As a fairly long term EVE player, it’s immensely frustrating how difficult you’ve made non-consensual PvP through your ship and structure changes. There are two serious pain-points right now that I’d love for you to address in a future patch:
- Upwell Structure Placement
- Nullified interceptors (really, any ship that combines nullification with a sub-tick align time)
I’m frankly shocked that we still have nullified interceptors in EVE in 2020. You guys officially announced a “data gathering” balance pass in 2017 where you stripped nullification from the DPS interceptors (https://www.eveonline.com/article/pf7gpi/october-balance-pass) to see if it would affect their utilization. That change immediately saw the prices of ships like Claws plummet to ~30% of their pre-patch value, and right now it feels like combat interceptors are a rarer sight in the wild than titans. Is the playerbase’s wholesale switch to the remaining “fleet” interceptors and their absolute ubiquity in space not evidence enough that it was the overpowered nullification attribute drawing people to inties rather than any other factor? Clearly these ships need a nerf-- either their align time needs to exceed 2 seconds so they can be locked by specialized ships, or they need to be vulnerable to bubbles: pick one.
EVE was much more balanced when covops and bombers were the scouting / travel ships of choice: at least it was possible (if difficult) to catch these ships some of the time with a skilled decloaker. The only way to kill a travel-ceptor is to pile half a billion ISK worth of smartbombing BS on a gate AND to hope the inty pilot is too lazy to bounce off another celestial or use a bookmark instead of warping directly between gates. If an inty pilot puts even the slightest bit of effort into what they’re doing, they are essentially impossible to destroy. Interceptors’ scouting ability is way overpowered (they essentially make it impossible to deny the enemy intelligence), as is the way they enable even the criminally-lazy to travel safely with zero effort. Their omnipresence in space is also oppressive to people who want to field larger ships, as anyone trying to use hit-and-run tactics in cruisers or larger quickly finds themselves swarmed by hordes of tiny tackling ships that they can’t hit, can’t outrun, and which can’t be screened away by bubbles.
UPWELL STRUCTURE PLACEMENT
Upwell structures need more restrictions on where they can be anchored. The ubiquity of these structures is straight-up toxic, as it has almost eliminated the need for prudence on the part of traveling pilots. Specifically, allowing the placement of structures on-grid with stargates is hugely frustrating:
- By offering tethers, a gate-adjacent Upwell structure allows any ship to effectively scout gates and jump-bridges where an actual scouting-fit ship with a cloak would’ve been used previously.
- Upwell structure spam on every gate multiplies exponentially the number of places any player can ping off of while traveling, essentially removing the value of tactical bookmarks and proper preparation for the defender and making it functionally-impractical and/or prohibitively expensive for interdictors or anchorable bubbles to be used to blockade gates (if you want to catch a traveler warping across a system, you now have a huge number of objects that need to be bubbled in order to catch them-- ieven if they have no bookmarks).
- The ability to place Ansiblex gates on grid with both Upwell tether structures and stargates further compounds these issues, reducing the number of potential choke-points for interdiction to a single place-- the stargate.
For example, lets look at a typical travel scenario from pre-Upwell EVE and today’s game: I am a player trying to move from my alliance’s staging system to a nearby ratting pocket. Because the alliance has already installed an Ansiblex to a strategically-relevant system in our staging system, I need to first travel to an adjacent star system by gate, and then take a bridge to the ratting area.
First of all, if I have any sense, I’m just going to leave my fleet ships in the stager and a ratting ship in my ratting system and commute between the two in a travelceptor, thus eliminating travel risk entirely. But let’s assume for argument’s sake that I’m being intentionally-thick and choose to travel in something that isn’t a travel gimmick fit.
Old EVE: undock from traditional station --> warp to stargate on a different grid --> jump --> warp from stargate to jump bridge on a different grid --> take jump bridge.
In the old game, I was exposed through basically every step of this process. When I undock, I have a brief invuln timer after which I am vulnerable to attack. When I warp from the station to the stargate that’s located on a different grid, there’s an opportunity for an enterprising player with an anchorable bubble or interdictor to pull me off the gate and tackle me if I don’t use my d-scanner to scout. Assuming I make it to the stargate, there’s a chance to be engaged on the other side of the gate. If I manage to evade hostiles on that stargate, there’s another opportunity for me to be drag-bubbled when I warp from the stargate to the jump bridge if I don’t d-scan.
Compare this scenario to it’s present-day equivalent: undock from Upwell structure --> warp to stargate on same grid --> jump --> warp to Ansiblex gate on same grid.
In 2020, I am invulnerable indefinitely upon undocking thanks to tether (can’t even be be booshed off). Because Upwell structures can be anchored anywhere, I’m already on-grid with my destination stargate, which means if there are enemy players (or even a seemingly un-attended drag bubble with no hostiles in local), I can immediately see it and know that I shouldn’t warp to that gate. Unless I am blind or my overview is mis-configured, there is no opportunity for hostile players to drag bubble me. Assuming the gate is clear and I warp to the stargate and jump, hostile players now have one chance to catch me unawares with a gatecamp at zero on the other side of the gate. Again, as soon as I jump through the stargate I can physically see my next destination (the Ansiblex) which is located a few thousand km away on the same grid-- no opportunity for hostiles to catch me en-route to the Ansiblex. If I see hostile players or a bubble, I just don’t warp there.
The lack of restrictions on Upwell structure placement has created a scenario where only the most flagrantly ignorant or lazy pilot will ever be caught unawares while traveling. Upwell spam devalues player knowledge, skill and discipline by holding people’s hands and making it as difficult as possible for them to make a mistake: structure spam means they don’t need to bounce celestials or make bookmarks; co-location of structures means they don’t need to make use of d-scan, and tethers and structure weaponry make camping the station-ends of travel routes practically impossible. Like I said before: you’d have to be completely ignorant of all game mechanics, blind, or have some kind of bizarre overview loaded in order to have any chance of being caught by anything but a large, well-equipped enemy gatecamp positioned at zero on a stargate. Even if they camp the gate itself, unless hostiles are fielding an interdictor, specialized insta-locking scram and web ships, and ample DPS, odds are good that a player under attack at the one remaining ambush opportunity (jumping through the stargate) can simply burn back to the gate and jump out.
TL;DR: as someone who has spent many years trying to fight the good fight in small teams against enemy groups with vastly superior numbers, the game has become depressingly oppressive. Any area of strategic importance that has been properly spammed with Upwell structures is almost impossible to harass effectively. It’s frankly offensive the amount of time, effort, and ISK that need to be invested in order to stand even a chance of killing things these days. I remember days when I’d be able to set up sneaky drag locations or even camp gates effectively using only my own characters. These days ambush opportunities are almost non-existent, and between forcing all interdiction attempts onto stargates and the ship meta’s heavy emphasis on flying small, fast ships, it’s become almost impossible to run a functional gatecamp with less than ten people due to the large number of specialized tackling ships and tremendous DPS required to prevent targets from simply re-approaching the gate.
I, for one, would like to see the game go back to a place where player skills and knowledge are actually rewarded instead of relying on dumbed-down game mechanics that make it almost impossible for players to make mistakes. It used to be the case that a well-prepared player with knowledge of game mechanics, a good collection of tactical bookmarks, and the prudence / patience to make use of them would be able to successfully navigate nullsec, while the unprepared or imprudent would find their corpses floating in space in short order. I remember scouting, moving slowly from system to system, making bookmarks, occasionally having to do things like intentionally deplete my ship’s capacitor so that I could warp towards a possibly-bubbled stargate but land a few AU short in order to do a d-scan. I remember both the cheek-clenching evasive maneuvering of running a bubble camp in a covops, and the triumphant feeling of successfully decloaking those scouts as a dictor pilot. These days, none of this applies. You can hand a one-day-old newbie a skill injector and a Stiletto and just tell the to free-burn to wherever and they’ll make it. Space is full of structures you can’t fight near, endless grids that can accommodate an alliance’s worth of infrastructure with every structure in-sight from one another, stargates you can’t stop people reapproaching, and jump bridges that are physically too large to be camped. It’s all fairly depressing.
I don’t have too much to say here since game design is your job, not mine, but we’re supposed to be constructive with our feedback, so here it goes:
Remove nullification from interceptors, and from all other ships that can be configured for a sub-2-second align time OR decrease the agility of all nullified ships so they cannot be fit for sub-2-second align times. I’m of the opinion that no ship in the game should be capable of the kind of zero-effort travel configurations that inties have right now, but if you absolutely insist on giving that capability to some ship type to allow people to travel with impunity, assign that role to shuttles so there’s no combat ability.
Restrict the placement of Upwell structures. Personally I’d probably opt to restrict Athanors and Tataras to moon grids, and the rest of the station-type structures to planet grids, with a limit of one station-type structure per celestial. You could also do it on a less-restrictive basis, allowing people to put structures anywhere they want within some limitations like: minimum distance between station-type structures or between station-like structures and stargates / Ansiblex gates ~insert some distance in KM or AU that ensures structures are not co-located on one grid~.
Anyway, just a thought from a bittervet. I really hope you’ll consider some kind of changes in this direction.