EVE Online developer CCP has just announced the release date for the space MMO's next free expansion, Dominion, at the game's Fanfest convention: December 1st.
The significance of that date is that it's also the day Iceland, CCP's home country, celebrates its sovereignty. Dominion's principle feature is an overhaul of the game's sovereignty mechanics - the means by which players capture space from each other.
Senior producer Torfi Frans Olafsson revealed that the next stop after Dominion will be to introduce planetary interactions to the game: the ability to own, manage, develop and manufacture on planet surfaces. This presumably ties in to the development of console shooter Dust 514, and will be discussed further when that's revealed to the public tomorrow afternoon. We'll have full details here on Eurogamer.
After planetary interaction, the plan is to finally release Walking In Stations - also known as Ambulation, or more recently Incarna - which will bring full 3D avatars to the game for the first time.
Oflasson hinted that the design of Walking In Stations had evolved considerably since the predominantly social space which was shown last year. "Our game designers have taken a spin on it which will be more pleasing to you," he said, before showing a teaser trailer which hinted that it might have a more gameplay-focused purpose.
"It's what I have to do to get what I need... Sometimes you need to get offline to get things done," read the captions in the video.
Olafsson also detailed the changes coming in Dominion. The new sovereignty system would focus on more tactical, less "grindy" gameplay, revolving around the placing and defence of claim markers.
It will go hand-in-hand with a new infrastructure upgrade system for sovereign space that would use time less heavily than the current upgrades, and empower players to make more decisions. It would also encourage players to live in and use their systems to eradicate what Olafsson called "AFK empires". Upgrades included a 'quantum flux generator' which would increase the incidence of wormholes in sovereign space.
Dominion will also introduce new, powerful fighter bomber class ships, intended to balance captial ships and return dreadnoughts to their original role of attacking stationary structures. Titans would be reduced in power, with their attacks becoming targeted rather than area-of-effect.
Spectacular new planet graphics, developed in conjunction with with the Dust 514 team in Singapore, will be introduced in Dominion. Some game elements will be moved closer to planets so players can enjoy these to the full.
Finally, a new mail system (paving the way for the New Eden social network) will arrive in Dominion, as well as a new in-game browser based on Google's Chromium.
More - including a full preview of Dust 514 - from Fanfest tomorrow afternoon.