The Cranky Sysadmin A world of technology, fun, and ignorant rants.

April 21, 2009

EVE compared to WoW.

Filed under: Eve-Online,World of Warcraft — Cranky Sysadmin @ 11:25 am

There are apples, and then there are oranges… EVE and WoW are entirely different games. Why would I want to compare them? I have time for one online game and I have to decide which to play. There are other games out there with good communities, but I don’t even have the time to give these other games more then a cursory glance before deciding whether to jump in. Age of Conan looked really good, but during the initial release, there were so many bugs and crashes that it was difficult to play. The machine requirements are hefty too. Since then, I’ve been a bit hesitant to try new online games if the barrier to entry is too high. EVE and WoW both offer trial accounts which can be converted to full accounts. When I find other online games with a similar model, I give them a try if they look interesting.

World of Warcraft is a fun game with nice well developed progression. The leveling quests are interesting the first time through, and the raids are complex enough to offer a nice challenge for a few weeks. Dying in WoW is almost completely consequence free. The mechanics are simple enough that a ten year old can play fairly well, but complex enough that theory-crafting can improve how you play considerably. Initially, WoW has a very low ramp. You are presented with a few basic skills and the simplest of quests in a very safe area. Sadly even at endgame, there are a few accepted options for each class of character. If you see two pre-raid resto shamans, they will probably be wearing almost the same gear. Crafting in WoW is very simplistic. Gather mats, know the recipe, make the item (most of the time). Gathering mats is as simple as flying around looking for nodes or monsters.

EVE is almost completely class free for a new character. There is no leveling as such. You train skills and earn cash. There are several parallel progressions in EVE. The skills advance as time goes by. You earn ISK, and you buy or otherwise aquire better gear. One can also rise in the ranks of a corporation or alliance. As time passes for the new character they will probably focus on one area; combat, research, industry, mining… This specialization doesn’t preclude someone who has been a miner for years from training into combat.

If you’re new to the game, life is very harsh. There is a lot to learn in what seems to be a short time, and there are plenty of people out there that prey on new players. After the tutorials, there are no bread crumbs to lead you to the next step (unless you’re a combat pilot. In that case, there is the epic mission arc). Outside the very basics, everything else will probably be a complete mystery. It’s like the real world only without mommy and daddy or schools to point you in some direction. Well, that’s not completely true. There are corporations which help newbies along. There are sources of info on the web. There are friendly knowledgeable people in rookie and NPC corp chat, but there isn’t much hand holding upfront.

If you manage to get past those initial weeks of being lost and confused, you will probably run into pirates and griefers who enjoy making your life difficult. You will also realize that combat and dying have real consequences. You will lose your ship. You will get podded and lose your precious implants. If you are not paying attention, you can also lose weeks or months of training if you die without an up to date clone. It’s harsh. It’s all so very harsh. At this point, it may seem like EVE is made to reward those who lie and backstab and murder the most.

There are lots of ways to cut down on being the victim of pirates or griefers or scammers. If you’re willing to do a little research and be smart, life gets a lot easier. Just like real life, there is always some risk of being a victim though.

There is a light in all of this darkness though. EVE has a satisfyingly complex progression for almost everything. Skills show off this complexity well. For instance, to fly a cruiser, you need a fairly short list of skills and they don’t need to be trained very long. To effectively fly a cruiser, you need a much longer list of skills, and this list of skills will change depending on the purpose of the cruiser. A vexor requires good drone skills, good armor tank skills and moderate gunnery skills. A caracal requires good shield tank skills and good missile skills. This complexity of progression can be overwhelming, but it also means that a character has a lot of flexibility in choosing a path to being an expert.

The number of main professions in EVE is pretty amazing. One can be a mission runner (like me), a researcher, a manufacturer, miner, explorer, pirate, anti-pirate, etc. One can also specialize into some of the more gang/fleet friendly professions like forward scout, ECM specialist, or sniper. There are also combinations of professions which work out well.

The crafting system in EVE is as complex as anything else in the game. Each class of items requires different skills and different materials to create. One can do research on their blueprints to make them more efficient either in materials or time. One can also use the invention system to attempt to upgrade the item a blueprint can be used to make. Evelopedia has a good article on industry.

The market/trade system is very robust. There isn’t a centralized market. You can sell your item from whatever station you happen to be in, but someone has to go haul that item to wherever they are. There are buy orders, sell orders, margin buy orders, and special contracts. Prices will vary depending on where you are in the universe. Sometimes, prices will be drastically different just a few jumps away. This makes the trader/currier profession potentially lucrative. Here is a great article on trading.

At the end of the day, the reason I prefer EVE over WoW, at least for now, is that there is so much freedom and so many areas of the game to explore. For good and bad, it’s also a lot like real life because of this freedom. There is danger and opportunity everywhere. It’s what I imagine the wild west was like in 19th century America.

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