Tuesday, April 23, 2024

The EVE Online: Equinox Announcement Mashup

 At downtime today, CCP Games announced the next expansion for EVE Online, Equinox coming out on 11 June 2024. They did so through a trailer on YouTube, a press release on its corporate website, an Upwell website touting the advances coming from that megacorp, and a more traditional web page for the expansion. I thought I'd try to mash up the information known to ordinary folks.

First was the premier of the expansion trailer. I spotted the premier announcement on YouTube so alarm-clocked to see what CCP was up to live. Friday's The Scope video teased an upcoming announcement from the Upwell Consortium. I thought the announcement would concern new ships, not a new expansion. The trailer is below.

I transcribed the script of the trailer.

To shape destiny is within all of us. With Upwell you can shape the universe. Unlocking the potential of the stars and planets you call home has been the unwavering focus of our finest minds. And now, we stand on the cusp of a new era. 

Introducing Equinox. An unrivalled suite of solutions for a new age of colonization. Revolutionary structures that offer unprecedented systemwide control. All operated and maintained by an efficient and skilled workforce. 

Embrace the freedom to shape space in your image and seize the dream of a star system entirely under your command. Equinox.

Next the press release. I'm not sure that the role-playing introduction wasn't more interesting than the more professional part.
Auviken, The Citadel, YC 126.04.23 – Today, the Upwell Consortium is proud to announce Equinox, an unrivaled suite of solutions that is sure to revolutionize life in null security space. Set for deployment on YC 126.06.11, Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development with innovative new structures that will allow enterprising nullsec organizations to harness and manipulate new resources from planets, customize their space, and gain access to a highly skilled and efficient workforce.

To learn more about the Equinox product suite, navigate to

“Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development,” said an official representative for the Upwell Consortium. “It offers revolutionary new technology and structures to harness resources from planets and moons, as well as access to a highly skilled workforce. Equinox marks just the beginning of a new age of unprecedented capsuleer control over sovereign nullsec space – the first step in a broader vision for this vast region with endless possibilities. More developments are on the horizon, as Upwell continues to pursue more evolution, expansion, and excellence.”

The summary of the expansion came from CCP Burger. For those trying to put a face to the name, he's the CCP employee most likely to cosplay at Fanfest.

“EVE has always been defined by its players’ ability to forge their own destiny through economic dominance, political machinations and military conquest,” said Bergur Finnbogason, EVE Online’s Creative Director. “With Equinox, we’re taking that open-ended freedom to new heights by giving pilots greater agency over nullsec’s valuable resources - while challenging them with the moral implications about the cost of such ambition. We’re also extremely excited to see what amazing designs players will make with EVE’s new SKINR tool: the sky truly is the limit for personalizing your favorite ships.”

EVE: Vanguard, CCP's first-person shooter module for EVE, also received a mention in the press release. The CCP employee quoted was CCP Rattati, who's been involved in leading CCP's FPS efforts since the days of DUST 514.

“This expansion marks the continuation of EVE Vanguard as the ultimate evolving sci-fi sandbox FPS. Our process of collaboration with the community is a unique opportunity for players to become closely involved with the game’s future direction, and we thank our founders for contributing towards our shared vision of a compelling shooter in the EVE Universe,” said Snorri Arnason, EVE Online’s Game Director. “With a dangerously beautiful new map, adaptive weaponry, and new ways to play we can’t wait to see the chaos that the Vanguard will inflict on its shores as their impact grows across the ongoing conflicts of New Eden.”

Now for the interesting information from the expansion's websites. First, I liked the overall description found on the expansion website.

The Equinox expansion is the first step towards a radical re-invigoration of nullsec space. Capsuleers will gain access to new Upwell structures allowing for planetary resource harvesting, automated moon-mining, customization of sovereign space, and more. Daily Goals are getting enhanced with a monthly reward track, Corporation Projects see more variety alongside a corp window overhaul, and the SKINR tool empowers creative capsuleers to design their own personalized ship SKINs. June also sees a major update to EVE Vanguard, introducing new activities and objectives, adaptive weaponry, persistence between sessions, and a brand new map!

After reading the web pages, I really feel I need to mash up the Upwell site with the general expansion site. First, the subject of harnessing planetary power.

Equinox marks a monumental stride toward the future of space colonization and infrastructure development. It offers revolutionary new technology and structures to harness resources from planets and moons, as well as access to a highly skilled workforce. 

Can you tell some Upwell marketing drone put that description together? The expansion page gets down to the gameplay elements. Equinox introduces means to extract and exploit a wealth of new resources:

  • Power: Harvest energy directly from suns and volatile atmospheres of plasma and storm planets.

  • Workforce: Gain access to a highly skilled populace across temperate, oceanic and barren worlds, directing the flow of labor throughout your empire, thanks to revolutionary new cloning technology.

  • Reagents: Essential to manage your colonies through the new sovereignty hub, these are sourced from the harsh environments of ice and lava planets.

Right off the bat we see three new systems including a new sovereignty system. Also, an effort to make all types of planets valuable for more than just planetary interaction products.

The next item, the orbital skyhook, is a staple of science fiction. Upwell's description is more sales oriented.

A marvel of engineering allowing direct access to a planet’s resources, the orbital skyhook is central to Equinox. Anchored near planets within sovereign nullsec space, these skyhooks provide access to power, workforce, and reagents necessary for the empire-building aspirations of nullsec organizations. 

What the Upwell salespeople don't mention is the new PvE activity described on the expansion website.

In addition, skyhooks bring new content in the form of Pirate Orbital Blockades, NPC encounters with the potential to attract officer-level enemies, pirate dreadnoughts, and even titans. A prototype orbital skyhook is now ready to view in the Auviken system.

The next item might excite many of the bitter vets who left EVE. Called automated resource harvesting, passive moon mining is back.

Another revolutionary innovation introduced through Equinox is the Metenox Moon Drill, an automated resource extraction structure allowing organizations in nullsec and lowsec to streamline in-system operations and focus on expansion and strategy, rather than manual harvesting. Like the orbital skyhook, these structures are robust and resilient, able to withstand most dangers, allowing industry leaders to rest easy. 

In fact, the following passage from the expansion web site reads like the author rather liked the old battles over moons.

Ownership of these moon drills and skyhooks can determine control over the valuable resources of a system, making them prized assets that rival factions can contest, which is sure to spark new waves of conflict and excitement. While orbital skyhooks are only available in nullsec, moon drills can be deployed in lowsec as well.

New Eden is about to experience a cluster-wide building spike with the introduction of sovereignty hubs.

The new sovereignty hub promises to become a new cornerstone of territorial dominance. With upgradeable options depending on the star system’s topology and the planets within, it offers a nuanced approach to sovereignty that reflects each star system’s physical characteristics, allowing you to shape space in your image. 

One of the sovereignty hub upgrades that the null sec alliances will acquire en masse is the Pirate Detection Array. I wonder why the Upwell marketing people didn't mention this?

The Pirate Detection Array upgrade for the sovereignty hub will allow the detection of exceptionally impactful anomalies with lucrative pirate encounters, an even more challenging anomaly, new escalations, and the possibility of officer spawns. Make the most of your space by scanning for high-stakes battles.

But I really wonder why only the Upwell Consortium referred to the workforce and not the expansion website. Those clone facilities we've seen referenced in The Scope videos? Those are not for Vanguard.

Equinox is spurred on by a scientific milestone in cloning technology, ushering in a paradigm shift in how populations can be mobilized and utilized across the vastness of space, empowering the colonial aspirations of nullsec leaders with access to a highly skilled workforce.

The Upwell portion of the expansion announcement concludes by announcing new ships. Everyone is excited about getting new industrial ships, right?

The Equinox suite further empowers the capabilities of capsuleers in this new era of space colonization by introducing four new ships, specialized in the transport of planetary resources, and capable of being fitted with defensive weaponry. Tailored to navigate the new dynamics of resource gathering and sovereignty, the unveiling of these new vessels underscores Upwell’s commitment to revolutionizing nullsec operations.

Defensive weaponry that isn't a gimmick?  Here are the four new ships.

  • Squall – Entry level reagents hauler.
  • Deluge – Hauler with covert ops cloaking capability, high warp speed and mobility, and immunity to cargo scanners.
  • Torrent – Tough deep space transport vessel with micro jump drive capability.
  • Avalanche – Massive freighter with a huge reagent hauling capacity.

That is all from the Upwell marketing department, but the expansion contains more. CCP is adding the following features to the SKINR system

Design at your fingertips: The new SKINR interface introduces a robust palette of design elements, consisting of basic and metallic nanocoatings as well as patterns, alongside five customization slots for each SKIN design, four for nanocoatings, and one for patterns. Use your creations to express your unique identity and share them with other capsuleers.

Sequence and share: Gathering design elements and sequence binders allows capsuleers to sequence ship SKINs, for themselves or to sell to other pilots. Sequencing costs are based on a tier system and calculated in PLEX based on the rarity of design elements and complexity of the SKIN, and your creations can be sequenced in bulk for your own fleet or your corp.

Organized collection: A new cosmetics collection makes it simple to keep track of SKINs, components, and emblems. Applying SKINs and filtering through your collection will be easier and more enjoyable than ever with the new updates.

The Hub awaits: Visit the Paragon Hub to buy, sell, and trade SKINs and components. A platform to showcase designs or discover the perfect look for every fleet, the Paragon Hub offers an easy-to-navigate interface and opportunities for budding designers to make a name for themselves, not to mention untold riches.

The expansion is also bringing improvements to corporation tools.

Corporation window overhaul: A streamlined and intuitive UI makes navigating and utilizing the corporation window easier than ever for corp leaders and members alike. Enhanced with icons, tooltips and a consistent navigation structure, managing roles and understanding the hierarchy of content is more straightforward than ever, paving the way for future enhancements.

New Corp Project Engagement Methods: Expand the ways members can lend their hand to corporation projects through new avenues such as ship loss (enabling the automation of ship replacement programs), salvaging wrecks, and earning Loyalty Points. Each new corporation project type has several options allowing leaders nuanced control over the incentives provided to members, making them more accessible and rewarding.

Performance improvements: Managing and contributing to your organization’s growth is more streamlined than ever before as corporation projects see smoother and faster interactions.

CCP is continuing its efforts to retain new players by extending some of the tools and systems used to guide them after they complete the career agents.

AIR Monthly Progress Track: Expanding AIR Daily Goals, Equinox introduces a long-term monthly progress track rewarding meaningful activities, clearly showing goal progress, upcoming milestones and rewards. Alpha and Omega pilots get distinct rewards along the way, and better spoils the further along they get. At the end of the track, there is a significant cache of SP on the line for finishing all the monthly goals.

New goals and rewards: Engage and get rewarded for two new activities: earn Loyalty Points and salvage wrecks.

New types of rewards: Get rewarded for reaching milestones with PLEX and SKINR components, enriching your experience and offering valuable assets for customization.

Ship progression and UX improvements: Experience the thrill of unlocking a new ship with immediate notifications and get clear understanding on ship roles and prerequisites with the redesigned skill requirement panel. Elevate your initial interaction with new vessels with informative new ship cards and enhanced UX for boarding and naming ships.

And finally, EVE: Vanguard is adding a new map to the monthly playtesting. For completeness sake, I'll add in the entire description of what is coming to the FPS module in June.

In the biggest update to EVE Vanguard since the first playtest in December, a major iteration coming this June will introduce a brand new map, featuring an archipelago among polluted waters, the ruins of a provisional facility to explore and loot, emergent activities and diverse challenges, the ability to modify your weapons and bring items and fittings in and out of combat, and more.

  • June Deployment Dates: Mark your calendars for the next major Vanguard event, from 20 June to 1 July. Experience the latest Vanguard updates firsthand and provide valuable feedback to contribute to the ongoing development of the game.

  • Brand new planetary world to explore and conquer: The June update introduces a new and different map ready to be explored and exploited. Experience a completely different environment in an archipelago with the wreck of a starship, other-worldly flora, and polluted waters.

  • Enhanced capabilities: Customize your arsenal with adaptive weaponry. Experience new options and strategy through the ability to modify your instruments of destruction and bring items and fittings in and out of combat.

  • More impact with new activities: Face brand new challenges, focused on deeper espionage, asset recovery, and direct engagement with enemy factions. This update aims to diversify your in-game experiences, providing more ways to interact with the world and your fellow players.

  • Ongoing improvements: The commitment to enhancing and developing EVE Vanguard with the community continues with bug fixes, gameplay balancing, and the introduction of tiered participation rewards. Compete for a place on the leaderboard to win PLEX rewards and contribute to either suppression or corruption, shaping New Eden with your actions.
This pretty much is the information I was able to gather in the three hours between downtime and when I had to log into my real life job. I have the feeling over the next 7 weeks we'll see more detailed information on the expansion. Hopefully this post will serve as a good starting point for all the speculation sure to follow.

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