Notorious Eve pirate wants to convince you the game is safe for newcomers
Every time we write a piece about EVE Online, we get a rather predictable spate of reactions in the comment section. A lot of them are very positive, but others can seem frustrated with the state of EVE or confused about why anyone would want to play a game populated entirely by forum trolls and griefers.
It's for that exact reason that infamous EVE pirate Helicity Boson reached out to us. He noticed these misconceptions, and wanted to help clear the air. Helicity thinks you've got the wrong idea about EVE, and he wants to explain why.
If there's one thing I took from my time talking with Helicity, it was a lesson in mindset. There's a general sense from non-EVE players that everytime you venture out into space you run tremendous risk, that if your ship is destroyed it's a huge set back. The truth is that it's not usually that big of a deal. If you end up getting one of your early starter ships (you'll get more than a few just from doing the introductory missions) destroyed you can just fly back to base in your escape pod and continue on.
Beyond that, it's not even all that risky at first. Helicity said that thanks to a new ship introduced for low-level players in EVE, people have less to worry about than usual.
Called the Venture, this new ship is given to you as a quest reward quite early in the game. It's a very efficient mining vessel, and it's extremely difficult to destroy. Helicity described it as the best gift CCP ever gave to new players.
“It is extremely good,” he said. “It's a fantastic little ship. I love it. A full cargo hold can be like 5 million ISK. That's really not bad for a new player. One full hull can buy you like 10 Ventures. It's definitely worth the risk.”
It's all about mindset. Your ship is not your character. Helicity preferred to think of a ship as a consumable item that is temporary. Every ship is temporary, and it's best to buy or build each ship with the understanding that some day you'll watch it blow up.
There's a saying in EVE, “Don't fly what you can't afford to lose.” There are certainly some extravagant ships that would really set you back if you lost them, but in general as long as you keep to only flying ships that are within your budgetary range then you never have to feel too bad over losing one.
“Go into it with the mindset that this is a versus game. This is like a game of Street Fighter. Everything is PvP,” he said. “Even manufacturing is PvP.” PvP stands for Player vs Player, and denotes combat or competition between two human players.
It gets fun after 5 years, I swear!
“I think the primary thing everybody seems to forget is that everybody started out with nothing,” he said about the myth that it takes a really long time for EVE to become fun because some players are so far ahead. “It's not like you can't catch up. There's almost nothing in this game you cannot do at a passable level within a month.”
“Null-sec players, more than any other group in EVE, are very welcoming of new players. Because they understand that they need to ensure their future. They're usually very kind,” he said, adding that there's nothing stopping a new player from joining up with a major alliance and having a very real impact on battles and wars. 'Null-sec' is the wildlands of EVE where player groups have complete control. All players begin in high-sec where they're very well protected by essentially unkillable AI police.
“It doesn't take a lot of skill points to sit in a crappy frigate and tackle,” he said. 'Tackling' is the act of preventing an enemy from warping away from battle. If you want to kill someone's ship, you need to hold them in place or they'll just warp away from the fight. So one of the most common activities for new players in large fights is to “tackle” the most important enemy ships.
“And it's useful. It helps win wars. And Goonswarm truly, truly believe in that, because that's how they started. At the time there was Band of Brothers (the previous major alliance) and Goonswarm had basically a few experienced players and a bunch of newbies in extremely shitty ships. You're never useless. You may not be as useful as you'd like to be, but you will be. All it takes is time.”
Goonswarm was able to overthrow the old powerhouse, Band of Brothers, and it's likely only a matter of time until a new group shows up that will able to overthrow them as well. The power struggle is always evolving, and you're never too far behind.
In the mean time, you won't be on your own, either. Those newbie-friendly groups that he mentioned are often more than willing to outfit you with ships if you're helping the greater cause. And there are other groups that will help out more with education than with monetary goods.
“There are a bunch of initiatives in place to help convince new players to stay,” he said. “EVE University is of course the most well-known.”
EVE University is a huge corporation in EVE which aims to educate new and experienced players alike about the finer points of the game once players have completed the in-game tutorials. They run special classes and lectures designed to make EVE more approachable.
An actual propaganda forum image created by Goonswarm members specifically intended to help recruit newer players.
Scam artist haven
Every once in a while we hear about a huge scam that strikes EVE, or a grand heist, or a pyramid scheme etc. Since these stories tend to grab our imagination they're much more widely reported than the every day actions of regular players. That leads to the impression that EVE is all about scams and crimes.
“The myth is, of course, that in EVE everyone is out to scam you, trick you or otherwise screw you,” he said. “In fact it's more like there is a small number of rather succesful people out there who like to PvP by matching their scams against your wits. It's just observer bias created by the fact that succesful scams make for great news stories. For every scam, thousands of players went on and had a fabulous day in which nothing bad happened.”
There are other misconceptions about the game too, but Helicity often dismissed them out of hand. He barely had anything to say about the common idea that EVE is a game of so much complexity that it requires Excel spreadsheets to keep track of, adding only that he'd never used a spreadsheet in all his years of play.
He was similarly bemused by the idea that EVE is a boring game. He said that even though he's a frequent player of other PvP games like Guild Wars 2, nothing has ever given the adrenaline rush of EVE. Having something tangible on the line makes the game a much more exciting experience.
So if you've been hesitant to give EVE a chance based on something you've heard off-hand then you'd do well to give it a chance. You may be able to join up with the Goonswarm to help tighten their iron grip on the galaxy. Or you may become part of an up-and-coming alliance that will supplant the Goonswarm once and for all.
EVE is more newbie-friendly than many believe, and if you dedicate yourself to it you can do great things.