Couple of years ago, I got in in my head to do L4 missions with my corpmates to encourage some team building and esprit d’corps with the new students. But while running around with 8 guys in cruisers, battlecruisers and battleships in L4s can be fast and fun, it’s not very challenging.
I believe that when L4 missions were created, the developers honestly thought that people would do them in groups. I remember doing L4 missions with my buddy Khorum in battlecruisers. They were challenging for a pair of dudes with only a couple of months in Eve. They are not challenging in an overtanked battlecruiser or battle ship. See, years ago, CCP underestimated the players base. The proliferation of battleships for solo mission running killed team based PvE until the Incursion expansion.
For us, we started doing L4 missions in frigates to increase the difficulty. Doing L4s in frigates requires that you fly your ship. With the addition of logisitics frigates, it evolved into a tool for training healers as well as training shooters to work broadcast for reps in between piloting their ships.
So here we are, a handful of PvP pilots, going into a L4 mission and we catch a Burner: a tough little NPC frigate mission. We know that these burner NPCs are tough, but can take him in T1 frigates After all, it’s a 5v1. We’ll just bring 3 damage dealers and a couple of healers.
How’d that work out for you?
It was hard. Real hard. We fought the Cruor mission. It was like fighting a mini Curse. He neuted hard. He hit hard. I spent probably 5 minutes alternating between not doing enough damage to break his active armor tank, and not to any damage at all, because I was capped out and hoping that the logi could keep me up.
Finally, after a 10 minute fight, this mean little NPC broke my past the reps and put me down. Hard. I was in my pod telling everyone to bail out. He grabbed a second guy and finished him off, too. The logi and one other damage dealer escaped intact. Wow. We spent the next half hour theory crafting on how to beat him, added another pilot, upgraded to T2 ships, one tackler and the rest kiting. In the end, we put him down like the rabid wolf he was.
Probably the best PvE I’ve ever enjoyed in Eve Online, since doing L4s with Khorum as newbs in undertanked BCs. Not the second fight, because we never were in danger during the second fight, since the high resists of my Vengeance made it trivial for the logi to keep me repped, my nosferatu allowing me to keep my scram on him the entire fight, letting the kiting ships deal damage to him at range.
But that first fight, and the theory crafting we had to do to beat him the second time, made it exciting. And the only problem with the final outcome was the reward. 5 million ISK, to divide between 6 people for what ended up as an hours work.
After losing 2 T1 frigates in the process, you probably didn’t break even.
True, but PvE in Eve needs more challenges like this, small ship missions where several players are required in order to complete a mission. The content needs to be challenging enough that you need more than one brain to complete the mission; if it can be completed by one person playing multiple accounts, it’s not hard enough. And if you need to have several real people to complete the mission, then you need to make the reward large enough to compete with solo L4 missioning in an overtanked BC or BS.
So some ship restricted PvE, where multiple players with individual pilot skill and tactics are required to beat it. Where the reward for an hours worth of team work in frigates is worth more than soloing a L4 in a Navy Scorpion.
Burners are a good template to work from. They’re instanced, repeatable and challenging. They just need to be a degree more challenging so they can’t be multi-boxed by a solo player, and rewarding enough to encourage people to run them with friends.