Monday, August 13, 2012

First Impressions in Null-Sec - or Why Null-Sec is Awesome

As I mentioned in my last post, I have recently moved to null-sec for the first time in my EVE career. 

Prior to this, I spent some time in high sec doing the usual mission running. I got up to level IV missions, but found running missions incredibly boring. Unlike many people, I enjoy questing in other games (specifically RIFT), but the mission running experience in EVE leaves a lot to be desired. It's tedious, repetitive and boring. 

Personally, I feel that CCP uses the sandbox nature of EVE as an excuse to not develop adequate PvE content for the game. Just because it's a sandbox doesn't mean the full burden of telling the story of the game should fall upon the players' shoulders. Sure, the players are a big part of the story of EVE, especially in null-sec, but there are many NPC factions with their own stories to tell. CCP could do a lot to improve this game by doing more with those stories--putting more missions out on a regular basis, for one. Missions that reflect the changes in the game and the storyline. But I digress.

Though I did the mission thing, I've spent most my previous time in EVE living in wormhole space. Anyone who's lived in a wormhole before knows what a unique experience it is. You know how much is involved in the day-to-day life of a wormholer. Those of you who've never lived in w-space have no idea how easy you've got it. What I originally found exciting and adventurous about w-space eventually became tedious, though (as so many things in this game do). Things like the constant scanning and trading of bookmarks (every day). I also didn't anticipate how much the isolated nature of the space would affect my game. If you're in an active corp, and lots of people are on, you can have a lot of fun. But if there's not many people on when you log in, your options are rather limited. Even if you are lucky enough to be in an active corp (and one where the active players are actually IN the wormhole), you don't see other corps very often, so your PvP options are rather limited.

Living in null-sec is very different. I know many consider null-sec to be the "end game" of EVE, and in some regards I think it is. But if by "end game" you mean a challenging arena where only the most skilled players will thrive, then the end game of EVE is wormhole space. In comparison, null-sec is easy mode. I'm not complaining, not at all. As I said, I eventually found w-space living rather tedious and boring. However, I have been very surprised by null-sec, as I expected it to be challenging to live there. In fact, as others have said, I've found it at least as easy to live in as high sec, if not more so.

I have been having a BLAST in the week or so I've been in Fountain (with a brief excursion to Delve). Moving to null-sec from w-space has been like when you travel to another country and then return to your home country. Suddenly you're aware of all these wonderful things in your country you've never even thought of before. Things you've taken for granted and only became aware of when you lived somewhere where you had to make do without them. 

Here's just a short list of the wonderful things about null-sec from a wormholer's perspective:

  • There are stations! I don't know why, but for some reason I expected null-sec to only have PoS's (like w-space). I was surprised to learn there are actual stations there. The existence of stations is the source for quite a few of the things I love about null-sec.
  • You can repair your ships! You don't have to fit a hull repairer and armor repairer to repair battle damage to your ship. This is so great!
  • You can insure your ships! In w-space, the only way you can insure a ship is to fly it to k-space. As many of us move our ships in packaged and assemble them in the wormhole, we're often flying uninsured ships. The insurance payouts aren't a lot of ISK, but it really adds up in the long run.
  • There's a market! I love playing the market, and it's so nice not to have to ship ALL your loot somewhere to sell.
  • Corporation bookmarks! Ok, I know this is a new feature of the game, and not limited to null-sec, but when I lived in w-space, this was but a wet dream. I'm sure it makes life SO much easier for the wormholers.
  • You don't have to spend an hour scanning to have something to do. You don't have to go get a mission to have something to do. I've been ratting belts to earn ISK, saving up enough to get a ship to run anomalies and complexes. You just warp to the belts, you know? Even for complexes, you just use the ship-board scanner and there you go. You don't have to launch probes, scan, make book marks, and then re-ship (after sharing the bookmarks with the corp, of course) to go shoot some rats in the face.
  • LOCAL. I have no sympathy for someone who gets ganked in null-sec while ratting or mining or whatever. In w-space, the only way you have ANY idea what's out there with you is by constantly hitting your d-scan button like a monkey is some kind of twisted lab experiment. Having local (not to mention alliance tactical communication) is easy mode indeed.
  • So many people and they're all blue! Part of this is because I'm in such a big alliance, I'm sure, but there are people everywhere. I have to hand it to TEST, nearly everyone I've met so far is very friendly and helpful. I made a good amount of ISK yesterday just salvaging anomalies in my Noctis. People saw in local that I was salvaging and starting giving me bookmarks. Pretty soon, I could barely keep up. In a NOCTIS! That's a lot of salvage! Even if no one is on in my corp, there are ALWAYS people on in the alliance. There are ALWAYS fleets. There is ALWAYS something to do.
  • The fleets. I participated in my first null-sec fleet this weekend. It was a lot of fun, and I didn't have to wait an hour for it to form up. I just jumped in and started shooting people.
  • Jump bridges are awesome. I'd never seen a jump bridge before. The first time I used one, I clicked the jump-through by accident, and the resulting explosive noise in my headset almost made me wet my pants. The visuals are really cool when a whole fleet jumps through a jump bridge at once.
I have had two big complaints about this game. One is the UI, which still sucks. Yeah, there have been some changes since I left, but it's still the worst UI I've ever seen in any game. The second is that it takes so long to do ANYthing in this game. With RIFT, I can log on and literally be doing something fun within a couple minutes--whether that's doing quests, doing a dungeon, doing a raid, running onslaughts, closing rifts, running a warfront, or fighting in conquest. In EVE it's always been at least half an hour (often more) before I could be doing something remotely fun (and that's stretching the definition of fun quite a bit). In null-sec it's a little better. Still not great, but better.

To all of you who said, "You should move to null-sec," when I complained about EVE, I say to you, You were right! The game still has a LOT of problems, but I'm having more fun in null-sec than I've had yet in the game. Will it be enough to keep me "hooked"? We'll see. I kind of doubt it, but that's due to inadequacies in the game, not to the people in null-sec. 

EVE is a game that, in my opinion, isn't inherently fun. It takes a special kind of player to enjoy this game. Someone who doesn't mind the learning cliff, someone who doesn't mind a little math. But mostly it requires players who are willing and able to MAKE the game fun, whether through their corps and alliances, or the various forms of meta-gaming. It's the players who can do this that stay in the game. 

To be honest, I'm amazed EVE has survived this long. I think it's completely due to the players that it has. It's their drive and creativity that makes the game (seem) worth playing (well, that and the Sunk Cost Fallacy). The EVE community seems to think a lot of itself, and at least in one regard, I think that opinion is earned--we've taken lemons and made some lemonade. 

Fly smart.