EVE Is Not Fun

EVE is the toughest game I’ve ever played. Consequently, I always found it one of the most rewarding; it is equal parts elation of success and soul-crushing loss, wrapped up in a pretty space opera package. Even for a game well past a decade of existence, few can say it hasn’t kept up with the graphical draw of what a space game should look like. This game has a level of appeal—of this there is no doubt—but EVE Online has a bit of a reputation. EVE Online is difficult…and as a new player, EVE is not fun.

Now as you sit there pondering the necessity of grabbing a pitchfork and burning this humble writer at the stake for daring to disparage the sanctity of Internet Spaceships, I would like to say flat-out that I don’t believe for one minute that I’ve been playing a game for over twelve years that simply is not fun at any level. So I’m going to try it for myself.

I will start this game as fresh as I possibly can.

In this little project I’m going to create a new character. I won’t be using PLEX, Skill Injectors, or borrowing ISK from my main account. Unfortunately I can’t unlearn the lessons I know from years of playing the game, but this is not going to be a teaching experience. You can learn what I know from following advice of others and sifting through various guides. Instead I want to tell the story of how enjoyable the game can be right off the bat by simply being open to everything and trying my best to embrace the risk in the game. This will be a chance to tell stories about how people treat a new player making their way in this most massive of MMOs.

Or is it?

In the course of this experiment, I ask that readers refrain from interacting with the character. You know who I am, what I know, and what I’m doing. That would skew the subjective nature of this. In fact, by the time you’ve read this, hopefully I’ll have already been in game a few weeks. You may already know me and be surprised to find out you’ve had a vet in newb’s clothing amongst you this entire time.

Perhaps this might not apply to every reader perusing this article (a sense of nostalgia is lost on those without a bit of history to peer through, after all) but do you remember the first time you created a character in EVE? What race was it? Why did you chose it? Some friends in game of mine stated they were after the best stat pools, some chose completely on looks, a few chose the backstory they liked, and many wanted to pick the race their friends were in game.  I went back to my roots: the Caldari State, because I liked the sound of the military-minded super-capitalistic government. Civire, because I enjoy a scrap. Several moments hashing out what kinda look I wanted to go for, and voila. I was born again in EVE. I was fresh, unskilled, and floating in an Ibis in Kisogo.

In the beginning…

I remember ages ago waking in pod, in a station. With Aura, a mission agent inside the station, because that is where everyone belongs, docked up and speaking with an agent. Oh, how times have changed. I wake up now inside an Ibis not in a station, but floating in space with the full beauty of the game’s nebulae and haunting soundtrack filling my speakers. Aura is still there, but she’s not telling me what to do, and is instead asking me what I’d like to do. She is giving me opportunities, and I can see that someone somewhere in CCP’s dark Icelandic night had a moment of clarity.

Don’t start out in the station, your place is amongst the stars. You need to be outside; you need to see this world, you want to play. Fucking amazingly brilliant.

Despite my jaded years and my hard earned knowledge, I did what every new player should do: I followed Aura, and I eventually found the Starter mission agents. Now, I know as a vet, that these starter agents are some of the best ways to earn faction standing right off the bat. In fact, if you traveled to each of the three starter systems for your Empire you could do these again at each one and build up some solid credentials with any of the four factions…all with a rookie ship.

During my orientation through the initial tutorial, I discovered that new pilots have been blessed with a large amount of very useful skills from the very beginning. This particular build has roughly 400,000 skill points, spread across gunnery, drones, navigation, mining, exploration, fitting skills, shield and even cybernetics pre-trained to level 1 to insert those all-important training implants.

Gone are the days of haphazardly picking up the basic skills that help you fly your ship better, make your tank stronger, and shoot your weapons better. Though sadly I would be remiss in failing to mention that CCP has taken away a large majority of those 3-10 minute skills, and as a veteran I miss the frequent chirp of Aura alerting me that a ‘skill training completed’. My experience lacked the feeling of rapid progression through the skill tree, and Aura’s refrain of ‘skill training completed’ stretches out to weeks and months apart all too soon.

The first taste is always free

I am not halfway through the various career agents when I am greeted in local chat by a random person, blinding inviting anyone to fight him on the undock. With a spirit of giving anything a try, I accept his challenge and arrive in my challenger of a ship:

[Merlin, Spectre]

Civilian Damage Control

Magnetic Field Stabilizer I

Magnetic Field Stabilizer I


Small Shield Booster I

1MN Afterburner I

Small Shield Booster I

Stasis Webifier I


150mm Carbide Railgun I

150mm Carbide Railgun I

150mm Carbide Railgun I

Antimatter Charge S x1083

Look at that Glorious Civilian Damage control! My enemy is in a Kestrel, and as we lock each-other up, I feel the familiar rush of adrenaline priming my synapses. This Merlin represents half of my entire belongings in this game liquid and solid assets. If I lose this early, there is no safety net of my alts sending me some ISK. I don’t know anyone yet. This is do or die.

I set my orbit at 6000m, just under the optimal range of my guns, and accept the duel…


I win. On top of my victory, a reward in itself, my opponent awards me ten million ISK for having the guts to give PVP a try. He asks if I would be willing to fight his ‘real’ ship. Again I agree, and he undocks with a Vexxor. I know full well I am no match for a PVP fit Cruiser in the Merlin, but I fire at him under his guns as best I can, and try to take out his drones. His energy neutralizers prove too much for me, and he halts his damage as I reach 3% structure. I thank him for the mercy and congratulate him on soundly whelping me. He offers a bit of advice about looking into Faction Warfare or venturing out to null if I’m serious about learning to PVP, and departs.

I’m left to finish my career agents missions, netting me a small nest egg of six frigates, a destroyer, a hauler, two mining frigates, and about eight million ISK, not including the 10 million that my opponent had awarded me. In new player terms, I feel rich. I am confident, and I know what I want to try. I want to see what this faction war is all about. So I sell off everything but a combat Merlin, an exploration Heron, a Mining Venture, a Badger for hauling, and all the fittings needed to run these ships. I place all my belongings into the Badger and I head towards lowsec. The map shows my nearest entrance is Tama.

I will get into PVP, I will feel that surge of adrenaline again.

I will enlist in the Caldari State Protectorate.

Editor’s Note: This is the first part of a three-part series.

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