Eve is a very complicated system, and the tiniest change can lead to great effects, but it can also be slow to react. Yes, I am going to make a point about Interceptors, how their inherent nullification is breaking the game a little bit more every day, but I am also going to write about other game mechanics that do more harm than you might think.
A bit of history
A few years ago the interceptor was a very niche ship, rarely ever used by anyone. It was very fast, but brittle and expensive (for a frigate). Rarely anyone used them because the alternatives seemed better suited for every day live in EVE. T3 destroyers weren’t a thing, so you would use Assault Frigates for tackle, most notably the Jaguar and Hawk. For scouting you wanted a cloak, and why not warp cloaked as well? So Covert Ops were the choice to go with, usually the Cheetah because of it’s insane speed that made busting through gatecamps a walk in the park. And they’re good at probing too!
When CCP looked at balancing frigates, they saw the Interceptor underused in comparison and tried to heighten its appeal by giving it a cool mechanic that other frigates lack: nullification.
The case of the Interceptor
The introduction of nullification to Interceptors did not immediately kill all content and bring the dark age upon EVE, it was a slow process that was aided by other changes as well, and it truly became apparent to be a problem after the Aegis SOV changes. All of a sudden you could attack enemy space with a single ship, at virtually no cost compared to the huge fleets needed to do this before, and at no risk as well. And therein lies the core problem of Interceptors: no risk. Nullification makes them immune to bubbles (an area of effect that holds down your ship and keeps you from entering warp, only usable in Nullsec), and their high agility enables them to enter warp before anything can lock them up.
This has lead the Interceptor to be more than just a niche ship, it has become the go-to frigate for anything at least in nullsec, but also partly in lowsec. They have become haulers for expensive BPOs and implants, instant-damage attack ships that can hardly be countered at all, the perfect scout that doesn’t have to worry about the enemy and most of all the most used and yet worst tackle ship. Because you can do it all in one ship, with no risk involved.
Size doesn’t matter when it comes to risk
Let’s leave the frigates aside and move to the other end of the spectrum: super capitals. It has never been safer to own one then it is now. You can cyno onto citadels and tether up in an instant, where in the past you had to cyno in a safe spot and then warp into your POS (if you had one). You can even dock up your titans in Keepstars now, making them basically invulnerable to attacks thanks to asset safety. This enables you to do all kinds of things that needed you to have another character or help from someone else before—another weak link gone. While it is true that super hunters still catch their prey, they have to try harder every day.
There are grand tales of people watching a logged-off super in a long-destroyed POS for months, even years. While most of these hunts end in the subject getting to safety in another POS, some of them actually get caught and form legends, probably still told in years to come. With citadels, this has become nearly impossible, and as soon as you’re docked up nothing can harm you, protected not only by defense systems and hard to crack 1 week timers, but also asset safety. So even if the Keepstar you elected to dock your titan in blows up, there is no risk for your officer-fit Doomsday-slinger, just a click, a few days of waiting and 15% of the value in cost. Sure it’s not for free, but do you see the chance of sudden Interdictors anywhere?
Added to this you can just undock even while the citadel is being shot, still be tethered and jump to another citadel. No bubble camp thanks to the Point Defense System, an area of effect that damages everything not tethered in close range to the citadel.
Incursions: risk-free money with a chance of Revenant
Incursion sites are a bit special when it comes to PvE: they’re behind acceleration gates, they have powerful NPCs that can explode you in seconds if you don’t pay attention, and they reward you not only in ISK, but also in rare BPCs and Concord LP. Especially in lowsec though these can be run at nearly no risk, in short: it’s very complicated to even catch incursion runners.
The long explanation: Incursions are cyno jammed, so you can only use Covert Ops Cynos. This limits hot-drops to Bombers, Covert T3s and Black Ops. Added to this you can’t open a cyno inside one of the sites or even anywhere on-grid with the acceleration gate. Not that it would help to cyno in the site, because of the powerful NPCs it would be a bad idea to go in there anyway, because they will switch to your fleet almost immediately, and there is a reason Incursions are run in well tanked ships with logi ships alongside them.
So you need to figure out which site they go to next, catch them on the acceleration gate, since you can’t activate it when you’re tackled, you need to light your covert cyno off-grid and warp your fleet down before they can land, and you need to be able to actually break their tank and survive their fire. Added to this you’re able to take the acceleration gate instantly if you warp in at the right angle without anyone being able to lock you up, so even if you aim for stragglers your chances of catching anything are slim.
Where does this lead?
The magic word here is content. Reddit likes to throw it around whenever something happens, and for good reason: it’s getting rare. Gatecamps have become nearly extinct because Interceptors can just run through them with no risk of getting caught, so there are no fleets forming to break the camps and no fleets to counterdrop those.
Supers and titans rarely get caught traveling anymore, no reaction fleets for that either, do you see a trend?
Risk aversity isn’t the Problem here, it’s that EVEs mechanics enable and encourage us to be risk averse in the first place, when they should do the exact opposite. It isn’t the only thing broken, but it is one of the unique things about EVE, the selling point for anyone that enjoys tipping over sandcastles: EVE should be dangerous, full of mistakes waiting to happen. Not a simple symbol assuring you safety. You should have to expect to lose your ship every time you undock, that’s what makes undocking exciting. It’s not the Killmail you get in the end, it’s the knowledge that it could’ve been your own ship blowing up, and that it probably will be soon.
You can see these effects all over EVE today, but what inspired me most to write about this is the newbie FCs we try to train daily. Their usual fears and questions, that used to range from “how do I make a fleet” to “I’m afraid to get everyone killed” are nowadays overshadowed by one question: “where do I take my fleet to do stuff” and the answer is becoming really hard to find. You can’t just send them out to crush a gatecamp, hunt down an enemy gang that’s bothering your miners, or simply camp a gate themselves. You need to send them regions away, through wormholes and jump bridges, and what do you think will they take for that long journey? Any fast-warping, low-risk ships coming to mind?
I could go on and on about this (and I probably will if you talk to me about this subject), but I still have hope that I am not alone in this matter, even if this hope relies on CCP realising that a safe EVE is a dead EVE.