The following post was written a few days ago, and is sadly a bit out of date now. Later today I will put out a post detailing the changes which have been made to exploration, and the state of play as of today.
In the last few days I have been talking a lot about the new exploration mechanics (and the changes being made to them). All the posts can be found below:
With only a few days to go now before Odyssey hits the live servers the Dirtys group set out on SiSi to take a look at the newly refurbished profession: Exploration. We have decided to take a short break from Faction Warfare post expansion in order to go and have a look at what we can make with the new sites. Of course as the man with the spreadsheets in our group, that meant some number crunching.
The key objective to our plan is to make money out of doing the hacking and Relic sites on New Eden. There are two main factors in this plan which needed to be worked out.
- What ship?
So far our favourite answer to question 1 is the Vexor. A nice little drone cruiser which gives us 4 highslots for utility, 4 mid slots (dual prop and 2 exploration modules) and a tidy 4 slots tank with a final low slot for damage amplifiers. Of course that is by no means final. The Odyssey expansion page notes that there will be new exploration modules coming with the Expansion, and that might mean that we need something with a different slot layout to accommodate the new mods. But certainly for now, the Vexor is looking like a firm favourite. The bonus is that its comparatively cheap as well which ties in with the answer to question 2:
Probably W-space or Nullsec. Jury’s still out on which of these (or both), that’s why were on SiSi, experimenting. Certainly so far these two have come out with the best profit returns, and the support to group roam format we’ve been looking to do.
So enough of our plans, let’s talk opinions. Exploration specifically. The mini game is fun, if a little bit variable in difficulty. One hack I will be met by a blocking node on the first click, others the core is only 5-6 clicks away from the start, unblocked at all. It seems that you quite often get either ridiculously easy, or incredibly hard. It’s not all luck however, there certainly are some tactics to be found within the game.
The best bit of tactical game play so far surrounds the encrypted nodes. These, when uncovered require a second click to decrypt and reveal their contents. Sometimes this will be an item to help you, other times it will be a blocking node which will lock out all its surrounding nodes from you. The issue is this. If you always decrypt the encrypted nodes as soon as you find them, every so often you will block your onward path by revealing a blocking node. “Ah, easy” you say “just move a few nodes onwards and then decrypt it, so the block does nothing!”. But the issue with this is that again, every so often using this tactic, you will immediately reveal another blocking node right next to encrypted node on your next click. This locks out the encrypted node, restricting you from getting the potential goodies inside it.
Other tactical choices you will need to make includes the path that you will take to ensure you reveal as much as you can of the board before having to engage the blocking nodes. This means that you have the highest chance of revealing equipment to help you in combat, or simply uncovering the Core without having to fight.
It is really good fun, and it encourages group play, not only in that you will require a friend to help scoop loot, but also because there is no way to be effective at hacking, and keep an eye on local. You’re going to need a friend for that or it will take forever.
The mechanics are fun, and the group play aspect is great (eve needs more multiplayer PvE content), there is very little to complain about all in all. However there was one minor gripe that I had with the concept, and that was Geometry.
Some of the Hacking/Archaeology (more hacking I think) have their main nodes ensconced within large geometry items. They look grate, but as anyone who has tried to fly through and asteroid belt knows, eve has some “invisible geometry” issues. I get that the more people you have with you, the less chance of a “loot ejaculation” going in an awkward direction there is. That works fine on the Archaeology sites, where being on the wrong site means nothing more than a few seconds and a few missed cans. However in the afore-mentioned Hacking sites, there can be entire stations which get between you and the loot squirt. There is nothing more frustrating that trying to navigate around a structure to grab loot that is rapidly pissing off into the distance, only to find your rubbing you ship along some invisible barrier which seems to extend in every direction except the direction of away from the fucking loot. I get, and applaud that group play means more loot, but missing out on loot because of frustrating mechanics you can’t even see is very frustrating.
I’ve run about 15-20 sites at this stage, and I’m a big fan of them. Looking forwards to seeing how the evolve during the launch. Speaking of which, it’s about time we got a plethora of dev blogs revealing details of the expansion isn’t it?
Fly like a mime artist,