Thursday, 29 December 2011

Reviewing Eve

Jester has posed a challenge to the Eve community to come up with an objective review of Eve Online.  I thought I'd voice my opinion on the subject using the basic same criteria.  I know off hand my review will be from a different point of view since I've never ventured into nullsec but in the end voicing my reasons and motivations is a valid exercise.  I'm going to skip a lot of the additional information Jester has already covered.  There's no real need to write a summary of Eve, if you are reading this you already know about the game.  Instead I'm going to dive into the heart of the matter and hit the topics immediately.

Interface- 2/10
  I'm going to further break this category down into combat, market, and fitting since those are the three things I've spent the most time doing.

  Combat:  Much like Jester I feel the interface when undocked fails on multiple levels.  The single most important window is the overview and it also happens to be the most difficult window to configure.  The overview settings consists of multiple windows, tabs and options that can't be tested or viewed until specific events occur relating to the chosen options.  Want to make adjustments to how an enemy fleet is going to appear?  You won't know if your changes are what you want until you encounter an enemy fleet. 
     The next most important element to combat is the chat windows.  While the chat blocks can be adjusted and moved, there are a few pieces that are all or nothing.  Viewing the people in each chat channel requires a large portion of the window to be taken up with both name and portrait icon.  There is no option to turn the portrait off to just view the names, nor is the any kind of option to adjust how the names are listed.  The other problem with the chat windows is the inability to combine different types of chat channels into the same block.  I'd love to have both alliance and corp chat in the same window, but the best I can do is have multiple tabs stacked and flip back and forth.  Extremely annoying.

  Market:  The market tab provides a lot of information while being very unfriendly to use.  There is no automation, the organization options are limited, and the filter options are buried which can lead to mistakes.  The cherry on top of the market window is a skill that allows people to create buy orders with insufficient funds which leads to a plethora of scams.  Selling is worse than buying because you have to sell each stack of items individually which can lead to a lot of clicking to unload a weeks worth of loot.

  Fitting:  The fitting window is the single bright spot for the interfaces of Eve.  Drag and drop works, it's easy to see changes and what will or won't fit, and you can spin the ship to your hearts content.  Having more information for ammunition, weapons, and resists with activated hardeners would be great; but it's not enough to call the fitting window a failure.

Gameplay- 8/10

  The most impressive part of Eve is the gameplay.  Whether you choose to fight NPC's in missions, mine astroids, explore uncharted areas, live in a wormhole, pirate in low sec, build ships, create an empire in null sec, or become a market tycoon there is something for everyone.  There is always something new to try or something old to go back and revisit. 
  One of the common complaints about Eve is the high level of knowledge required to effectively play.  This is usually translated as a steep learning curve, but I found that some time spent on the forums or surfing the net would answer many questions.  The help channel provided information on basic actions and was enough to get me going.  The hardest part I had with the game was learning to fit the ships but this is roughly the same thing as learning the maps in a first person shooter.  The only way to really learn is trial and error.  At least with Eve there are some excellent programs like Eve HQ or Eve Fitting Tool to allow lots of trial and error for free.
  The only real complaint I have about game play is the lack of a safe zone for people that just don't feel like putting up with PVP today.  Eve is all about PVP and if you leave the station you are putting yourself at risk.  In my opinion this lack of an area in which to relax and just enjoy the PVE aspects of the game has been the biggest killer of subscriptions.  Most MMO's have more PVE servers than PVP and the PVP servers almost always have areas that are PVP free.  Eve has purposely chosen to ignore this section of the gaming populace and the results have shown through in the lack of an increased player base over the years.

Story: 9/10

  Eve has a rich and varied story line.  Every month see's additions to the universe and the players are encouraged to contribute as well.  There are even a novels based on Eve.  The only real negative is that the players are never really tied to their empire so there is no real way to enmesh your character into the storyline.

Graphics: 5/10

  The developers of Eve has spent a lot of time and effort to improve the graphics of Eve.  The ships look great, when you're in station and are actually able to have your settings turned up.  Once you are in space there is no real way to look at the pretty ships, keep track of the overview, and watch chat channels for critical updates.  Settings have to be turned down to avoid lag and in the end all of the wonderful looking ships go unnoticed.  The background nebula, clouds, stars, asteroid belts and other space settings are pretty, but having a pretty background is not enough.  Part of the low score for graphics can be blamed upon the poor interface.  If combat was easier to conduct then having the screen show off the ships would be practical.  As things stand though the inability to fight and look at the ships means you aren't looking at the beautiful artwork.

Sounds: 8/10

  Eve has some good sounds and the score shows.  There's also an in game player if you want to listen to your own tracks.  All in all they've done a decent job the noise of space.  The only thing I'd like to hear is the sound of the guns firing from inside my ship instead of the noise of my partner's ship next to me.

Multi-player: 7/10

  The score on this category is going to differ based on what you think multi-player (MP) should offer.  I think that there is more then just the reliance upon interaction with those around you.  In my opinion MP should be a mix of need to incorporate other people for progress, access to other players, and ability to play in a group.  Eve is smashingly successful at requiring other people's help to progress.  Almost every aspect of the game is controlled by players.  Where Eve is lacking is access and then actually working with other players.  Eve has lots of chat channels but the risk inherent from the PVP aspects of the game end up making people shy away from joining with others.  Then when you do find a group of people there is a huge amount of risk that they could be setting you up to kill your ship or pull off some kind of scam. 
  Overall Eve's lack of acceptance for a safer environment in some areas of the game results in actively causing players to avoid grouping. 

Single player: 5/10

  This score is lower than what it should be due to the lack of a safe area to conduct PVE operations.  There is a lot of content for players to utilize, but the risk of getting attacked by other players ends up driving away a lot of the fun and relaxation that most single player games offer. 

Character enhancement: 9/10

  One aspect of Eve that hasn't been mentioned yet is how you level your character up.  In Eve all improvements are accomplished through training that occurs at a real time rate.  There is a que that allows a player to store up varying levels of training which require a specific amount of time to complete.  The ability to train without being online is the single aspect of Eve that has kept me playing despite all of the shortcomings.  I love the fact I don't have to raid, I don't have to grind rats, all I have to do is log on to set my skills into the que and my character gets better.  The only downside to the skill system is the lack of a decent interface (go figure) to allow planning.  There is an excellent third party program however (Evemon) and it's everything you need to plan your characters progression.

Overall: 6/10

  Eve can be a lot of fun, but you have to be a player that enjoys the unique highlights of the game.  Heavy reliance on PVP, no safe areas, and an antiquated interface all detract from what would otherwise be a game that could honestly compete with WoW.  The developers have built the game the way they want, but this has resulted in a game that isn't popular with the majority of the player base and if Eve is ever going to expand some fundamental changes are required.