Eve Echoes has been out for close to two months and so far I am finding myself thoroughly enjoying a fresh universe which is begging for new stories to be told. It should be noted that in writing this review, my experience of Echoes comes from playing it on MuMu, Netease’s official emulator. I found it to be the smoothest in performance and a very short boot time compared to Bluestacks or NOX. Overall, it doesn’t feel like much of a difference from playing a regular PC game, though performance could be a bit better. I suspect that has to do with my hardware rather than the game itself. Typing is a bit of a pain, but once you get the hang of it it’s bearable.
Launch day was handled quite impressively with many in the community expecting the server to go down, but its clear the developers at Netease did a good job of preparing for a game that had a lot of hype with over 5 million people pre-registered. Character creation is rather simplistic at this point: upon selecting one of the four factions (Gallente, Caldari, Amarr, Minmatar) you select a portrait from one of the bloodlines (your character’s race essentially). I do hope in the future the game allows you to customize your character’s looks rather than selecting a pre-designed portrait.
The first thing that hit me upon creating my character was the opening sequence which has a pilot rescuing a ship that is coming under attack, throwing the player into the action right away. During this sequence, the player gets an opportunity to interact with the story, if in a limited fashion, but still helps give an introduction to the world of New Eden. Unfortunately, your efforts are fraught and your ship is destroyed before waking up in a new clone, but at least according to your shipboard AI you have some PLEX in hand before blasting off to your new adventure. The basic tutorial gets you familiar with all the things you would expect: how to control your camera, fly your ship, use the UI, and how to start earning money for yourself. Given the complexity of that which is Echoes, the developers added another layer of Advanced tutorials which give you multiple objectives within them (e.g. sell X amount of ISK on the market place) which in turn furbish you with more rewards such as ships and further give newer players goals to accomplish as they acclimate themselves to the game. This is especially helpful, particularly in the beginning days, when the market was considerably under developed and a basic frigate could cost millions; though it is much more stable now.
In a game like Echoes where social experience is paramount, the developers had the great idea of making one of the tutorial missions of joining a corporation in exchange for SP points, which in turn let you train skills. Train enough of these and you will level up, which in turn will give you access to a new tier of ships. If you’re only an alpha you will be restricted to tier 7, which is pretty reasonable as it gives you access to most of the game, though getting the basic Omega only costs 4.99 USD per month. Should you wish to get more SP points faster, you can opt for the Omega standard or Omega Combo. For myself, the core experience for what defines Echoes for me is the streamlining of the EVE universe; in particular, the UI feels very clean with a pop out overlay that has everything organized neatly along with a navigation panel which already comes with filters that allow me to select what I need before minimizing it again allowing me to enjoy the beautiful scenery of that which is New Eden. It is indeed one of the things I like most about this game along with a blank slate.
Earning ISK is a matter of doing Encounters, which is easy enough, simply select an activity you wish to do (combat, transport, investigation, mining) and then click the mission you want to do and warp yourself there. Though there are encounters in every part of empire space, I personally recommend doing the ones with the least amount of jumps away from you. I have yet to delve into the story missions which require you to complete certain encounter missions before unlocking them, but, hearing from other Echoes colleagues, it is my understanding that they can be quite difficult. Since encounters only extend to high and low security space, once you get out into null a.k.a. the wild west of New Eden, your best bet for generating revenue is either combat anomalies, which are sites you warp to and clear out waves of enemies, or mining rare minerals and then transporting them back to high security space while hopefully keeping your ship intact. It’s always a thrill making the journey either way not knowing if the next system over is gate camped or not.
When it comes to what I dislike about Echoes, I have very few gripes. I do think the developers need to go easy on handing out Insurance Vouchers which replace your ship if you lose it, though, I understand this is primarily aimed at mobile players and the vouchers themselves are only good for lower tier ships. I think loss is important to the EVE experience and replacing your ship frequently cheapens the experience. Performance could still be improved, particularly where autopilot is concerned. The game often gets glitchy when enabling this feature and, as someone who played the beta in December, performance was indeed much smoother overall, but I suppose that is to be expected given that it was an earlier version of the game. For high demand systems, like Jita, with hundreds of players waiting to get in, the server caps clearly need to be upped. Nevertheless the developers have stated they will continue to work on performance, especially when it comes to larger battles, which brings me to my last and final point. Sovereignty and corporation structures have yet to be implemented in Echoes and are due in December. TiDi (time dilation) is also scheduled to come in this update, which, in my opinion, it needs to come sooner given that we are already seeing large scale battles in null-sec. The largest so far had 600 players in system. I have yet to join a corporation except briefly to get my SP points, though, I fully intend to though I prefer to wait a bit longer and see how the politics in null-sec play out before making a decision.
In conclusion, when it comes to who I would recommend Echoes to, it boils down to two different groups. The first is bitter vets who may be unhappy with the changes EVE has seen in the last decade and are looking for a bit of nostalgia as well as a universe that hopefully does not go down the same path. The second are those who want to try a quality sandbox mobile space title and may have even heard about or tried EVE and found it too difficult. They should find this is a much easier title to approach while maintaining what makes EVE so great in the first place: a world with endless possibilities and opportunities. Safe flying, hope to see you out there o7