A new expansion comes out today, code-named Proteus. This one is a bit light compared to previous expansions, but that's okay by me, after all the rather hefty game mechanic changes and additions in the last several releases.
The cosmetic changes included in Proteus look good: the new asteroid field graphics are certainly more interesting and pretty, the revamped Exequror is sleeker (and now with new warp animations), and the continued evolution of the star map is very welcome.
I love the new integrated operation of the beta starmap, and the addition of system search and routing visualization will make it my primary tool for high-sec travel planning. (If you haven't turned on the beta starmap, press your Escape key in game, go to General settings, and click "Try new map" - then click on the new starmap logo on your NeoCom.) However, until it also includes all the statistics of the traditional starmap, I'll still be pressing F10 to plan my trips in low-sec and null-sec space. I'm curious to see how much Dotlan-like functionality gets incorporated into future starmap iterations, though it has a very long way to go before supplanting that handy utility.
At the last Fanfest, CCP Games announced that they had formed a team to develop more PvE content, and we've seen a steady stream of new additions in each subsequent expansion - Proteus will be no exception to this. The new persistent, basic mining sites in starter and career agent systems will make it a lot easier for novice players to try out their Ventures on some Veldspar 'roids, and the addition of more higher-difficulty exploration sites should challenge veterans a bit. I'm eager to give them a try.
Beware of Combat Recons Bearing Gifts
The most significant change in Proteus is the rebalancing of Recon ships, which are now generally stronger, and more importantly, Combat Recons will be immune to directional scans. I have very mixed emotions about this.
On one hand, it will make Recons more useful, and we should see a lot more of them undocking in New Eden. On the other hand, I'm afraid that making them d-scan immune will mean the demise of solo PvE activity in wormholes and all lower security spaces. The only way to detect Recons in system is by using combat probes, all the time - and if you are doing solo PvE, this means you will need a buddy to scan for you. I'm looking forward to seeing how much d-scan immunity affects the level of PvE activity. I'm sure CCP Games will be monitoring it closely.
Proteus also includes a second round of module re-balancing - this time, to harvesting, hull upgrades, propulsion upgrades, and engineering modules. There's nothing much to report here, except some slight adjustments here and there to make the different module choices more consistent and intuitive - it's a welcome edit.
So, nothing big in Proteus, really - except maybe the potential effect of the Combat Recon change. It'd be tempting to complain that this expansion is rather light, compared to earlier releases, but that would be unfair. CCP Games' switch from bi-annual expansions to new releases about every six weeks has been a huge success - the amount and quality of new features and improvements have grown significantly, in total, under the new update schedule. How quickly we EVE Online players forget, and how difficult an audience we must be to please - I sympathize with the devs, and applaud their continued efforts on our behalf.
Ah, I see that EVE Offline tells me that the server is back up. Time to log into Tranquility and download Proteus, and see what CCP Games hath wrought.
Fly safe! o7