Few games are profound enough to be considered high art by critics. Eve Online is one of them. In 2013, the Museum of Modern Art inducted Eve Online into its permanent game collection. Only 22 other history-making games such as Pong and Street Fighter II share the honor.
The reason it’s featured in such a high-profile setting is not hard to account for. Eve Online is arguably the best and most beautiful game of its kind. It’s a massive online multiplayer open-world role-playing game, in which players build spaceships and explore the game’s expansive universe.
It is an obsessive-compulsive gamer’s space-age daydream, featuring some of the most complex menu systems of any MMORPG to date. If micromanaging customizations and sci-fi are a few of your favorite things, you’ll love the vast setting of Eve Online.
One of the reasons Eve Online is one of the most successful MMORPGs of all time is its backstory. It has a backstory chockfull of mystery, shaped by the history of what other players have done in the past. Given that a major component of the game is exploration, peeling back the various layers of information that circulate throughout the game’s fictional universe is a fascinating aspect to the gameplay.
Without spoiling much, the basic plot of the story goes like this. In the distant future, humans create a way to colonize a cluster of thousands of stars light-years away from Earth. Suddenly, a cataclysmic event destroys the EVE warp gate, their means of interstellar travel, leaving the colonizers to fend for themselves. Enter the player.
Jumping directly into Eve Online as a novice can be a bit disorienting. But it’s well worth it if you put in the time, steep learning curve or not. There are five primary factions (four of which you can join) vying for dominance over what’s left of New Eden.
Gameplay differs considerably depending on what race you select. You get to choose from the Caldari, a galactic corporatocracy; the Ammar, a religious empire; the Gallente, a democratic civilization; and the Minmatar, a tribal republic. Each are worth giving a spin, and you’ll most likely find your favorite quickly depending on your political sensibilities.
After selecting an empire, you can dive in and do pretty much anything your heart desires as long as you have the resources to pull it off. The universe is virtually the limit. You can explore vast stretches of space, mine resources, craft various equipment, barter with other players, and best of all, engage in huge intergalactic skirmishes using your best spacecraft.
Speaking of spaceships, there are hundreds of different types, ranging from small skiffs to gigantic warships. Battling with these different vehicles is by far one of the most entertaining activities in the game.
To give you an idea of how intense the warfare can be: Eve Online held one of the longest online player-versus-player battles in history, known as the “Bloodbath of B-R5RB,” which lasted over 21 hours and was host to more than 7,000 users.
With events as epic as that, Eve Online is definitely a formidable MMORPG. But there is one downside to the game. Like many titles that have withstood the test of time, it has amassed a huge pool of both dedicated and casual players. Unfortunately, some members have found ways to exploit the game and take advantage of it or grieve their fellow players.
Other than that glaring issue, Eve Online will appeal to anybody who loves space exploration and complex gameplay. But if you’re overwhelmed by complicated menu systems and figuring things out on your own, it might not be the game for you.
Ultimately, freedom to do as you please is what makes Eve Online such an outstanding game. There are no safety-bumpers on your course of action. Beyond the limitations of the game’s physical universe, you can literally do anything you want, or at least try to do anything you want.
If you’d like to stock up and explore the furthest reaches of outer space or deck out your ship with an arsenal to destroy everything in your way, New Eden is your oyster. If you can dream it, you can probably pull it off in Eve Online.