Rejoice and be merry, Tech Three ship prices are dropping. After the Apocrypha 1.3 update, the changes to the drop rates of the required materials and datacores has resulted in the individual ship components and base hull costs dropping substantially. What once were multi-billion ISK monsters, are now much more affordable, with a fully-built Strategic Cruiser costing around one billion ISK. It's still a lot of money, but this is a big step toward them becoming a common sight in New Eden.
I was going to write about what could possibly be in the next expansion, but, just as I sent off my last correspondent article, I notice there's a new Dev Blog up, with the title of "Apocrypha 1.5 this August". As I'm wondering what happened to Apocrypha 1.4, I see the words: Mini Expansion. It seems the rumors of a summer expansion, while not entirely accurate, may have had some merit, and we can expect a sizeable update sometime next month. The focus of this article is going to be about the imminent changes to rigs (and a problem that may arise), but first let's look at what else is on the menu for August:
Factional Warfare is getting bit of a boost, with the addition of more Loyalty Point rewards; previously, LP could only be earned through completing FW missions. In 1.5, militia pilots will be able to receive LP from killing opposing militia members, as well as capturing complexes. It's not going to correct some of the more serious issues with the FW mechanics, but it's a big step in the right direction by handing out some kind of tangible reward.
Black Ops Battleship pilots can finally celebrate. Easily one of the most requested features while they were being reworked a few months back, the addition of a separate fuel bay that would allow it to make multiple Covert-Cyno jumps (without relying on other ships to transport fuel), is on the horizon. We can also hope that more specialized bays (for fuel or ore) are also on their way for future updates.
The introduction of epic mission arcs with Apocrypha was a bit underwhelming for most players, as all we received was one introductory arc aimed at lower skilled players. Hoping to remedy that situation, 1.5 is due to include a number of new, level four difficulty mission arcs. Exactly how many and what kind of rewards we can expect are unknown right now, but we can expect more information soon (and it wouldn't surprise me if a Dev Blog on the new arc is out by the time you read this). There are also numerous balancing changes and bug fixes that have yet to be detailed, but now it's time to talk about rigs.
Built from the salvaged components of wrecked ships, rigs are ship modifications that improve your ship in some way, but usually at the cost of effectiveness in other areas (armor rigs, for example, reduce the speed of the ship). Rigs have become reasonably common, but they are also expensive enough that they aren't worth fitting on basic frigates and cruisers, until now. As part of the first step toward revamping rigs, 1.5 will introduce small, medium, and large rigs. Small will fit frigates and destroyers, medium will fit cruisers and battlecruisers, while large will fit battleships and capital ships. The rigs we currently have will all be changed into large rigs, and require the same amount of salvage to build, but small and medium rigs will need much less. If the requirements on the test server stay as they are, then even a few paltry scraps of salvage will be enough to produce a small rig, instead of the dozens of pieces required for one of the current, universal rigs.
This is just the beginning though, and apparently we can expect more rig changes in the future; including new types of rigs (The hearts of asteroid diggers everywhere were no doubt aflutter at the mentioned possibility of mining rigs.), rebalancing of old ones, and the ability for players to convert low quality salvage into the shiny blue salvage needed for Tech Two rigs. I don't want to understate just how awesome the splitting of rigs into different sizes is, as it will increase the already ridiculous variety of ship setups, especially amongst cruiser and frigate vessels, but there is a problem. Well, not really a problem, but if salvage conversion is introduced and lesser salvage parts can be reprocessed into better parts, then the salvaging of even the most basic of wrecks becomes worthwhile, which is only going to add fuel to the fiery argument over the profession of ninja salvaging (the salvaging of a wreck that doesn't belong to you).
Unlike stealing items from a wreck, salvaging doesn't criminally flag you and allow the wreck owner to shoot you with impunity. The most common victims of ninja salvaging are the high-sec mission runners. With dozens of enemy NPCs in an average mission, this is the perfect place to find large amounts of salvage. Unsurprisingly, there are more than a few players that are less than impressed when they can only look on, helplessly, as another player comes in and starts stripping their wrecks clean.CCP's position on the matter is that it's perfectly legal, but regardless of what side of the fence you are on in the ninja salvaging argument, it's possible that this is going to be very lucrative if player can convert the lesser scraps of Tech One salvage into tech Two. In fact, this is only going to add fuel to the fire if a whole new wave of salvage pirates take to the stars.
Sized rigs are likely to cause a fairly massive balance shift if every cruiser and frig can cheaply fit rigs, but, as always, it's going to be difficult to determine just how big a change this will be until 1.5 arrives. Bring on August.