Is it still possible to start and enjoy EVE?
Spoiler alert: The answer is “Yes”.
To answer this question, it’s important to know how skill training works in EVE, and how it affects your experience and performance in the game.
In other MMO games, you pick a class, then gain experience points by performing tasks. You then spend those experience points to upgrade your character, either directly by increasing stats, or by adding another spell to your roster.
In EVE, things are similar, but there are some key differences. First, you earn skill points passively. You pick a skill you’d like to learn, and as time goes by it fills up with skill points until it becomes learnt. Whether you’re logged in or not. This leaves plenty of time to get around to other things in and out of game without worrying about whether you’re levelling quickly or not.
Secondly, there are no classes in EVE, given time and dedication, you can fly any ship in the game, and fit any module.
Also, broadly speaking, training in EVE focuses around three goals: Diversification, specialisation, and improvement. Respectively, you can train into a new kind of ship or role, you can specialise and get deeper into a ship type or role, or you can get better at the ships and roles you can already do.
There’s (practically speaking) no limit to diversification. There’s always a kind of ship or some activity you still haven’t tried, and you can decide at any point to start training into it.
Specialisation means unlocking specialised ships and modules that are geared to a specific role. This sort of sits between diversification and improvement. For instance, no other ship in the game can fill the role of the specialised stealth bomber frigates, but there are other cruisers that can act as decent repair ships, it’s just that the specialised logistics cruisers are much more efficient.
And then there’s improvement, there are skills that allow you to equip more powerful versions of the modules you equip, and others that will add bonuses to stats, like a 2% increase in rate of fire or something. Improvement has strong diminishing returns though. Skills take longer and longer to learn (and they cap out after 5 levels), and they offer more and more marginal improvements.
So the typical way you play EVE is try out new ships, stumble on something new you’d like to try, or your corporation introduces a new mainline ship that they’d like members to fly. You diversify, and train into new roles. When you find something you enjoy and would like to be better at, you specialise. You train into advanced ships that are designed for the task in question, you equip more advanced modules. And then, you improve, trying to get that edge that will help squeeze a little extra out of your ship.
And then you start over, you can always go back to things you already know, but you add an extra page to your book.
Imagine an MMO where max level took a few weeks to a few months (of real time, not in-game time), but where you could switch classes at will. After a few months, you’re a badass warrior, but then you can also become a priest, and a thief, and a shaman.
Well that’s sort of what EVE is like. I can fly a mean tackler, I’m terrifying in a bomber, and I’m pretty good in my corporation’s main line battleship. I’m now training into logistics.
Add to this the fact that larger, more expensive ships need smaller support ships, that experience, luck and bravery can affect a fight as much as skillpoints and money can, and you can see why even a one week old character can make a huge difference.
For instance have a look at Ultra Cow’s video where a smart newbie in a cheap tackle frigate was able to catch and hold an expensive heavy assault cruiser, just long enough for the rest of the gang to come in and apply damage.
This isn’t a one-off freak occurence, that’s actually how you pin down and destroy heavy ships. Jump into a fast tackle frigate (that you can specialise and improve into an interceptor), and then be smarter and braver than your opponent, punching way above your weight and making a huge difference, and it’s a role that you can perform on literally your first day in the game.