Last year, EVE Online celebrated its tenth year anniversary. An extraordinary feat for any game to have survived a decade while maintaining the interest of its player base… This is especially true for a niche game like EVE whose core game play is based on total destruction. To revamp EVE in its second decade, CCP promised to make major overhaul to the EVE experience.
EVE Fan Fest 2014 followed up on those promises. Hilder Veigar announced that the company entered its fifth phase in which the efforts to build a universe around the EVE brand will take the front stage.
To that end, CCP announced a few decisions that bring focus to the company efforts. World of Darkness, the vampire-themed MMO based on White Wolf’s supernatural role playing game franchise, was closed down early April. This is possibly so that EVE Dust 514, CCP’s first person shooter game located in New Eden, could live. Developed for PlayStation, Dust 514 had received lukewarm response last year, but looks like the company will be making major overhauls in that game too.
After World of Darkness was shut down, Dust 514 players anticipated two outcomes for the Fan Fest 2014: either CCP was to announce substantial changes to the game itself or that it was about to close it down. Both assumptions were somewhat correct. CCP announced that Dust 514 is to be migrated onto the PC platform under a new name, Project Legion. All player assets will be transferred to the new platform, but the game will cease to exist on PlayStation. Expectedly, those who bought the system just to play Dust are disappointed and some even consider the decision to be a way to quietly close down the game in its current form without causing a huge backlash. Moving the game to the PC platform will undoubtedly increase the game’s player base, that’s for sure.
In his first keynote, Hilder Veigar stated that the goal is to “focus” company efforts, and with that goal in mind, killing World of Darkness and divert its resources to Dust is a smart move. Given that the keynote for Dust 514 lasted for only half an hour, comprising mostly of devs showing the game play, it was clear that not much progress had been made on developing the actual game, but that the bigger vision on how to integrate it further into the EVE universe had been considered. Like in most other presentations during EVE Fan Fest, some exciting possibilities were suggested as the players were asked to be patient.
Undoubtedly the darling of the Fan Fest 2014 was EVE Valkyrie (formerly EVE VR), CCP’s multiplayer dogfighting shooting game that uses VR technologies to deliver a truly immersive gameplay.
With Valkyrie, CCP is aiming for intense multiplayer action, tactical depth, and accessibility, meaning frictionless entry. Like everything else, Valkyrie started as a side project last year, an experiment if you will, but has come a long way since then. The game will be using Oculus Rift and Unreal Engine 4 and will be released on Windows and PlayStation 4.
In Nordic mythology, a Valkyrie is sent by Odin to choose which warriors live or die in battle. In EVE’s lore, the Valkyrie are the fighter pilots (controlled by the player) snatched from the brink of death to become immortal privateers whose consciousness are transferred to capsuleer-style clones. These pilots form their own army under the leadership of the first Valkyrie, Rán Kavik (voiced by Battlestar Galactica’s Katee Sackhoff). Rán, similar to Aura in EVE Online, is a mentor and a leader who guides the player throughout the game and provides mission briefings. Valkyrie players will be provided with three ship types and, as in EVE Online, they could fit and customize their ships.
Valkyrie is building on the familiar knowledge of EVE players to introduce a brand new cutting edge technology to gaming, possibly to reduce the initial frustration that will arise from playing a brand new game with different mechanics.
My sense is that if the company can successfully implement and integrate these three games, they have a chance at building a successful gaming franchise. EVE Online is notoriously difficult. It presents a harsh environment that is off-putting to incoming players, incomprehensible UI, steep learning curve. EVE loses its many new players within the first couple of hours of game play and the biggest challenge for the company is to figure out how to keep them. To keep its world active, then, CCP focuses its efforts to ensure that there is a steady incoming players. By creating three different games within the same universe, CCP is reaching out to different types of gamers and inviting them to the EVE universe. This approach, if successful, could increase its player base.
What the players want, which may or may not be technically possible, is to have the players of these three games synchronously engage in combat. That is the dream. Whether or not CCP will be able to deliver this vision is a different matter. But certainly, the company’s new trailer is hinting that way.