Object Lessons: What The New Player Experience Doesn’t Teach


Try as they might, CCP struggles with giving New Players every ounce of information they need to be successful. That’s not saying they do a bad job, because if you look at the sheer scope of the game, even getting players to undock at all seems like a Herculean effort. What many players who are just starting out miss out on are the finer details of flying effectively, things that players pick up with time and experience and best practices that require no skill books to be trained. I hesitate to call these concepts tips and tricks, but essentially that’s precisely what they turn out to be.

While this is far from a comprehensive list, the following snippets of wisdom may be of help to the up and coming freshmen of New Eden. Some advice is often given as rote by many experienced players, and it’s all but inconceivable that CCP simply doesn’t include it in their Opportunities list. Many finer points can be picked up by chatting with a knowledgeable player in corp or local, but finesse comes with practice.

There is simply no magic “I Win” button in EVE (that is, unless you’re running a Cancer Svipul Gate Camp, in which case you do win…but you’re still a horrible terrible person, and I hope my anguished tears drown your family). No single tactic or plan will ensure an engagement goes your way, but maybe with a better understanding of how to use the tools you have at hand, you can edge things a little closer towards your favor. Let’s get started.

Use The Tutorial Career Agents:

At the time of writing, there is no current Opportunity that goads a new player towards the Career Agents Screen. Mission running is not my favorite activity, but these agent missions are genuinely helpful in giving new players a taste of some of the employment opportunities the game has to offer. Completing all of the various agents can set a new player up with about a dozen ships, including a hauler that they can use to move elsewhere and begin a grand adventure of their own. So it seems a legitimate shame that one of the Opportunities isn’t “Get a Job” or something like that.

Telling a “fresh off the character creation screen” new player to do the tutorial might seem a little cold and callous, but with so much to teach, having a newbro learn by doing is genuinely a great idea. The Opportunities menu is a fun and engaging way to learn more about the game, and it sends the right idea to new pilots. EVE is best enjoyed by playing it. Perhaps CCP is working on a more organic way to run a tutorial, but a gentle nudge in that direction is certainly worth adding into the game.

Utilizing the Directional Scanner Tool:

I can think of no other item in the game as genuinely useful for keeping you alive than the directional scanner tool, otherwise known as d-scan. Proper use of the d-scan can tell you if you have enemies approaching your location, what is in space nearby, and pin down the locations of possible targets. The information you can gather using the d-scan tool is so good that there are third party sites dedicated to parsing the information into easier to manage details for Fleet Commanders. Its ability to spot trouble ahead makes d-scan an invaluable tool for those who know how to use it, and a working knowledge of how to depend on it is all but required for life in Faction Warfare and wormhole space.

The d-scan menu is accessed in game by using the scanner menu icon next to the central HUD (it resembles a Radar/Sonar Grid), or alternately pressing Alt+D. When used in conjunction with the tracking camera in the centered format, you can quickly aim and point your d-scan in a narrow angle and see exactly what lays ahead of you up to 14 AU out. For those who have a predisposition to run when trouble rears its ugly head, keeping the Scanner set at 360 degrees and watching either the 1 AU or 5 AU range will give you a good idea of anything that might be on it’s way to ruin your day. The avid ship hunter will also find the d-scan a useful tool upon entering a system. Simply run a 360 scan and bring down the range till a target no longer appears on d-scan to discover the distance an opponent is away from you, then cross-reference this with a Podsaver overview or Anomaly List’s distances to determine what else happens to be at the same range greatly speeding up the scouting for a potential foe.

It is worth noting that cloaked vessels and Combat Recons such as the Rook and its ilk will not appear on d-scan. Though far from a perfect tool, when used in conjunction with other scanning options like combat probes, you too can become the eye in the sky.

Better Living with Bookmarks:

In EVE online, the odds that one day you may find yourself in need of a safe place to sort yourself out is very high. When you find yourself in hostile territory, bouncing around the system and setting up a quick safe spot can save your ship, buy some time to think, provide vantage points, and give you vectors of approach to a guarded gate. It’s an indispensable skill for explorers who find themselves in need of a place to drop a Depot, or simply go AFK, cloaked without fear of anyone “accidently” discovering their vessel.

In recent iterations of the game, you can actually assign a hotkey to bookmark your current location in space, which is done mid-warp between celestial locations in order to make a simple safe, though using the wheel menu after clicking your ship in space or using the People and Places menu works just as well. What matters is how complex you need your safe spot to be. If you have a cloak and just need a place to sit a moment, a mid-warp between two celestials will probably be just fine. If you need to get a better look at a gate that is outside scan range  or an indirect warp-in vector to help bypass a bubble, well, you’re going to need to put in a bit more work.

Upon loading grid as you enter system, simply take a moment to point the camera in the direction of your destination, and see if there are any asteroid belts, anomalies, or planets in that area. Your best bet is to find something within scan distance of your destination. You have a minute of gate cloak, so it’s often worth utilizing the time to sort yourself out.

Warp to your first vantage point at random distance. I discourage going to anywhere at 0; the risk of bouncing off an object or falling directly into a trap is much higher doing that. Generate a mid-warp bookmark and return the new location as soon as you land. Once at your simple safe, look for another celestial object that is not in line with the direct Gate to Gate warp path and repeat the simple bookmark procedure. This will provide you a random point of entry that is less likely to be guarded by a trap bubble. Be sure to watch your D-scan for important signs that you might be hunted, like combat scanner probes and get moving as soon as they pop up on your scan.

Bookmarks can be set up directly on station docks to avoid embarrassing deaths, only 100 meters from the sanctuary of a station. Alternately, taking the time to set up perches and instant undocks directly out from where a station spits you out is a solid way to protect yourself from being camped into hostile areas. Stealth bombers benefit from having wide arrays of bookmarks to manage their bombing runs, and FCs who come prepared with bookmarks at a field of engagement can nearly always outmaneuver their opponents.

The Micro Warp Drive Trick

This maneuver has infuriated me for years, not because I can’t utilize it, but because it is so effective in allowing haulers to evade me, that I’m certain many industrial ships filled with PLEX have come and gone without me being able to catch them. I recommend darkfall13’s solid tutorial video on the topic. It boils down to simply breaking your gate cloak to align to your destination, immediately hitting both the MWD and cloak, and killing your cloak just as the MWD cycle finishes, while spamming the warp button furiously.

What you’re essentially doing is managing your alignment and speed with the natural disadvantage of the Cloak. Because your movement is slowed by the active cloak but boosted by the pulse of the MWD, you wind up maintaining roughly 80% of your actual speed, enough so that when the MWD cycle ends and you drop cloak, you’re not only fully aligned, but at the correct speed to simply warp off and wave goodbye in local.

The T3D Mode Switch Trick

Similar to the MWD and Cloak trick, the Mode Switch is a handy tool to evade unwanted attention at warpgates.  As illustrated by this handy video by T3D masters Rapid Withdrawal [R-DRAW], this particular maneuver requires the pilot being flying one of the four mode-switching T3 Destroyers: the Jackdaw, Hecate, Confessor, or Svipul. The ability to mode switch while still under gate cloak is perhaps the best part of using this trick, as you have a full minute to decide if you need to use it.

The T3 Destroyers are currently the kings of the Meta, able to tank well, deal impressive damage at varied ranges, and (with much thanks to this particular trick) be very hard to pin down. I will admit to finding the ships rather overpowered, but the Mode Switch maneuver can save your butt when you need to stay alive, and being familiar with a tactical destroyer’s innate bonuses while in various modes can give you an edge in many situations.

Burnt-Out Weapons

Now that CCP has given every new player who walks into the game the ability to overheat their modules, this situation may become more of an issue for those unfamiliar with the mechanic. So there you are, in your frigate of choice, hanging out with a gang in lowsec. Your FC told everyone to overheat their weapons…but you quickly realize you’ve burnt your guns out. What will you do? Before you beat yourself up for not having any nanite paste skills trained, take a breath and follow this bit of advice: ungroup your weapons.

Grouped weapons generate heat together. However, each module has a chance to take a different amount of damage. While the display shows your stack of guns are all burnt out, the truth of the matter is it’s likely only one of the weapons has burnt out. By simply ungrouping the weapons you’ll be surprised to find several may still be in working order, ready to help rain death on the foe of your choice.

Beyond this, training the thermodynamics skill and nanite skills can make recovering from heat damage on high-stress modules a bit more manageable. It’s worth noting that tanking and weapon mods accrue heat damage significantly slower than many tackle and propulsion modules, as those items tend to burn themselves out at a rapid pace. It’s always worth reviewing your passive modules after a fight you heat modules for to repair any damage done to your tank, fitting, and weapon upgrade modules.

No School Like the Old School

There are dozens of bits and pieces of know how you pick up as you play the game. A part of me wants to believe that the acquisition of that knowledge is one of the more demanding aspects of EVE online, requiring patience and dedication to the hobby. A while back I realized that despite having played for several years, I was not particularly good at the game. I decided to make a conscious effort at improving my basic knowledge and general piloting skills, understanding of fitting ships, and ability to recognize ships not only by name and type, but also their traditional roles.

That goal has been a slow progress and a thorough study of my own killboard reveals that I’ve become more adept at small gang engagements, more at home in hostile space and more apt to take the ship home after the dust settles. It’s not the kills that I care about on that admittedly arbitrary list of numbers, it’s the story that shows that a person can work on becoming more knowledgeable and skilled in their hobby by putting in the hours and absorbing what they can from other players, sites, forums, and videos.

When it comes down to it, EVE Online is a chance for those who want to succeed and don’t mind digging for information to rise to the top. I’d like to think just being here and reading articles like this indicate you’re a specific type of person. The type that I’m glad is logged in.

This article originally appeared on TheMittani.com, written by Roland Cassidy.

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