|Things have been going well on the ship balancing front as we ramp up to our winter expansion in the coming months. We began earlier this year with rebalancing combat frigates for Inferno, and then delivered improved mining barges through CCP Tallest. We also gave you attack frigates and rookie ship changes despite summer vacations taking many staff away. Thatís a total of 19 ships, which is not too shabby to start with, considering itís a little less than 10% of all available EVE Online vessels. Adding CCP Fozzie to our team has been a great aid in getting things moving along, a bit like hiring an extra half-naked loud hairy vocalist to a heavy metal band. Plus, he doesn't eat much (a few peanuts we launch at him in the morning do the trick), and usually he sleeps in a dark corner somewhere and works 22 hours a day. Not a bad deal.
Despite being happy with our first round of balancing changes, work has barely started and we really want to ramp things up for the next expansion. So, letís check what you are getting for winter.
David versus Goliath (16 ships)
Frigates have the highest balancing priority so far, and the experience gained with Inferno is definitely going to be put into good use here. Here is the updated list which has changed a little since Fanfest 2012.
- Remaining combat frigates: Kestrel, Tristan and Breacher. Previously expected to become missile ships, we decided to keep their role in the same category as the Tormentor, Punisher, Merlin, Incursus and Rifter for consistency and simplicity purposes. The Kestrel will now have a new long range bonus. The Tristan is being overhauled into a true drone boat, while the Breacher becomes a resilient close range missile platform thanks to its shield boost amount per level. Would you like to know more?
- Exploration / scanning frigates: Magnate, Heron, Imicus, Probe. All of these ships are now properly focused by having mini-profession bonuses, increased probe scan strength and far better slot layouts in general. Would you like to know more?
- Disruption frigates: Crucifier, Griffin, Maulus, Vigil. The Crucifier is now fully dedicated to tracking disruption. The Griffin bonus remains unchanged, but has a better slot layout. The Maulus loses the hybrid damage bonus and specializes in sensor dampening with drone support, while the Vigil will no longer have a speed bonus and will focus on target painting. Would you like to know more?
- Support frigates: Inquisitor, Bantam, Navitas, Burst. A mix of formerly known missile and mining frigates that have been revamped to have logistics capabilities mounted on small, mobile hulls. Combined with a small remote armor repairer and shield transfer overhaul, it means new pilots or people interested in logistics support will now have a proper upgrade path all the way to the famously known Tech 2 logistic cruisers. Such a change will also dramatically shake up combat due to introducing repairing capabilities on small scale frigate fleets. Would you like to know more?
- ORE frigate: Unable to mount Strip Miners, it will neither have the yield, ore hold or resilience of the Mining Barges. Instead, it will focus on mobility for ore retrieval in hostile space (read ninja mining), as well as acting as a stepping stone for new pilots. Keep an eye on ďFeatures & IdeasĒ forums for more information on this hull. Please refer to one of our previous blogs to see concept art of it
Lethal thrashing (8 ships)
As hinted at in a previous blog, destroyers are also receiving some well-deserved love.
- Existing destroyers: Coercer, Cormorant, Catalyst, Thrasher. Formerly known as Tier 1 destroyers, they are mainly in good shape since their first buff in Crucible. There are still a few points that need to be looked at before we can move on. Would you like to know more?
- New destroyers: while the exact attributes are not ready for review so far we can explain their roles a bit more than in the previous blog. Main roles will focus on medium range damage projection through drones and missiles. Amarr and Gallente will most likely have fully bonused flights of light drones to play with while being supported by several turret slots. Caldari and Minmatar will boast high-slots fully loaded with missile launchers. Slot layout is expected to be 13 in total with overall speed reduced and signature radius increased compared to existing existing destroyer hulls. In all cases please remember this still is work in progress; a new ďFeatures & IdeasĒ forum thread will be opened when more details are ready for public review.
Cruising full speed (16 ships)
Due to the ship balancing team's excellent work during the summer we are able to move ahead of schedule and revamp all Tech 1 cruisers for winter. Tech 1 cruisers have fallen out of favor over time as new ship classes, like the new battlecruisers, have come along and made their role less useful in many cases. As a general rule of thumb we would like to change layout to 13-14 slots on all cruisers, slightly increase EHP and significantly improve mobility to make them viable against battlecruisers. Exact attributes are to be unveiled at a later date.
- Support cruisers: Augoror, Osprey, Exequror, Scythe. These almost extinct hulls will see a new purpose for being properly refurbished as Tech 1 logistic ships. With removing their current mining role, our goal is to make them useful enough to be actively picked in fleets when Tech 2 logistics are not available instead of having the FC sending you back to your momma. CCP Fozzie will post new details soon (if he hasnít already, for he is a rabid animal), so keep an eye on the ďFeatures & IdeasĒ forum section.
- Disruption cruisers: Arbitrator, Blackbird, Celestis, Bellicose. Our plan is to turn the Arbitrator and Bellicose into combat / EW hybrids (a bit like combat recons if you will), while the Blackbird and Celestis are more suited for fleet duty. The Arbitrator is quite good, but will receive a boost to be kept on par with the other revamped cruisers so it doesnít become sad. The Blackbird is quite good so no major changes will happen here. The Celestis could use some real love due to the poor state of dampeners so expect the hybrid damage bonus to go away and we will expand on this in more detail in the future. The Bellicose will combine target painting with missiles on a mean, fast hull that will resemble the Caracal as an anti-frigate platform.
- Attack cruisers: Omen, Caracal, Thorax, Stabber. We want to clearly revamp these four ships to be dedicated to speed and damage. The Omen must be one of the most frustrating ships to fit so we are going to look at it. Like CCP Guard, it should be a mean miniaturized version of the Armageddon, not a public target for bad-taste midget tossing jokes. The Caracal is also good, but again, could use a tweak in regards to fitting and mobility to make better use of its damage projection. The Thorax will be revamped to fit the attack class role which means making sure its mobile enough to punch your face at close range without wasting a ship bonus dedicated to Microwarpdrive capacitor usage. The Stabber will most likely have its speed bonus integrated into the hull to make room for something more dedicated to Minmatar combat doctrine Ė some of you will ponder, surely that must be a salvaging bonus?
- Combat cruisers: Maller, Moa, Vexor, Rupture. Poor, sad Maller, your whole existence is a tragedy. Please let us put an end to this travesty by properly turning you into a mini-Abaddon, with an armor resistance and laser damage bonus to actually serve as something else than bait. The beautifully sleek shaped Moa has two options, just like the Merlin before it: either close range role with a shield resistance and hybrid turret damage combination, or sniping duty with hybrid turret damage and range synergy. Play testing and feedback will tell which one is picked. The Vexor is a good ship, and will receive some resilience boosts to fit into the new combat role. The Rupture, while staying a solid and versatile choice, could use more resilience and speed as well.
In the end
So all things being equal, we will be giving you 40 revamped hulls to play with this winter which is around 20% of all EVE Online ships. Not only does this allow new players to be more competitive from the start, it also ties well with Factional Warfare revamps and gives everyone more excuses to shoot others in the face while singing Christmas carols. It also gets us so much closer of the next long awaited ship class that needs to be purified with fire: battlecruisers. Prophecy, Ferox, Brutix, Cyclone, we know how you feel. Drake and Hurricane, we are coming for you too.
As a reminder, we would like to state there are no skill changes planned for the winter expansion - your Destroyers and Battlecruisers skills are safe for now, as we are not adjusting spaceship command skill trees until we are done with the Battlecruiser class.
Tired of reading, want to participate in balancing discussion? Then donít hesitate to hop in the forum threads mentioned above and give constructive feedback. CCP Fozzie and I are on call. Want to actually test the ships and shoot some Devs in the process? Then come to Duality on the 19th-21st of September, where our first round of play testing will take place: all frigates and existing destroyers will be available for players to use Ė except the ORE frig, new destroyers and cruisers, which will be looked at later. As mentioned above, many Devs will also hop in to give you a chance to get sweet, sweet revenge for altering your preferred hull. Gotta catch em all! Please see this wiki article on how to connect to Duality.
Before we forget, since we also love shiny pictures, here is a small summary on how the revamped ship role layout looks like.
Hang on, whatís that on the background? Looks familiar, letís have a better look at it shall we?
As the icing on the cake from our Art department (many thanks to all the people involved, including the amazing CCP Phor), we would like to let you know that the many cries of despair from Stabber / Vagabond pilots have been heard, and you will also get revamped models as part of the winter deal.