At the Eve Vegas 2017 event yesterday, developers CCP confirmed that among their plans for the year is a significant upgrade to what their free-to-play characters can do within the Eve Online universe, planned for this December. Previously limited to flying Frigate and Cruiser-class ships, anyone will soon be able to pilot a Battlecruiser or Battleship without spending a penny on the game.
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While the most visibly significant - Battleships are the largest non-capital class of vessel in the game - there are other major upgrades coming to Alpha Clone players, including access to Tech 2 variants of small and medium weapon mountings. While significantly more expensive and requiring extensive skill training in order to use, these guns tend to be a few cuts above their first-tier equivalents and will go a long way to making free players a viable threat in PvP combat.
Plans have also been announced to lift the restrictions on faction-specific technology, allowing free players to travel anywhere in the galaxy and fly any ship belonging to any empire, assuming they’ve got the requisite training done. All this extra training does necessitate an increase to the skill point cap for free players as well, and this is where CCP plan on hooking players, so to speak.
Previously, free players have been limited to a 5 million skill point cap, with subscribing players (Omegas) having no restrictions whatsoever. Under the new system, buying a single month of subscription will permanently upgrade your account, giving you permanent access to a 20m point cap even if you aren't paying monthly. This effectively creates a new tier of paid, but non-subscribing players. Betas, perhaps?
While highly specialised variant ship hulls and capital-class ships such as carriers will remain the exclusive domain of subscribers, this is a major set of changes that could well change the balance of power in Eve Online.
Eve Online is free to play, with an optional £10/$15 subscription.