I know what you’re thinking. Eve, one of the more technical and complex mmorpg’s, a universe of pirates, spies, intrigue and PvP, a casual game? Well, yeah, in some ways, Eve is one of the more casual mmorpg’s that I’ve played. Stick with me for a bit, and consider the following ideas.
Richard Bartle talks about four types of mmorpg gamers. The Achiever, the Explorer, the Socializer and the Killer. Games like EQ and WoW are heavily weighted toward Achievement, to the point where it’s difficult to participate in the endgame if you don’t play regularly with a dedicated group. The challenges in those games, and a large majority of development, revolve around dungeons and raids. If you, like me, have commitments outside of your game world that prevent regular playtime and keeping up with the Jones’s of the raiding world, you’re left out of the loop. Playing with a guild at endgame is a serious investment of time.
I’ve been too busy the last few weeks to get in a lot of Eve playtime, but when I do log in, I can hop into my frigate, join a fleet with other people in my corporation and go hunting. It doesn’t matter if I have the best ships, the best modules or a year’s worth of skill points trained. In fact, my corporation, a haven for players new to the game, champions the ability of even the newest pilots to make valuable contributions to fleet operations. It’s the equivalent of a level 5 player in WoW coming along on a raid…except the new Eve player can actually contribute something useful to their fleet.
Eve content isn’t solely gated by the amount of time you’ve put into the game. Even if you only play a couple times a week, it’s absolutely possible to train skills that will always make you a welcome addition to a fleet, whether it’s fighting other players or running deadspace missions or helping out on mining operations. Despite the fact that I’ve been busy with work and real life for the past month, I feel like I can log in and play alongside pilots who are online a lot more than me and make a solid contribution. If it had been WoW, and I missed a month while my guild was working on getting keyed for the next set of instances, I’d have a more difficult time catching up.
Eve still has Achievers like WoW or EQ. Eve’s a deadly serious game in a lot of ways, and I wouldn’t argue with someone who wanted to characterize it as a lot more hardcore than WoW in some respects. It’s unforgiving in certain situations, and there’s certainly a steep learning curve if you want to know everything about the game. However, I can’t think of another mmo that lets people who are a week or two into the game play alongside veterans of a couple years and allows them to make valuable contributions. It’s tough to imagine another mmo that lets players log in sporadically but still be useful in raids, at least not before said player has invested a lot of time in leveling and equipping their character.
So, yeah, I know you can nail me a million different ways about how serious Eve can get. I won’t argue with that. But Eve still offers a way to integrate newbies and veterans that I haven’t seen another mmorpg successfully accomplish, and I think it’s pretty cool.