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Eve Echoes - first impressions to play

Now, with the release of Eve Echoes, CCP and Netease have created an all-new version of the space MMO made specifically for mobile devices. Eve Echoes is more than just a socket for the PC version, it is a standalone product set in the same massive universe of Eve Online with over 8,000 solar systems and over 100 ship types. With the board empty at launch, it's an opportunity for veteran players and newcomers alike to find their way to New Eden.

I had the opportunity to transfer my consciousness to a clone two days before launch and spent hours looking at what Eve Echoes had to offer. I spent most of that time getting used to my new skin, even though I never got a chance to take over the galaxy (I probably never will), I got a sense of what players would experience as they start their new life in Echo Echoes.

Personality invention

You can only see your character once in all in Eve Echoes, so it's not surprising that character creation is somewhat limited. Four species are available to choose from, each divided into four subspecies. Each faction has a backstory of three or four camels. Most importantly, your faction choice determines the starting ship. Each faction is divided into three subspecies, but these do nothing but add some background flavor and character display options.

You also configure CreoDron, your smart assistant. There are a total of six voices to choose from, and to see how you will hear them in class, choose the one you like best. Oh, and don't forget to name your character and CreoDron.

In the cockpit

It's been a few years since I last jumped into Eve online and tried to make a living in New Eden. However, when I first signed up with Eve Echoes, I was greeted by a familiar yet different feeling. It was like trading in a 2003 Chevy Malibu for an all-new model. The new car still had the same gauges, but had been moved, and many of the buttons and knobs had been replaced with touchscreens and digital displays.

Likewise, with the help of NetEase, CCP has worked hard to create an updated user interface for Eve Echoes. Not only does this provide a more consistent look and feel across the game's myriad menus and systems, but it also leverages the NetEase experience to adapt the interface for use on mobile devices.

Your ship's default view has a front and center HUD carousel, giving Eve Online players a familiar picture of the current state of their ship. This HUD display shows important information such as shield status, armor, capacitor charge and vessel speed. To the right of the functions are the icons representing the excavators attached to your ship, available for easy activation with a flick of your thumb.

There is also a summary icon on the right side of the screen. Pressing this will expand or collapse the list of all nearby creatures, be it another ship, celestial body, station or other point of interest. The overview is useful for sailing with your ship; Clicking an item in the list displays a context-sensitive menu of available actions. This includes starting to turn to a different location, pulling a mining front off a celestial body, stabilizing the target, and collecting loot after the fight.

The same pop-up function outside the overview also applies. Clicking on a ship or other object on the screen opens a radial menu with a context menu of actions you can take. Clicking and holding the target will bring up a dashboard if there is one for that item. All other menus follow the same routine, ensuring a uniform feel throughout the user interface.

A few bells and whistles were also thrown into the facade. Something as simple as the Easy Lock popup button appears on the screen when your target computer is not fully saturated, allowing you to lock multiple targets with one click. This kind of quality of life improvement makes the game more accessible to new players without making major changes to the gameplay that experienced EO players are used to. And while we're on the subject of keeping these vets happy, things like manual locking and maneuvering ships are still around.

Into The Unknown

Your smart assistant is your helpful companion from the first time you log into the game. For the first time, your IA will guide you through the basic manual and teach you how to navigate using the overview menu. From there, he takes you to a station and presents you the screen with the main character, where he shows you how to access your inventory, upgrade your ship's outfit, and improve your skills and technical level. The basic tutorial ends with a quick combat lesson.

From there it is up to you to find your own way to the New Eden. Newbies to New Eden can continue their training by going through several advanced education programs that serve as a quick guide to getting started. Performing tasks in advanced tutorials will familiarize you with mining, combat, manufacturing, and an already growing list of businesses. The tutorial is a great refresher for anyone who's been away from Eve for a while, but any seasoned vet can skip it and skip straight to his favorite method of living among the stars. Whether you choose to complete advanced tutorials, IA will replace the bottom left of the screen and will always be available if you need quick help with a topic.

Like many players, I spent much of my time in Eve Echoes wandering around and completing matches, most of which destroyed one or the other opponent. I've never taken part in any of the legendary battles that Eve Online is famous for, but even I can say the battle has been simplified (aka elation if you're a veteran of Eve Battle) to serve the casual gamer. Combat is more about managing resources than controlling a ship. Since the combat focus is to stay within the optimal firing range of your weapons instead of rolling the barrel to avoid incoming fire, putting your ship on automatic target rotation allows you to focus on managing attacking and defending units. Even in the early stages of the game, where the ships are light in the correct openings, it is still impossible to control all of your units without draining the capacitors, which requires at least a little bit of attention from the player to survive in a long deadlock.

Simplify things for the masses

Much of what Eve Online has to offer has translated well into the mobile world. If I'd never heard of Eve Online and found Echoes in the App Store, it would be easy to believe the game was just another mobile game among the fans. For starters, Eve Echoes might mistake it for idle clicker-esque gameplay - turn on autopilot at your destination, lock your targets with ease, control your weapons and collect your loot. The mining process has been simplified to facilitate daily collecting rituals, and Eve's timed skill progression will easily satisfy the player who only visits the game two or three times a week.

Closing thoughts

Even with a few days starting from scratch, I had barely scratched the surface of what Eve Echoes had to offer, but I saw enough similarities between Echoes and her older brother to know that CCP is her recipe for the success I had on Eve Online thought had not been shaken off.

The biggest question I have right now is what kind of players will Eve Echoes attract and keep? There were already more than five million registered players before launch, so clearly current Eve Online players aren't just chewing to play. With the new launch, all players were equal (at least for a few hours), so I could see how retired or retired players could get together to watch Echoes. Then there is the polished mobile title call to bring the average mobile operator.

These player groups essentially don't mix well. Regardless of a fresh start, the dedicated players will outgrow the regular players, but at least for a short while, we should all be able to coexist in High Sec. But would the most dedicated Eve players be willing to forgo the thousands of hours (and dollars) they've spent and stick with what appears to be a simplified version of what they already have? And if they stay, do they leave room for the average player to navigate their way? We'll be back in a week or two with a final review that will provide some insights into these questions, as well as more details on how successfully CCP and NetEase have created New Eden in the mobile world. MMOtank will provide you with high-quality EVE Echoes ISK services with cheapest price, 365/24/7 Online, fast and reliable delivery.