Eve Online is more than a game; it’s a social system that exists in a digital world, complete with nefarious treachery, heroic bravery, and iconic danger. After reading articles about the recent battle at X47L-Q (see recent articles here at INN), I knew I wanted in that world, to participate in such an event, even if I were only a lowly miner who supplies the ore that goes into the first ship that gets blown up in some future huge battle.
Before downloading the game, I read some additional articles online. I learned the history of the Imperium and why they were now attacking the Keepstar at X47. I read about World War Bee and its aftermath and became acquainted with the major alliances and various viewpoints.
Sorting out facts from propaganda in Eve makes real-life politics look simplistic.
Regardless of in-game machinations and behind-the-scenes shenanigans, I wanted to join an alliance that has a lot of members and very solid organization. I’ve played MMOs before and it always helps to have a crew—often the larger, the better. Playing Elder Scrolls Online, for example, I had vastly more fun when I joined a large clan with excellent leadership. For a time we ruled the server and that camaraderie and intensity added greatly to the fun. When I was thinking about playing Eve, then, I knew I wanted in an alliance that would be both very large and well organized.
I downloaded Eve and began the tutorial. There are no appropriate gaming analogies to explain the learning curve in Eve. Most games have you playing within minutes, but not Eve. It contains so much to learn. I had to become familiar with a vast number of menus and submenus. I had to train my pilot to perform various missions. Some tasks required skills that needed training; some skills needed to be “injected” before they could be trained. You get the idea. If Eve were a mountain, it would be Everest. The tutorial is helpful, but flawed. I saw newbies like myself on the Rookie chat channel struggling with the tutorial missions. Some got “lost in space” while others couldn’t equip some piece of equipment vital to completing the mission. Not everyone summits Everest; some don’t get to base camp.
The tutorial has three saving graces, or many would-be pilots might rage quit after an hour or two. First, the game’s graphics are gorgeous, especially on my Mac (I downloaded the game both onto Mac and a PC, both for comparison’s sake and so that I could play both at home and away—pssssst…this means at work, but we’re keeping that on the down low). The graphic details are amazing: ads for various clans (called corporations in Eve) graced the outside of stations or were even found within the ship’s docking hanger. Just warping a ship to another area of space is an intriguing thing to see, not to mention the asteroid belts, moons, planets, and a vast array of ships. The second good thing about the tutorial is that the animated character who helps you, Aura, reminds me of Alicia Vikander’s character in the film Deus Ex Machina. The film is unsettling and Eve can be too, so this connection seems particularly apropos. Third, the tutorial had a colossal and cinematic ending, leading straight into even deeper gameplay.
One aspect of that deep gameplay concerned my “career” path. Since everything in Eve depends on various skills that need training, I knew I had to make every training hour count. It just won’t do to be OK at a lot of things. I needed to be really good at one thing or at most two. I could play Eve in a variety of ways: Industry, focusing on mining and the refining of ores; production, focusing on building ships, ammunition, and components; exploration, focusing on finding and looting stuff in the vastness of space; and the military, focusing on blowing things up, especially other players and their valuable stuff, like the Keepstar of X47. I chose production: after all, someone has to make new ships, components, and ammo for all the stuff destroyed in these massive battles. Gray Doc, arms dealer! Oh, I like the sound of that.
So, six days into this career, I am mining ore, with the goal of producing weapons and ships. I’ve upgraded my ship with better equipment and have found new–less safe–areas of space to exploit for resources. I’ve learned to defend myself, even in my lowly Venture mining craft (eat my drone-fire, Angel ship mobs!). I’ve produced and outfitted a ship and it’s currently up for sale. So, the summit of Mount (Eve)erest remains far away, but I think I’ve made it to base camp.
If you are reading this article while trying to decide whether or not to play Eve, just jump in. An Alpha account is free to play and you’ll be able to delve very deeply into the Eve world without any expense whatever. But if you are like me, I knew by the time I finished the tutorial that I wanted more, much more. I upgraded to Omega and am now in search of a corporation, but I’ll save that for my next installment in my pilot’s journal.