2012-06-21

Life in EvE: Evaluating Faction Warfare #eveonline

"I'm not sure about this," CB muttered, slowly rotating his glass on the table between us.

"You don't have to be sure about it," I said. "You're not doing it. I'm the one --"

"Yeah, well..." he cut in. "I've been thinking about it too."

I raised an eyebrow. "Really."

"Yeah." His expression, concealed behind his mirrored glasses, was typically unreadable. "It's nice to set up in a wormhole and say 'fuck you' to the rest of the world --"

"Dunno if 'nice' is quite how I'd put it." I murmured.

"But sometimes," he continued, as though I hadn't spoken, "I wouldn't mind shooting someone when it's more important than 'Get off our lawn.'"

"Yeah..." My eyes wandered to the small exterior viewport -- a luxury in anyone's general quarters, even on a Gallente station. The angle was good, displaying part of the nearby aqua nebula of the Essence Region and, behind it and further distant, the clenched red fist of Heimatar. "Yeah."

CB shook himself and straightened in his chair, rubbing at the cable contacts on the back of his neck. "You said they pay any capsuleers that sign up?"

"For capturing enemy complexes or taking out war target vessels, yeah." I replied. "And there's always special missions, if you're inclined." He gave me a look that spoke volumes even with his glasses on, and I chuckled. "Right. So no missions." I poked a handheld where I'd been taking notes. "Payouts look like they're on a sliding scale -- if we're winning, there's more money to go around. If we're aren't..." I shrugged.

CB tossed back the rest of his drink and stood, heading for my already-plundered mini-bar. "Just tell me if we'll make enough to cover ammo."




Affordability


As I said, I don't have a problem with losing ships, and you really do have to lose some to learn stuff, but at the same time I don't want to just chuck ISK down the toilet -- if I can get my education on a budget, then that's going to make me even more relaxed about diving into a fight.

The interesting thing about the Faction War system is that it (apparently) revolves around the capturing (offensively or defensively) of "complexes" out in the low-sec space that acts as the buffer between warring factions. These complexes come in a number of flavors and (more importantly) sizes, and are basically locked to certain ships classes. The 'minor' complexes can - for instance - only be entered by basic tech 1 frigates, tech 1 destroyers, and the tech1-but-slightly-better "navy" frigates. These complexes need to be run to take over a system, and they can only be run by these cheap little ships, which means you are not just allowed but actually encouraged to fly cheap stuff that doesn't hurt that bad to lose. Nice. I've never really felt that a ship that costs five times as much to buy is actually five times as fun to fly, so the chance to fly a lot of the cheap stuff appeals to me, especially since those ships are currently getting rebalanced and in some cases dramatically changed in the near future.

Also, since those complexes are locked to certain ship classes, they become a really good place to engage an opponent, because while he might bring in backup, what he's not going to do is drop four battlecruisers on your little frigate, because they can't get inside the complex. You might end up fighting outnumbered, but at least you won't be the guy that brings a knife to a gun fight.

And pretty much everything you do in Faction Warfare (missions, capturing plexes, and even just blowing up an opponent's ship) earns you Loyalty points with your faction, all of which can be cashed in for valuable stuff that you can either use yourself or turn around and sell on the market for a decent profit. I'm not sure on the ratios of Loyalty Points to ISK, but the range seems to go from "meh" (for the guys who don't control much of the warzone) to "OMG this is Wormhole/Incursion-level income."

In short, you're flying cheap, fun ships and getting paid well enough to keep flying them pretty much indefinitely.




"What ships do I need to fit out?" CB asked, returning to the table with five miniature bottles and one large glass. "Should I go get the Vagabond?"

"Vaga? Oh, hell no." I spun my handheld around and slide it over to him, snagging one of the bottles for myself before it disappeared into his tumbler.

A small frown formed above his glasses. "What the hell's a Bellicose?"

"Original hull they designed the Rapier from."

"Oh, that. I've got one of those..." he waved his hand in the direction of the outer hull of the station. "Somewhere." He scrolled down the list. "Jesus, it's all RvB roam stuff. Frigates and DDs and shit. This is what they fly?"

"Ninety percent of the time, yeah."

"Do we even need to buy anything for this?"

"Fittings," I admitted, "but the hulls? No. We have enough."

His eyebrow rose. "What's your definition of 'enough'?"

I reached over and scrolled the display all the way to the bottom tally. For a moment, he was silent, then he started uncapping tiny bottles.

"That's a lot of ships that need blowing up," he muttered. "Where do we need to move em?"

I smirked and took a drink. "We're already there."




Accessibility


One of my goals with the Life in Eve posts is to show people different parts of the game, and (maybe) encourage a new player to give it a try, or bring a veteran player back to check out the new features. I love wormholes, but I don't think I'd surprise anyone if I said that they are not in any way a good option for a new player.

Faction Warfare, by contrast, might be one of the best options for new players.

  • Easy-to-fly ships: I've already mentioned this in terms of cost, but from a training and skills point of view, this is also an appeal -- the backbone of faction warfare is made of tech1 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, which are the first ships you learn how to fly in the game.

  • Easy to afford activity: You'll lose ships, but you'll make isk enough to afford those losses and then some. I ran into a pilots a few nights ago who was capturing complexes, solo, and making good money doing it -- he was a two-week old player.

  • Location, Location, Location: The low-sec areas where Faction Warfare takes place are, in general, only a few jumps away from the high-sec systems where new players get their basic training. This makes moving 'close' to the warzone very easy (even for new players, for whom moving a half-dozen frigates seems terribly daunting), and in many cases a complete non-issue.






"Alright," CB said, in that precise way he had when he was trying not to slur. "Doesn't sound like this will completely suck. When're you going to sign up?"

I looked at him and said nothing.

"You already signed up."

I nodded.

"Got any intel on what's going on out there? Where they need us?"

I reached up to the wall panel next to the table and flipped off the 'mute' option I'd tapped when he'd first shown up at my door.

"Siseide contested -- someone jump in a frig and stop that cap."


"Wartargets:  zealot and blackbird in Lamaa."


"Kourmonen system upgraded to Level 4."


"War targets still in Tararan?"
"Affirmative."
"On my way." 


We listened to the chatter for a few minutes. It didn't let up.

CB stood up and headed for the door.

"Where yah going?"

"Gonna suit up and go help," he said over his shoulder. "Besides, you're out of booze."

The door slid open, then closed, and it was just me and the radio chatter.

"Break break -- I've got a twenty-five-ship fleet in Eszur, looks like they're heading our way."


I looked at the screen, the mustering system flashing only a few jumps away.

"Ahh, hell with it," I muttered, and ran for the hangar balcony.




Activity


Maybe I'm being a bit bitchy about wormholes, but there are times when having to scan for an hour every evening before you can do something is... a little bit of a momentum killer. Every game needs something for those times when you just want to log in and do something right then, right now, and my first-blush impression is that Faction Warfare offers that for EvE players -- it may be one of the best examples of instant-on something-to-do that I've seen in the game so far, with options ranging from solo pvp, solo or small group complex running, to gang roams and full-on fleets.

Will it turn out to be everything it seems to be? I have no idea.

But I plan to find out.




For another "first impression" take on Faction Warfare, I highly recommend this essay on Eve Altruist. As usual, Azual delivers a fantastic breakdown of the subject.
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