ByDan O'Halloran, writer at Creators.co
Writer. Father. Gamer. Geek. Not necessarily in that order. @danoh
Dan O'Halloran

CCP, the developers behind the 13-year-old space sandbox MMO Eve Online, made a surprise announcement today: they are going to offer a free-to-play option alongside their monthly subscription fee to attract new players.

Players that take them up on their free option will get to play Alpha Clones that have limited access to ships and training, but can upgrade to the full experience of Omega Clones if they wish to sign up for the monthly sub.

Alpha Clones come with enough skills and access to enjoy the game though including mining, trading, and the title's infamous space battles. And that's where the appeal may lie for disgruntled No Man's Sky players.

If you had bought NMS hoping for a multiplayer experience or for a more complex feature system, then you should definitely give Eve Online a try. It has many of the same features as NMS: an open, go-anywhere universe; a resource and trade intensive economy; and a system of personal and ship upgrades as goals. But more in-depth versions of each.

Let's break these down.

An Open and Shared Universe with Massive Space Battles

Much like NMS, everyone in Eve Online plays on the same server. But CCP has provided the tools for you to communicate and connect with your fellow space travelers. Joining up with them is paramount as security concerns abound in deep space.

With over 7,600 star systems to explore, new players will have to pay close attention to the security rating of each system. High security systems (high sec) means any attacks by other players will be met with retaliation by automated forces (sound familiar NMS players?).

But in low sec and null sec systems, it's a free for all and it's best to travel in packs. So you'll want to make friends quick and plan your routes carefully. Though sometimes a battle is unavoidable and often lead to full on clan brawls.

An Enormous Resource Grind and Intricate Economy

You'll start out as a lowly asteroid miner and, surprise surprise, the best mining is found in low and null sec systems. But play your cards right and you'll be hauling in the right kind of ore that pays the big bucks at the galactic marketplace. Use those units to buy the much needed upgrades for bigger hauls and faster runs.

This is also similar to NMS, but Eve Online's economy has developed over the years to include labor contracts, supply chains, research and development, and more. Join a clan and you can rise above lowly mining if you so desire. But also be aware of theft, fraud, piracy and other ahem, benefits of a free market abound.

An In-Depth Personal and Ship Upgrade System

There are more skills to train than anyone has time for. It would take 18 years in real time to train all the skills, so players specialize and skill training can continue offline. This is good news as new players can pick important skills and invest in them early on.

For their ships, they can upgrade their vessels by buying upgrades on the marketplace or creating certain upgrades themselves. Some upgrades require the pilot to have a skill to utilize them.

Player skill is critical in Eve Online and is far more in-depth than the bag space shuffle of No Man's Sky. You'll be spending a lot of time planning and executing your skill tree decisions in Eve Online.

Eve Online Has Similar Downsides to No Man's Sky

Realize that this game has many of the same frustrations as NMS, though. The resource gathering is a grind, make no mistake, and if you do nothing but that, the game can get quite lonely despite the fact there are other people online doing the same thing. So join a clan and make friends.

Space combat isn't any better than NMS. It's not clicky or twitchy. It plays more like an RTS than a Battlefield 1 dogfight.

Finally, there is no endgame. It's just more of the same. So just like No Man's Sky, if you don't enjoy it at the beginning, you're not going to suddenly get a sense of accomplishment somewhere down the line. It is all about the journey.

Expect Eve Online's free-to-play option to appear in a big November update. Future expansions and content updates to the game will continue to roll out at no additional charge as well. You can try a free 14-day trial available now if you want to give it a go before November.

Still On The Fence About No Man's Sky?

Check out our No Man's Sky Review Round Up!