EVE Online’s free-to-play Arms Race update is live

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EVE Online’s ‘Alpha Clone’ accounts have gotten a major upgrade today, bringing the sprawling space sandbox one step closer to free-to-play. Alpha accounts are essentially trial accounts, letting players experience EVE Online forever, but with some strict limitations in terms of ships, weapons and skills. The Arms Race update pulls back some of these limitations, letting free players finally flit about in higher tier ships and learn more skills.

Until now, Alpha players could only fly 21 different ships, but Arms Race bumps that number up to 145 by removing the faction restrictions and by throwing battleships and battlecruisers into the mix. This doesn’t just add some extra diversity — it means free players will be able to fill fleet roles and explore PvE and PvP activities that were previously out of reach because they had the wrong ship.

You can get a brief taste of all the options now open to free players in the video below.

Of course, being able to buy a ship doesn’t mean you’re able to use it competently. So much of EVE is tied to its skill system, and since Alpha players didn’t have access to the bigger ships, they didn’t need advanced skills. Now they do. More than 100 skills have been tweaked or unlocked.

A skill point cap means that, if you’re playing for free, you still won’t be able to max out all of your skills. So you’ll need to prioritise, upgrade your account to Omega status, buy them from other players or purchase a daily alpha injector, the latter of which nets you a bunch of extra skill points. Ultimately, it means that you’ll either have to become a subscriber or at least spend a little bit of money if you want to get past the cap.

CCP is hoping that Alpha players will now get to experience what EVE’s really like, big ships and all. It’s certainly tempting. The Alpha trial felt like a great introduction to the game, but it was still full of invisible walls and compromises, and I bounced off it pretty quickly. Now I’m thinking about returning.

21 Comments

  1. JarinArenos says:

    This looks like a good deal, and it’ll probably bring in some new people. But EVE’s audience is always going to be inherently limited by the design and culture of the game. The “space is a cruel and unforgiving place” overarching theme is both the primary draw for its core audience, and the primary roadblock to ever reaching a wider audience.

    • automatic says:

      “But EVE’s audience is always going to be inherently limited by the design and culture of the game.”

      Translates to: EVE is still PTW and it’s full of jerks.

      • JarinArenos says:

        “PTW” – did they finally pull the trigger on premium ammo? Or do you mean paying for multiple accounts? I’m a couple years out of the loop here.

        Otherwise – yeah, pretty much. I was being polite. :P

        • Hawkseraph says:

          Technically you can buy the best ammo in the game with money, so you could call EVE “p2w”. The way the game works, though, is that having shiny stuff matter much less than being a good player (or having friends!) does.

          • Sin Vega says:

            The idea of playing to “win” EVE is innately ridiculous to be honest. I mean, just join the biggest corp on day one and you’ve already ‘won’.

          • automatic says:

            I know a lot EVE players are losers but some people actually play games trying to achieve stuff.

          • Sin Vega says:

            Jesus christ you’re petulant whenever this game comes up. Whatever you think EVE did to you, you really need to get over it.

          • automatic says:

            It’s just a reaction to EVE players acquired smug and apparent blindness to the games flaws.
            Everything, including skill points now, is on sale. You can buy game stuff with real money and trade in the game market for anything you want. The more money you put on the game the easier it is to achieve stuff. Is it too hard to admit the game is pay-to-win?

            I had a good time with EVE until I realized it has more bad stuff than good stuff and I have the right to express that opinion anytime I have the chance to. I have the right not to be a fanboy. That’s it.

        • automatic says:

          Last time I played I noticed some modules had top tier variants with no drawbacks. It used to be T2 is better but demands more energy or CPU. Besides that, now with SP market and an infinite source of free accounts to draw SP from it’s pretty much PTW indeed. It was always kind of PTW tbh. Ppl used to say it wasn’t because Plex market is player controlled and noobs died a lot with bling ships, but we all know that game is not about skill. You need skills to play but you can’t win fights only with skills. You either pay for in game cash or you have to sink a lot of time grinding it to buy the stuff you need to have fun.

        • Premium User Badge

          phuzz says:

          According to most Eve players, you ‘win’ Eve by quitting, and you don’t need to pay to do that.

  2. Sin Vega says:

    I’m excited about this (although was on the verge of buying in sometime next week. Or as soon as they let us buy Omega time for less than a month), but I think removing the faction restrictions is a mistake. I enjoyed being of a side, it got me into the world more. Not that I’m bothered about the story, but still.

  3. morganjah says:

    I tired the game for a while but fond the culture way too toxic. Now the biggest appeal to me for Eve is that the more time those people spend in space is the less time they are out in the real world poisoning their neighbor’s cat and making children cry.

    • morganjah says:

      A little late-editing.
      I tried the game for a while but found the culture way too toxic. Now the biggest appeal to me for Eve is that the more time those people spend in space is the less time they are out in the real world poisoning their neighbor’s cat and making children cry.

      • Hawkseraph says:

        I’m curious where you ended up – while the reputation of the game is like that, I’ve never encountered really toxic people – much less than in your average LoL game in any case.

        • morganjah says:

          I encountered many people who would take their Star Destroyer, or whatever it was, and spend twenty minutes chasing down a new player in their used space Kia, who had wandered into the wrong system, just to grief them. I would see people asking for basic help and just get verbally reamed. I mean there were many helpful and decent people, just they were drowned out by the bored jerks.

    • StevieW says:

      Daily downtime leaves plenty of opportunity to poison cats I’m afraid – think I’m up to 12 now.

  4. Artist says:

    Hm, does Eve lose too many active players so they decided to ramp up the freebe stuff? I doubt this is pure goodwill…

    • Premium User Badge

      Nauallis says:

      Goodwill? Nah, it’s marketing. Most of the other major MMOs are either entirely free-to-play for everybody, or are free-to-play for the lowest levels, so that players can try the game.

      EVE is so complex that just having access to Tier 2 frigates and Tier 1 destroyers isn’t going to give you a very good spread on your options within the game. This allows the interested players to get a better feel for the game, but also more opportunity to get sucked in, and be willing to pay month-to-month.

  5. racccoon says:

    This is like trying to eat soup out of the big pot your not going to do it. So they give you a bowl (limited free) you slowly slurp it up and finish, the ones hitting the pot full of soup are players still skill training as they’ve been going on forever. Ccp has a real problem they seem to want to go f2p fully but can’t because of the trap they’ve set by having that soup in pot way too big & way too massively time consuming.

    • Premium User Badge

      phuzz says:

      You can pay real money to buy space money, and use the space money to buy skill injectors to gain any skills you might want (eg, to be able to fly a titan). You’ll also need to be paying real money for a subscription at the same time.
      Or, you could find a way of making space money in the game (on your free account) and use that to pay the subscription and injector fees.
      Sure, having real money makes that process much easier, but earning it in game is an option (and used to be the only option).

      Plus, you can have the most expensive ship in the game, and all the millions of skill points you’d need to fly it and use it effectively, and you’ll probably get ganked (caught and killed) by a bunch of players, because in Eve, numbers are more important than money.

  6. Tim_Fletch says:

    My character was born in 2007, I played probably about a year tops, and still not allowed to use most of my stuff lol. 10 years behind the curve and still can’t use my stuff ><

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