You might have heard about the fictional hook of Eve Online’s new expansion, the fruitily named Rubicon - dangerous and forbidden ghost sites, which promise unpreceded technological discoveries. But you couldn’t possibly have guessed what it’ll build to - a race to reach and colonise new tracts of space in a game where land, in an abstract sense, is everything.
Over the course of Eve’s next few free expansions, players will begin harvesting and hoarding blueprints, implants and other resources necessary in the drive to build the game’s very first Star Gates - the means to travel to as-yet unpopulated new galaxies.
The process will be almost entirely player-driven, in typical Eve fashion. Which means that some other Eve mainstays are likely to crop up too: espionage, sabotage, and the all-costs defence of jealously-guarded secrets. CCP are rubbing their hands together in anticipation of lifting Eve’s political scales into their air and tossing them through a warp gate to see which way they land.
“At some level there is this very intricate balance of power that’s been going on in Nullsec for many years,” CCP’s David Reid told VG247. “We’re going to open up a whole new gold rush if you will. There’s going to be a race to build the first Star Gate, and the corporation that do that are going to be the first to plant their ‘flag’ on the hills of new systems if you will.”
If the first part of the process is Eve’s space race, then the competition that begins on the other side of the Gates will be the colonisation of America.
“If you think about the early colonisation of our world, there was great reward, but there was also tremendous risk,” said Reid. “I mean, who knows what you’re going to find on the other side of that Star Gate? There’s any number of things that could and will happen.
“Some of these colonisation efforts will be wildly profitable, some of them will end in the modern analogy of the Donner Party in America colonisation, where they were snowed in and it was quite a disaster. That level of choice and consequence, loss and victory is pretty unique to Eve and we just want to amplify that. We want to make the absolute value of these things even bigger than players are seeing today.”
CCP don’t expect players to be able to pass through a Star Gate until another couple of expansions have been released: it’ll take time to find the ghost sites, and even more of it to work out how all of the pieces fit together. But that sense of “mystery and wonder and risk” is something the developers are happy to nurture.
“We’re certainly not going to spoil it, because there are genuinely few things in video games now where people can be surprised,” said Reid. “There’s a big internet, millions of people playing and posting walkthroughs on YouTube and what-now, but we have an opportunity to deliver some real surprise in this game and that’s something we want to stick to.”
As VG247 astutely note, it’s the intergalactic equivalent of the initial confusion around Minecraft’s Nether world. But where Mojang’s mystery fostered wiki-led collaboration, Eve’s will be very much a competition. Is it a race you’ll want to be a part of, or watch from a safe seat?