Over the last few months, both Aeon and Loreena have spent quite some time cleaning up their assets, and taking a closer look at their ships collection. As statisfying as running missions in the Paladin / Kronos duo can be, a little diversity is the key to keeping things interesting. Since Aeon has cross-trained some more race ship skills, he unlocked the unsounded depths of his wallet and went on a few shopping sprees from Rens and Amarr to Jita.
The choice piece of the lot was the Bhaalgorn, which Aeon fittingly called “Bird of Prey”. I never thought he would own one someday, since I always dismissed it because of its PvP-oriented bonuses (namely to energy vampires / destabilizers and webifiers). There is more to a ship than raw numbers however, and the Bhaalgorn is no exception. It reminds me of the Nightmare, which has a similar rough and unbridled power.
Where the Paladin acts as a stationary artillery platform, the Bhaalgorn likes it fast, up close and personal. Get into range with the afterburner, pin your target down with the webifier, replenish your capacitor vampire style while you are at it, and blast them to shreds. It may be that I am imagining things, but I suspect those NPC ships not to be as impervious to energy vampires as they should be. It seems to me that they go down faster when vampirizied – but even if they are indeed immune, it has the advantage of keeping your cap flow maxed out. Between the Nightmare, Bhaalgorn and Paladin, Aeon now has three ships with fundamentally different philosophies to choose from, which is perfect to keep things interesting. Try out some missions with a different ship, and you will often find that it is quite another experience.
To spice things up even further, Aeon has been running some of the starter missions with some new ships as well. As frigate, he chose the Succubus. That thing is evil right to its core, and melts through everything like a hot knife through butter. Very efficient, and fun to fly. Its bigger brother, the cruiser-sized Phantasm, follows the same concept – but with more staying power. The capacitor support of both ships is surprisingly good, offering a lot of leeway in terms of modules and building stable fittings. Their twisted design adds a lot to the fun, even though I can understand that it is not something everyone appreciates.
Running the starter missions was nice for a change, and even if they were not what I would call challenging with the tools and skills at hand, they did feel more alive than the eternal level 4 missions everyone knows by heart now. The storytelling in them was a lot more polished. I think this is where the game could use more depth, something to make our fights more worthwile. I still love EVE as much as the first day, but coming back from a story-driven game like Mass Effect makes the missions in EVE seem hollow, without real purpose. There are no big choices to be made (okay, in The Anomaly you can choose to let the scientist escape in the drone ship, or destroy it), and they have no real consequences. Also, why does my agent never congratulate me on dispatching all enemy ships in missions like The Score, where killing that whole fleet is purely optional? A little recognition of my work would go a long way to make PvE meaningful. I would like my actions in the game to be more than generating ISK with simple cover stories to justify their existence.
Some of the new missions are quite good, like one of my new favorites, Dread Pirate Scarlet. The randomness is a welcome addition, having to think a bit and react to new parameters each time you run the mission is definitely a step in the right direction. We will always need missions like Gone Berserk, which are fun based on the underlying mechanics, but more quality storylines like the starter missions or epic arcs would be great.
For now though I am waiting to see the effects in practice of the new expansion. Focusing on wars and space combat is important for EVE as a game, because a large part of it is player versus player. Of course I have concerns regarding the effects this can have on my PvE playstyle, namely through the more streamlined war features, with the goal to make highsec wars easier. As CCP themselves have stated, the only way to protect yourself against wars is to join an NPC corporation. I will always be loyal to JVC and Sytek, so that will never be an option. I don’t really think it will change that much for us, but being at war constantly would effectively ruin the game for PvE centric pilots.
Of course that’s the ages old debate of PvP players vs PvE players, which is more or less exactly the same kind of useless fight as PC vs Mac. There will never be an optimal solution for either side, and ultimately they need each other. So in fine, my concern is whether CCP will be able to keep both worlds balanced so neither has to cut back. Then again, if all wardecs could be like the last one JVC was in, I would be quite content: the CEO of the one-man corporation that declared war on us did not log on once during the whole week. It was even better than that other CEO who had chosen JVC randomly in the alliances list while drunk. They were so far away fom any of us that we never saw a single war target.
Anyway, to wrap this up, Aeon has once again moved his base of operations because his missioning system was getting too crowded. Trust there to be a good potential for foolishness as soon as your missioning system hits an average of over 30 pilots. Ashokon was reaching peaks of 100 pilots and more, and miners complaining of getting ganked in local is never a good sign. The new system was 19 jumps away, and seems to be quite promising. Aeon and Loreena had to go through Niarja to get there – which is never really fun, especially with pimped mission ships. Getting targeted by tier 3 battlecruisers hovering on the gates always brings a momentary chill, but so far they have been able to get everything to destination in one piece. Loreena had it easiest, she took the Orca to move everything except the Kronos. With a special defense fit, the Orca is probably one of the safest (of the slow) ships to move things around. Transport ships are still the best option in my opinion, but that depends on the size of the cargo of course. Transporting fully fitted ships in the Orca is always a big bonus.
Let’s see how Aeon and Loreena like their new home, but I already like the new agent: the first mission he gave Aeon was Gone Berserk, one of his top 10 favorites 🙂
On a sidenote, Loreena had to indulge herself a little and went from a natural brunette to a natural blonde (that’s the beauty of modern DNA alteration technology). I think Aeon approves.