EVE Online was the first MMORPG I ever tried, before I dedicated over a thousand hours into World of WarCraft. Betasim and I tried a free trial in early 2008 during the days of it’s Trinity expansion. We both were overwhelmed by it but I always kept my sense of wonder with the game – something that WarCraft has long since lost for me. Now I head into the Inferno expansion to see what I can find. We’re not going to review it but I want to discuss what I’ve seen after being away for over four years.

UPDATED 7/23/12: More thoughts and anecdotes after 30 more hours of play.

EVE Online

The first thing I noticed was the character graphics have changed from plastic-y portraits to nicely-designed full body figures. For comparison, here’s a comparison pic of my original character from back in February 2008 and my new one.

EVE Online

The old ones weren’t really cartoony but they just felt really fake. The new ones are nicer but they fit only into the new but oddly implemented Captains Quarters.

EVE Online

Here’s my guy, sitting on his couch. That seems to be the only thing that he can do here, which is odd. There are probably plans to expand on this in the future but for now it’s really superfluous. Of course, I use it every time I’m docked, but still.

The tutorial comes off worlds better then the one I did before and there are now contacts (space-based quest givers) designed to guide you on different professions like trading, exploration, military work, or – what I chose – business. My new contact has me ferrying goods around and teaching me to mine for minerals. The mining I don’t really need coaching in since that was the only way I could get money last time. That’s partly because it’s probably the most straight forward of the professions, and partly because the quest system isn’t very user friendly. Each mission has a time limit that frustrates me because it’s tied into your quest giver’s opinion of you. If their opinion drops far enough they won’t work with you anymore. They’ll also look down on you if you reject a quest more then once every four hours. Really? You’re telling me that if I find a quest I’m not ready for, I get penalized for not taking it? Why the time limit, anyway? The mysteries of space.

EVE Online

I pulled out of a station to see a larger ship spinning while being pelted with beams. I have no idea what was going on, so I’ll make a crazy, potentially n00bish guess: they’re probably repair drones fixing that ship. I’ll likely never know because I probably won’t be playing long enough to get decent gear, but I do still see the magic here. I’d love to get deeper into the game but it takes more effort to grasp the concepts here then I’m willing to invest. Maybe under the right circumstances I’d get deeper into it, but nonetheless this was a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

UPDATE: After playing 30-plus hours with Will from Chaos is Gaming I got hooked. Betasim and I played together four years ago, but she wasn’t available this time. Will and I formed a small corporation focused on mining and trading (like so many others) but yesterday we toyed with enlisting in the faction war going on between our faction Gallente and the Caldari. Before we did, though, I proposed that we arm our Destroyer-class Catalysts with what we could afford and fly out to the edge of the war zone and see what was going on before committing. We flew from our base of operations in Clellinon (a safe, high-security – highsec – system near where we first started) to Raneilles just outside of the war, still barely highsec space… where we got distracted by new ore and spent a few minutes mining before getting back on track. Will headed off first and after reaching a contested warzone in Hevrice – our first low security, or lowsec system – he started mining (anyone who’s played Minecraft with him is nodding knowingly) before AI pirates assaulted him. I flew in to try and save him but we both got chased away with our tails between our legs.

Long story short, we had no business getting involved in the faction war. We got pummeled by pirates for crying out loud, pvp players would eat us for lunch. We flew glumly back to Clellinon where I got my industrial freighter back out and we started mining and hauling ore once again. That’s the glamorous life of a capsuleer, huh? In about 40 minutes I went from planning on a glorious fate as a soldier of war to becoming a space truck driver. In the end though we’re both loving the possibilities before us and will keep playing.

Alphasim out.