Fanfest is over: for those who were there, hangovers have faded, and the post-fest blues are setting in. This is the time of the year when bittervets vie to out-“meh” each other, devs get their stomachs pumped and get back to work, and the cleaners at the Harpa pull double shifts for a month. But don’t be overwhelmed by the miasma of despond and stale sweat: the Neocom is here to bring you the chirpiness! This was a spectacularly good Fanfest, even for those who had to stay at home and watch the streams: CCP is on fire, and players of EVE get to dance around the flames wearing brand new warpaint. Here, then, specially condensed for newbie enjoyment, is the TL;DR of Fanfest 2015: nine things to be excited about.
1. No Pies in This Sky
Some of the jaded scepticism about these announcements is understandable; CCP has become legendary for announcing the results of their brainstorming sessions at fanfest; over the years we’ve been shown any number of wildly exciting mock-ups that never saw the light of day. But no longer! Both Hilmar (CCP’s CEO) and CCP Seagull (Executive Producer of EVE Online) were emphatic in their promises of “no bullshit” – every single item in this list is slated for actual release in 2015. Which is pretty exciting to begin with.
2. A Structured Approach
You know those Player-Owned Starbase (POS) things that sound so shiny, but that your CEO won’t let you play with? POS code is the crawling horror at the heart of EVE Online, and for years devs have turned white and whispered “legacy code” before swearing a prayer or two and brainstorming other things to work on. Now those dark years are behind us: the whole system of structures in EVE is being ripped out and rewritten, and you – yes, you, no matter where you live or who you fly with – will be able to build beautiful fairytale sandcastles and defend them to the death – or use them to mess with other people’s heads. No more POS shields, silly bumping games or anchoring nightmares. Want to set up your own little assembly array in highsec? Done. A billboard for your corp on the Jita 4-4 undock? Easy. A place of your own to dock up and watch the galaxy sail by? It’s yours – at a price, of course.
3. Gimme some SKIN
These announcements went way beyond what was described in the dev blog a few weeks ago. First, all existing skins will become permanent at the end of April, so if you have any skinned ships or blueprints, hold onto them for a few weeks more and they’ll be yours forever. But there’s more! Legal issues relating to Alliance logos in the client have at last been figured out, so your ships will soon be able to proudly display them. New graphical improvements will also allow realistic rust (Minmatar rejoice!) and dirt and battle scars will accumulate as ships age. Finally, the art department is working on new ways to make the scale of ships more visible – a challenge when, on a screen, every ship tends to look about the size of a sandwich; they showed off some promising concepts for making our spaceships feel as huge as they are supposed to be.
4. Null Points
After a half-successful buff a year ago, nullsec mineral ores are going to be re-invented from the ground up, with the intention of making it easier for nullsec miners to meet the needs of local manufacturers without the need to ship minerals in from highsec. Industrial and military sovereignty indices are also being tweaked – and all of this will be completed before the new sovereignty system goes live. Later in the year we can expect a comprehensive rework of “occupancy” indices, to better reflect the real levels of activity in a system – and there were clear hints that all forms of nullsec PvE are coming in for some much-needed love…
5. AI -> AI: Oh!
Anomalies and missions will soon be getting more dangerous, more unpredictable, and a lot more interesting.
CCP Affinity hinted at this many months ago, but CCP Seagull in the keynote could not have been clearer: Drifter Battleships and Circadian Seekers are a test-bed for new NPC-building tools and AI systems that CCP have been working on for years, which could utterly transform PvE in EVE online. Doomsday weapons and Ludicrous Stats(tm) are just icing; the cake is the systems that let the new NPCs purposefully camp stations and gates, recognise enemies, protect structures, form fleets, and warp around the system to pursue anyone who attacks them – even when cloaked. Anomalies and missions will soon be getting more dangerous, more unpredictable, and a lot more interesting.
6. Rumours of Wars
Nullsec is not getting all the love this year; a rework of faction warfare is in on its way. Goals include a break-up of the alliances between the Empires to create a four-way war, a rework of FW missions, and changes to the shape of Faction Warfare space and the impact of warzone control on NPC behaviour.
7. Weaponised Wingy Bits
The Jackdaw, with its weaponised wingy bit technology, sounds like it will be a lot of fun to fly – in Propulsion mode it will get a more modest speed boost than earlier Tech 3 Destroyers, but also an enormous boost to agility, allowing it to align like an Interceptor. We can also expect a balance pass to Light Missiles and Rockets as the Jackdaw is introduced. Not long after, we can look forward to the last of the Tech 3 Destroyers, the Hecate.
The game itself may not be free to play.
You have watched that new gameplay trailer, haven’t you. Haven’t you? Watch it. I don’t care how slow your dial-up connection is under that rock, watch it, dammit!
Holy fucking amazeballs.
Now, to be absolutely clear, if you want to play at launch, this experience is going to cost you several arms and legs, so start collecting now. As well as the game itself, which may not be free to play (unconfirmed), you can expect to need a beast of a PC (~$1000), an Oculus Rift of course (~$300 TBA), a proper HOTAS joystick ($150 – scrubs using gamepads are going to get pwnt) and a graphics card forged in the fires of Mount Doom ($400+++).
However, there is still good news for those lacking in the arm and leg department. Check out the video of the tournament final at fanfest:
This is all rather rough around the edges in terms of presentation: it’s difficult to get an overview of the progress of the match; the viewpoint-switching is rather random; the hosts are endearingly cringeworthy; and of course all the visuals are as-rendered on an Oculus Dev Kit 2, which is markedly inferior to the final release model. But just watch that action. Have you ever seen an e-sport this gripping? Simply watching Valkyrie is going to be more exciting than most computer games are to play.
9. CCP Caffeine
Are you excited yet? If not, there may not be much we can do to help you; at the end of the day this is just a blog, and 2005 tech can only be so exciting. But don’t sit around muttering about itches we can’t scratch. Log in! Undock! Explode hilariously! Shinier ships – or rustier ones, if that floats your boat – are coming soon, and in the meantime, your spacefriends are waiting to welcome you back online. Now isn’t that something to get excited about?
See you at Fanfest 2016!