I admit that my enthusiasm for Retribution was low this fall. The biggest interest for me was the new destroyers and revamped cruisers but the rest just felt... meh. Crimewatch? I'm in low sec in a warzone, not really applicable. Bounty Hunting? I've always felt it was impossible to do without being exploitable so I was doubtful CCP could pull it off.
But as the days turned over and October became November, more small features were announced that intrigued me and raised my interest level. UI changes with visible timers, tracking camera, better inventory control, faction warfare changes, etc etc etc. As more information came forth my anticipation grew and I was eager to see what Eve would be like with Retribution.
So, now its been a few days, we can evaluate the expansion in whole and give my impressions.
Summary: Overall a better expansion than Inferno but just below Crucible. Two thumbs up.
Retribution may lack the "jesus feature" to grab player's attentions from afar, but a lot of features in this expansion represent a sea change that should not be underestimated.
Perhaps the feature with the broadest implications that I'm only grasping now is the Bounties and Bounty Hunting. I'll take my hat off to CCP for this one; I did not think a good feature could be done. But the idea of partial payouts for ship kills based on the ship's estimated cost is a masterstroke and very hard (if not near impossible) to manipulate. The result is that placing bounties is not a waste of ISK and actually may end up causing players to be hunted when they might otherwise have been ignored.
But the largest part of Bounties that will cause ripples and aftershocks for months if not years is that (1) you can put a bounty on anyone regardless of sec status and (2) you can place bounties on corporation and alliances. It was only after Retribution landed that I stopped and thought about that. And when I did my reaction was HOLY SHIT.
Consider you are a fabulously wealthy alliance with wallets in the hundreds of trillions. You want to go to war with another alliance. To provide more incentive for your line members to log in and fleet up, you place a few trillion in bounties on the enemy alliance. Now every enemy kill pays ISK to your line members who are participating in fleets. In addition, it pays your allies who come out to help you, and other third parties just to rain on the parade.Win-win.
Another scenario: you are a rich industrialist and getting hounded by a bunch of pirates. You want to hire a small new merc corp to fight back but want to make sure you get your money's worth? Pay the mercs a small fee to come fight but put the rest of the reward as a big bounty on the pirate corp (or individual pirates in case you think they might corp hop). The mercs get paid for killing the enemy ships and are rewarded for the bigger kills. Win-win.
Or let's say someone is being a jerk on tweetfleet. Bounty. Forum scum? Bounty. Cheap PvP tactics? BOUNTY! MUHAHAHAHAH!!
Sorry, lost it there for a moment.
It will be many months before we see what the norm for bounties will be, but I will tip my hat to CCP and say that this has vast potential to change a lot of game and social dynamics, one of the most important being that PvPer's have potential to get paid for PvPing, above and beyond the loot. Win-win.
Like I said earlier, I live in low sec and a lot of these changes bear very little on my day to day existence. That being said, the new visible timers with tooltips in the top left corner are long overdue. The removal of neutral remote reppers that you could not engage were a huge hole to fill in high sec and I heartily approve. Overall people seem to be liking the system so I think I'll go along with that.
New and Improved Ships
I've gone on a lot on this blog about what I think of the tiericide (summary: its a good thing) and the new Destroyers seem balanced overall in my opinion. I applaude the work CCP has done in this area and I encourage them to continue. The revamped ships have made the game feel new and fresh in low sec and that really has sparked a lot of enthusiasm all over.
For something so late in the announcements, it has had the most raving. My only quibble is that the target's hitpoints pixels are a titch small and thus can make telling at a glance the shield/armour/structure balance, but that might be something that I get used to over time. The look is brilliant and the rest are too. Hint icons to tell what is in targeting range? Better damage notifications? More toop tip on modules? Improved inventory control? Easier to buy bulk from loyalty store? And more? Win-win-win.
Faction Warfare Iteration
The jury is going to be out a while to see if the plex changes help encourage more PvP and if the previous patch changes to loyalty point earning can find a balance between being rewarding and being too profitable. So far I'm encouraged that fleets are still going out and fighting each other so we'll keep an eye on things.
While not reaching the heady heights of Apocrypha, I would rate this expansion in the top half of all Eve expansions, perhaps even in the top 25%. Good work CCP.