UPDATE 2022-02-23: r/Eve: Boosters Gaining Meta Levels – Proving Grounds. Nice! 🥳
UPDATE 2022-02-26: Confirmation of the above came with the Patchnotes for 2022-02-24.1
In the past I was a big advocate of the Abyssal Proving Grounds. And I really liked where things went with it – for a while. A few recent factors have made my motivation to enlist for the arena go down rapidly.
It was the four-pilot T1 Cruiser FFA Proving Ground that made me stop after only a few matches. Hence I love cruisers, I was looking forward to this one a lot. Cruisers are my favorite ships to fly. They have the perfect mix of active modules, offensive and defensive capabilities for my slowly degrading reaction times. This variation of the arena was supposed to be restricted to meta level 1 modules. But sadly, it wasn’t.
Turns out, you could still bring meta level 5 (that’s T2 weapons) into the arena – they have changed the announcement post since. And being able to load T2 ammunition in such an extremely competitive setting is not just and edge. That’s a whole extra swordarm you can bring to your advantage.
Me in naivity fitted up a T1 Omen and actually won my first match just barely against a Moa. Looking at the killmail made me scratch my head. What was going on here? T2 Large Shield Extenders? Did the meta restriction not work?
Well, it did. But it was just the usual one: Everything within the range of meta level 0 and 5 was allowed. It took not long until everyone was just back at flying T2 fitted T1 Cruisers. F to that guy who had bought out whole Jita of the tech 1 Neutron Blasters.
At least the restriction of only one active repair module did apply. But for me that bug with the meta-level was an absolute motivation-killer. I had come up with some fancy T1 fittings I wanted to test and have fun with. Wasted effort. 🙃
Some Cool Stuff
However there was also some good things done by CCP on the more recent arenas: Bonuses to overheating modules or giving certain weapon types better stats than usual. With that the meta can already be shifted towards certain fits and decisions. In the 1v1 Navy Frigate Arena for example a bonus to Afterburner speed made AB-fits actually viable. And I had great fun chasing MWD fitted hulls with my AB fitted Navy Comet.
Or the clouds in the 4 pilot FFA Exploration Frigate Proving Ground. While they could terribly clutter ones overview, they surely created some interesting situations. I admit to have straight up flewn out of the arena one time because I didn’t realize that I had hit a speed cloud. Such mechanics can be great fun for a limited time, but maybe CCP should overall tune down the numbers on such buffs a bit. “Buffs” are indeed a great transition to the next topic.
This was especially visible within the last Battleship 1v1 format early this year. The Abaddon was one of the top tier ships to fly, and only because some event booster allowed for a flat out 10% damage buff for energy turrets.
I greatly dislike that. Not, that the Abaddon was viable for a bit. It’s, in fact, an awesome ship. What I dislike is that a bloody event booster was the reason.
Risk vs. reward and clever use of mechanics you can of course argue. And you’d be right about that. Maybe I also just take something that is supposed to be a “casual thing” too seriously. Mhmm… that’s probably it. Or maybe I’m just a bit disappointed.
From a developer point of view these boosters are probably a great way to add time limited shake-ups to the meta. Both inside the arena and too an extent outside as well.
However, to me it feels like the half-hearted solution compared to actually changing hard numbers on ships and make some nails with heads. Of course you can push the “brain work” to do for a changed meta onto the players and let them figure out the most abusive way to use these boosters for the time they are relevant. Time limited drugs will only mess with smaller scale pvp and put an additional cost factor on mostly solo to mid-scale pilots. They won’t change how bigger groups fly their Muninns and Cerbs. Maybe that’s also the goal. Testing, if buffing an Abaddons damage output is a good idea or not…
At this point, it’s probably appropriate to ask myself why I feel so much aversion to event-boosters. Maybe because it’s a pain to keep track of them. What booster does what again? Is it still working or expired? Which can I combine? Are they worth their current price tag? Do I need to take into account that someone else may be using them against me? I took long enough to somewhat keep track of the regular drugs that don’t expire at some seemingly random day without further notice. And yes! I’m fully aware I’m complaining about first world problems here.
They are still problems! (╯°□°）╯︵ ┻━┻ Damn it.
Boosters From Packs
There is (or was?) a booster in a pack you apparently get/got offered by CCP on new accounts. This “Standard Cerebral Accelerator” booster increases damage by 20% percent, and your rate of fire by an additional 20% for 35 days.
Disclaimer: I did not double check, and I did not create a new account just to test this.
While you can only use this on 35 day old characters, with the combination of a referral link and some skill injectors, this can be insanely powerful in every arena, or arena-like (faction war) setting.
And indeed Flisker tried and melted faces with it:
No Boosters, No Problem?
With all that said, I see a couple options for CCP to make the arena a more even playing field when it comes to boosters:
First and easiest option is probably to just flat out ban all of them – except for Cerebral Accelerators or others as long they have no effect on your ships performance.
Alternatively, tune down the efficiency of boosters from events. I would be fine with 1-5% on stats of a ship. That can be enough to shift the meta towards certain hulls. But don’t enable certain hulls to be buffed to a level where one is basically FORCED to (ab)use them or get stomped by everyone who does.
My favorite option: Give all boosters that effect the combat capability of a ship a meta level and check that attribute (active and in cargo) before you let people sign up for the Proving Grounds queue.
And don’t forget to disable the redeem-queue while pilots are in the arena…
It’s a bit of a shame that after all the work that was put into balancing things with meta-level and module restrictions, I feel stuck now with the “use boosters or get dunked”-situation. It feels like some of these overpowered boosters make all these tweaks in the name of balancing pretty much pointless. That’s a shame.
Rant over. ┳━┳ ノ( ゜-゜ノ)