Why EVE Online is the Most Beautiful MMO of the Decade
About four months ago, I picked up EVE Online. I wasn't really interested in playing, but I was looking to kill some time. I figured the game widely regarded as "Space Spreadsheets" could help me kill time and help me with my math homework as well. I went into the game with a virgin mind. I knew next to nothing, besides that the game would require a lot of staring at spreadsheets, and it would be really hard to figure out.
That may have been the biggest mistake of my life so far. Days, weeks, went by where I didn't talk to a single human being. My life became the capsule, and I loved it. Trading, exploring, mining, everything. The game was perfection. It was what I had been looking for. Months later, once I stopped playing due to time constraints, I emerged a new man. And dare I say, EVE Online is the most cathartic and relaxing MMO you will ever play. And let's not forget the free expansions, with the latest, EVE Online: Rubicon, coming out this November, as well as EVE: Valkyrie, the space flight simulator that takes place in the EVE Universe.
But before telling you exactly why you should play this game, let's go through the motions.
EVE is Immersive
Some may disagree with me, a lot of people might. Even players of the game might look at what I've just written and think me crazy. But to those people I say: have you ever bothered to crank the graphics all the way up, put on some headphones, turn on the music and sound effects that you probably have disabled (probably because you've been chatting on Teamspeak for hours on end about theoretical PvP fits that will never see the light of day), and just sat there for a second? Because I can guarantee that you have not, or else you would not be sitting here telling me that I'm wrong. Go on, do it, I dare you to last a nanosecond without staring in awe at that screen.
It still gives me shivers just hearing any one song from the entire soundtrack. The environments are beautifully detailed, as are the ship models. Everything about this game is extremely polished.
Yes, some things break immersion. For example, you can't even move your ship using the arrow keys, only tell it where to align to, jump to, get away from, or approach. But EVE isn't a spaceship simulator. EVE is an Anarcho-Capitalist community simulator in space. And it does an outstanding job at that.
But what makes EVE so different?
Now on to the good stuff.
EVE Online is regarded as a game with a "High Barrier of Entry." Supposedly, one would need to be a hardcore gamer to ever dive into the EVE Universe.
But one of the beautiful things about EVE Online is that, in reality, it is only as hard as you make it. You can make it something that runs in the background, or you can make it your day job.
In a nutshell, EVE can be this:
Or it can be this:
Want to shoot space rocks while browsing the internet? Sure. You can do that.
What about PvP? It doesn't take long to have the money and skills to fly a good ship into combat. Not to mention that combat is extremely simple, easy to get into, and fun. There are lots of options for PvP, from Factional Warfare and Wars between corporations to simply going in unprotected space and killing people. But you should never forget that you can be killed at any time by anyone, no matter their allegiance.
What about PvE? It's there, too: from missions assigned by agents to exploring asteroid belts for pirates. Though the PvE isn't as fleshed out, it can still be a good source of money and a time-sink.
What about complicated corporation battles you've heard about? You don't even have to join any player corporations if you want to. But if you do want to, I can assure you there are always wars going on everywhere. Do you want to claim a stake on NullSec space? Maybe you like High Security space better? Or are you fine with being a lone wolf?
Have you ever dreamt of being a space businessman/con artist? Great news! This is the game for you! There are so many charts available, so many spreadsheets to see. And the beautiful thing is that you only have to see it if you want to.
EVE Online is "Spreadsheets in Space". But it's also "Mining in Space", "Fighting in Space", even "Capitalism in Space". Heck, maybe you just wanna go into the vast reaches and explore for a while. You can do that.
Something for Everyone
There are all kinds of personalities roaming around space. And all of them play a specific role in the complex web of social interactions that is the EVE Universe. Some fuel the economy, others help with diplomacy. Some spy, and others just keep to themselves. Some might attack on sight, and others might impulsively protect everyone they see.
And what role you choose to play is all your choice. Only you can control your capsuleer, and the future of that capsuleer is up to you. Go ahead, do whatever you want. The world is your burrito. There are no classes, no raiding parties forcing you into a specific role, or anything remotely like that. You can be a diplomat, a fighter, a miner, a hermit, a shrewd businessman, or a deceiving con artist. And you can be much more than that. Because this game is as open as it gets. It's the Ultima Online of modern MMOs. It is the quintessence of escapism and a prime example of how voluntary social interaction can work in wonderful ways, when nowadays most MMOs will force players into arbitrary groups.
EVE Online, along with World of Warcraft, is one of the few examples of a perfect storm in today's MMO Market. It launched as the only one of its kind. And to this day, EVE is still the only true space sandbox MMO out there. EVE is a symbol of innovation in a stagnant market. And if its dedicated playerbase can help it, it will survive for decades.
(All images are in-game screenshots property of CCP Games unless stated otherwise.)
(credit goes to Network Technologies for the spreadsheet image)