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Published December 5, 2012

So: Retribution has been deployed. There were a few hiccups - that accidental triage nerfwormhole effects, and the breakdown of chat windows (local included) - but CCP jumped on them fairly quickly. Boot.ini jokes seem laughably dated, and your long-train skills are no longer necessary in the queue.

Most of us have had a chance to start forming opinions. Let’s take a magical journey through the patch notes and see what we think so far.

Rebalancing

T1 cruisers, frigates, and destroyers, all overhauled to one degree or another. Some players find it easy to gloss over these changes. It’s a funny, really, and illustrates the fickle nature of the MMO player quite well. EVE players spent years practically begging for useless ships and weapons to be made useful. Titans were broken upon implementation and took half a decade to bring to heel. Remember the Destroyers and Assault Frigates? Blasters? Old CCP was a picture of neglect when it came to their spaceships.

Now we live in a land of plenty, with dozens of ships tweaked or overhauled completely with every release, and we almost take it for granted. Rebalancing fatigue is becoming a thing! So, let’s be clear: Retribution is a radical overhaul to a LOT of ships and it will improve the player experience drastically. It is a little odd that they nerfed the Hurricane rather than the Drake, but I, for one, can’t wait to fly the new Thorax around. And hey, a useful Celestis!

Also, the logi frigates are insane. Get ready for unkillable swarms of them.

Bounties

This is the feature I’m most excited about. Who doesn’t want to play Boba Fett? I've done a bit of this for Goonswarm earlier in the year, with internally-paid bounties. Running locators, establishing patterns, stalking your target and moving the necessary ships and characters into position... frankly, it’s a hell of a lot of fun. It seems unlikely bounty hunting, as a profession, will return anything like the isk/hour of ratting or even mining, but it's certainly worth hoping for. I expect many of us will be grinding for locator agents in the coming days. FYI, there’s a funny little station in Akonoinen with two level 3 locator agents inside. You're welcome. [Editor's note: There are also two in Isikano IX - Moon 17, as well as two in separate stations in Airkio and Nourvukaiken.; all six are level 4]

Maybe you don't have the time or energy to go hunting, but you can throw a wad of cash into a bounty on someone you hate and enjoy knowing they'll be looking over their shoulder for a while. I expect that the bounty hunting system being used for “bounty hunting” is only the tip of the iceberg. It incentivizes combat. It's a source of drama. God knows what someone like Mynnna or Aryth will do with it.

Crimewatch

EVE’s security status/CONCORD/Crimewatch system is a Byzantine monstrosity, a headache-inducing agglomeration of rules, exceptions to said rules, and dumb pop-up queries. It’s enough to scare someone into "playing it safe" for good. Retribution is a good first step towards ameliorating the problem. By making actions and their consequences clear, CCP is letting us expend our energy on scheming and murder, instead of looking up strange highsec ganking rules on a wiki.

There’s a bittervet contingent that objects to making what was obtuse clear because it takes away some of the advantage of experience. These people are awful. Incidentally, not being able to permanently set your safety setting is a little annoying, but not the awful mistake folks are characterizing it to be.

Some innovative folks in Amarr have already figured out how the revamped Crimewatch can be used to surprise the unwary. Incidentally, suicide ganking is what I spend most of my time in this game doing. I’m eager to test the new system to its limit.

New Ships

The new destroyers are sexy as hell and just as useful as the existing four. What more is there to say? I’m no EVEfit magus or Pyfa pro, but they’re a great little addition. The mining frigate is cute and potentially useful, and the new Stabber, Megathron and Tempest hulls look great.

Little Things

A lot of stuff slipped in here, huh? From the obvious combat interface fixes - moving the notifications window is a massive improvement in and of itself - to the small stuff like fixing the Afterburner skill, we’re seeing a broad swathe of tweaks that will affect almost everyone who undocks. The tracking camera rules, salvage drones are useful, and our Jita market warriors will notice a change or two, as well. Hell, named corpses will impact my gameplay.

I'm a big fan of the new sounds and the inventory improvements, as well. I've even turned the music on. Madness, I know.

Conclusions

Retribution is solid. There’s no Apocrypha wormhole space or Dominion sov system we can confidently point at and say “this will change everything”, and yet the little things do add up. Maybe it lacks in radical changes or groundbreaking new features, and for that reason it can feel underwhelming, but Retribution is an absolutely necessary upgrade for EVE. It's no Crucible, but it is a step up from Inferno.

As with most expansions, it’ll be awhile before anyone can deliver a “conclusive” verdict. The Inferno FW system was revealed to be fatally flawed only after weeks of exposure to the playerbase. The new inventory UI had a terrible release but now works brilliantly. Will the new bounty, Crimewatch and killrights systems withstand the fierce pressures of the sandbox? Will they enrich EVE, or are they lemons? We can’t know yet. Honestly, they're a bit too minor to hang an entire expansion on, and hopefully next year we'll see some truly ambitious work from CCP. Still, there’s enough here to have been worth the wait.

Alikchi
I play the video game "EVE Online" with an emphasis on suicide ganking and the metagame. I'm interested in history, politics and culture. Follow me on Twitter for my retweets of other peoples' jokes at @alikchialeika.

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