While we'd like to be able to say that there's never been a better time to try EVE Online, we can't. The truth is that if you're going to try EVE Online, you should do so right now, because it's hard to say how long it's going to be this good.
Red Moon Rising is the latest large, free expansion for starship MMO EVE. While other games provide new realms, new lands or new dungeons, EVE is becoming more detailed. Developer CCP claims it's growing 'inwards'. It created a galaxy and all the subsequent expansions are an effort to fill that vast tract of virtual space.
One of the things that will soon fill it are even bigger spaceships. But here's the thing: if you start from scratch, this instant, then it would still be the best part of a year before you could fly one of them.
That's a pretty sobering thought for anyone who just wants to fly 17-kilometre-long Titans. Luckily, there's a lot of other stuff going on before you reach that advanced stage, all of which has been carefully expanded and enhanced by Red Moon Rising.
Start-up players now face a more diverse set of objectives and NPC ships have been overhauled, making them a new challenge for players at all levels. This is a big step, and one that might either drive away players from 'ratting' (hunting pirates) or make the bored NPC-hunters wake up and make even more cash.
EVE also continues to refine its incredible economic and manufacturing sub-game. Pilots can now access their industrial processes (both manufacturing and research) from space.
Less accessible, but far more exciting, are the new ships. There are new Interdictors, which should make the capture of enemy ships easier. There are Command ships, which will buff your whole gang, and there are Recon ships, which bring stealth and jamming skills to the larger Cruiser class.
And then there are the Capital ships. These giants could change the way the game is played. They enable players to respawn and carry spare ships for those players to pilot. The gigantic Titans can tear a hole in the very fabric of space, dragging whole fleets with them across the galaxy.
They are also armed with formidable Doomsday devices, which will deal tremendous damage to everyone around them, not to mention being mind-bogglingly expensive to build.
EVE is a cruel mistress, but the more you play her, the more you feel convinced of her genius.