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Game Info:

EVE Online
Developer: CCP Games
Publisher: CCP Games
Release date: May 6th, 2003
Available on: PC
Genre: MMO, Sci-fi, Real-time space simulator
Rating: PEGI 12+, ESRB: T
Multiplayer only
Monthly fee (varies): the new expansions are included in the monthly subscription and play-time is buyable also with in-game money.

EVE ONLINE is a massive sci-fi MMO that offers a single universe with well over ten thousand  people online simultaneously. Released back in 2003 and developed by an Iceland-based company, CCP, EVE has established a firm base in the MMO field by offering player-driven content and constant large-scale updates to the game, occurring as often as every half-a-year. This has created a mediocre sized but an exceptionally loyal EVE fan base, when compared to the rest of the MMO scene. 

As Earth had been robbed of its resources, human civilization sought out to inhabit space. A gigantic wormhole was enslaved to reach outer space through a gate called EVE, which collapsed in the middle of the colonization process. The explorers were cut off from their home planet and a dark age began. From this era of development and establishment, four player-based nations rose: Amarr, a theocratic nation, enslaving less technologically advanced human nations including the tribal nations of Minmatar, who later managed to unite and succeeded in fighting for independence from their abusing overlords.  In a similar manner the democratic Gallente Federation had a major scale conflict with the totalitarian government of Caldari, whom they shared their home system with. This creates an on-going conflict where the Gallente and Minmatar are at war with the Caldari and Amarr.

The vast sandbox of EVE is divided into solar systems, which are connected through star-gates. Each system consists of stations, asteroid belts, planets, and other celestial objects. The systems are characterized by a security status, which vaguely defines which fields are most suitable for PvP (player versus player) and which for PvE (player versus environment). High security space is guarded by non-player controlled starships and turrets, which seek to prevent any player conflict within their borders. Low security space offers minimal security (mostly turrets at the star-gates) and null security really means what it says: the law of the strongest truly applies. In the cold expanses of the EVE space, war and profit are the key words.  Players are constantly under danger, as even in high security space a juicy cargo ship will quickly get jumped on by suiciding pirates and the cargo will be quickly snatched by the supporting fleet. There are no discrete player classes; one can become a trader, excelling at making profit by hauling cargo to the highest bidder or by finding a good money hole in the player-driven consumer markets. Manufacturers will be producing goods out of raw materials provided by the miners, who are constantly harassed by pirates seeking for easy prey from the asteroid belts. Players in factional warfare will be engaged in smaller scale PvP-combat, pirates and guns for hire perform skirmish missions all over the EVE space, and null sec (security status 0.0) space offers the grandeur of battles with possibly thousands of players engaged in a single combat, where the massive player-run coalitions fight for control. 

Highlights:
Strong Points: New content regularly and an established and unique MMO sandbox concept
Weak Points: Cruel and unforgiving, no realistic options for casual game play and at times stressful
Moral Warnings: Questionable approach to faith, player harassing relatively common and even to a certain extent sanctioned by the developer

Player skill development happens in real-time, meaning that skill points are gained at a rate per real-life hour, with an initial speed boost in the creation of a fresh player character. A dedicated EVE player will spend an equal amount of time shuffling through Excel spreadsheets to maximize income, checking mobile apps on how their character is developing, going through kill-boards for the latest PvP news and forums for the hottest ways to customize your ship as in the actual game universe itself.

EVE is by no means a flight simulator. The view is isometric with kind of bulky controls for controlling your ship and each pilot controls a ship of size ranging from small agile frigates to massive capital class ships with fearsome firepower.  The main flight controls are the general direction of your ship and the speed and active modules you’re currently using. However, knowing the rules of engagement and game mechanics are essential for a successful EVE pilot. Often a clever person flying a nimble ship can turn the tide of the battle against a clumsy battleship relying on sheer mass and expensive modules. New EVE players will inevitably learn this the hard way: never fly anything you can’t afford to lose. The insurance even at its more expensive stages will be of little comfort if and when your precious new big ship goes pop. The atmosphere of flying in space is supported by a rather peaceful ambient background music while the sound effects are rather minimalistic, offering just vague explosions and rumble. An in-station virtual world is going to be added to EVE in the near future.

For a sci-fi fan EVE is a promised land. Beautiful nebulas, grand scale galactic battles, virtual space drama – it’s all there. It is by no means a casual game. Whatever you do, it’ll be time consuming, and prominent players often set out long-term goals on how to make profit or advance their goals in e.g. PvP-combat. EVE players actually appear to take great pride in the steep learning curve of the game; many newbies will find the hospitability of EVE truly as cold as real space. Nowhere is safe – except when hiding inside space stations, which will effectively reduce the gameplay experience into a mere chat-room visit. CCP actually promotes the sandbox elements as far as allowing almost any kind of player behavior. Some pirates will take great pride in driving “carebears” (a nickname for a lowly PvE-grinder) out of their minds by attacking them for no purpose and causing them to lose precious ships and cargo over and over again. Others will find themselves KoS’d (kill-on-sight) no matter where they go in the EVE universe just because they messed with the wrong people. Sometimes the only remaining solution for somebody stuck in a situation like this is to start a-fresh with a new character or move to an alternative character. People who’ve got scammed out of their money in a bad trade will get little comfort or mostly gloating of others in the public chat. Only the most extreme griefing and harassing will result in official action – and that’s the way the EVE community likes it.

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 86%
Gameplay - 19/20
Graphics - 8/10
Sound - 8/10
Stability - 4/5
Controls - 4/5

Morality Score - 70%
Violence - 8/10
Language - 6/10
Sexual Content - 8/10
Occult/Supernatural - 9/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 4/10

Moral choices in EVE are genuine and very personal, in contrast to pre-scripted games where the player is usually forced to choose to either be the bad or the good guy. Since you're interacting with real people, you'll have to ask yourself: will I attack this seemingly harmless miner I stumbled across? He might be a newbie, boasting in satisfaction as he just got his first higher tier ship with a cargo full of goodies, or he might as well be a bait, ready and equipped with a warp scrambler that'll deny your escape as a support fleet would arrive to take you down. Will you gloat at a PvE-player in general chat, who just had his really expensive customized battleship blown to pieces because he hadn't grasped the utter basics of Rules of Engagement in PvP-combat or will you give him a friendly word of advice in private, hoping he'll learn from the mistake? Sadly I was not able to find a Christian community within EVE, just a few inactive corporations. Christianity in general is presented in a controversial light, although no direct accusations are made. Amarr could be seen as a wrongful image of Christianity, as the theocratic nation is ruled according to a cruel monotheistic hierarchy - a sad view that some people link to Christ. Some missions involve pirate cults and religious fanatics, which can e.g. believe in salvation of EVE through killing everything that moves. This is the general atmosphere in the game: science and power are the keys to salvation, while faith or belief in the supernatural represents madness, oppression and slavery. However, due to the cruelty and spiritual darkness of the EVE world, it could be seen as an excellent opportunity for evangelization by expressing Christ's love and thus shining His light (Philippians 2: 14-15). Selflessness and even simple acts of kindness like helpfulness towards newbies in EVE is scarce, and such a Christ-like attitude would probably be noticed.

In general I would go as far as saying that EVE players are rather cold and driven by either profit or pride in combat. It could be that extreme sandbox aspects bring out the worst in us – with exceptions of course. When there is actual loss involved in a player kill, it does give a certain type of pleasure if analyzed deep down in the human mind. The feeling is totally different from being shot in an online FPS with a relatively short respawn timer or dying in a MMORPG where loss might only indicate slight reduction in item durability or experience gain. Wrong decision at the wrong time might result in waking up in a clone pod way across the galaxy as a result of death, while the successful attackers will blast tens of hours of work spent on a space ship to EVE dust.  For this very reason EVE is also a very stressful experience at times. It may feel as tedious as an actual job, where each second counts between life and death. For people looking for fun and relaxed PvE-action EVE is probably not the best choice. The missions are rather repetitive, unimaginative and there is not much of entertaining PvE-content to play with a group of friends. However, with enough imagination, a group of friends might establish a well profiting company through an opportunity nobody else saw or was able to benefit from. Innovation within the EVE mechanics is the key to victory.  The much praised flexible economic system gives players free hands on developing effective business strategies, which has not gone unnoticed by real-life business executives and economic analysts (Reference 1). The immersive depth of the game is a two-edged sword: while it is highly intriguing, it may cause one to stumble and sin, and we are called to cast aside such activities (Matthew 5: 29-30).

EVE offers a trial period, which is barely enough to scratch the surface. Many will find it too hard, some will find it too cold, and others will fall in love with it. It is definitely a unique experience, but it requires a good bunch of dedication to play properly. For a person looking for a different kind of MMO, EVE is a good place to start looking. I would advice casual gamers to think twice - it is definitely not a game for kids or anybody with a fragile mind. As a Christian I would encourage asking yourself: would this pastime prove out to be an unnecessary burden (Matthew 11: 28-30)?

Reference 1

 

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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