Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Byte: EVE vs WoW

Adam tells me I'm not Byting enough lately, so this one is for you, mate...

My local GAME in Guildford was selling copies of EVE Online for 48p at the weekend, so I picked it up with the intention of trying it for a month and seeing how I go. Of course, when I got it home, I found out that some fucker had removed the CD-Key sticker from the box, meaning that I couldn't register the game and claim my free playing time. No wonder they were selling it at 48p. I *should* kick up a fuss, take the game back to the shop and get a refund, purely on the principle for them selling me what is in effect a defective product - but for the sake of 48p, I really can't be bothered. Not when I can download a trial client for free and have the benefit of still having a paper manual. It just means I can only play it for 14 days for free, rather than 30.

First impressions: EVE undoubtedly has the longest and most comprehensive in-game tutorial ever. It's so long it took me a couple of sessions' play spread across two nights to complete it. If that sounds a little bit off-putting, then yeah - it is, kinda. The fact it takes a good couple of hours to be introduced to the whole of the game interface is not a great sign, really. There's just so much STUFF in EVE, I can see how it might become utterly compelling, but I'm not certain that it's an MMOG for me.

The problem with coming to any MMOG a couple of years late is that new players just have so much ground to catch up. With something like World of Warcraft, it's not quite so bad as you can grind your way up to the top of the tree quite quickly; and since The Burning Crusade came out, most of the low level areas are relatively unoccupied, so there's relatively little risk of getting ganked. With something like EVE however, relative progression is much slower - you're going to have to mine compulsively for months to raise the cash to buy a ship that's not going to be destroyed the instant you step outside of a 1.0 security level system. And even then, that's no guarantee that you're not going to stumble across some sociopath in a Titan who will just kill you for the hell of it, regardless of where you are; and with the death penalties being so high in EVE (i.e. if you don't have a decent clone, say goodbye to most of your skills), it's easy to see why EVE only has 1% of the MMOG market share compared to WoW's 53%...

The engine upgrade for EVE: Revelations does make the game look a whole lot better than it did previously, so at least you can't discriminate too much on grounds of looks - and EVE is the only space-based sci-fi MMOG out there, so it does definitely fill a niche in the market - I just wish that it was a little less complicated, a little less unforgiving, and a little quicker (in terms of pace of action and the sense of progression). Like Auto Assault (which I dabbled with last year) I can't help but think that it's a good idea, but not quite suited to the MMOG genre - if it were offline and you took out the human "asshole potential" element (in other words, preventing you from being victimized because you're a "n00b" in a weak frigate) I reckon I could spend a lot more time with it. As it is, however, I can't see myself wanting to pay a monthly subscription for the privilege of mining for a year, just so that I can start playing the game properly. Perhaps it's my fault for coming to the game so late, but the game doesn't do itself any favours in helping new players into the game. I'll stick with it for the next week or so and let you know if I have a "eureka!" moment... but somehow I doubt it.
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