Thursday, May 25, 2023

Lancers: EVE Online's New Tech II Dreadnoughts

Today CCP released information about the newest ship class entering EVE Online in next month's Viridian expansion. The Lancer-class is the long-awaited tech II version of the dreadnought. And yes, as the name implies, CCP has fit a doomsday onto a dread hull.

Each of the four NPC empires will have a tech II dread. They are:

Amarr - Bane:

The Amarr Empire lancer is a Tech II version of the Revelation-class dreadnought, designed by Khanid Innovations. It uses the same hull design as the Revelation Navy Issue and its main offensive systems are missiles – a first for an Amarr capital ship – and the Azmaru electromagnetic disruptive lance weapon.

Caldari - Karura: 

The Caldari State lancer is a Tech II variation on the Phoenix-class dreadnought, and the corporation responsible for its design is Ishukone. Based on the same hull design as the Phoenix Navy Issue, the Karura boasts hybrid turret capacity – uncommon for Caldari capital ships – and the Steel Yari kinetic disruptive lance weapon system.

Gallente - Hubris:

The Gallente Federation lancer is a Tech II incarnation of the Moros-class dreadnought, with Roden Shipyards being responsible for its design. The base hull design for the Hubris is the Moros Navy Issue, armed with hybrid turret capability and the Sarissa thermal disruptive lance weapon.

Minmatar - Valravn:

The Minmatar Republic lancer is a Tech II spin on the Naglfar-class dreadnought. Designed by Thukker Mix, the Valravn is based on the Naglfar Fleet Issue hull. Its offensive systems consist of projectile turrets and the Atgeir explosive disruptive lance weapon.

I have spent a lot of time looking at Star Citizen lately. CIG's business model results in the company throwing out new ships and ship designs (aka jpegs) in a never-ending effort to fund development of a pair of games that together will cost over $1 billion to develop and eventually publish. So perhaps I am a little bit happier than normal to hear the developers of EVE have what I believe is a solid rationale for adding a new ship class.

Subsequently, these new ships will have a unique role, offering more variety and tactical options. As mentioned above, these ships will be specialized, as opposed to ‘simply’ being improved dreadnoughts, and are designed to fill a new niche in the capital ecosystem by specializing in area-of-effect weaponry that applies effects to the ships it hits which can drastically alter the flow of battle, opening up fresh tactical opportunities.

The new vision for the dreadnought ecosystem is to make Tech I dreads more cost efficient in dealing damage by making them have high damage with the lowest possible ISK cost. The navy dreads that were introduced back in Uprising have the highest damage output per unit although they are more expensive, making them less cost efficient while still carving out a niche role. Pirate dreads have very high damage, while still affording them their unique pirate abilities and utility. Finally, lancers will specialize in area-of-effect damage and debuff specialization.

I've played and subscribed to EVE since 2009 and still cannot fly a dreadnought. But the new weapon for the Lancer-class dreads sounds interesting.

The lance energy neutralizes the area around it when it fires, and given that it requires capacitor to fire, this makes firing them en masse from a single ball of ships difficult (plus, you're likely to hit friendlies in such an arrangement). This area-of-effect energy neutralization has the potential to encourage more thoughtful placement of capital ships on a battlefield, rewarding the side which is best able to make use of them. Ships struck by the disruptive lance beam will have their warp/jump drives disabled, tether/docking disabled, and experience a 50% reduction to incoming remote repair, all for 60 seconds.

Disruptive lance weapons also have the benefit of great existing design in their spool up time before firing and the fact that the damage they apply is based on the signature radius of their target. This lets them be tuned to be more interesting as anti-capital weapons than something that can be used as a means of punching down at subcapital fleets.

I've seen the financial documents submitted to Skatturinn, Iceland's taxation and customs organization. CCP is definitely putting in the first tech 2 capital ships since 2007 in order to make money.  But I find the fact CCP is trying to make money off of EVE by improving the game instead of directly selling skill points or bolting on web3/blockchain/NFT technology a refreshing change of pace. Hopefully the effort works and encourages the braintrust at CCP to continue down this path.

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