With Rubicon dropping Tuesday, I wanted to do a quick preview of features and items in the patch notes. First off I’d like to compliment CCP – generally I have done these posts because what was first promised versus what is delivered in the end have had some pretty wide discrepancies. This time it’s not the case. Almost everything in the update has been discussed on the Forums, in devblogs, and on twitch streams. I only found a handful of minor unexpected items in the patchnotes. On the whole, my opinion now is much like in my initial speculation post, just with more data.
Stuff I Don’t Use
I don’t pretend to be an all-encompassing EVE player, so there are some things I simply don’t have the background in to comment much on or care about. I’ll leave the detailed discussion of these to others. I’ll hit those quickly first to get them out of the way.
- Fleet window management UI features for large fleets. I’m sure that the sov null folks, Brave Newbies, EVE University and RvB will love these upgrades. The fleets I’m in almost never have more than one wing, so it’s never an issue. But I remember the pain of E-UNI blob fleets, and I’m sure these improvements will be received well.
- Marauders and
SeigeBastion Mode. I don’t fly ’em, and doubt I’ll have interest in doing so any time soon. It will be interesting to watch them in the Alliance Tournament. I will call their new mode “Siege mode” just like I do with Dreads and Carriers. I know it’s wrong but keeping track of which “presto changeo Transformers mode” feature goes with which name is just overhead.
- RHMLs/RLMLs. I fly Minmatar and Gallente, and a bit of Amarr. My trained weapons are autocannons, artillery, blasters and drones. I don’t speak missile. That said, Ripard Teg’s description of RLML Caracals in roam fleets is almost tempting enough to want to.
- Rebalancing of EAFs and DICs. I don’t fly either. Although now that I’m training Amarr, and specifically the neut/drone lineup, the Sentinel is suddenly looking sort of tempting.
- Level 1-3 DED Sites Reintroduced. While I’ll never use this, I did pay a lot of attention to the outcry from Lowsec when they were removed. I am hopeful that this revival pulls some more wanderers back into non-FW Lowsec, which in my opinion badly needs love from roaming soloists and gangs of subcaps. I hope my Lowsec friends get a lot of action from them.
OK, so that dispensed with, on to the features I can comment on!
Mobile Structures, T3 Refitting and SMA Loot Drops
First off, I covered some of the most important features of Rubicon in another post all its own, including Mobile Structures, T3 Refitting, and SMA Loot Drops. Go read it. TLDR: Love: T3, SMA, Tractor, Siphon; Hate: Cyno Inhibitor (due to it being useless for roaming gangs while helpful for structure bashes and long-term gatecamps), Depot (due to the reinforcement timer).
I refuse to call these POCOs, they are Corporate owned, not Player owned (the new Mobile Structures are Player Owned!). I still think that having these be player owned is a mistake. I think it is going to really crush the newbie solo PI industry. I feel bad for new players these days, who have to figure out how to make ISK to buy ships with datacores handed over to Faction War and COCOs with massive tax rates that kill the point of even doing PI. On the other hand it will be good for me, since it will drive up the prices of my own PI goods by reducing supply in the market. I’m tempted to go attempt to pop a few of these solo, even if it will take forever.
Sisters of EVE Ships and Ghost Sites
I wrote one of my most popular posts ever (#2 on my all-time hit count despite only being up for a month) on the names that were chosen for these ships. If you have an interest in the game lore and want to know how you got turned into cattle for the slaughter, go check it out. I admit to being pretty disappointed that the in-game descriptions of the ships are identical and don’t give much away from a lore perspective. I hope one or the other desc will be changed for launch day. As for the ships themselves…
The Astero frigate is not one I’m likely to fly personally. I don’t see a ton of benefit over a CovOps for wormhole and scouting work. What concerns me more is some assertions that it will be the best ever cloaky stabbed button-orbiting frig. *shudder*
The Stratios cruiser, on the other hand … I plan to have at least one in my hangar, and maybe two. If this can meet or beat the capabilities of my cloaky “first point” tackle Proteus, I will likely put the Proteus in storage in favor of this (at least theoretically) cheaper boat. Depending on how wormhole Ghost Sites are, I may also keep one specifically set up for hacking.
They’re also beautifully done from an art perspective. The “warp ring” is really cool on the Stratios, with the lights rotating around and the wavering haze within the ring itself. It also has a rotating radar dish.
The Ghost Sites are all-new PVE locations that should be pretty interesting. They are basically hacking sites with a countdown timer to make them less boring, that explode and damage you if you take to long or screw up. Time will tell if they are fun or just annoying. Sorry I can’t give you much more detail – I’ll leave that to the PVE blogs, since I’ve never even tried the new Hacking system. Either way, the sites drop some cool new loot, namely blueprints for advanced versions of the Mobile Structures and better yet for the new Ascendancy warp-acceleration implant. The wormhole sites in particular will have the juicier loot, so I expect we will spend some time at it as a corp if nothing else – and I may finally try this system after all.
Need for Speed
While some other things have gotten more press, make no mistake – as Kirith Kodachi has also noted, the changes in warp speed are the biggest thing that will impact everyone’s day to day play post-Rubicon.
Just look at this table (click to enlarge). Go on.
Let’s take a quick look at those numbers side by side. Let’s take a 50 AU warp, pretty standard for going across a system.
- Inty: Before: 36s, After: 21s. 15 seconds (42%) faster
- T1 Frigate: Before: 39s, After: 28s. 11 seconds (28%) faster
- T1 Cruiser: Before: 47s, After: 47s. No change
- T1 Battlecruiser: Before: 47s, After: 56s. 9 seconds (19%) slower
- T1 Battleship: Before: 47s, After: 69s. 22 seconds (47%) slower
- Freighter: Before: 95s, After: 100s. 5 seconds (5%) slower
Wow. I think Battleships just became stationary cannons. It is interesting that CCP rescued Freighters – while they are still the worst, they are not impacted by much of an order of magnitude when compared with Battleships. Let’s put that in perspective. An interceptor can warp at the same time as a battleship, warp to the outgate, warp back to its original gate, warp back to the outgate and still beat the battleship on its original warp.
I think it might turn out that Battleship pilots end up being the biggest purchasers of Ascendancy implants.
I am thrilled that I have chosen to be an excellent cruiser pilot with occasional forays into battlecruisers and frigates. This suits my flying style very well. I see some tasty battleships in my future, but I might have to tank my interceptor better to ensure it survives until my slow-ass backup arrives.
Oh, one other thing. Did you notice that CovOps frigates warp at the same speed as Interceptors? I went 49 jumps in a Cheetah (with two nanos but without Ascendancies or warp speed rigs) in 32 minutes. That’s 39 seconds per system. Did you hear all the wormhole pilots cry out in unanimous joy?
ISIS, Certificates & Mastery
I got on SiSi to check these out tonight. ISIS, the visual ship skill tree, is pretty cool. It has a lot of info densely packed into the space, has nice visual touches like the empire logo watermarked on the background, etc. The wireframe icons for each ship are cool too – CCP should make big versions for use in fansite kits and posts, etc. The interface is intuitive and useful. I suspect that this took a hell of a lot of time and effort – far more than it appears on the surface – for what looks like a very simple system.
The mastery idea is a cool concept as well, and its by-ship restructuring of the certificate listings is far more intuitive and comprehensible. It also gives you actionable information far more than the old system does.
Unfortunately, the Mastery system is predicated on a need for a good Certificate system, and the Cert system as it stands eliminates a lot of the value of the Mastery display.
I have nothing more than III on almost any ship, most are I or II – and I have almost 50M SP. In almost every case, these are held back based on little-used skills not being to Level V. I can see that if Level V is considered “truly perfect” then you wouldn’t want to just put it out there willy-nilly. But some level of further judgement needs to go into ship mastery, so that it acts more like how well they really are mastered. Level I should come with the hull. From there, it should be simple to get II, relatively easy to get to Level III, take some dedicated work to get to Level IV, and be very difficult to reach V.
I’ve been flying Hurricanes and blowing people up in them for three years. I can T2 shield and T2 armor fit them, T2 autocannon and T2 arty fit them, and fly T2 small drones with them. I have over 100 kills while flying a Hurricane.
What is my mastery level? II.
Wait, what? Why? Let’s look at what I don’t have, and need to get, to reach Mastery IV:
- Energy Grid Upgrades V – I see no benefit in this, my ‘cane never has cap problems. I don’t know that this ever needs to be V for the ‘cane.
- Target Management V – Sure, it wouldn’t be bad, but battlecruisers rarely need to have max targets locked. I can see this for V.
- Amarr Drone Specialization I – People fly Amarr small drones?
- Caldari Drone Specialization I – People fly Caldari small drones other than the EC-300?
- Electronic Warfare Drone Interfacing IV – OK, I agree here, on my Dec. skill plan.
- Combat Drone Operation V – OK here again, on the Dec. plan.
- Drone Durability IV – Agreed a third time.
I’m totally unranked in the Loki because I have no medium missile skills. Not even Mastery I. I have three Lokis and do quite well in them, thank you. With nary a missile.
I only have Mastery I in the Reaper. My very own racial noobship. I have to get solid target painting and shield booster skills (neither of which I use on combat ships, much less a noobship) before I can reach Mastery III. For a noobship.
So it looks like the certificates still need a bit of work. To the CCP team working on this – I recommend you have CCP Rise, CCP Fozzie, and your nullsec & wormhole CSM reps give the entire ship tree certificate requirements a going-over. I am sure folks like Sala Cameron, Ripard Teg and James Arget can tell you for each of their respective areas which certs are laughable and unused on each ship.
There are two key skill impacts. First, as noted above, the Highsec COCOs will get a new skill: Customs Code Expertise (Cha/Mem). This reduces the tax rate. While this will make the impact to soloists suck less, it will still suck.
More interesting is that much like ship skill trees got simplified and ships got easier to get into, turrets will now receive the same treatment. Now you will be able to rank up through turret levels with far less pain and training time than before. I personally am a big fan of this change. It sucks to have your hull trained up, finally at Cruiser 5 for instance, and then have to look forward to many weeks of training small guns to get to many weeks of training for medium guns.
Happily, I got wind of this one very early on (thanks CCP!) so I held off training for railguns and both kinds of lasers. Now I’ll have a much easier time with them and they’ll be high on the list after I remap early in the new year.
Character Selection Screen
The much-touted new screen is very nice. I love the return of the themed background, and like ISIS it packs a lot of info into a clean, modern interface with nice touches like raytraces of the character boxes. The characters get lined up in order of what was last used from left to right. It has lots of nice details like subscription info It also gets rid of a lot of the dated clutter of the original logon screen including news nobody read. There’s nice music again.
In the devblog on this, there is a lot of discussion about how focused they were on making it fast-loading. While it seems a little bit faster, I was expecting lightning speed based on the devblog.
Now the really brilliant thing would be if we could just drop directly out to the selection screen without going back to the Launcher … maybe next time.
When the art department changed the art for gates a few months ago (for the better), they unfortunately nearly eliminated the usefulness of the old art and sound when it came to sitting on a gate either waiting for someone to jump in or out. There were few sounds, and few visual indications. And when you did catch something, you didn’t know whether someone had jumped into system or out.
On Tuesday, all that changes. with the gracious assistance of Salpun, I was able to see and hear the new gate mechanics for myself – please note you can’t see or hear most of this when you yourself are jumping, only when someone else does.
Jumping out is more visible than audible. There is a crackle of electricity much like today, but then a big flash and bolt of light as the person jumps out of system. In some ways this is reminiscent of the gateflash from before the art changes. Obviously this may change between racial gate types – Salpun and I only had a chance to check a couple styles of Gallente gate.
Jumping in is just the opposite – more audible than visible. If you haven’t turned your sound on yet, now is the time. Not only does EVE have sound, it’s become a must have. When someone jumps in, there is a loud, deep electric thrum that sounds like a power capacitor on overload, connected with a single pulse-flash of light (so fast I had trouble capturing in in a screenshot).
So no more “Gateflash.” “Friendly.” “Sorry, I lemminged.” We can just skip straight to “Who lemminged?” or “Drones out!” Kudos to the art and sound departments.
A Pile of Random Minor Stuff
As always, there’s a bit of kitchen sink CCP has thrown in. Let’s hit on some of those.
- DirectX 11 Upgrade. Much like ISIS, I suspect a lot of dev work went into this, even though it will have no noticeable difference in Rubicon 1.0. The plumbing upgrades may not be the most exciting, but you’ll be happy they did it a couple releases from now when those with newer graphics cards get eye-popping eye candy.
Bubble Art Changes. The bubbles are now going to be color coded and “less annoying”. There will be different colors for a HIC, DIC and Anchorable bubble. The “less annoying” part is that you can’t see a damn thing, including your overview, when in a dense pile of overlapping bubbles today (as shown at right – apparently Brothers of Tangra were testing on Sisi the same time I was) – this definitely appears to be better in Rubicon, but when you get enough, the confusion factor is still there.
- Command Ship Hull Changes. This was not listed in the patch notes but I believe from Twitter and Forum chatter that it was accidentally left off. I like that they are doing this largely for the variety. As someone who isn’t a Command Ship pilot, I’m not overly attached to the current models. I’m glad they’re moving one to the Myrmidon hull because it’s a great hull. I’m glad the Hurricane is getting one too, even though I know people are very attached to the Sleipnir (I just wish that the Minmatar artists weren’t obsessed with camouflage, since it wouldn’t do any good in space anyhow). I don’t fly Amarr or Caldari BCs, so have no opinion there I’m afraid.
- Cyborg Arms for Avatars. Um, OK. They look pretty cool. They are total fail from a lore perspective, however. YOU ARE A CLONE PILOT. You can get podded, or pod yourself, into a new body whenever you like. The backstory you would have to have is a headful of very expensive implants and having never been podded in order for these to make sense. Maybe you’ve rattled around your pod a bit too often. I would think a capsuleer with robot arms would be looked at as a hilarious throwback, using “dirtsider medicine” rather than just getting themselves a shiny new body.
Racial Corpses. Another little aside in the patch notes states that there are now unique corpses for the racial types. I only have Caldari and Minmatar characters, so haven’t seen the others yet, but here are those two. You can see that the main differences between them are in the body pose – I don’t see a ton of differences in the model (although admittedly I didn’t look that close and they’re only on the screen briefly when you die). I love that you can see all the cables and hoses. Now that’s how I picture a capsuleer. None of this silly uniformed pretty person stuff.
- No Skill Queue Pause for Implants. This is a great, long overdue change. You no longer have to manually pause and restart the skill queue when you put in implants. The implant process does it for you! What a concept. While they can’t do it for clonejumps yet, CCP Karkur did mention that they are at work on it and trying to figure out the (apparently more complicated) jumpclone scenario.
- Shortcut Key for PI/Mineral Hold. This tiny change, unannounced anywhere I found other than the patch notes, may end up being the greatest irritation-saver of the update. I spend a good bit of time flying an Epithal on two different characters. Every time I have to open the cargo bay, click the corner, click from cargo to PI bay, click back to main window. Three clicks that add no value. No one is ever going to use the standard cargo bay on an Epithal anyhow. Now, I might prefer that it just open that way by default. But this is a great leap forward for a tiny – but very annoying – issue.
- Solar Sound. Another stealth note in the patchnotes: the suns will now have sound, variable by star type! I did verify this on Sisi and it’s a very natural sound that doesn’t feel at all out of place – but it’s quite weird if you go touring and listening to different stars. The Pink star is cool because it has a very vibrato sound to it, despite being a deep tone. The Yellow Large star has an almost musical sound integrated with its deep baseline. The Red Giants almost sound mechanical. The Orange is a mellow, even very deep note. I also discovered what I believe is a bug on Sisi – the O1 Blue Large stars do NOT have sound. I could tinfoil hat on this one for lore reasons (the shattered planet stars used to be O1s before they exploded) but I’m going to assume it’s an accident for now.
- Explorer’s Monument. According to the patch notes, the new monument for the winner of this past summer’s photo contest is included in Rubicon. What it doesn’t say is where it is. I checked Yulai, Arnon, X-7OMU and three station systems (including the HQ) of Echelon Entertainment and didn’t find it. [UPDATE] Salpun comes through again! The new monument is in Jakanerva. There are two Echelon stations here so it’s not totally senseless as a choice. It’s pretty impressive. I know that my friend Mark726 of EVE Travel will be publishing a full expose on the new site (including pictures from other angles and lots of flavor text) next weekend, so I’ll leave him plenty, but I’ll post two pics to whet your appetite below.
Good luck on Tuesday, everyone!