"With the Inferno expansion upon us, new seeds have been planted in the ongoing evolution of EVE Online. With every expansion comes new trials and challenges, game-changing mechanics and fresh ideas. After nine years and seventeen expansions, EVE has grown far more than most other MMOGs can hope for. Which expansions have brought the highs and lows, which have been the best and the worst for EVE Online?"Given that I've only been playing through the three expansions mentioned above, it seems more than obvious which are the great releases and which one is the dud. It would have been a very short blog banter post.
How to tackle this particular blog banter, give it some depth and breadth? Why not delve back into EVE Online expansion history, examine the expansions based on their feature set and their trailers (where available), and write about the expansions I wish I'd experienced.
I'll use EVE Online's expansion history pages as my guide. I'll then use CCP Games' YouTube channel to comb through for expansion trailers to get a sense of the emotion they evoke.
Click the expansion names to load the feature page, and where available the trailer links as well. This is the information I'm using to judge each expansion. I'll rate each expansion from one to fives stars (★), based on the feature set and trailer efficacy.
This would seem to be a very major expansion, really expanding upon the game, giving more tools to the players to write their own stories. Tech 2 released. Player conquerable stations. Increased ship variety, more stats, more distinction in the stats. A broader framework in the market. Advanced skills. More options to the missioning system. A rudimentary crime system implemented.
I wish I'd been there at EVE Online's beginnings. (As an aside, who releases an expansion a week before Christmas? Good way to have pissed off customers and employees, if the customers can't play over the holidays due to bugs, and the employees are working through the holidays to fix bugs.)
Another extensive expansion. More new ship types. Extensions to the criminal/crimewatch system. Introduction of war declarations. The addition of alliance mechanics. Player-owned starbases. The rudiments of sovereignty introduced. Deadspace complexes. The ability to scan down systems, for complexes and ships; safe-spots no longer safe.
The trailer itself isn't terrible, but it barely touches upon anything particularly exciting about the game. The voiceover work is in the right direction, but hard to understand. Video-wise, it's mainly just ships floating in space, with a few quick flashes of combat. A disjointed presentation.
Exciting content, much on par with Castor, but the trailer would not have had me much excited about the game.
Trailer (not directly tied to expansion, released September 15 2005)
System sovereignty introduced. Outposts. Dreadnoughts. Freighters. Stuff is getting bigger. The tools for the mega-corp arrived with this expansion. More PvE: level 4 missions, COSMOS encounters. The game is becoming recognizable as the EVE I now play.
This trailer is a step in the right direction and is a precursor to many of EVE's great trailers in the future. Very good editing in synch with the moody soundtrack. A lot of emotional elements that invest the viewer into the milieu. It's not a perfect trailer, and is a little loose near the middle, but presages great things to come from the CCP video team.
Trailer (not directly tied to expansion, released May 10 2006)
Super-capitals are introduced: titans and super carriers. More sovereignty improvements. A thwack of new Tech 2 ships. Improvements to combat across the board. Can-flipping begins here. Plus more for miners and salvagers.
The trailer is a step-back. The voice actor is simply the wrong choice. The dialogue is overwrought. The images are dull, uninspiring. About the only interesting aspect of the trailer is the influence of Firefly on many of the camera shots, the rough zooms and uncertain pans that were popularized by that show.
Super-caps do not interest me. So this expansion is a little short on anything particularly inviting. Except for all the new Tech 2 ships. But with expansions coming once per year, at this stage of EVE's history, there's not a lot here. I'd be wondering about the next expansion a few months into Red Moon.
Contracts. Rigs. Exploration. Invention. Drugs. More new ships. Eight new regions.
The first great EVE Online trailer. An emotionally culminating soundtrack. Conflict is front and center as a theme. Although they don't quite have the knack for shooting the massive battles that they do now for their trailers, you can see the first steps in that direction. This trailer would have had me tremendously excited about the Revelations expansion, no matter what the content.
Expansions now come every six months. This includes overheating. Structure warfare enhancements. Improvements to corporation, alliance and sovereignty management.
The voice-over choices in the Exodus trailer make their mark here, but refined and perfected. There's not an ounce of combat in this trailer until the final eight seconds, and then from an extremely distant, wide and impersonal angle. This trailer is a work of art. It has such a disquieting message, yet the imagery, the music, the voice acting very much belie the message. And as a distant observer, all of this makes the final seconds of the trailer that much more powerful.
Content-wise, not a particularly thrilling expansion, but the trailer would have had me exceptionally excited for the release date.
The Trinity 2.0 graphic engine is released, revamping all of the visuals for EVE Online. EVE Voice introduced. Fleet improvements. Marketplace improvements. Exiting stations at velocity. Overview enhancements. And more ships: interdictors, black ops, marauders, electronic attack ships, and jump freighters.
The Trinity trailer is supposed to be one of EVE Online's greatest trailers, but I found it decidedly meh. It's pretty. But all they do is showcase the pretty for the entire trailer. It had a good emotional build-up at the beginning, but that wore off as the video more or less looped through image after image.
This is also the expansion that gave us the surprise-inside, boot.ini. I'm a computer guy, but if there's one thing I loathe, it is installing operating systems. If I'd been caught with the boot.ini bug, I'd have been so damned pissed off. Having to reformat and re-install my system from scratch.
Boot.ini aside, the graphics update is exciting unto itself, but content-wise it seems lacking, not too mention a trailer that doesn't at all grab me by the short hairs.
Teaser 1 | Teaser 2 | Trailer
A new region, Black Rise. And Factional Warfare. This expansion is very faction warfare centric, with nearly every addition dealing with this new outlet for war and violence.
The shame about this trailer is the choice of voice actor. Reminds me of the similarly poor decision made for the Red Moon Rising trailer. The action is decent enough, but neither the music nor the voice acting lend it the resonance it deserves. The teasers are a far more effective build-up to faction warfare, they should have went further with the idea in the full trailer (which they eventually did do with the Quantum Rise trailer.)
I'm soon to start taking part in faction warfare. I'm sure I'd have been excited to take part in it new, along with everyone else, had I been playing in the summer of 2008. I definitely would have been looking forward to this expansion.
Certificates and medals introduced. Speed balancing, adds further strategy and tactics into battle. Weapon grouping. Love for industrialists, with new ship enhancements and new invention and research mechanics. Plus a bunch of server-side enhancements: Stackless python and 64-bit servers.
Now that is a damned trailer. A completely new direction for CCP, and I think it works. Once you get to the breaking news, it's quite riveting. The footage, the reaction of the live reporting, has a genuinely authentic feel to it. This is my favourite trailer thus far. The only disappointment is timing, this trailer would have been far better as a precursor to Empyrean Age and the introduction to faction warfare. As such, it has little to do with the Quantum Rise feature set specifically.
Content-wise, not a lot here. Would have rated this one stars, but for the excellent trailer it gets another star and a half.
Teaser | Trailer
Wormholes. They could have stopped there. But Tech 3 strategic cruisers as well. And epic mission arcs. Attribute remaps. The skill queue introduced.
I think the teaser works better than the trailer. It has the "what the hell is that" element going for it. The trailer, on the other hand, unless CCP gave away the farm and everyone knew that wormholes and sleepers were coming, it's not entirely clear what's going on in the trailer, the significance of the pincer-claw ship, the shimmering globe, etc. A new player is going to view this strangely mostly-silent trailer and wonder what the hell is happening and who these people and things are.
This is a five star expansion, but taking into consideration the uninspiring trailer, have to drop it down a star.
New in-game browser. Doomsday weapons. Mostly the rest of the feature set seems to be improvements and enhancements on existing systems and mechanics.
The longest trailer to date, it tells a simple (though incomplete) story of system sovereignty. This is the sort of trailer I should like, but there was some crucial element missing for me. Perhaps as a story it needed a character (or characters) to hang my hat on. The story was three disparate groups vying over a single system, yet there was nobody for the viewer to root for. No reason why the system was vital and necessary. Rather it was just a bunch of clichés: the resolute Euros, the Americans and Brits fighting back from the brink, and the ruthless Russians.
Teaser | Trailer
Planetary interaction. EVE Gate. More graphical enhancements. Some bullshit interaction with AlienFX compatible computers and keyboards.
The trailer would have been stronger if they'd focused on the initial woman's story and expanded upon it. Her story is the story of EVE Online. "I don't care for violence, but it is often a necessary evil." And potentially continue in the following vein: she wanted to create her peaceful paradise, but soon learned that there were those that would covet paradise and that paradise would need to be defended with death and violence. Paradise does not exist in a vacuum. Or something like that.
I like planetary interaction, and not because they trailers build it up as something it is not. I would have been excited for this expansion's release.
Incursions introduced. The Noctis. Server-side improvements. UI improvements. Buh-bye learning skills. CONCORD shops. Planetary interaction improvements. The Carbon character creation system.
Where the Tyrannis trailer had no protagonist (or antagonist) to focus the story on, the Incursion trailer does not make that mistake, giving us an antagonist in the Sansha leader. A good strong trailer.
AfterwordNo coverage of anything Incarna and beyond. But seeing as I've done reviews of all the trailers up to Incursion, it might be a future post to expand further and give reviews of every EVE Online trailer. Find the best of the best, and what made them the best.