High sec.

Two words that conjure up images of miners and missioners. In other words, people taking part in EVE’s player versus environment content. Content that, in my experience, is useful but without challenge. Hell, to put it bluntly, it is too damn easy.

My Past

Now before I go into what my own ideal PvE experience would entail, allow me to go over my own history with regards to both mining and missions in EVE.

I started playing EVE back in 2006. Like many other players, I stayed in my “safe” NPC corporation and followed the advice of many of the veterans there.  That advice was to stay put and learn how to mine and mission while training learning skills (remember those?), until some mythical point in time when “you can be useful in pvp” or “are able to join a good corp.”

Mining was pretty straightforward to grasp. Land near rocks, lock on, use mining lasers, get ore. This was followed by train X skill to get a better ship to mine with, Y skill to improve my yield from refining and Z skill to allow me to use T2 mining crystals. Around this time the need for an alt, or a friend to move ore, developed. Before you know it your logistical chain is all set up and you are making money from the refined minerals, or using them to build ships and ammo for yourself and friends. The only challenge is finding belts that are not frequented by bot armadas.

Missioning was even easier to understand. Especially with the then-nascent EVE Survival site. It was, and still is, a matter of knowing what damage to tank, what damage to deal, and what not to shoot first. I found myself looking for some challenge, using a Rokh of all things, which way back was a terrible idea due to hybrids not being the best of weapons.

Your Present

Nowadays, in addition to mining and mission running (which really have not changed much in seven years), you have incursions. Incursions are group PvE content against NPCs that actively use electronic and capacitor warfare to easily break an unwary group.

Despite changes made by CCP in the past couple of years, including the addition of an element of randomisation, incursions have been reduced to something simple to run with the minimum of thought as long as everyone is fit a particular way (often blingy), understands their role, and follows the commands of their raid leader (or FC if you want to be nice about it).

One positive that I have seen come out of incursions is an increasing number of pilots that, when PvPing following a stint doing incursions, know how to follow orders, understand broadcasts, are pretty good logistics pilots and have even grasped the importance of transversal.


Our Future

For me, and I say as this someone who does not PvE in EVE and has not for several years, I would love to see better, more challenging experiences; things that would make me want to engage in PvE in EVE. And not for any particular reward beyond a sense of satisfaction that I, and a group of my friends, overcame something together. Something that evokes the same type of emotion achieved after triumphing in a particularly hard PvP encounter.

Personally I think missions against NPCs that are fit for PvP, that react more like players to your actions or ship types would be great. NPCs that would require a small group to work against, NPCs that would be variable enough that you could not min/max against them. Yes, this is something you see touted around quite a lot, and yes it is something would require a huge AI rework – dev time that arguably could be spent better elsewhere – but what attracted me to EVE in the first place was spaceships. Not the PvP, but spaceships. And if the PvE was as interesting as the PvP can be, I would probably still be doing it today. That would be worth dev time in my opinion.

Obviously the above is a pipe dream if I am truly honest, so how about a refactor of combat missions at level 3 and higher that replaces the current rats with ones that utilise the Sansha AI? Fewer rats and more group activity could possibly provide “mission” corps an actual reason to exist, as well as teach players the positives I listed above that are currently learned in incursions. Such a change would also have to feature a refactor of mission income to accommodate groups, but as to how such a thing should work, I am no economist.

It is my experience that PvE in EVE is easy. You do it to make ISK, or to get the minerals to build “stuff”, or maybe as a way to socialise with a group of people who share your ideals. But you most certainly do not do it as a challenge and I think that should change. Games should make you think. If you disagree with me, then let me know in the comments, while you AFK just one more mission.

Tags: mangala, pve, rvb

About the author

Mangala Solaris

Mangala Solaris has been playing EVE since 2006. In his time in EVE, he have been a missioner, a miner, a scammer, a trader & even a null bear, however over the past 4 years or so Mangala has been heavily involved in Red Versus Blue, and more recently has become one the key figures in the NPSI communities of EVE. Somehow in addition to all of this, he finds time to represent the players as a member of CSM 9.

  • Kamar Raimo

    PVE certainly could be better and more engaging. Maybe even competitive like incursions. While I’m on the subject, it would be about time to have something else instead of incursions. Serpentis raids, Guristas marauding gangs, Blood Raider capsuleer hunters and so forth. One thing that should definitely happen is, that it should be impossible to AFK-run missions and especially not nullsec sites.

  • Paul

    I would love to see exploration become REAL exploration. Something like you find a site and when you clear it you get a vague reference to another site that you have to actually find. You’ll get no specific clues only a vague statement that there is something in a system within X light years of the current system, near a {insert planet type or whatever celestial} orbiting a certain type of star, which you’ll then have to scan down. Then, when you find it, you get something that you’ll need to use research skills (or do some other skill intensive thing akin to invention) of some type to research the artifact you find which in turn sends you on to another site, and so and so on.

    Now that scanning is easy, lets add something that will take, if not skill then experience, to do well.

  • Druur Monakh

    There is a place for easy PvE – something to do when you don’t have the frame of mind for more demanding activities, yet still want something do which is EVE. Was it CCP Soundwave who once said that mining is a very relaxing activity to do when you’re hung over on a sunday morning? One of the CCP folks.

    But in general I agree that PVE is too undemanding. At the end of my missioning phase, I ran missions in deliberately borderline-capable ships, just to challenge myself with the possibility of losing. I did Incursions for one evening, but even the mad ISK didn’t offset the fact that they were essentially glorified raids – group-run L4s were more fun because at least the latter offered more wiggle room for personal creativity (resp. inaptitude).

    I don’t know, however, if more engaging PvE is that easy. From what I read about other MMOs (which is enough to make me not wanting to play them), it appears to be nigh impossible to make NPCs which are as deadly and unpredictable as actual players. … or other MMOs didn’t try because it would annoy their existing player base…

    Ultimately, I don’t have a good answer to this.

  • There has always been a lack of incentive for players to group up to engage in PvE activities.

    The lack of incentive to group up is easily addressed by CCP. In a game like WoW, grouping is incentivised through distinct and meaningful roles that must be filled before a group can succeed. For example, if you wanted to run a 5 man dungeon, you have to have a tank capable of gaining and holding NPC aggro, a healer capable of keeping the group alive, and enough dps to kill the NPC enemies and bosses. The incentive is the rewards gained at the end of the dungeon, which you can only get by working as a team. Incursions were a step in the right direction, but did not do enough. In a game like WoW, it would be inconceivable to attempt a raid without several people in the tank role, but that is exactly what we do in EVE. In incursions, everyone fills several roles where in other games they could only fill 1. The dps is expected to tank and deal damage. The healers are expected to tank and heal. With the mechanics of EVE, there is no dedicated tank role. And there is no reason to have one, when even the logi can tank.

    I am not saying that EVE needs to be a theme-park style game, but there is a need for a PvE activity that requires more roles than just dps and logi.

  • Saint

    All PvE in High Sec is easy from the point of view of someone that has 7 years of training behind them. Start a new toon and see how long it takes before you can realistically run level 4 missions with the ease you’re describing. Its a surpsingly long time.

    Sure, making l4s more interesting and more variable is required, however they should not be made more difficult, becuase you’re just raising a barrier for new players to actually make enough cash to go and do “more interesting” things to cater to a group of vets, who won’t really be doing this content anyway.

    By all means have more PvE events like you describe, to help pad out PvE in High Sec, but have them as additional items, not as a replacement to the current l4s, which just need a bit of love.