Back in February, CCP Rise posted up a devblog detailing a new system that he hopes will one day replace the current tutorials that make up the New Player Experience. This system, called ‘Opportunities,’ seeks to produce the same end result of the current NPE, but in an open-ended fashion. Rather than having to warp to a particular deadspace pocket and learn how to orbit, shoot, and loot a bad guy in that pocket – you can tick the checkboxes by orbiting, shooting, and looting any hostile you come across.
The system is, in a word, ambitious. It is a complete re-imagining of the way the NPE works and has more than a little risk. While the restrictive training wheels approach of the old NPE certainly has its quirks – for instance, if you can’t figure out what the tutorial wants you to do at any given point, your progression through the missions is effectively blocked – taking the training wheels off and allowing players freedom to complete the tutorial in any number of different ways could cause a version of choice paralysis that is just as damaging to the ‘onboarding process’ of a new player.
However, it’s a smart system and one that I’d love to see expanded upon. EVE’s PVE has since its inception been the weakest link. Missions have been a stagnant part of the game for over a decade, in particular. With the Opportunities system, though, we can begin to see a potential way forward – away from deadspace pockets, the same old missions, and the least compelling gameplay to grace New Eden, and towards a dynamic future. Imagine if, instead of knowing ahead of time exactly what sort of tank, missiles, and objectives you have in store for you upon accepting a mission, it was altogether more freeform, able to be completed in any number of ways and in any number of places?
This is where I’d like to see Opportunities go in the future. While the system is still in its infancy right now – presumably the objectives of each opportunity must be ‘hand-crafted’, or entered manually, for instance – the possible enhancements are tremendously appealing. Procedurally generated missions – each unique – that take into account your location, skills, and behavior to give you objectives that only you (or you and some friends, if you are in a fleet at the time) can complete are, to me, the holy grail; something that would actually get me interested in doing PVE.
Perhaps this is all a pipe dream; perhaps the opportunities system is only ever going to be used for the tutorial system. However, if that is all it is ever utilized for, it will be a shame. Dynamically responsive PVE content in a game as deep as EVE is would be a pretty large draw, for both new and old players. Hopefully we’ll hear more about Opportunities later this week at Fanfest.