EVE Online’s starry realm of New Eden is a vast expanse of more than 7000 star systems, which we have so far experienced almost exclusively from a distance aboard swooping starships or in the colossal interiors of mega-scale space stations. But all the while, I’ve imagined what might be going on down on these lonely planets I’m sailing by at impossible speeds. EVE Vanguard, a new shooter module for EVE Online built in Unreal Engine 5, will let us set foot on them and scavenge their riches in person. Well, sort of.
This isn’t CCP’s first attempt at an FPS set in the EVE universe. From 2013 to 2016 they operated Dust 514, an on-foot experience that was eventually shut down due to low player numbers. Vanguard represents a fresh attempt at introducing a human-scale component to EVE, which the developers hope will eventually combine to create a complete sci-fi experience on the ground and in space. Rather than being sold as a separate game, like Dust, Vanguard is being described as a “module” for EVE, which will use the same launcher and be free to play.
EVE Vanguard – First Screenshots
The EVE universe is full of high-concept, high-tech ideas, and Vanguard is no exception, so stay with me here. When you load up Vanguard, you will be taking on the role of an “Infomorph.” This is separate from the capsuleer character who pilots your starships in EVE Online, though they similarly make use of cloning technology to achieve functional immortality. This character will “burst” their mind into specialized war clones called Vanguards, who are the ones that actually do the running and the shooting. If you die, you can just activate a new clone.
The gameplay we’ve seen so far definitely takes a lot of cues from the extraction shooter genre. You’ll deploy your clone planetside, fight NPC enemies and other players to retrieve valuable loot, and when you feel like you’ve gotten enough to make an excursion worth your while, call for an evac. Doing so will send up a beacon and make you a target for nearby players who might want to steal your take right out from under you, though, so knowing when and where to hail a space cab is critical.
While you can play Vanguard solo, it won’t be easy. It’s very much a dog-eat-dog ecosystem in the EVE tradition, and so a coordinated team will have a decisive advantage over the lone wolf. Of course, you can always try to make ad-hoc alliances with other Vanguards you run into along the way, but there’s no guarantee they won’t betray you for a bigger share in the end. Maybe you ought to betray them first. Just in case.
Brave New Worlds
Vanguard will be connected to EVE from launch, but only in limited ways to begin with. The idea is that Vanguard players who only want to play Vanguard can have a full gameplay loop and their own progression systems that don’t rely on anyone up in a spaceship somewhere. It’s a self-sufficient career. Later down the line, CCP would like to connect Vanguard to the rest of EVE in more substantial and meaningful ways, such as allowing Vanguard players to engage in planetside industries and even accept contract jobs from spaceborne capsuleers. The map we saw involved salvaging the wreck of a massive, crashed starship, and the developers suggested one day these may be generated by actual player battles. That ship you’re salvaging might be your own.
Our first taste of Vanguard will land in December with the First Strike playtest, which will feature a single, huge map. In the future, CCP would like to use carefully controlled randomness to generate more warzones based on the countless planets scattered around New Eden. We shouldn’t expect anything of a similar scope to No Man’s Sky, though, since some amount of hands-on authoring is beneficial to make a fun shooter map, and it’s just not possible to generate thousands of unique ones that meet a high standard.