EVE: The Second Genesis Preview

This intriguing massively multiplayer online game will let you play as a starship pilot in search of wealth and property.


EVE Online

If you've ever played a role-playing game, whether it was a single-player game or a massively multiplayer online game, then you're probably familiar with the joys of visiting that game's local merchant. "Hello, [your character]," he says. "I'll buy that rusty broadsword of yours for three gold pieces." And chances are that you just stopped in to get rid of the extra loot you obtained by defeating that evil army of monsters and claiming their treasures as your own, anyway. So you sell your stuff and head right out the door, ready to slay even more monsters. But CCP Games' upcoming online game EVE: The Second Genesis will change all that. In fact, in this futuristic space exploration game, amassing a huge fortune will be one of the best ways to make your character powerful and influential--but there won't be any merchants around to buy up your stuff. Instead, the game will have an intriguing dynamic economy that will be based solely on what you and other players buy and sell.

You'll travel through the universe in search of fame and fortune. Mostly fortune.
You'll travel through the universe in search of fame and fortune. Mostly fortune.

But EVE won't be some sort of space-age accounting simulation. It will actually be a good-looking 3D space-based game that will let you travel the far reaches of the universe. Since EVE will be all about exploring, fighting, and trading in space, you'll create a character for yourself as normal, but your characters will be too busy ferrying cargo and fighting off space pirates to actually jump out of their ships. So, although EVE will let you begin the game as one of four playable races, belonging to one of two bloodlines (and may actually let your character evolve into a fifth race), the game will let you customize only your character's portrait as it will appear on ship-to-ship communication screens.

Fortunately, it will allow you lots of freedom in this regard. If you wish, you can create friendly-looking, smiling characters or characters with ugly, tattooed faces who peer down their noses at anyone who tries to hail their ships. You can also choose an emblem to appear behind your character's face. EVE will let you play as one of 15 preset character classes, though these classes are really nothing more than different sets of skills, and over the course of your character's career, you'll earn enough money to buy skill packs that can enhance your existing skills and help you learn new ones. Interestingly, EVE won't have any experience points or character levels. Your characters' power and stature will be measured by how developed their skills are, how many ships they own, and how much money they have. Actually installing a skill pack will take several minutes to several hours of real time. The developer hopes that this installation time will actually help casual players with relatively little time to play, since they'll be able to log in for a quick session, start installing their skill packs just before they log off, and have an upgraded character the next time they log in. However, it should be noted that what you know won't be as important as who you know. The key to success in EVE will be joining a powerful player-run corporation--organized groups of players that resemble guilds from other online games but are much more influential, as they can colonize planets, build space stations, and even patent starship designs.

If you can scrape together enough money, this ship could be yours.
If you can scrape together enough money, this ship could be yours.

But even the wealthiest space traders and the most fearsome interstellar mercenaries started somewhere. You'll begin the game with what's described as a "newbie frigate," a relatively weak ship that's equipped with only a few hardpoints, which are special slots that let you equip your ship with weapons and other add-ons. But if you play your cards right, you may eventually be able acquire one or more of the game's 70 different types of starships--including cargo frigates, fighter ships, battle cruisers, and more--and the larger ships will have more hardpoints that will help you expand their weapon systems, travel speed, and defensive shields.

The Final Frontier

Dock at a space station to conduct your business.
Dock at a space station to conduct your business.

In your quest to become one of the most famous and successful pilots in the universe, you'll need to do a whole lot of flying. But you can navigate the universe easily using your ship's autopilot--simply left-click on your desired destination, and your ship will fly to it. Thankfully, you'll also be able to hop into a stargate to travel quickly to other planets and sectors. EVE will break up its various star systems into separate "zone" areas, much like the popular online RPG EverQuest. In these zones, you'll find planets where other docked players are expecting shipments of resources, asteroids that can be treated with a mining laser to harvest precious minerals, and hostile space pirates, among other things.

Should you find yourself engaged with pirates, or with another player who's challenged you to a fight, you'll be able to attack your enemies with a huge variety of different sci-fi weapons, including lasers, mounted gun turrets, and many more. When two ships go into battle and one is defeated, it will be destroyed in a spectacular series of explosions, but it will leave the player behind in an escape pod. If the escape pod is destroyed, the player is killed, and will take a skill point penalty when reincarnated, unless he or she had the foresight to buy up a few clones in advance. However if defeated players can make it back to the nearest starbase, they can get into another one of their ships. And if their last ship was the only one they owned, their political faction will provide them with a new newbie frigate and will also look unfavorably on the attacking player. Faction hits can affect your sales prices and may make it difficult or even impossible to acquire certain kinds of ships. That's why EVE will let you contract other players to do your dirty work--you can agree to pay another player to assassinate a rival businessman, or you can make a name for yourself as a hit man.

He who has the most toys wins.
He who has the most toys wins.

Even if you don't want to play dirty, you'll still want to be rich, since the richest characters will have the most skills acquired from expensive skill packs, the biggest hangars filled with the best ships, and the best business contacts. To succeed in EVE's competitive economy, you'll have to play the market, which is easily one of the game's most intriguing features. EVE's marketplace will be completely player-driven--you'll be able to deal in about 900 different items, including mineral resources, weapons, ammunition, ship parts, and actual ships. When you wish to sell your item, you place it up for sale in the game's online marketplace, specifying a desired minimum price. Similarly, if you're in the market for a certain quantity of a certain item, you can simply specify what you're looking for, how much you're looking for, and what you're willing to pay. If you decide to really get into playing the market, you can actually use an in-game broker who will keep tabs on your transactions and automatically alert you when you receive an offer. Though EVE will have several handy chat channels, including a zone-wide chat for each space sector and direct private messaging, the game will also have an e-mail system that will let you leave messages for prospective buyers and sellers.

EVE: The Second Genesis has already been through a round of internal testing, and it should be entering into a beta test phase soon. Judging from what we've seen so far, EVE has several very intriguing features, and it'll be interesting to see how the final game turns out. The game will launch on a single server that should support up to 100,000 players simultaneously, but it may be expanded to accommodate more players later.

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