This month has seen a flurry of announcements about EVE Online’s immediate future. Alongside the usual spaceship changes and rebalancing, a brand new, somewhat controversial skill system will be introduced, as well as what sounds like a largely cosmetic change to the game that could have huge implications for players.
In almost every big science fiction work that involves massive amounts of starships, those ships are arranged in organized battle formations, arrayed out like individual troops marching to battle. Not in EVE, though: In EVE, ships drop out of warp in a disorganized clump, roughly ball-shaped, and quickly begin to clip into one another as they hurry to “anchor” on their fleet commander to follow their maneuvers. Soon, this behavior will change. Several predetermined but customizable formations are being added to the game and will be made available to Fleet Commanders, or FCs, all across the galaxy. This will allow those FCs to determine what their fleet looks like when it arrives on the battlefield.
At a glance, this seems largely like a cosmetic change with little gameplay impact. However, according to CCP Rise, one of the senior game designers for EVE, this feature may be “super overpowered” and could change the face of the game. When large fleets do battle in EVE, positioning and range control are important factors that can cause a battle to go right, or terribly wrong. Even when greatly outnumbered, a well-positioned fleet can cause damage well above its apparent “weight class.” With the new Fleet Formations update, establishing good positioning initially may become a great deal easier.