Sacrilege sacrilege. I think I’ve found the game that could tear me away from WoW. Diablo 3 couldn’t do it. The Sims 3 made a valiant attempt but failed. And Fable II – well that was just a joke. No the game that’s done it for me is none other than Eve Online. Day 2 of my trial (ok ok I know I might be a tad over-the-top exuberant after just 2 days) and I’ve not thought about WoW once. This is bizarre. In fact it’s more than bizarre. It’s unheard of. Particularly on a Bank Holiday. Particularly when I’ve just started a new alt (a cute fury warrior called Mussels) & particularly immediately before a new patch for which everyone else is all excited. I’m always out of step with everyone.
Trying Eve out was a spur of the moment thing yesterday. Not even sure how I ended up on the site. Fate? Eve Online Universe divine guidance? Who knows. But once there I started the download, went out for a few hours (to a lovely Welsh food festival in town – ate a gorgeous ice cream with popping black cherry candy- sadly didn’t exactly pop in my mouth (disappointing when that fails to happen isn’t it?) but it was delicious). And when I got back home it was all ready to go.
What do I love about it? Firstly & absolutely the open-ended nature of the game. Yes admittedly so far I’ve been following a pretty linear path – the initial tutorial (which did a fantastic job of getting me familiar with my Neocom (look at me – using the lingo & all that), setting destinations, warping, using acceleration gates etc. And I’m just about to complete my third set of career missions. So yes so far I’ve been pretty linear. But this is purely to get me familiar with the basics – an extended tutorial as it were (and also because the only time I went off script I ended up doing a 22 jump journey to a Research Agent who declined to work with me because my skills weren’t “at his level”- arrogant elitist. Tail between legs I turned around & did the 22 jumps back & with a new found humility started a conversation with another Career Agent instead). But that said I can already see that what I ultimately do in-game will be up to me and I find that extremely liberating.
Now I know there’s lots to do in WoW. There’s so much there I’ve never even done (what is this class you call a Death Knight?). And don’t worry. This is not going to turn into an anti-WoW post. Don’t think I have one in me. I love WoW. But I’ve played it since around BC time (Burning Crusade that is, not Before Christ- although sometimes it feels like the latter) and it can feel that I’ve done all the stuff I love a million times & the stuff I’ve not done I don’t have any interest in doing. So sometimes it can all feel a bit jaded. I’ve written about this previously. Possibly what I’m feeling now is just the thrill of something new of course- and this will wear off. But it feels like it’s something more. The range of skills & careers open to me & the fact you don’t pick a class, a spec & then start talenting using some “best build” you found on Icy Veins or something feels absolutely great to me.
Of course I know there are websites that tell Eve players which skills to train for which careers. And that’s not that different from a recommended talent build. And there will be people who write about the right and wrong ways to play Eve. I’ve already come across some of this – the view that you shouldn’t be a jack of all trades for example, that if you do you’ll never be able to compete with the specialists. But the fact you can be a jack of all trades, can do any combination of skills (as long as you do the prerequisites) with nothing hardwired into a particular class just feels so exciting.
What else, what else … oh yes – you train when you’re offline!!! Oh my god. This is amazing. So when I’m in work tomorrow so is my character. In fact she’s also working while I sleep. No downtime. Awesome. Yes I know it’s all relative – if there were no offline skill training then skill training itself would take less time. But I don’t care. It’s how it makes me feel- that me & the game are still involved with each other even when I’m not actually playing it. Very clever. I love it.
There are so many things that have me captivated. I love getting blueprints, buying (or mining) the materials, submitting my job at the factory & delivering it to my item hangar when it’s done. I actually read all the mission texts (several early harsh lessons were eventually learned – too many times I’ve undocked & flown to some far away destination only to realise I’ve left some vital item or ship module sitting in the item hangar). I love the market place & the fact it has buy orders. I love the fact a GM contacted me today to ask how I was getting on, what I’d done so far & if there was anything she could help me with. I love the character creation screen that has resulted in a raven haired sunglass wearing cool avatar as opposed to all my cute yet oh so cartoony WoW characters (I still love you Seashell & your exact human carbon copies Terema & Bravetank). And I love the beautiful space graphics, the music that soothes me, the unhurried pace (the travel time allows me to read the Eve forums while I play) and the fact I genuinely feel like I’m discovering a new universe.
What will I be? Who knows? I suspect something in manufacturing, science or industry. I’m not interested in fighting – be it PvE or PvP. I want to feel like I’m learning something – even though that something is all pretend. It’s a virtual life & I want to live it being oh so knowledgeable and clever (that research agent will one day come to me on his hands & knees begging for the research crumbs I might just throw his way – no I’m not bitter at all at that 22 jump trip). The same compulsion that used to make me force my Sims to study for hours feels it could be well served in Eve. It is a research addict paradise.
And so yes I am excited. Yes I’m barely able to stop myself upgrading from trial to full right now. But what does this mean? Is this a short-term fling with a temporarily unresistable stranger who will turn out to have an off putting tendency to chew with his mouth open or is this something that could genuinely threaten my relationship with WoW. The fact I’m even asking the question has me scared.