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EVE Online Equinox Launches: Talking Nullsec Changes, MJFGs on Carriers And EVE Vanguard

Joseph Bradford Posted:
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EVE Online’s first of two 2024 expansions, Equinox is now live, bringing new changes to nullsec in the form of new structures, resources, and more. But it’s also bringing some new features for everyone, most notably its SKINR tool for ships.

While the last expansion, Havoc, focused mainly on revitalizing lowsec space with its new pirate insurgencies, Equinox is squarely focused on nullsec. This region of space is known most for its player empires holding large swathes of systems under their control, and the various wars that play out between them for sovereignty over space.

Equinox seems poised to ramp this up even more, especially with the infusion of new structures and resources to fight over.

“This is going to be one of the handful of times where we kind of change what defines how valuable a system is, right?” community developer Peter “CCP Swift” Farrell tells me in an interview last week heading into the launch. “So you can decide what type of ore spawns there, what type of anomalies you get, and within each system, the planets are now gonna decide, or be another factor in deciding, how valuable a system is. So we already have players, like, kind of looking over their shoulder to see what their competitors are doing.”

Farrell describes a situation where, even ahead of today’s launch, where players were effectively staging fleets and invasion forces to take systems that are rich with the resources that will become important once Equinox’s nullsec changes fully roll out. Structures such as the Metenox Moon Drill will become mainstays in many null - and even lowsec space corporations, and the fight over the systems to support them will be intense.

However, CCP doesn’t want to simply flick the light switch on and throw nullsec into extreme chaos. Some chaos is good (embrace the chaos, CCP Games), but nullsec corporations have spent literal years building up their sovereignty in these systems, so the developers are going to be rolling out the nullsec changes in phases.

“We’re giving players time to figure out what’s what,” Swift continued. “We’re giving them time to build the Skyhooks, right? And to configure their systems and decide where they want their stuff to be. So they’ll not only have time to build them but also time to transition their sovereignty as well.”

However, it’s going to be interesting to see how the next few weeks and months play out after nullsec power blocs like The Imperium, PanFam, Winter Coalition and the like get a handle on the new systems and fully integrate the changes into their regions of space. What kind of battles will crop up over the new Equinox resources, and will we see this bleed into lowsec as Metenox Moon Miners start cropping up there as well? It likely won’t have the day one chaos that we saw back with Havoc’s launch, but EVE players can never do anything on a small scale, so when it all hits the fan, New Eden will be watching a spectacle unfold.

EVE’s New True Endgame: Ship Skins

So, it’s no secret I love cosmetics and dye systems in MMOs. I have literal outfits matched with horses in The Lord of the Rings Online, I have spent hours in Final Fantasy XIV’s endgame, Final Fashion, and now, with SKINR for ships in Equinox, EVE Online’s new endgame for me will simply be customizing the look of my hulls.

SKINR, which has been rolled out across structures initially since last year, is now available to fully personalize the look of each of your EVE Online ship hulls, and in practice, it’s pretty incredible. During my interview, EVE Online’s creative director Bergur “CCP Burger” Finnbogason showed off the tool for a bit. 

SKINR for ships will allow you to apply colors and patterns to your ship, which players will have a base set available with today’s launch, according to Bergur. Players can place colors in different sections of a ship’s hull, fully customizing the look of their vessel. Patterns can also be overlaid with the colors, creating some incredibly beautiful - or viciously ugly - looks for players to undock with.

Also, everyone needs a pink Avatar. And, potentially, everyone can have a pink Avatar, whether it’s a SKIN that they themselves made, or one they bought from another player.

Player-made SKINs won’t be sold on the regional market within New Eden, rather they are sold through a new market, the Paragon Hub. The new market, like the SKINR tool for ships is accessible everywhere in space, meaning you don’t need to be in a specific region to access them, according to Bergur. This is, what seems to be, the first step in a larger global in-game market, which technically already exists when you consider you can buy skill books from anywhere already. However, the Paragon Hub gives player-made SKINs a home to be bought and sold using either PLEX or ISK.

“They don’t have a physical object assigned to them,” Bergur tells me in our interview about the player-made ship SKINs. Unlike the CCP-made ship SKINs, these do not have a physical license that takes space up in your cargo hold, which can be activated or sold on the regional marketplace. He continued:

“So the interesting thing there is you can access it from wherever, so you can activate the SKIN from wherever, you don’t need to be in a physical location. So, selling that on the market is tricky to begin with. [...]We’ve been wanting to address [a global market] for a while.”

Bergur explains that the team has been looking at the market and effectively asking, “what is a store that you can access from wherever?” With markets and contracts both being tied to regions within space, access to player-sequenced SKINs wouldn’t pop up wherever you might be if they were tied specifically to, say, The Forge or Pochven markets. So, it seems like the Paragon Hub is the answer. 

You’ll need to sequence the SKIN before listing, which the developers say will cost you some PLEX, with the price itself varying based on the “rarity and quantity of design elements used,” though you can list your SKINs on the Paragon Hub for either PLEX or ISK, depending on which you’d prefer. At the start, basic nanocoatings and other design elements will be sold for PLEX on the Hub, and while some will have unlimited usages based on their rarity, most will have a limited number of applications before you need to get another. This is no different than buying or crafting a dye to use on an outfit in any other MMO. 

Thankfully, not every nanocoating, color or pattern will appear on the in-game store, but according to Bergur the majority will be available as in-game rewards, loot drops, and log-in campaign rewards. There will also be event-specific colors, such as SKINR coatings for the Crimson Harvest event, and more. And, for those who never really want to interact with EVE Online’s premium currency, there are colors that are only available through gameplay, so there are plenty of opportunities to customize to your liking.

I do appreciate being able to purchase these coatings in ISK if the player selling it chooses, and thankfully PLEX is available on the regional markets to buy with ISK in-game, so given a large enough wallet you won’t need to buy these with real-life money. However, that is an option should you decide to do so.

Vanguard’s Glow Up

Coming later this month is the next iteration of EVE Vanguard’s testing. Vanguard, if you recall, is the upcoming FPS module set within the EVE Online universe (and already directly influences New Eden with each test), which is currently in alpha. This month, EVE Vanguard is getting a whole new map for Vanguards to explore, which Bergur mentions is a “completely different approach” to how they design maps, as well as a whole new environment style only hinted at before in trailers for the MMO.

“We have a brand new map, it’s a completely different approach to the map design we did with Carrion, the first map. We are calling it Solstice, and it’s way more vertical. You’re actually on a small island surrounded by the ocean, or something that can resemble an ocean, there’s actually vegetation on this map, which we have never shown it in EVE Online before. Like, we’ve shown vegetation in trailers, in the Minmatar longform trailer, for instance. But people will see a whole new environment they’ve not seen or experienced before in New Eden.”

The mining module will also return from its March test, this time expanded using feedback from previous tests. And for those looking for something new in the gunplay, Bergur has you covered.

“Still a single gun, but we’re seeing the adaptive weaponry way more. We had that you could swap ammunition in the First Strike events, but in the Solstice event you’ll start to get chipsets. So something similar to what you see in EVE Online where you can start to collect chipsets and change your scope, and change your rate of fire, and there’s pros and cons. So we’re just expanding further the horizontal scaling of the one weaponry, and this is something we’ve really wanted to get in front of players for a while.”

Effectively, the way the gun will work in the Solstice is much like how EVE players are already modifying their ships in the full MMO. A base ship can be fit with modules and rigs to change how effective it is, how it functions, and it sounds like the chipsets for your Vanguard gun will operate in much the same way.

One More Thing

Equinox is also bringing a bundle of changes from industry to Pochven. Yet one major change not hinted at until the Equinox patch notes were released is a change coming to Carriers. Carriers, according to CCP Swift, are being given a new role, creating a giant version of the Micro Jump Field Generator that is found on a Tech II destroyers, allowing Carriers to now warp a bunch of ships 250km to any target.

“We’re basically giving carriers a new role,” Swift explained while showing the carrier performing the jump on the test server. “You might have seen this module before on a destroyer, a Tech II destroyer. It’s called the Micro Jump Field Generator. It’s capable of moving a bunch of ships caught within its bubble 100 kilometers. So we’ve made a giant version of this which can move enemy capitals in Siege even or triage 250km off of whatever target. (Bergur squeals with glee.) It is absolutely the coolest shit in the world. When you’re talking about the capital meta, like small scale, big scale, whatever it is, the amount of chaos that this is gonna cause when it’s really well orchestrated - or even when bungled is gonna be amazing.”

EVE Online MJFG Carrier

Carriers can also be used as jump gate conduits, and they won’t have the same restrictions on them that Black Ops ships currently have. Using the Carrier, you can bring anything with you through the jump, letting you choose your fleet’s doctrine. However, once you’ve committed your Carrier on grid, Swift warns you’ll need to “make sure you made the right call.” The amount of nullsec chaos that will be introduced with these two changes alone is really something I can’t wait to see, personally, especially as nullsec battles between the major player empires are already some of the most compelling content EVE Online has to offer, whether you’re there yourself or you’re simply reading about the struggle the next day on the forums, Reddit, or maybe even here.

Either way, Equinox launching today should invigorate nullsec in a way it hasn’t felt in years. The proposed changes, plus the new structures, resources, and reasons to start a fight in deep space, are exciting. It’ll be interesting to watch the rollout and see how players respond to these new changes in the coming weeks.


Joseph Bradford

Joseph has been writing or podcasting about games in some form since about 2012. Having written for multiple major outlets such as IGN, Playboy, and more, Joseph started writing for MMORPG in 2015. When he's not writing or talking about games, you can typically find him hanging out with his 10-year old or playing Magic: The Gathering with his family. Also, don't get him started on why Balrogs *don't* have wings. You can find him on Twitter @LotrLore