EVE Online: Incursion

Warbear_nG | 20 March 2011 | Comments off

Attention capsuleers - Battlestations!! The Sansha Incursion is here, and they’re in force!

Incursion, CCP’s latest free expansion for EVE Online sees the battle brought to the masses, with EVE’s storyline growing some seriously sharp teeth. The Sansha Nation, a band of cyborg outlaws have somehow mastered wormhole technology, allowing them to swarm any system in the EVE galaxy at any time.

While this is the meat of the expansion, Incursion brings with it a swathe of changes and almost all of them have been widely welcomed.

CCP’s promise to release two free expansions each year saw them stagger Incursion over six weeks, starting in late November. Introducing a new dedicated salvage ship, the Noctis, some new net-code, anti-aliasing and a hell of a lot of tweaks and changes, EVE was looking and playing better than it had in some time.

"EVE was looking and playing better than it had in some time."Mid-December saw the tedious learning skills removed altogether, with pilots being reimbursed with the relevant number of skill points to be used however they wished. Getting newer pilots into better ships with better skills, rather than spending the first few weeks learning how to learn is a huge step forward, and the re-allocation of points was an elegant solution to the issue.

January 19 rolled around and the final part to Incursion was released. This is the meat and potatoes of the expansion, bringing the two major draw-cards to the playing masses. A new character creation tool-kit, and the titular Sansha incursions. It also brought welcome changes to the bloated Planetary Interaction clickfest, an external Voice client hosted through EVEGate and further graphical and User Interface changes.

"the two major draw-cards to the playing masses. A new character creation tool-kit, and the titular Sansha incursions"The character creator is one more stepping stone towards EVE’s promised “walking in stations” or “Incarna” planned for later this year. Gone is the two dimensional portrait maker, in its place we get one of the most powerful and impressive character creators ever seen, allowing us to manipulate our avatars from head to toe. It’s just so easy to make beautiful avatars, and this is just the start. Further expansions will allow scars, tattoos and piercings, along with further changes as ambulation becomes a daily part of EVE.

While you can lose hours playing with the character creation tool, the real focus of this expansion is the Sansha Incursions. And they are nasty.

Once a constellation of systems has been targeted, the Sansha will start appearing in greater numbers, dominating the area. The more space they hold, the more powerful they become, and subsequently the more teamwork and coordination is required by the players.

"Witnesses report fleets of Battleships with a supporting logistics ships being wiped out in minutes."But this is where the difficulties and opportunities really kick in. Organising a gaggle of random EVE players is about as difficult as herding cats. Just about everyone is there for their own gain and is looking for a quick win. While this approach has worked in other areas in EVE, never before has there been such a difficult enemy.

Until recently, only Sleepers safely tucked away in wormholes have posed such a threat - but that has now all changed. They’re fast. They’re tough and they hit exceptionally hard. Witnesses report fleets of Battleships with a supporting logistics ships being wiped out in minutes.

These Incursions are serious. And it’s likely to take some serious players, and some serious organising to fight back. In the mean time, there’s some serious cash to be made by the more manipulative players out there. Where there are ship losses, there are profits to be made, and where there is a battlefield, there are scavengers.

EVE, like many other MMO’s is an evolutionary beast, with each bi-annual update developing and growing upon the last. Take for example last years Planetary Interaction. It has not only been streamlined with the latest release, but is a stepping stone towards the eventual integration with Dust541. Case in point here, is the character creator, and the massive overhaul to the way our avatars look. The next forecast release is Incarna, where our avatars will be literally walking around in stations. Previously, the only way to see your character outside of a ship was to have your escape pod destroyed in space, resulting in you being respectfully represented as a naked frozen corpse.

And while not everybody is happy with the focus being taken off space-combat, it’s clear that this is all part of the future plan for the greater EVE Online experience.

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