Header Art by Cryo Huren
Later today (October 13), we will see an extended downtime for a patch deployment. The content of this patch has not been announced, but many suspect that we will see the launch of the CONCORD Rogue Analysis Beacon, AKA the C.R.A.B. This new deployable must be ‘powered’ by a capital ship, and will spawn waves of rogue drones for players to kill.
Unfortunately, this anchorable structure isn’t a good addition to EVE Online, and here’s why…
“You are, by design, spending at least 14 minutes doing nothing but waiting.”
These new beacon sites rival that of AFK ratting and high-sec Orca mining for their lack of required attention, but at least those are activities where you can put watch Netflix on another screen and relax whilst doing it. The C.R.A.B. is a ‘site’ where you need to be paying full attention for roaming hostiles, but also spend long periods of time in the site with absolutely nothing to shoot. As it stands, these sites send waves of between two and five rogue drones, on what appears to be a background timer that releases a new wave every 1-3 minutes. This respawn rate continues as long as some of the rogue drones in a wave have been killed, so if you clear a wave quickly, you could be spending a while waiting for the next.
Some dreadnoughts can run these sites very well – my testing has been focused on the Phoenix and Revelation. The sites take roughly 40 minutes, and most of that time is waiting; for the beacon to anchor, for the waves to respawn, for the countdown to slowly progress. Overall, the rewards are between 130 and 200 million, accounting for corporation tax and without any adjustment to either the Dynamic Bounty System or the final loot.
Carriers can complete these sites faster and with more activity to keep you engaged. Unfortunately, they run into serious issues trying to tank the rats, and fighters keep getting attacked by the rogue drones in the site, making these hulls borderline worthless. Force Auxiliaries are completely unable to link to the beacon, so are only going to be useful if someone manages to design a subcap fleet that can run these ‘sites’, using a Force Auxiliary for logistics. As for Supercarriers and Titans, unless CCP has some scaling feature planned for what you bring into the site that they are hiding – and if so, why is that not being tested to make sure it works before it goes live? – then just don’t bother.
Ironically, there is one ship that actually seems to be capable of these sites without major drawback. They use a very specialised fit, but are more engaging and a bit less of a “Come here and shoot me” beacon: Marauders. Yes, that’s right – the most optimal way to run the new capital content appears to be using a subcap.
“Why would I risk an 8 bil dread when I could just run a high-sec incursion?”
I was originally going to avoid writing this, but after 60+ runs, and speaking to multiple people about the matter, I feel I need to. As it stands, the payout is just not worth it. As with the design of spending at least 15 minutes doing nothing, these mechanics gets very boring, very quickly. To make matters worse, the site pushes you to actively waste time on grid so you can get an increased payout, which ties back into spending time waiting for waves to spawn.
I will note that I do not fully understand the mechanics going on behind the scene. However, I do understand that there are some implications when running the site that allow you to game it to maximise income. The site seems to spawn waves of Rogue Drone rats on a set timer every 1-3 minutes as long as you are killing some of the rogue drones. You could end up with more rats than anticipated, or you could kill a wave and sit for minutes at a time waiting for the next spawn.
This means that bounty ticks are pretty much locked to 60-100 million and you cannot create a larger tick by running the site faster. This leaves you with two options; running the site as fast as possible and making 75 million per site when including loot (averaging 200 million ISK per hour), or gaming the site to maximise the amount of waves that spawn (averaging out to 240 million ISK per hour).
That said, those ISK/Hour figures are presuming a 100% Bounty Risk Modifier and that your ESS does not get stolen. Once the Bounty Risk Modifier hits its minimum possible value of 30%, you could end up making 60-75 million per hour at most.
“The concept is great, but the execution is not going to get capitals into space.”
1. Multiply the total wave DPS by 1.5x – 2x of current value to ensure that this is a capital ship site. This will help to push capitals into space (as long as dread prices come down), as opposed to players using dreads to start a site and then finishing it with subcaps.
2. Increase the amount of rats you see in each wave by 5-10x (but with the same total DPS). Give them the Triglavian AI, but modified for Rogue Drones; this would make the site more interesting by allowing the rats to move about on grid more freely, creating certain ships within waves that fulfill ewar and logistics roles, and position themselves appropriately.
3. Remove the final payout bonus altogether; replace it with some kind of bonus loot payout for every 10 minutes linked to the CRAB. This will keep people on the same grid and not trying to game the speed at which beacons are run. This method could also allow for hunters to steal the loot within the beacon, if they manage to scare away the site runner before the loot is claimed.
4. Remove the 5 minute spool up at the start. Ultimately all it achieves is wasting player time waiting for the site to begin.
5. Probably the most important one here, make the drone waves and payout scale based on the ship type and how many people present. This means solo carriers can run the beacons without getting swarmed and destroyed, but also allows for larger waves (Maybe also an infested capital or two) when you bring supers and titans, or several people in dreadnoughts.
6. I think CCP needs to look at Triglavian Werposts and Edencom Gunstars and the content for the response fleets that they have. This would provide a better idea of how to make these sites work; those actually keep you on your toes throughout the activity. While those NPC event sites can be repetitive after several months, they are lot better that the C.R.A.B. as it exists now.
I hope these suggestions are addressed, because the concept of these new beacons is positive in theory. Unfortunately, they suffer in their current format.
Have you run these sites on SiSi? Do you disagree with our assessment of these PvE sites? Let us know in the comments below.