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Published January 28, 2013

As promised by Higby, Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) has released their six-month roadmap, in the form of a brand new forum. Given the breadth of subjects covered, the format is understandable, but it unfortunately spreads the info out, so I’m here to deliver a one-stop shop, month by month! Feel free to upvote and downvote the threads as you see fit — SOE seems highly responsive to feedback so far, so who knows, if enough players hate something, they might skip it.

January

Much of the January content is nothing new; SOE talked about it in their previous preview of the January LU02 patch. If SOE stays on schedule, we’ll actually get this patch at the end of the month. January has a lot of focus on improving base layout, but a few other goodies as well.

  • Spawn Room Tunnel Systems, to help mitigate spawn camping. They’ll be added to Tech Plants and Amp Stations.
  • For the smaller outposts, more secure spawn rooms, especially with regards to aircraft. This could take the form of overhangs and other vertical cover, to at least let you make it five feet out the door instead of two.
  • A tower redesign with more shields and alternative exits, to make camping them a bit more difficult. This would apply to the watchtower style bases.
  • Defender-only jump pads in certain facilities, primarily Tech Plants and some specific Biolabs.
  • Player invincibility on spawn. The intent is to let players get their bearings and maybe even try to escape before being vaporized, so any hostile action will break the invulnerability.
  • Window plugs. This really means making it more difficult for vehicle weapons to shoot through windows.
  • “No Deploy” zones for AMS-equipped Sunderers. SOE wants to eliminate the ability to place Sunderers in certain places. It’s a big blow for defenders, but hopefully more secure spawn rooms and tunnel systems will help offset the necessity.
  • Render distance based on threat. This is a big deal to players of all sorts, especially air pilots shot down by AA they never saw.
  • Experience incentives. SOE wants to put less emphasis on farming kills out of a spawn and more on players who have been alive and have been doing well. While not mentioned here, a related initiative mentioned in the LU02 preview was to try to reward more experience for objectives as well.
  • On the subject of experience, improvements to how XP sources are displayed.
  • Last but certainly not least, the long-awaited SMGs. They’ll be accessible to all non-MAX classes and will be close range weapons with high ROF and low TTK. While they may (or may not) be redundant for many carbine and shotgun users, they’ll be a welcome addition for Infiltrators who want to do more than play sniper.

February

February is very much a mixed bag. We’ve got a lot of focus on cosmetic and UI elements but plenty of new weapons as well.

  • Account Level Unlocks. Items purchased with Station Cash will be unlocked across all characters on the account that can use them, and it will be retroactive. This does little for players playing multiple factions per server, but it’s a nice perk for someone who opts to start over in the same faction elsewhere.
  • Daily medals and achievements with experience or cert rewards. Reactions here are mixed, with fears that it would encourage less constructive play.
  • Spectator Mode. Not much else to say about that!
  • SOE wants to separate score and experience, part of their ongoing initiative to try to get players less focused on K:D and more focused on objectives.
  • An honest-to-God training area. At first SOE plans for a mere sandbox with all weapons available; there will be no vehicle timers or resource costs, and there will be areas for firing ranges and vehicle courses. In the future they may add tutorials as well. Unfortunately, no feedback from SOE yet as to whether certs will be sandboxed as well or if we’ll have to settle for stock equipment.
  • Community grief reporting. SOE wants more and better ways to identify hackers and other problem players. One current feature is the ability to click a name to report, but they’re actively seeking more ideas, so this is a thread to visit.
  • A better item preview. They specifically identify wanting to allow the preview of camo, decals, etc — no more guessing!
  • A revamp of the loadout screen, to allow for faster changes of and between loadouts.
  • Empire priority system, allowing the game to set “priority level” based on “what activities are taking place there.” While SOE is not entirely clear, the hope is that it will lead to hotspots for more reasons than “There are people fighting here.”
  • Last up for the cosmetic and UI changes, more customization and cosmetic slots for vehicles. As far as shameless money grabs go, I have no problems with this!
  • Now the juicy stuff! First up is the addition of pump-action shotguns. A lively argument has started over what sort of advantage pump-actions should really have over auto or semi-auto, and it’s a valid argument! As one poster states, “With the current TTK in this game I just can’t fathom how these will be unique w/o being OP.”
  • Next on the new weapons list are Empire-specific rocket launchers. Player-guided rockets, swarm missiles, and a charge fire mode are cited as possibilities.
  • The Flash will get some love. Possibilities include more weapon types and a Wraith option for Infiltrators. This is another thread they’re soliciting advice in, so be sure to visit and contribute your ideas.
  • Either the best or the worst part is Orbital Strikes! These would be targeted via a consumable laser designator device with an arming time. The strike itself starts with a few smaller projectiles, and then ramps up over time inside the attach radius.

March

March is a genuine grab-bag, with UI revamps, class revamps and more.

  • Class things up first — the MAX will finally get their flamethrowers back. No doubt everyone expects the NC to get the best ones.
  • Light Assault will get a revamp, with the goal being to “polish and enhance” the class. They’re looking at new tools, abilities, and suit options, as well as the possibility to dual wield weapons... whether that means two pistols or the ability to pack two main weapons is unclear.
  • Part of a first shot at the metagame is player-generated missions. With the appropriate command certs, players will be able to create mission hotspots. Tasks such as “air strike” or “deployment to location” would be available, with bonuses offered to those who complete them. Many players are concerned about abuse; they’ve already seen nonsensical spam in command channels, so it’s an understandable fear.
  • The other first shot at the metagame is a proper continent lock system, including capture of the warpgate. For the time being, you won’t ever be able to take away an Empire’s final warpgate, but otherwise a lock is just what it implies — no entering or attacking by enemies for a period of time.
  • UI revamps include improvement to the map and respawn screens, to give players access to better and more relevant information when trying to pick a spawn.
  • Color-blind support is also on the list, allowing players to setup colors across key elements of the game. Given how similar existing color palettes already are, this helps out more than just color-blind players.
  • A proper cert screen revamp to make it more “efficient and intuitive.” Players are clamoring for that to include more clarity in what certs do — more numbers and less of “X and Y are increased but we’re not saying by how much.”
  • Building on the training zone, a proper tutorial. They want feedback, so if you’ve got ideas to add, hit the thread and post.
  • New items for a new loadout slot, implants. As you’d expect, implants would allow you to customize your character and improve certain attributes. Examples include silent running (no footstep audio), safe landing (longer fall distance before getting hurt) and audio amp (greater spotting distance based on enemy fire). Yet another feedback thread, so submit your ideas.
  • Convenience items, such as cert resets, name changes and server transfers. They’d add these to the depot. They’re looking for more ideas, but if you think sex changes are necessary, don’t bother — it was literally the first post.
  • Finally, ragdoll physics. Your epic ten-kill grenade toss will get that much better.

April

  • We’ll skip the prelude of the other months to deliver the biggest news: Hossin, the first new continent! Then again, it might be hard to get excited... it looks like a depressing swamp!
  • Another big feature, the Interlink Facility. This will be a new base on the scale of Biolabs, Tech Plants and Amp Stations. No base bonus is set yet, so feel free to pitch your ideas in the thread. They DO seem determined to make it unfriendly to vehicles — they tout a “giant radar dish” for cover from air, with “difficult driving lanes” to deter ground vehicles.
  • The Sunderer will get an update. Additional weapon systems are a given; they’re also looking at additional squad spawn certs, such as the ability to ignore the normal deployed Sunderer radii. They’re still brainstorming, so visit the thread if you’ve got an idea.
  • Common Pool heavy pistols, trading damage per shot for ROF. Can’t really fathom why this has to wait until April — they could just do it now by giving everyone the Rebel!
  • Empire-specific run animations. I’m going to have to assume TR will resemble the Roadrunner, while VS will simply float. As to NC? They’ll meander as though they’re drunk.
  • First up for new and revamped UI features is an in-game mail feature.
  • Now you too can annoy all your friends by Tweeting your achievements, or posting them to Facebook, all automatically! Yeah… “meh.”
  • SOE is looking to do some work on outfit recruiting, largely on the UI side. In addition to direct invites, players will now be able to apply to an outfit. If you’ve ever played EVE, just imagine applying to a corp — that seems to be what they’re going for here.
  • Finally, gifting items! No real specifics given beyond that they want to do it, unfortunately.

June

June focuses heavily on vehicles and outfits, with a few other goodies thrown in for good measure.

  • First up for outfits is progression. The general idea is to have outfits earn points as players earn XP, allowing the outfit to rank up. At each rank, the leader could then select a benefit, perk or specialization. They’re looking for ideas, so hop in and contribute.
  • Next up is outfit base capture. Unlike the approach of some other games (show up and be the first to claim), SOE is angling for bases to “belong” based on “top contribution”, whatever that means. SOE still doesn’t know, so it’s another contribution thread.
  • Outfit tournaments. SOE wants a structure for competition for tournaments and e-sports.
  • Building on the above, outfit scoreboards. So far this is definitely not a popular idea, but I’m going to guess the hate is from people who know their outfit is bad and don’t want it proven.
  • On to vehicles, first up is a new one: the Buggy. It’ll be a common pool vehicle like the Sunderer, but meant for four. They’ll feature driver, gunner, passenger, and rumble seat. Soldiers in the last will be able to use their personal weapons and equipment, but will be exposed to enemy gunfire. Some posters are pointing out that Higby stated these would be faction specific, so keep an eye on it — things might change.
  • Per-seat vehicle locking, to give you control over who does what in your tank or liberator.
  • Passenger transport revamps. SOE wants to allow, within limits, players to teleport directly into an open seat. Outside of loading into newly spawned transports, this seems like a bad idea to me… maybe even then.
  • Improved vehicle deconstruction. They’re still working out specifics, but part of it would include a partial cost refund.
  • Last but not least on the vehicle front for the month, they’d like to allow vehicle zoning! No longer will you have to abandon vehicles when switching continents.
  • First up for the random features, player-made decals. An approval process is almost a given, so don’t get your hopes up for a giant penis as your outfit logo.
  • Faction-specific pistols, to supplement the earlier heavy pistol. TR would get a full-auto pistol, NC would get a scatter pistol (“a shotgun and a pistol had a baby”), while VS would get a pistol with a charge-up mechanic.
  • Finally for the month, supply containers. Locked boxes with something inside them — yet another shameless money grab. You’d have to buy a key from the depot to unlock them. Needless to say, this is not a popular idea — at time of writing, dislikes outnumber likes by a 10:1 ratio!

And that’s all folks! The roadmap as posted so far is just a very high-level overview. I'd like to take the time to remind everyone that game development is a fluid and ever-changing process, so everything on the roadmap should not be taken as a guarantee for time of delivery or even of delivery at all!

Mynnna
Seven year veteran & economics guru of EVE Online as well as CSM 8 representative. On the side I play PS2, WOT and Hearthstone.

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