Time for a little bit of geek philosophy.
One of the very few things I don’t like about the ship balancing effort going on right now are all of the opportunities CCP is taking to add additional skills to the game. In the aggregate, I think this is a bad thing for EVE Online. For a new player, the game is already quite complex; obviously, adding skills adds to this complexity. For that reason alone, CCP should hesitate to add new skills unless it’s absolutely necessary. But there are two other good reasons not to do this as well.
First and the more minor of the two, the addition of skills to the game feels artificial. Maybe as the game continues to develop and we see how a lot of these new skills fit into the game, they will make more sense. But right now, a lot of the new skills feel like they’ve been inserted only to give veteran players things to train as they run out. This applies particularly to Mining Frigate, Micro Jump Drive Operation, Armor Resistance Phasing, and the forthcoming armor speed skill. Does the game really need more skills that are only useful for a single module or ship? For modules, we have lots of those… too many, really.(1) Does the game really need yet more skills that duplicate other skills? We already have two skills that increase your ship’s speed. Must we add another?
Where new skills make sense and are independent of existing skills and support new metas — Planetary Interaction, for instance — I don’t mind quite so much. But these were unnecessary and artificial. Again, they feel like they were inserted to give 100M+ SP characters something to train.
Which brings me to the greater of my two concerns: the widening gap between long-term and short-term EVE players. When the new racial battle cruiser and destroyer skills hit, if CCP continues to follow their current stated plans, Ripard is going to jump some five million SP further ahead of newer players. Skills like those, the armor speed skill, and the new sensor skills make Ripard just that much more terrifying to newer players I might engage in PvP. Take ship speed alone. I already have an enormous advantages in ship speed because I’ve trained Navigation V and Acceleration Control V. Since I can immediately jump into the armor speed skill and train that without delay, that will put me that much further ahead of players who haven’t.
For players struggling just to train basic fitting skills, are they going to take the time to train these specialized skills? I think not.
This is why I’m a bit hesitant about supporting the new BC and destroyer skills. I can see why CCP are doing it and certainly I’ve done my best to encourage my readers here to be ready for this change. But it doesn’t do new players starting the game this year any damn good… Alliances are still going to be pushing multiple race metas for fleet doctrines because that’s what gives you an advantage on the modern EVE battlefield. Therefore, these newer players are going to have to spend four times as long training for the multi-racial metas if they want to participate. It’s also that many more skill books that new players will have to buy during their early EVE career.
But I’m also torn because I can see the logic underneath this skill split. Back when battle cruisers were introduced to New Eden, a Caldari Battlecruiser skill would have given you access to exactly one ship, the Ferox. That would have been every bit as annoying as the Mining Frigate skill giving you access to one ship today. It made total sense for the game at that time to include a single Battlecruiser skill. Even that only unlocked four ships.
So I guess what I’m saying here is that it’s important for CCP to be striking a balance here, and I’m not sure they’ve got that balance right yet. It feels like they’re a little too eager to add new skills with insufficient justification for doing so. As a veteran player, I’m certainly happy about it: it gives me greater advantages against my opponents. But as someone who tries to keep an eye out for the less experienced player as well, I’m less happy.
(1) Yes, I’m specifically looking at you, eight separate e-war module skills.
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