News that a significant proportion of the “Incursion” expansion will no doubt be disappointing for many, but it gives me an opportunity to review what my initial impressions of the current SISI test build safe in the knowledge that some of what we see there right now may well change.
I will admit my first impressions are mixed. There are some neat little touches, so far unmentioned in the Dev Blogs. For example you can now open the universe map and view your scan range and quality for PI or where you have colonies located.
You can also view the spread of planet types across the universe, which may be of use in planning your wider PI requirements. At the wide angle view though it doesnt tell us a whole lot other than there are lots of planets out there…
The most interesting elements are, of course related to the Sansha Incursions. Locating the areas afflicted by the Sansha is relatively easy provided you utilise your journal. However there doesn’t seem to be a ‘overall’ universe map option. This may well cause frustration for many looking to plan routes around the Sansha incursions who will need to tab back and forth through the journal view. On the other hand if you do want to make a beeline towards incursion this menu makes the process very easy with a ‘set waypoint’ option for your AP.
What of the incursion sites themselves? Well the Sansha I encountered on gates or at belts didn’t appear to scramble your vessel, and felt slightly easier to actually defeat – although there was no indication as to what reward a player gets for engaging this interlopers if any. Sansha within the incursion sites are a another story and my lone Abaddon succumbed to warp scrams and ECM within seconds – unable to run and jammed out it detonated under the fire of the dozen or so frigates it faced. These Sansha are not to be trifled with and it seems likely they will inflict a heavy toll against those who attempt to engage them unprepared.
There are a few glaringly rough spots on the Incursion interface /menu -such as the “player ratio” graph that feels clunky and a real immersion breaker. Hopefully CCP can buff this interface and make it look a little less like a design mock up.
Having experienced a brief a glimpse of what a Sansha Incursion might involve really reinforces how considerable their impact will be to the local residents of an invaded system. Within Empire space mining will essentially cease without significant escorts and in null sec the occasional ‘easy isk’ of belt rats will be erased. What’s most apparent though is how much collaboration will be needed to rid a constellation of the Sansha. It’s incredibly difficult to judge these types of environments but, with the addition of an ‘incursion’ chat channel for a given constellation it’s clear that CCP at least anticipates, if not intends, for otherwise disconnected players to band together to repel a common threat.
In many cases our systems are not so dissimilar to localised communities of individuals that interact, but rarely communicate positively with each other. Will incursion push or encourage players to co-operate more and thus establish bonds of friendship in an otherwise hostile universe? Perhaps that could happen. Certainly it will drive out those who do not want to suffer under the yoke of the Sansha’s system wide effects and those areas where the localised population respond negatively are very likely to disintegrate. I would say it is not an exaggeration to suggest that some, albeit a tiny minority, could well abandon EVE altogether as a result of their home system being invaded.
No doubt CCP will hear a great deal of player feedback on the Incursion sites – and many will cry that they are unreasonably difficult. I would argue that’s not the real weakness but that the ‘difficulty’ doesn’t scale particularly well; meaning that the solo pilot or even the small 3 – 4 man gang is constrained as to what they can realistically contribute. Frustration at this may lead to players simply avoiding this content all together as an annoyance rather than an opportunity.