So I mentioned in the last monthly update that Elite Dangerous was featuring in the Dirty Group’s playlist quit heavily at the moment (something that’s quite amazing considering the grouping mechanics aren’t working right now!). And lot of people have been talking about Elite Dangerous (ED) and Star Citizen as “eve killers” over the period of their development. Indeed, when we started playing ED, I was wondering if this was something that would make me quit eve. Now at the risk of ruining the suspense, I’m going to tell you right now that the answer is “nope”, but I wanted to write a little about why I feel this is the case.
First of all I think it’s important to emphasise that no matter what the uneducated or uninformed parrot, ED and eve share very few similarities. They are both in space, have persistent universes and involve PvP. That’s really about it, and to that end you might as well include Starcraft and Star Realms). Eve is an MMO, whereas Elite Dangerous is an Persistent Universe Optional Multiplayer Online game (please note that this is my personal opinion on game classification, and something some people with disagree with. I will vehemently deny, for example, that World of Tanks is an MMO it’s is an MO at best. If someone wants to talk about what an MMO is I am happy to discuss it in the comments; But I digress). Eve shares a lot of control interface with RTS style games (admittedly one with a single unit under your direct command), whereas ED uses (obviously) a space-sim control style. Eve online forces you to be online in a single shard, whereas ED give you the option to be online in a 32 player max local instance. To me that really makes them chalk and cheese.
Both games are hard, that’s for sure. Eve has its notorious learning curve so classically depicted in the line graph. ED so far, seems to love nothing more than to goad you into making a mistake so that it can slap a massive fine on your arse. That difficulty is something which within eve is where I derive a lot of the pleasure I get from the game. Eve is hard, and surviving for almost 7 years is an achievement which I am proud of, surviving and doing well for yourself is something even more special to me.
In ED on the other hand, although the difficulty is inducive to the fun, but does not define it. I think that to me, it’s more the spectacle of the game which fires off those pleasure neurons. Docking in a station is a sight, and the concept of getting a group together to crew a capital ship and its fighter wing deep in the backend of the galaxy is something which really excites me. To gather a crew together and do that would undoubtedly be an amazing achievement and great fun.
But ED doesn’t give me the sense of domination which you get from playing eve, it’s not as harsh (for good reason). If I kill you (or die) in an anaconda (currently the most expensive ship in the game), it will cost you a 0.23% of the anacondas original cost to buy it back again (without equipment). That means that you have neither the sense of loss, nor the sense of destruction in ED as you do in eve, at the end of the day all I have done is inconvenienced you. In eve, were I to kill your Revenant (arguably the most expensive ship in the game) you will lose not only the entire value of the ship, but you might never be able to get it back again (or the reputation you lost). ED also puts a façade (albeit a very good one) where the “Massive” in Massively multiplayer resides for eve. ED limits the number of people within an instance (I believe that this is currently 32, but have no official source). So that you’ll never get the sense of scale which the 5k player battles in eve will give you, or even then 100 man battles. Your wits and skills will only ever be pitted against 31 other people, less if you have a group of friends to play with. And that’s another point. The potential for group play is a little bit neutered when you can only play with 31 other people at most, especially when each friend removes an enemy. If me and 10 of the Dirties are cursing around in our anaconda & escorts, what are the chances of us all ending up in an instance with a hostile force of similar power? Will we just end up shredding 21 individuals? Or a few groups of 5 hopelessly outmatched by our numbers? Or worse will 5 of us be in one instance and 5 in another? I’m not sure that will ever work out.
On the other hand eve will never have the sense of grandeur that ED already has in bucket loads. Let’s face it, eve will never be able to emulate the glory of human innovation that the stations in ED represent. Nor will the play ever be as immersive as ED will be with an oculus rift, the medium just simply won’t allow it. We also have the issue that because of the choices CCP have made in the fundamental design of the game eve is always going to be a little bit detached from the player. Immersion simply isn’t eve’s strongpoint. From a PvP standpoint, fights in ED are also going to be far more player skill intensive than eves fights will ever be. Don’t get me wrong combat in eve is a skill in and of itself, but there are so many other factors in play in these fights that my personal skill will never be the key component in the end result especially in large fleet fights. Sure in a 1v1 my competence will have a fair effect on the result, but never as much as it will in ED. How well I click buttons, know the meta and how long I have been playing can never compete with the raw skill of dogfighting in space. I love the fleet fights in eve, but it’s just a different scale of combat to that of ED.
These are a lot of words that basically are trying to say that ED and eve are different games, and not only that, but they both tickle different pleasure centers in my brain. I could go on pointing out brilliance and flaws in both games, but right now, as they stand ED and eve are not competing for my dedication. It is possible that one day ED could become a direct competitor to eve, with a massive expansion of max concurrent players (let’s say 500 in an instance max), with a full player driven economy and industry/crafting system I might start thinking about packing my eve bags. And sure maybe one day that time will come, but right now I think I would rather just enjoy both games for what they are: different.
Fly in two realities,