EVE Online, the celebrated sci-fi sandbox MMO, is famed (or perhaps infamous) for the freedom it offers its players.
After a decade of iteration and expansion, what started out as a bold attempt to create a player-driven universe became that and more and now new players are presented with a bewilderingly open-ended game experience and official documentation has been sketchy to say the least.
The sheer depth of gameplay options is one of EVE Online‘s greatest strengths, however it can also be one of the most off-putting qualities.
The amount of effort required of the new player has long been a challenge that CCP Games has attempted to overcome and they are constantly tweaking the tutorial segments in an attempt to provide rookies with the tools to scale the infamous EVE Learning Curve Cliff.
However, the real solution comes from one of EVE Online‘s other greatest strengths: its community. No stone has been left unturned by the creative and technical genius of EVE Online‘s player base, with guides, websites and smartphone apps that have become a vital part of many EVE players’ space-faring experience.
There are many, many great tools out there and I will cover more in later articles, but here are four of what I consider to be the most invaluable third-party tools designed to make the EVE Online experience smoother.
If there’s one thing that EVE Online has plenty of, it’s spaceships. In essence, your spaceship is your avatar. It defines exactly how you plan to go about your business in New Eden. There are over 250 unique ship designs each capable of being loaded out with all manner of weapons and equipment.
One problem for the rookie EVE pilot is trying to determine what ship to use and how to fit it. It can get very expensive purchasing items and ships in a trial and error fashion, just to find out if your character with his current skills is capable of fitting ship A with modules B, C and D.
The EVE Fitting Tool is a stand-alone application for PC which allows endless tinkering and theorycrafting with any and every ship and item in EVE Online. It allows the “EFT warrior” to put together dream fits, utility set-ups and to build and share libraries of specialist loadouts without having to buy every item and ship in game.
Link to EFT Download Page.
Also consider: PyFA , Hangar (browser-based)
After tinkering with possible ship setups, the rookie player will probably be mildly frustrated by his new character’s limited capabilities. The effectiveness of every ship and item in game is influenced by specific character skills which can be improved over time. The smart player will be looking to optimise his abilities as soon as possible and with EVE Online‘s persistent skill progression system, and it doesn’t take long to develop a useful tackling pilot, salvager or explorer.
However, planning which skills to learn in what order can be something of a challenge. EVEMon is a skill planning and monitoring tool which allows the player to determine his training priorities weeks, months or even years ahead. It even reminds you when you need to go attend to something in-game.
Link to EVEMon download page.
Space is big. Fact. New Eden is no exception, with over 7000 linked star systems, each containing planets, moons, space stations, asteroid and ice fields and many more hidden sites. These systems are contained within constellations, a number of which make up regions, all of which have unique characteristics, variable traffic and combat activity, changing sovereignty. This information can be found in-game on a beautiful but frankly incomprehensible three-dimensional map.
DOTLAN EveMaps comes to the rescue, with a clear and informative two-dimensional layout of every region, complete with customisable live information. Add to this the route and jump planner and the live tracking and this becomes a great excuse to buy that second monitor.
It is a browser-based utility which has been optimised to work in EVE Online‘s in-game browser.
Link to DOTLAN EveMaps homepage.
Once the rookie player has decided what ship he wants to buy and how he wants to fit it, the next step is finding a good deal. Using the EVE client, it is only possible to view prices of items within the current region, obscuring potentially lucrative inter-regional trade.
EVE-Central is a superb player resource which allows the sharing of market prices from throughout the EVE universe. A quick search of any item can be an indicator of where the best deals can be found. One word of advice though – always check the security rating of the system and watch your route.
Remember: if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
Link to EVE-Central homepage.
A note on APIs
EVE Online is designed in a way where the game server is able to share up-to-date information with third party applications using an Application Programming Interface (API). This is all technical witchcraft that I don’t need to go into here, but to get the best out of some of the above applications players will need to provide an API key, which is a unique code that allows safe access to your character details. For more information on this, you should read the official CCP Games explanation on how it all works and how to get your API security code.
First Steps in EVE Online Series Contents
- Finding a Purpose
- The EVE Philosophy
- Understanding Your Environment
- A Guide to Guides
- Four Must Have EVE Online Resources for Rookie Players