In a devblog released earlier today, CCP unleashed “The Grand Heist” the follow up (and likely finale) to the group of changes that have been modifying ISK payouts for ratting in null-security space since last year. It started with the Dynamic Frontiers update back in November that brought in mandatory Encounter Surveillance Systems (ESS) and a fluctuating percent modifier that changed the rate of pay for bounties within the system. The ESS has the main bank and a reserve bank that both siphon a portion of the ISK earned in a system to their respective coffers. The main bank pays out periodically to all who contributed to its contents while the reserve bank has been untouchable since the new system was released. This has resulted in over 20 trillion ISK being locked behind doors for which keys have not existed. Until now.
In the devblog, CCP announces that new Secure Commerce Commission authorized keys are available for testing on Singularity and are coming to the Tranquility cluster soon! Keys will be available as guaranteed drops from anomalies that spawn in low-security space. In testing, it seems that the anomalies containing the keys allow up to 3 people to enter but a minimum of two are required to open the final room (due to simultaneous hacking mechanics). It is unknown whether there are hostile NPCs or other environmental effects within the sites. At the time of writing, they were not open for testing.
There are 8 types of keys available at present. Each key is assigned to a quadrant of null-security space and each quadrant has two types of available keys- one that lasts for 15 minutes and one that lasts for 45 minutes. These keys may change as things often do when being ported from Singularity to Tranquility. As of writing, the quadrants are as follows:
- SW: Feythabolis, Impass, Delve, Period Basis, Querious, Catch, Esoteria, Paragon Soul, Providence, and Stain
- SE: Geminate, Curse, Detorid, Great Wildlands, Immensea, Insmother, Omist, Scalding Pass, Tenerifis, and Wicked Creek
- NE: Cobalt Edge, Etherium Reach, The Kalevala Expanse, Malpais, Oasa, Outer Passage, Perrigen Falls, The Spire, Vale of the Silent, and Cache
- NW: Branch, Deklein, Pure Blind, Tenal, Tribute, Venal, Cloud Ring, Fade, Fountain, Outer Ring, and Syndicate
When a key unlocks the reserve bank, anyone on-grid can siphon the ISK contained within. It’s not clear whether the ISK payout is per minute & per person or if it is split between all parties currently siphoning the ESS, though a tooltip does say “Split evenly”. When the ESS is engaged using the key, a fun new interface pops up that shows you your progress towards siphoning untold riches from your target.
On the left, we see a 45-minute key, and on the right a 15-minute key. The longer you spend “hacking” the ESS, the higher your payout gets.
Reports from Singularity are that depending on the bank itself, you’re earning around 30 million at max payout with the shorter key and upwards of 100+ million on the longer keys. Again, these numbers may change as one capsuleer reported it would take a group of people 36 hours (and 48 of the max time keys) to drain the bank of Horde’s staging system of R1O. It seems as though these numbers have already been updated. According to CCP Swift and CCP Paradox on reddit, the numbers on Singularity were from previous tests. They’ve updated the numbers to reflect a maximum per tick payout of 150,000,000 which is substantially higher than the initial numbers and could equate to billions of ISK at peak values.
One of the biggest issues that people are bound to be seeing with this update is that, initially, space-holding alliances thought that these keys would be just another way for them to access their reserve banks and count it as additional income into their alliance coffers. However, given the amount of time a group of people would need to hack and guard the ESS in their various systems, it seems unlikely that any alliance is going to participate in these activities. It would seem as though CCP has finally heard our cries for help with content generation and created something that will help bolster small-gang presence in null-security space and give groups holding space something (hopefully) meaningful to fight over.
A nice update to the visuals on the ESS gives us a fancy “in-space” UI. Personally, I hope they use this UI for more things (specifically entosis) to bring some new visuals to an often-boring style of gameplay. Overall, per usual, the visual effects team seems to consistently hit the ball out of the park on their designs and implementations.
Another fun note is that the entire region gets a notification when the reserve bank is unlocked. In addition to that, the Agency window gives you literally every detail you need to know about an intrusion. This includes which reserve banks are unlocked, how many capsuleers are intruding on it, and how long the reserve bank will be open for. This is, unfortunately, way too much information for how the content is supposed to be engaged with.
In conclusion, this system looks to breathe life into a dying gameplay style (that’s only been around a few months) and also hopes to bring more life to low-security space by sticking those anomalies there. I am glad to see that these won’t become just another way for large null alliances to make extra money off their line members and genuinely hope that we see some smaller interactions between hostile player groups over the money contained within the banks.
I will say that, for this to be truly meaningful, these keys need to absolutely drain these reserve banks. Yes, death by a thousand cuts would be possible currently, and, at some point, the sovereign alliance may want to step in to stop it. But making it even more rewarding would mean that more players would want to engage in the content. Not only that but if groups stand to lose more by not defending their assets, they are more likely to form up and contest the theft. EDIT: In spite of updated numbers on Singularity, my stance on this remains the same.
Overall, it seems that this system (which I’m sure comes with its own set of levers to change payouts and timing) looks good and I’m happy to see a positive change come down the pipeline after months and months of nerf after nerf.