The COSMOS mission system is old. That does not change that the COSMOS missions are broken. It does explain a bit of the reason why. It was added for the Eve Online: Cold War expansion back in 2005. Over the years they have started to break. Their items have become obsolete. Yet, they are full of lore and mystery. They should have been better then they are. But much of Eve's old content suffers the same problem. I haven't abandoned my goal to have them fixed. So when someone offered to write me a comprehensive 'this is broken' list I said, "Yes please." Zosius over at Cloaky Bastard has also been documenting them as well.
I decided to host Nivin Sajjad's write up. For one, he has no blog and I find the information interesting. For two, it lets me have a super easy resource to pull the information for future use when that day comes that COSMOS missions have their update in the sun.
Cosmic Travesty: Or why something that's been broken for a decade remains broken
Once upon a time, when asteroids still looked like dirty ostrich eggs and L4 agents had yet to exist, CCP decided to add some variety to PvE by introducing a set of unique agents who would offer one time missions that granted massive boosts to faction standings alongside interesting payouts. Ever since then, the half finished perpetual train wreck that is COSMOS missions have become a time capsule of all that is terrible in PvE gameplay design.
Just how bad can it be? Well, I have been to the abyss and back more than once, and I have seen such
Anyone who's done any number of L4 security missions is probably familiar with The Damsel in Distress. In this mission, you are tasked with
That manna from heaven is instancing, and you have no idea how sweet it is until it's missing.
Now EVE is famous for having all its action take place on a single shard, but that only tells part of the story. Every time you accept a security mission, the game spawns an "instance" of what is essentially a tiny hidden room or series of rooms in some random point in space. This is a unique grid of objects the game makes just for you, which only you can warp to without needing to aim for someone else who's already there. Every time you go rescue the Damsel, there is a new Damsel, a new pirate stronghold, and a new set of rats.
Not so for COSMOS missions.
Why did CCP do this? My guess is that it was borne out of a misguided attempt to force more people in highsec interact with each other. The reality, though, is much more likely to be you seeing a cloud of empty wrecks that point to an exciting future of twiddling your thumbs, or more absurdly, a complete absence of information that gives you no indication you're actually in the right spot, but that what you need will only show up again in a few hours. This, I think, is the first fundamental flaw of COSMOS missions. Item scavenging in slow respawn public complexes forces players into many long hours of futilely chasing after nothing.
Congratulations CCP, you have unleashed the purest antithesis of fun.
Now I mentioned some of the rats do have a respawn timer that is much shorter. Unfortunately, CCP has found a way to make this brutally unfun as well. First up, the kleptomaniac agent,
But that's not all. Sometimes a fast respawn becomes its own colossal headache,
This and other factors have lead to a perpetually sidelined Storyline module market,
Several reasons. First, each COSMOS mission can only be completed once per character, and while some BPC drops are set, most are randomly chosen from a racial loot table. This greatly limits the BPC supply. Second, as previously mentioned, the static hacking sites that drop the actual components needed to build these items are often hard to access (their entry keys are also COSMOS rewards) and interactively unpleasant to the point of being utterly broken. Third, most of the modules require anywhere from two to five ranks in obscure skills such as Takmahl Technology or Yan Jung Technology to build, which you've probably never heard of and don't seem to have any other uses besides building Storyline modules. And finally, performance wise a lot of the items just aren't very good.
The result is that only a small handful of masochists are even bothering to collect the components, which are then sold at vastly inflated rates to the even rarer eccentrics numbering in the
Before I go any further, I want to talk about one of the rare things CCP has sort of done right when it comes to COSMOS missions. I bring your attention to the infamous Ihakana-Otomainen pipe.
This arrangement wisely keeps the site where most of the combat and forage missions take place as a highsec system. It entices carebears with a balanced mix of safety and danger, while also giving the PvP groups that live in Ihakana a continuous stream of targets without granting them the means to exert a stranglehold on the mission system itself and prevent anyone else from attempting the unique PvE content. In comparison, the pirate epic arcs and COSMOS missions that largely take place in and around sov null don't work nearly as well in attracting people who aren't already up for extreme danger or are friendly with the locals.
But this arrangement is still far from ideal. Case in point, look at this smug asshole,
If by some miracle you do find Akemon and get him talking, you'll soon discover he needs three separate items to finish his
This points to what I think is the second fundamental flaw of COSMOS missions. Aside from various other deal breakers I haven't even addressed yet, such as missions that take a half hour to completely spawn while leaving you with large stretches of nothing happening, or 22 jump highsec fetch quests thrown in between combat missions, or being asked to build a random item that takes close to 2 hours to finish in between combat missions, or vast swaths of content being wastefully self limiting when they're doable only once, or the wacky effort vs reward ratios for some agents that make no sense, or the fact that various agents are scattered in opposing faction space some 20+ jumps away who'll hand out missions suited for battleships, or the Gallente and Minmatar zones being left half finished... aside from all that and more, the second contender for absolute worst trait of COSMOS missions is the unforgivable extent to which the game goes out of its way to conceal vital information from the players. Most of the in-game info about mission order, standings requirements, or even something as basic as what you need to do next are either handed out in a needlessly delayed fashion or outright unavailable. Nothing outside of COSMOS points to COSMOS, and few of the agents point to each other. Even when they do, they can throw you into a nightmare dreamt up by the love child of Kafka and Rube Goldberg, where if you screw up even once somewhere in that mess, you're done for good.
As it is, I'm already known in my alliance as that crazy person who would leave the wormhole once in a while to perform some kind of self flagellating black magic that summons A Lot of Money. Until most of the underlying design principles for COSMOS missions are revamped, they will continue to be just as obtuse and unpleasant to the vast majority of EVE players. Compared to recent improvements in PvE in the form of burner missions and Drifter AI blackboards, it's a shame to see a long suffering part of the game still remain so utterly broken.
-Guest Blogger, Nivin Sajjad