OK, I wasn’t impressed with the sound of them in the beta stages as people were already complaining that they were grindy, always needing lots of hard to locate materials to activate, but given ObsidianAnt’s video from yesterday I’m damn sure I’m going to give them a total miss until they are improved (if they ever are). This is another released mechanic that highlights to me that FDev don’t seem to know what kind of game they are making – or they just aren’t explaining it well – or both.
Powerplay and now Engineers both implemented a system (or systems) that required a lot of playtime and dedication to a play style. With PP I can see how some players would love this and it bothers me less because I can just ignore it and leave those players to play the game they want to play. But with Engineers this isn’t so because NPCs can get the ship upgrades and therefore if I chose to ignore it I will be eclipsed by the game itself – the balance of my ship against an NPC ship will shift and the only way I can address that is by upgrading too. This is an arms race that will force me to grind for Engineer upgrades thereby forcing me to play the game in a way I don’t want to. This is the gear grind of older style MMOs that I hate and won’t do. In Elite this means you can trade/mine/combat/explore/mission your ship to a multi-million credit A-rated behemoth but at some point it will be obsolete unless you keep on grinding away at resource collecting.
When you add to that the arbitrary nature of the upgrades themselves then what you are saying is I should spend my limited play time hunting resources for an upgrade I don’t really want but now am forced to need and when I have collected those resources there will be a dice roll to determine whether or not I get the upgrade I have been working towards and if I don’t I have to start collecting again.
Look, I can stand the collection part as long as the items are easy enough to collect but as soon as they are made difficult due to things like secret locations, low yield, or pure RNG availability I’m not going to bother. Even if the collection part was fixed to be more accessible and less time-wastey, the fact that I have no say in what I will get from the resources just isn’t engaging and I’m just never going to do that and that will be a whole new area of the game I have to ignore. How much of the game do I ignore before there is no game to play?
The best way to fix Engineers for me (note that use of ‘for me’) would be for FDev to make the resources less grindy to find, implement a player-to-plyer trade system, and give us more than one character slot so I could have a farmer in the right area of the galaxy. They also need to remove the RNG upgrade system totally and implement a menu clearly showing resources to outcomes and then make that outcome customisable. By that I mean that I collect resources for a jump drive upgrade and those resources will be enough to get me that upgrade but in the final upgrade confirmation screen there are variables I can tinker with such as energy use and fuel efficiency and range. Sliders allowing me to increase the range but at cost of a increasing my fuel efficiency or increasing the fuel efficiency might then increase the energy use but reduce the heat build-up. These are just examples but at least with this system not only would everyone get the upgrade they want but they would also have the tools to mod it just enough that ships feel different or tailored to suit a role or individual.
Will FDev do anything like that? I very much doubt it. If Powerplay shows us anything, they are more willing to meet the needs of the serious gamers than the casual. /they seem to want players locked into a spiral of grind because that keeps them in the game and therefore ore likely to buy things from the shop to keep the servers going.
TL/DR: Making me grind just to keep me playing and then not giving me a guaranteed reward for my efforts is shit and I won’t do it.