Eve Online‘s Rhea expansion has launched today — the new expansion brings a host of new features that cover a large gamut of changes, from graphics upgrades to new systems for players to explore and fight over. Current Eve Online players seen these changes showcased over the last few months but if you’re like me and you kicked the Eve Online habit ages ago, or never developed one, you’re likely not up to date on the changes. Here are just some of the changes that new and returning players can expect to see in the Rhea expansion.
Physical Based Rendering
Eve has always been a beautiful game since its launch. This wasn’t an accident — CCP has always been dedicated to convey the beauty of space and the hard work all its artists have done over the years. They continue this tradition with their latest upgrade to their graphics engine, Physical Based Rendering. Below, PBR’s power is demonstrated by the light reflection from the ship. The result is rather stunning — see for yourself:
Introduced in Rhea is a new star map for beta testing that is supposed to be beautiful and completely functional. If you’re an old hand at Eve Online, you know how to use the map — simply hit “flatten map” and then orient via the four cardinal directions. This function results in event names like “The Great Northern War” for conflicts in Eve Online. The new Star Map will be more useful in a full 3D mode and offers more features for planning your jump route whether you’re using stargates or jump drives. For you old hands don’t worry — it’s still in beta release and you can still use the “classic” star map.
User Interface and Quality of Life Changes
End of Clone Upgrades:
The biggest quality of life change for Eve Online players is the removal of clone upgrades. This is great for older players who had to shell out InterStellar Kredits (ISK) every time they experience pod death (podded) to repurchase upgrades. This is also great for new players who will no longer be surprised when they get podded with out an out-of-date clone and find themselves retraining a skill they’d previously learned. Losing a Tier 3 ship still results in loss of skill points, though.
If you’ve ever played Eve Online, you know the user interface is always a work in progress. CCP has tried to make the UI less of a barrier for player immersion. With that in mind, they’ve redesigned the UI —notably UI icons — with a more distinct and unifying theme. CCP has also improved panel transparency to make sure that the UI only blocks what it must to display information.
Old Name Purge:
All those old trial accounts that never subscribed are now being purged, freeing up names for usage. Don’t worry if you’ve got a trial account: your character will still be there, s/he will just have a generic name that can be changed once you subscribe.
Eve Online is finally adding what players have been asking for since launch: a more direct control method for flying their ship outside of “double clicking”. It’s true that Eve still doesn’t have a real flight model like Star Citizen or Elite Dangerous that gives players a more precise way to control their ships. The keyboard controls will be useful for propaganda videos (formation flying) and most close-combat situations that involve high speeds or rapid vector changes. This is an opt-in feature.
Kill Report Notifications:
More features have been added to the recently introduced Kill Notification systems.
New Ships and Redesigns:
First Tier 3 Destroyer released — The Amarr Confessor:
Designed to fill almost any role in a fleet, the Amarr Confessor can shift between three different modes: defense, sniper, and speed, make the ship a versatile addition in any given fleet without much in the way of refitting. Minmatar, Caldari, and Gallente Tier 3 destroyers are in the pipe line.
New ORE Freighter:
The Bowhead is a freighter from the ORE corporation, complete with a ship maintenance array and a 1.3 million cubic meter cargo hold that makes it ideal for transporting and fitting ships. Just don’t plan on taking this thing out of high-sec as it is slow and utterly defenseless.
The notoriously asymmetrical Caldari ships are getting a redesign, and while they aren’t any more symmetrical, they will look a bit more spiffy and ship-like than before. A Gallente ship, the Incursus, is also being redesigned. The following redesigns are listed below:
T2 Variants Redesigned:
New Systems to Explore, New Loot to Plunder, and new Dangers to Face
CCP is adding 100 new wormhole systems. Wormhole systems are not connected by stargates, but naturally occurring wormholes that vanish and reappear elsewhere. These virgin wormholes will be prime targets for players that live out in the true black of space. Notable examples are the new wormholes containing all major orbital bodies that have been “shattered” — these systems have special shattered anomalies for mining that are richer and more dangerous than their non-shattered counterparts.
Thera is the newest and biggest system in Eve Online and the first wormhole system to have stations — four of them, in fact. Measuring 340 AU in diameter and 169,661 light seconds across, the system is home to stations that are owned by The Sanctuary and are not capable of being taken over by player factions. The system also has many many wormholes leading to other unknown regions.
Polarized Weapons Modules:
Sleepers are dropping some rather unique modules now that their best supplies are starting to be found by players. Some of these are polarized Weapons Modules (PWMs) which have devastating firepower and even more devastating trade-offs.
- +20% rate of fire
- +15% tracking speed
- -20% range and falloff
- All resistances are set to 0
Check out the Dev blog on PWMs
The in-game store has also received some new items: pirate faction clothing for those players that want to look fashionable in space, and new pirate faction dreadnought skin cosmetics have been added. Players can now pimp out their dreadnoughts to ensure that they’re targeted first in any given capital ship engagement.
With so many changes I’m tempted to get back into Eve Online, maybe start up a new Trial account to see what the new player experience is like these days. It’s supposedly undergone vast improvement from when I started playing Eve Online nearly a decade ago. As always, I’m in awe at the sheer amount of new features CCP continues to put out regularly in their free expansions. The content isn’t always perfect, but they usually sort it out fairly quickly. Now if only we can see what is behind that damn door.
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