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EVE Online Previews: Winter Expansion 'Retribution' Unveiled

By Michael Bitton on September 29, 2012

Retribution, the upcoming winter expansion to EVE Online, is the game’s 18th free expansion. Each of EVE’s expansion tends to feature a theme and in Retribution the theme is consequences. EVE is known for all sorts of emergent gameplay, both positive and negative, and Retribution is all about the consequences of players’ actions. In order to accomplish this goal, CCP Games intends to make some major changes to a number of game systems with Retribution, and we’ve got all the details below.

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The Bounty System

EVE Online’s current bounty system has long been outdated and due for an overhaul. The design is flawed such that players can just have their friends blow them up in cheap ships and actually make a profit from the whole thing. It sort of defeats the purpose of putting a bounty on another player. For this reason, EVE’s players mostly use the bounty system as a self-promotion tool. Players with high bounties are notorious throughout the EVE universe and even have their characters appear on in-game billboards.

Fortunately, CCP is looking to finally give the bounty hunting system the attention it deserves in Retribution. After all, what better system to deliver consequence than a system that enables players to place bounties on each other?

In Retribution, players will be able to place bounties not just on individual players, but also on corporations and even alliances themselves. In order to combat the gaming of the system, a claim on a bounty will only result in a percentage payout of the total bounty. This percentage is based on a number of factors, including insurance cost, cost of the ship, and cost of the ship’s modules. On an individual level, this means that you’d probably have to lose a solid number of ships in order for your bounty to be cleared and CCP hopes this will make individual bounties more meaningful. Of course, the same applies to corporation and alliance bounties. If any player within a marked corporation or alliance is killed, a percentage of the total pot is awarded to all players who participated in that kill.

 

A number of bounty hunting UI improvements and additions are being made as well. For one, you’ll be able to tell at a glance if someone has a bounty on them and what the payout would be for killing them. CCP is also looking to implement some sort of location reporting feature that allows other players to essentially spot marked players, but this design hasn’t fully come together just yet. Finally, the bounty office UI itself is getting an overhaul. Players will have access to a variety of sorting options and information at their disposal. Examples include sorting by the highest bounties on an individual, corporation, or alliance basis, finding out who the actual bounty hunters pursuing a particular mark are, and who you’ve placed bounties on yourself.  Down the line, CCP is looking to also add the ability for players to place bounties on particular structures, too.

Crimewatch Overhaul

CCP is also looking to streamline one of EVE’s oldest systems – Crimewatch. The Crimewatch system is basically EVE’s aggression flagging mechanic. If players do something illegal, it’s the Crimewatch system that will flag them as being killable by other players. There’s a good deal of nuance to this system, in fact, there’s too much nuance and that’s why it’s getting an overhaul in Retribution.

Veterans of EVE have done a pretty good job of figuring out the system, but new players are often confounded by the ins and outs of Crimewatch. In the interest of simplifying things, CCP is going to remove the edge cases of the system while also providing players with more obvious ways of figuring out the consequences of their actions and how long those consequences will persist.

 

The new Crimewatch system breaks consequences down to three categories, each marked with a distinct icon in the UI.  

The first level of criminal consequence is the inability to safely log off from the game. Doing so will cause your ship to warp somewhere in the current system and you’ll still be able to be scanned down.  

Committing a ‘misdemeanor’ crime of sorts, say, stealing things from another player’s space canister, will flag you with a second icon that denotes that other players will be able to kill you on sight.

The third level, reserved for heinous acts such as murder, will bring up a third icon on your UI that denotes that not only can other players kill you, but EVE Online’s NPC police presence, CONCORD, will hunt you down as well.

Each of the three icons will display information on mouse-over so that players can understand exactly what can or will happen to them and these icons will also show a countdown timer of sorts to let you know exactly how long until that effect expires.

It’s also important to note that CCP has basically ripped the entire Crimewatch code out of the game and redesigned it from the ground up, resulting in a performance improvement for players in large battles.

Weapon Safety

Retribution will also introduce a weapon safety feature that should allow players to really get some granular control over what is even possible for them to do with regards to criminal activity. On the flip side, players who are out-and-out criminals can completely disable all weapon safety features so they don’t have to deal with any annoying warnings against taking certain actions.

This new weapon safety feature is represented by a simple toggle on your UI. With the safety on, players will be restricted from doing any actions that would be considered illegal. For players who never want to end up as criminals, this is ideal.

 

Toggling the UI once will remove enough of the safety locks to enable you to commit actions that would be considered to be at the ‘misdemeanor’ level explained above as part of the new Crimewatch system. 

Toggling off the safety completely will allow you to take any action without being warned of its illegality.

Faction Warfare Improvements

It’s not only EVE’s players that are often in conflict, but even the game’s four NPC factions as well. When players create their character they choose from which of these races or factions they belong to. Once in-game, players can also choose to pledge to defend their faction as part of the faction warfare system and CCP will be making some key updates to this system in Retribution.

Below is a breakdown of some of the changes players can expect to Faction Warfare:

  • Changes to payouts
  • Changes to how players upgrade systems
  • Adding upgrades for quicker industry
  • Additional sovereignty benefits
  • Complex improvements towards PvP. Reducing total NPCs and forcing NPCs to stay out of player vs. player conflict within a complex

Ship Additions and Model Update

If you’re a fan of EVE Online’s considerable eye candy, you’ll be glad to know that CCP will be updating the game’s ship models in Retribution in order to bring them up to current standards. Of particular note are the updates to the Vagabond and Stabber models.  This includes the return of the ‘frills’ that players were upset to find out were removed in a previous update to the Vagabond’s model.

 

New salvage drones are being added for ships in Retribution, as well. These drones are important for mission runners and we’re told will just plain look cool as they zoom around ships and pick stuff apart from wrecks.

A new mining frigate is being added for entry level players or even for quick or ‘ninja’ mining. Players into 'ninja mining' will likely want to use this new frigate to go behind enemy lines and grab things quickly. The new ship is also yellow, very yellow.

A new tier of destroyers are coming in Retribution, four in total, one for each of the game's factions. Destroyers currently fill an important role in EVE PvP combat due to their fast speed and particular ability to take on enemy frigates. With regards to DUST 514, destroyers will be the first ships to be able to use orbital strike type modules, so CCP will be adding an additional, more specialized tier of destroyer-class ships to EVE with Retribution.

Balance Pass to Destroyers, Frigates, and Cruisers

In order to improve PvP ship diversity in the destroyer, frigate, and cruiser categories, CCP is rebalancing these ships to fulfill certain combat roles or playstyles. This should provide players with a horizontal progression and also allow new players to contribute to large group fights instead of being crushed outright.

 

We were shown a variety of EVE Online’s ships broken down across a variety of categories, ranging anywhere from attack, to support, to disruption, and more. CCP feels that these very distinct ship roles should really enhance play possibilities across the board.

Miscellaneous Changes

CREST Improvements: EVE’s API will be improved to allow for both read and write access and CCP is working with third party developers towards developing extensions of EVE Online outside of the client itself.

Story:  CCP admits they haven’t done as much with the in-game storylines as much as they may have liked, and this is going to change beginning with Retribution.

NPC AI: The AI improvements players found in EVE’s ‘Sleeper’ units will be used to improve NPC AI across the board in EVE.  This should result in NPCs making use of target priorities based on ship class, knowing when to retreat, and more.

Community Site Additions:  The EVE community team will be updating the community site with a number of new additions.

UI Improvements: Effects bar improvements to make effects more obvious and improve targeting via the effects bar.

Unified Inventory: CCP will consolidate the inventory so that players can access all their stuff in one place.

Sound: Variety of improvements to EVE’s sound, including ship engines, lasers, and more.

Quality of Life Improvements: Expect tons of quality-of-life improvements that you’d see in any major EVE release.

EVE Online: Retribution will go live on December 4, 2012. Be sure to stay tuned to MMORPG.com for all the latest EVE Online news, previews, and more.

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