Reactions to Rubicon

I just watched the CCP Games online briefing about their planned winter expansion for EVE Online, to be called Rubicon. It will be released on November 19. Here are my initial reactions.

rubicon_shot.jpg

The Colonization Tease - Again

The ever-affable CCP Guard talked with EVE Online's Senior Producer, CCP Seagull, who appeared to be both excited and terrified at the same time - exactly the same as when she first presented at Fanfest 2013. Public speaking clearly is not something she relishes, unlike her predecessor, CCP Unifex. They chatted about the general future direction of EVE Online, which can be summarized thusly: capsuleers are gaining power, at the expense of the old Empires, and will be asserting more control. She once again teased us with the promise of new colonization in new space - someday.

It was an interesting discussion, but revealed nothing new. And it turned out to be a disappointing tease, as Rubicon provides only a couple of very small steps towards this grand vision. But I do like the intended direction. Perhaps the expansions in 2014 will start to see it truly come to fruition. I, for one, would love to go exploring in truly new space. But we won't be doing that in November, sadly.

More Player Controlled Structures

Rubicon will pay off on the promise of more control by capsuleers, in a couple of interesting ways. First, NPC controlled Customs Offices in high security space will become Player Owned Customs Offices (POCOs). Players will be able to destroy the existing structures without CONCORD interfering - players will only get a suspect flag for those attacks. They will then be able to put up their own Customs Office, and set import and export tax rates as they see fit. This is a good idea - it will provide something useful to fight over in high sec, and it will be a new way to earn some ISK in New Eden.

I think that the second-most interesting thing announced for the expansion are the new player-owned mobile structures. Clearly, these are the first steps towards an improved, modular player-owned starbase (POS) system - or so I hope. Regardless, they look like fun.

EVEDepot.jpg

CCP Rise and CCP Fozzie described four of these new structures: 

    • A "siphon" unit - when deployed next to POS, it will literally suck resources out of that POS, which can then be collected by players. It's a way to steal goodies produced in POS structures. As CCP Fozzie said, it's a new way for players to mess with other players. That made me smile. These things should be fun. 
    • A "depot" unit - a mobile home base with storage and a fitting service. This something you can anchor anywhere - an asteroid belt, a wormhole, deep space. It'll be a place you can use as a base of operations, with a lot more flexibility than the old POS system. I think I heard a collective gasp of delight from all the wormhole dwellers out there. If you ever wanted your own home in EVE, now you can have one - and you will be able to put it anywhere.
    • A mobile structure that automatically tractor beams wrecks, to facilitate looting. You could use these in mission rooms to really speed up post-mission looting and salvaging. CCP Fozzie said it would only work on wrecks you own - so it will be no good as a new tool for ninja salvagers. 
    • For null sec and low sec space, there will be a new short range cyno jammer (about 100km, though this hasn't been firmly set yet). It won't stop covert cynos, though, so hot dropping won't die.

    Warp Speed Will Matter

    In Rubicon, frigates and smaller ships will have faster warp acceleration rates, and ships larger than cruisers will accelerate slower. This means that if a battleship warps to a planet, an interceptor could warp to that planet, and arrive before the battleship does - if they guess the right distance, they could then tackle the battleship! This is an interesting change, and will provide some new tactics for fleet fights.

    The change in warp acceleration will also give a bit of a buff to one of my favorite ship types, the blockade runner. I like it.

    More Ship Balancing

    I do like the way that CCP has made more ships viable with their tiercide and ship balancing initiative, and I'm pleased to see that continue. Rubicon will see balancing improvements to Marauders, Electronic Attack Ships, Interdictors and Interceptors.  

    • Marauder changes have been discussed in an EVE Online forum thread for some time now. Basically, they will have two modes of operation: a "bastion" mode, which will make them EWAR immune, super tanky, long-range damage platforms, but also immobile. Further, each Marauder will "transform" in this mode, which should be a cool visual effect. The second mode will highly mobile - allowing the use of the large micro jump drive every minute, instead of the standard 3-minute cycle time. These two changes should make Marauders really interesting for PvE level 4 missions, and open up some interesting fleet doctrines for PvP, too. I've had a Kronos in my hangar for a while now - I tried it out in level 4s and found it inferior to other PvE options. I'm looking forward to trying it out with the new modes of operation.
    • Electronic Attack Ships (a.k.a., Electronic Attack Frigates or EAFs) are finally getting buffed! This is long overdue. CCP Rise said that the EWAR bonuses on these ships are basically getting doubled, bringing them closer to Recon level bonuses. This will make EAFs useful - I expect people will actually use them after November 19th.
    • The different racial Interdictors will be balanced, and they are getting some new bubble artwork. We'll have to wait and see what the forum thread says before we know more, but I like the direction here. 
    • The biggest change to Interceptors, which will also get some balancing, is that they will become warp bubble immune. This is a huge change, and will turn them into some interesting scouting vessels in null sec. 

    New Missile Launcher

    Rubicon will provide another option for battleship missile platforms: the new Rapid Heavy Missile Launcher. That sounds like fun, but again, I need to see some statistics before I can get too excited. 

    New Ships!

    This was the most interesting thing announced for Rubicon, in my opinion - Sisters of EVE faction ships. First, they looked very slick. They will be unlocked with Gallente and Amarr cross-training, and will get armor resist bonuses and large drone bays, plus exploration bonuses for hacking and probing, plus the ability to fit a covert ops cloak! Oh, yeah, I want these. Time to queue up some Amarr cross training!

    soe-cruiser-big.jpg

    Making Progressions Easier

    There were several usability improvements described for the Rubicon expansion: 

    • A revised, cleaner certification system, which no longer includes prior certificates as pre-requisites - it is based only on a set of progressive skills and levels of mastery, which is much easier to understand, and should be more useful for new players to plan their training.
    • A new "Interbus ship identification system" - basically, a visual tree of how different ships progress on to other ships. Again, this will make it much easier for new players to see the progression of what ships they should train for, and in what sequence. This is a good thing.
    • Hints about a "better character selection" screen, with more information. More info is always better, so I say yay.

    Online Streaming Integration

    The last announcement for Rubicon struck me as a bit odd. The twitch.tv video streaming system is being integrated into the EVE Online client. But as I thought about it, this could be a useful feature, as it will provide better access to the CCP channel, and to channels such as Mad Ani's. Also, we can definitely use it to broadcast better classes and lectures from EVE University, so we'll be all over this.  More to come as we understand how this feature will be implemented, I'm sure.

    Final Thoughts

    Rubicon contains a few interesting goodies that I am eager to try. The new SoE ships look like a lot of fun, especially. The player-owned mobile structures have a lot of potential - I'm looking forward to trying them out. I'll definitely try the revamped Marauders and EAFs, too.

    The usability improvements will make some complex aspects of EVE more understandable and accessible to new players - and I'm all for improving the new player experience any way we can.

    On the other hand, I was hoping for more in this expansion. It seems light - there aren't any killer features. But perhaps the new mobile structures are just the beginning of something awesome. My dream of building my own well-fortified home in New Eden might be coming true. But it looks like that will have to wait until 2014 - or later.

    Post your reactions in the comments!

    Fly safe! o7