EVE Online’s 19th Free Expansion: Odyssey – a Brief Analysis

The latest EVE Online expansion is the first in a new era of development strategy for CCP Games.

In co-ordination with a presentation taking place at PAX East, CCP Games have released the first details of their next EVE Online expansion, entitled Odyssey.

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Odyssey‘s core focus seems to be on providing tools to aid explorers to navigate through New Eden’s 7000+ star systems, with hints of new sites and discoveries to be found.

“Odyssey, offers new tools for exploring the stars, challenges you to breach the unknown for adventure and rewards, and to face what lies on the other side. A re-imagined scanning system, intuitive navigation and new exploration modules will aid you as you search the heavens for your next conquest. Some will encounter sites never discovered before, and others will be confronted with intriguing tests of skill and resolve.”

New Broom

Odyssey will be the first expansion in the sci-fi sandbox’s second decade of life and will mark the beginning of a new development strategy. The process, as described by Executive Producer Jon ‘CCP Unifex’ Lander at the December CSM7 summit,  aims to introduce, refine and build on several concepts over multiple expansions, each with an overarching theme, rather than the previous process of each expansion focusing on a single feature which would be left still requiring iteration.

New Tools

The “Discovery Scanner” will represent the second re-working of EVE Online’s scanning system during its history. The new system will allow players to “reveal the hidden secrets of the EVE Universe” to “encourage the adventurer in everyone.” This may mean that the current shared method of combat scanning and exploration scanning may be separated into two entirely different processes. It is notable that there is no mention of any ability to scan down ships.

New Ships

As well as the exploration theme, there are hints at further polish to combat-oriented gameplay, with “War Machines” promising that “the four factions will issue forth with the latest tools of war and re-designs of old favorites”. This may be a reference to the continued “tiericide” initiative which has seen a large percentage of EVE Online‘s 200+ ship types rebalanced and redesigned, but additional ships have already been hinted at to fill gaps in the new role-based tech tree, particularly in the battleships section.

New Narrative

Roleplaying and sci-fi lore afficionados have reason to rejoice. It appears that the recent Battle for Caldari Prime live event was more than just a one-off PR exercise and was the precursor for continuous attention to be given to EVE Online‘s long-neglected storyline. With complex inter-faction relationships and an incredibly well-realised backstory, there is potential here for some very engaging content. 

New Old

In addition there will be “continued development towards raising accessibility without removing functionality will bring dozens of changes to player-owned starbases, game UI and beyond.” Which is good news for both new players and the industrialists and wormhole denizens of EVE, who have long had to deal with a convoluted and frustrating starbase system.

More Details Please

All in all, although specifics are light, there are suggestions here of many elements which could broaden EVE Online‘s appeal and appease elements of the fanatical core playerbase. More details will undoubtedly be revealed at PAX East and information will be brought to you as soon as the GameSkinny Bothans commit the necessary self sacrifice.

EVE Online: Odyssey will be available for download on 4th June 2013.

Further coverage of EVE Online at PAX East:

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Mat Westhorpe
Broken paramedic and coffee-drinking Englishman whose favourite dumb animal is an oxymoron. After over a decade of humping and dumping the fat and the dead, my lower spine did things normally reserved for Rubik's cubes, bringing my career as a medical clinician to an unexpectedly early end. Fortunately, my real passion is in writing and given that I'm now highly qualified in the art of sitting down, I have the time to pursue it. Having blogged about video games (well, mostly EVE Online) for years, I hope to channel my enjoyment of wordcraft and my hobby of gaming into one handy new career that doesn't involve other people's vomit.