The title says it all. With Fanfest happening in Reykjavik pretty much every serious EVE players' eyes were either glued to the live streams or reading about what was transpiring over there. And on my side, with Reakktor delivering my Black Prophecy beta key last Thursday, it meant that I had plenty of spaceship flying to do. So here are the things that I noticed the most coming out of Fanfest, followed by a quick review of Black Prophecy, and finishing with a quick Curse update.
- A lot of emphasis was given to Incarna and Carbon™ technology. By "a lot" I mean "pretty much 3 days". While I am one of the ones who doesn't care too much about the importance of walking around a station doing "shady deals" I'm happy to see that CCP is not trying to take bites that are too big. I just hope that the captain's quarters interface doesn't slow down the process of say switching from a Vaga to a Rapier on the fly. Technically when we switch ships we're still swimming in our pod's goo, right? But when Incarna has come of age and shops, bars, offices and whatnot have appeared it should be very interesting to take a break from flying around and have a Quafe while shooting the shit. Did anyone notice the priceless H.R. Giger chairs btw? :)
- Chessboxing should be made into a professionnal sport! That was one of the coolest things I've seen in a long time, and I seriously hope that it becomes a Fanfest tradition, especially now that it's been proven that a chess player can also take some nasty punches XD
- The mining tournament should make a comeback because Rupturefest was quite boring. If this was an attempt to give Faction Warfare some exposure, I feel that it failed horribly. On the plus side, Verone looked absolutely dashing in his uniform and mohawk :))
- Did CCP Dr EyjoG really say something about removing mining in the not-so-near future or have I had too much beer?
- Super Sekrit Experimental IBM Tech. A computer geek's wet dream!
- The new turrets. I am of two minds on this. Most of the time when combat happens, especially in PvP, your ship is 10-50 pixels long, and maybe even a single pixel. You pay attention to which target you should be shooting at and where you are in space. However, when doing something safe or mind-numbingly boring (or both), that's when you take time to take in EVE's beauty. Like one of my buddies told me, if I get a Naglfar it will be awesome to watch the massive guns fire their trailer-sized bullets!
- CCP's vision of the future. Holy. Shit. While we will probably never see EVE and Dust be exactly true to this vision, I've never seen a trailer pack so much awesomeness in such a short time. Only two words apply: FUCK YEAH !!!
All in all it seems like it was a veru good Fanfest. There wasn't the mind-smashing reveal kind of like when Apocrypha was unveiled, but I think this is due to CCP new approach to expansions which is "little by little" instead "one big chunk". It may lead to less spectacular reveals, but in the long run it's better for the game. I also want to thank my buddy Cartboard Box for inviting me to his place so we could watch CCP Presents in all it's HD glory!
Before I go any further let's get one thing straight: BP will never be like EVE. Where in EVE pretty much everything revolves around the economy and the need to make ISK in order to fly ships, BP has only one thing in mind: space combat. Running out of Corons, or KK$ as the game's money is called, is pretty much impossible. Upgrading a ship is more based around a player's level than it is about being able to afford the modules. Because yes, unlike EVE's skill training system, in BP you level up by killing stuff, fantasy MMO style. So yes it does imply some grinding, but at least that grinding is fun as the graphics are absolutely stunning and you get to see plenty of pretty 'splosions! So here's a short run-down of the good and the bad about Black Prophecy; bear in mind that I'm not quite through the prologue "tutorial" part of the game, but this tutorial is doing a good job at showing the game's control features.
- The graphics engine. Just from the log-in screen it is just beautiful, and it's hard to believe that such graphics are available in a free-to-play MMO. The flying areas are vibrant with movement; when you're fighting in an asteroid environment, you have to dodge rocks and debris Han Solo style. To quote him: that wasn't a blast, something hit me! And when you fight around a station you can use the structures as cover. They should give style points for crazy stunts like in Crimson Skies! Yes it's that tight and it makes for some tricky flying. And this brings me to...
- Flight controls. Oh how I have missed a good Freelancer/Freespace style space sim! A flight control system is not absolutely necessary; some people even prefer the mouse/keyboard flight. But having a Saitek X52 it's nice to be able to put it to good use. I had to play with the control axes a bit but I was quickly able to find a setting I felt really comfortable with, and I have no trouble getting on a ship's Six.
- Missions in open areas. And it is here that I found something I didn't think I'd find in BP... TEARS! Cries of kill stealing abound on the BP forums from those not used to non-consensual PvP. It's not true PvP because in those early missions you just cannot damage friendlies, but in open areas when you get a mission of the "kill 10 bad guys" sort, you have to work for those kills. I'm one of the ones who finds it good because those mission would just be too easy. Oh, and ninja-looting is extremely easy to do, of course attracting more cries from carebear type players. I love it :)) Later on in the game there will be open areas where pilots of opposing factions collide and The PvP will happen, but I'm not there yet so I won't talk about something I don't know.
- Arena-style PvP: the pure EVE players will not like it but the Quaker in me loves it. Until you're able to join a clan it's possible to have 2v2 battles, but there will be clan battles. And I can bet my mom that with the Arena PvP will come a ladder system. It's pretty much inevitable.
The Not So Good:
- As soon as you encounter the first NPC's it becomes clear that someone at Reakktor is watching way too much Battlestar Galactica. In 2 hours of play time I think you hear the word "frak!" more often than in one entire season of BSG. I seriously hope they do something about this because it gets old really quick.
- The open areas can become laggy at times. This is especially annoying because as I mentioned above, you're trying your best to get kills before someone else. It happens sporadically and thankfully it's not the "denial of service" lag of 0.0 Sov fights in EVE, but lag is lag and it's always annoying.
- The game has beautiful cutscenes, but the problem is that there are too many of them. Is this a beta-only thing? Who knows. They are mostly used when travelling from the main station to a combat area and back. Some cutscenes are truly beautiful and really help getting into the storyline, but sometimes they get in the way and remove the player from immersion.
That's about all I can review for now as I have to skill up more and finish the prologue, choose my faction (Tyi or Genide... that is the question), get to know some other features, etc. I know there is a crafting system, but it's not even a thousandth of what is done in EVE. But I couldn't care less about crafting anyway so It doesn't touch me much. I'll do a bit of it for testing purposes but unless it's what turns my fighter into a death machine I won't be doing much of it. But all in all I think that it will be a game I'll be playing for a good while because it does some things that I would like to do in EVE, and vice versa. So yeah, thumbs up for me !!!
And in all this I did find some time dust off the Vaga and go hunting with my U'K mates. We got into a little fight right at our door step where we traded a Scimitar for a Rapier, Jaguar and Rifter. Above 50% efficency but just. We then formed up a fast-moving HAC/Logi gang and did a quick tour of Catch and a bit of Providence. Things were mostly quiet along the way but at some point our scout is able to nail an Apocalypse in a Sansha anomaly; we messed him up so bad that we had to hold fire to wait on some stragglers to get on the killmail. I almost popped him before they joined us, but my guns stopped just in time. As soon as he was popped a Zealot tried to "rescue" him but we melted him in no time. Things got quieter for a while but we knew a fleet was on our tail, and some point we lost a battlecruiser and a bomber. The BC was caught by our followers, and the bomber made the mistake of jumping into the hellhole called HED-GP. So all in all a 50-50 roam, but much fun was had.
And I also need to mention something: I know I may not log in very regularly but since I've joined Ushra'Khan my efficiency is locked at a very satisfying 100%. I know it will not last and I swear I don't fly safer just to keep it that way :))
And there ya go. Happy Wall-O-Text !!!