Practically every new EVE Online player is confused by the game’s user interface, endless menus, and difficult systems. During a recent player conference, developer CCP pointed out that the new player retention rate is abysmally low, with almost 90% of new players quitting within the first seven days. One of the main goals of the current era of EVE is to make the game easier and more streamlined for new players. The community ship fittings system, released with the game’s most recent update, is an attempt to do just that.
Before undocking one of EVE’s hundreds of unique spaceships from the space station housing it, you have to fit it. Each ship has between 12 and 35 different “equipment” slots, broken down into four separate categories into which you can fit hundreds if not thousands of different modules, all offering different offensive, defensive and utilitarian bonuses. The process of fitting ships can be daunting even to EVE veterans. Getting a ship perfectly optimized can take hours, and many players use third-party programs to make the process easier.
The new Community Fittings tool is an attempt to help players make more effective ships faster. Last October, players were invited to share their favorite fittings for five different ships: the four basic exploration vessels and the most basic mining vessel. These ships were chosen because they open the door to some of the most effective and easy ways for new players to earn money in EVE.
After the fits were collected, compared, and analyzed by CCP, the ten best (two for each chosen hull) were added to the in-game fitting window under a new section, called “community fittings.” Players can navigate to this new page in the UI, select the ship they want to fly, and use the fitting window as a guide to properly equip their ships. Over the years, player-run corporations have seen that taking a lot of the guesswork, research, and stress out of the early days of a player’s EVE career can help those players stick around the game and skip straight to the fun.
According to CCP, the community fitting program will continue to expand beyond early exploration vessels. Forum threads have already been made to gather example fittings for entry level PvP focused vessels. The system will also soon expand to larger PvE focused ships, to assist players in navigating one of EVE’s galaxy-spanning epic arcs.
Any player with an active EVE Online account can submit a community fitting suggestion to the appropriate forum thread. If their submission is chosen by the game developers and selected player volunteers, the fitting will carry their name inside of its tooltip as a thank you for contributing to the game.
The community fittings feature is very much in its infancy. Hopefully, in the coming months, it will become a tool that players can use to overcome EVE’s infamously steep learning curve.