to get to, requiring me to pass through Aridia and NPC-controlled Delve to arrive at their home system. To bring in equipment I’ll have to navigate here at least once, through the threat of bubbled gate camps while burning 38 jumps. Really there is no choice in this experiment, in this story we go all in or we don’t go at all.
My new CEO chats with me before my departure from Jita explaining some things. The rats out here are difficult, and he doesn’t know if I’ll be able to effectively engage them as a means of making ISK. He informs me that the corporation has a jump freighter service if I need anything brought up (I sell off most of my equipment to try to keep my assets liquid), and they start setting up things such as comms access. I opt to take the best DPS ship I can put together, a Worm sporting Federation Navy Hobgoblins and meta rocket launchers using Caldari Navy thermal ammo. According to the in-game fitting menu, this setup has the potential to push out 180 DPS with a passive shield tank that can manage most situations as long as I’m running my afterburner and orbiting appropriately. I throw a few warp core stabs on with hopes of beating any camps in my way, and set off.
Running the Gauntlet:
There is a lot to be said for throwing caution to the wind and running headfirst into what is usually a bad situation. It’s not only not as overrated as some might lead you to believe, it’s also downright hilarious when you’re dead wrong. Yes, gate camps and null are very dangerous and nearly impossible to evade, but let’s be completely honest here, a determined group can EASILY do the same thing to a lowsec gate without using bubbles. If someone genuinely intends on stopping you at a gate, there are only two legitimate options: be uncatchable, or be more trouble than they bargained for.
Flying cloaky, nullified T3’s and interceptors that align so fast that they’re effectively uncatchable are solid ideas, but are impossible for a new player. Just as unfortunate, I’m not running with a large fleet at my back to make me more trouble than can be dealt with. If I bothered to take off these warp core stabs I might be able to give frigates and interceptors a bit of a problem but realistically speaking, all it would take is a lone Sabre to ruin my grand plan of making it in null. Today I’m just flying with witless luck, hoping that the fickle lady shows her favor.
My run through the lowsec region of Aridia is quiet. I punch through a dozen gates with only a few bodies in system to show me cause for concern and as I reach the highsec corridor that separates lowsec from the red null systems beyond I’m optimistic, “Maybe I’ll be fine,” I speak as I enter my first null system and see 60 pilots in local. No one is on the gate, and I warp off to a random asteroid belt before continuing onward towards the next outgate. The directional scanner shows well in advance of my arrival that I chose wisely. A catch bubble set up with Sabres and a full fleet of T3 destroyers, frigates and high caliber death await the less cautious. Their Sabre pilot has his bubbles up, but he must have been a few seconds late as I skip through the trap and jump, burning away to a celestial as soon as I arrive in the next system. I survived a hellacious gate camp only because I had the dumb luck to be coming from a direction they weren’t trying to catch. I’m elated, and the rest of my jumps are uneventful. Nullsec space is vast, and at the moment, quite empty.
You Must be This Tall to Ride:
My Worm docks up in the home station after only a slightly harrowing journey that, on recollection, wasn’t too bad at all. My new corporation accepts me with open arms while members begin talking to me about the business end of what there is for me to do out here in a -0.8 security system. I speak at length about my desire to be self sufficient, understanding that off the bat I might not make much in the way of ISK. My new cohorts offer to let me salvage their sites which could generate about ten million ISK in salvage per site, but what really has my interest are the battleship rats out in the belts that on rare occasions have faction spawns, and rarer still, officers.
One small bit of information worth noting is that in my many years playing this game, I have never EVER seen an officer spawn. To me these are Yeti, Bigfoot, and the Loch Ness monster: mythical creatures that others have seen, but I have yet to come across. The question at hand, however, is “Can I effectively rat in these belts with my Worm?”
I may not make much ISK, but surely a few lucky drops could turn this into a worthwhile method of being self-sufficient. I can prove to the world that you don’t have to be a bittervet to thrive out here and enjoy yourself!
Except I can’t.
I can kill the cruisers and frigates and battlecruiser spawns in the belts. I can even destroy a few of the lower value NPC battleships, but the brass ring is beyond my grasp. The high-bounty battleships have strong armor repair cycles that I simply cannot muster the DPS to break; switching my rocket’s damage type between thermal and kinetic both have no effect (Worm’s have a bonus to these damage types). Though my speed tank holds up perfectly well against the energy neutralizers from the vessels I’m fighting, I am unable to break their tank as my damage is repeatedly shrugged off.
I am bereft of my former thrill. I have failed not only myself but every new player who might read this grand adventure with hopes of traveling a similar path. I am Atreyu, stricken by the realization that Artax will not step out of the swamp of sadness. Where is the /wrist command?
No. Hell no. I refuse to go down like a punk. This game will not defeat me. This was never going to be easy, I’m not here to make a fortune, I’m here to subsist and thrive. Do you hear me CCP? I am newbie, hear me roar.
My corp mates are trying to be helpful, giving me a solid training path into a Vexor Navy Issue that can run anomalies in the region with about a month of training. It’s great advice really, there’s another new pilot in the corporation who only has a month up on me and he’s running null sec anomalies while earning about 15-20 million ISK in bounties every 20 minutes (called ticks, as these increments mark when your wallet flashes in game as you earn bounties). This doesn’t include income generated through loot and salvage from wrecks left in your wake while you trash NPC fleets wholesale. I mean it, this is not a bad plan, but until then I need something that I can do. Something that any new pilot who finds themself in nullsec can manage. This is when I remembered: “Oh yeah I can scan!” and that was how my new career as a Scout prevented me from becoming a space garbage truck operator.
Looking for Fights:
There is simply no better gambit for payoffs in New Eden than DED complexes. These combat sites must either be scanned down, or escalated into by random chance in anomalies. Typically they are rated in difficulty from 1-10 with 1-3 being available in highsec, 3-7 in lowsec, and 6-10 in null. As their difficulty goes up, so too does their potential payout in the way of faction spawns and loot containers which can contain green faction and blue deadspace drops, as well as blueprint copies of Pirate cruisers and battleships. The earning potential is not guaranteed, but is completely worth running if you’re capable.
I am not capable of running these sites. I can run DED difficulty 1-2’s in a frigate without issue, but anything tougher would eat me for breakfast. The trick is though, anyone can scan these sites out and many older pilots will gladly pay out a finders fee for bookmarks to a 10/10 as is the case in my newfound home. This appeals to my tastes far better than salvaging wrecks in a destroyer while I chase the SP grind for the next month. So I head out in a cloaking Heron, searching the region for combat sites to pay the bills.
What I discover is that many nullsec PVE participants don’t move much. They find a comfortable system chock full of anomalies and run them until their wallet is sufficiently full, relying on intel channels to keep track of enemies moving around in the area. As I fly through the region scanning down sites, I find myself better able to give ample warning to allies about trouble wandering around and as my wallet begins to grow once more, I become a fixture on the intel channel as a scout.
Ship types, character names, locations, and d-scan data becomes my new forte. I am the eye in the sky for hundreds of other pilots, and as I earn my keep I feel as though I’m contributing to the health of my organization rather than leeching off it. Part of me realizes that this is what it means to create your own gameplay in EVE online. I invented a job of my own liking where none had existed. It’s all about forging paths here. It doesn’t pay out like faction warfare did, but this is being a part of something you build with your allies. It’s our small sandcastle in the corner of the sandbox. I’m helping to prevent it from being kicked over and making a bit of a profit at the same time while I’m training for bigger and better toys.
Have I succeeded after all? In a way yes, but I still can’t help but wish there were some entry level content for the frigate sized crowd in null. Everyone is quick to point out that null is ‘end game content’, but I ask if that has to be the case? Sure, I don’t expect to be running the biggest, baddest sites in my paltry faction frigate; making ISK by the boatload. However, I firmly believe that each security region should have options for players at all stages of their career, if for no other reason than to increase the sandbox feel. It makes no sense for CCP to say “Here take this and do anything you can imagine with it… oh but don’t let new players try this one area.” I know for a fact a small gang of 5 assault frigates can wreck nearly any anomaly as a group. Many of the problems a new pilot in null faces can be solved by fleeting up. Teamwork is always a powerful tool that you can use in a given situation, but I wonder why there can’t be something to do when no one else is awake in the depths of 0.0.
My vision of nullsec is one where lower-tier content is available to the players who join their friends already present in nullsec. The idea that there is simply not much to do must be to be avoided at all cost. Players should be led to believe that there are many cogs in the wheel that grind gameplay forward and that they have a way to influence how their particular gears turn. If CCP can somehow polish this concept and give players more options in what they can do at all stages of their career, maybe we can turn the tide of new pilots arriving in null and subsequently logging off.
At least, that’s my hope.
This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Roland Cassidy.