First fleet

Jun 14, 2020

You can't keep up. The blood rushes every time you think of it. You press those buttons to fire your guns and just feel like nothing else matters. Health bar's blinking red, you're about to blow up!

It all starts with an obsession. A desire so strong that it eventually bypasses every mental barrier I could erect. The one true wish to fly in space.

The cost of playing EVE Online is great. Both financially and as a time investment. It took over 6 years for those mental barriers to go down until I actually picked up the game and started flying. It took 6 years for me to decide "it's now or never". There's nothing quite like it, so join me, on my first fleet.

It is a month after I had reactivated my account. I had barely done some exploration, and I was a freshman in Eve University, one of EVE Online's player organizations catered to new players. I had started to get my way around and noticed there was a NoP (Noobs on Patrol) fleet scheduled in the calendar. First one I could attend. Hopped into a cheap ship and waited for everyone else to join.

Voices show up on comms. First a few, then a couple dozen people say hello. I had never been in a proper fight before, and have never flown together with other players. I barely learned the lingo. As more and more voices come through the excitement can but only rise.

Then, Decklin's voice comes through. Our Fleet Commander. Our boss. He explains everything we are about to do. I'm going to be part of the main bulk of the army. He'll send out a few scouts around the area, these scouts will look for other players to take out. These scouts will attempt to tackle down targets and we'll hop in from just out of vision to take them out. The quick intro is quite effective, and covers this as well as other topics such as how we'll communicate, what orders can be given, what is the chain of command in case Decklin's ship gets blown up, how we communicate with our logistics squad (remote repairs, healers in other games)...

I am scared shitless. Chain of command, orders, changes for how we should be moving. None of this feels like a game.

We undock and warp together to the first stargate. I see a ball of 30-40 dots on my screen in warp for the first time. And we slowly push through, 6-7 systems, one by one. We're moving incredibly slow and I can barely keep up. I'm left behind after every single warp because I don't manage to align my ship in time. Yet, all of my attention is focused on comms.

Fleets in this game aren't played on computers, they are played over voice comms, with people talking constantly. Locations, ship types, orders, status updates, general fun and banter. "I have a Caracal in a medium, 6AU off the gate... Going for tackle... Fleet hold... (eternal 20 seconds of silence)... Sliding... He's 20k off... I'm burning in... He's out... He's warping to VLI, should I chase?"

I'm doing so little, but the tension around me is thick as smoke. I don't know half the words or what exactly they mean. 9-10 ship types have been mentioned so far and I already mixed up which one's which. I don't understand all the intricacies or how come 4 people (the ones talking) know so much compared to me. How fast they can make decisions on.

"Fleet, JUMP JUMP JUMP! Warp to Xana at 10, Warp to Xana at 10! Hurricane is primary! Hurricane is primary!" All that tension erupts. Comms are now quiet. No one is talking except for our FC. Just a stream of orders being repeated over and over. I am slow of course, I get to the fight after almost everyone. I go into an orbit and start shooting the target and wait. I can do very little at this stage but the constant, calm comms keep pumping my blood.

Suddenly. My health bar takes a hit. It goes down 20% in an instant. I scramble to hit my broadcast button (to let the logistics pilots know I need repairs). And I just look as another 20% goes away. And another. But, out of nowhere, all of a sudden my shields are back up. One of the logi bros kept a close eye on me, having been a new player, and kept me alive. And I do not know how to thank him!

A few more fights happen during the roam. We lose a few folks around the way, but somehow my ship survives until the end. 2 hours after the fleet started as we call it a day, and I'm exhausted. I love it!

My name is Laser Skaron. EVE turned out to be an amazing experience.  I'd continue to join these events and one day FC myself. Yet, it joined a single fleet to show me this game can have a lasting impact. In a tiny corner of this universe I would finally understand why a 2003 game is still alive, and why stories about it keep being written.

It is time I shared with you some of my own. Fly dangerously!