There are going to be a lot of secondary consequences from the changes that were made, especially moving the Commodity Exchanges offworld and spreading things out. I don’t know if all of these are intended by the developers, but I would like to bring them to their attention.
New Player Experience
New players ability to interact with the game in their first session is limited. Players can’t trade with the CX immediately, they need to take (at minimum) a multi-hour flight, then log back in to fly back. It’s hard to get a feel for game systems to the point where you want to log back in later when you can’t do anything.
Decentralization of Cross CX Shipping
The CX stations no longer have a local market. This prevents localized posting of shipping ads between exchanges. This is obviously not a problem yet, but I predict that it will be soon. If a player wants to make a shipment between Benten and Moira and back, they now need to check the local markets on multiple worlds. The interface is not set up well to allow for searching of these shipping ads.
Lack of trading hubs
This is related to the previous point, but trading will now be decentralized since no world has a CX on it. Maybe this is the goal of the devs… but I think a more likely scenario is that the community will standardize to player driven trading hubs, similar to how EVE online has massive trading hubs in some systems like JITA. Unfortunately this will hurt players who picked a starter world that is not considered a major trading hub. However this will hurt players who unknowingly picked a world that is NOT a trading hub.
Some starter worlds are multiple jumps from a CX. This seems like cruel and unusual punishment for any new player who makes the mistake of starting here.
Lack of FTL fuel
There is basically no way to get HE3 and make FTL fuel for the foreseeable future. The biggest source of FTL fuel at the moment is new players creating 600 fuel each when they spawn. This means we will soon be forced to buy it from the CX, most likely from the MM at MM prices.
Lack of easily accessible Gases
Umbra is basically the only opening tier source of hydrogen, with smaller deposits on Vallis and Gibson. My collector currently extracts 9 (lol) hydrogen per day. Collectors on Vallis and Gibson would be closer to 3 per day. Resource extraction will improve with experts and luxury consumables, but not at the scale that they will be needed.
Nitrogen, Helium, and Ammonia are similarly scarce, with Katoa basically being the only source of Ammonia in faction space from a starter world.
Lack of higher tier Gas Giants
So we can’t get hydrogen easily on a T1 world. Ok great, let’s tech up and settle a gas giant! Unfortunately, there still aren’t any really great sources of hydrogen near Katoa. If you are willing to go 4 jumps away you can find a planet that is triple the abundance of Umbra. How are we supposed to make fuel when hydrogen is impossible to get in large quantities? Ironically Montem has better access to H abundant gas giants than Katoa, but everything is so spread out that getting this hydrogen to a place where it can be processed into fuel will take… a lot of fuel.
Settling a gas giant is no joke
There are limited sources of NE and AR that are required to settle a gas gaint. If H is expensive, PE and PG are also expensive, and INS and AEF will be expensive. Do all this, and then the gas giant isn’t even as productive as we had before and is twice the distance away from where you need the hydrogen.
Fuel will be scarce
As we have established, with hydrogen scarce and he3 basically non-existent for the foreseeable future, making fuel is going to be hard. Unfortunately, the entire universe is very spread out - much moreso than before. Travel distances are larger, and useful planets are more spread out. Going between opposite exchanges (Promitor-Katoa, Antares-Montem) will be an expensive venture, especially if fuel is going to cost MM prices. I expect that a lot of people will be burning at min reactor rates to conserve fuel for cost saving reasons, and when you combine this with everything being spread out this will make travel times even longer.
Lack of Hydrogen affects other things
If hydrogen is expensive and rare, this affects the production of PE, PG, DDT, and EPO all of which are needed for teching up and basic subsistence to varying degrees.
Teching up relies on overproduction of basic level resources
With so much effort going to basic things like farming, making rations/DW, making prefabs, collecting gas really inefficiently and fuel so that we can move it all around without literally feeding giant wads of cash into our gas tank (with MM bought fuel) to cross the vast and empty voids, all for basic subsistence, it becomes less clear that teching up will be economically viable. Throw in infrastructure investments and this entire process is going to be a real struggle. We might find that just teching up to settlers is going to be a massive struggle.
What is the point to teching up
There used to be great riches associated with teching into electronics, but now with the MMs nerfed I don’t see much of a reason to do it. At the end of the day this leaves us with producing basic resources, subsistence farming, and T1 manufacturing. Building a ship would be nice, but I think it’s a pie in the sky dream for a while especially with the amount of resources and effort that would need to be poured into growing the required populations to build a ship sometime in the next year.
So where does this leave us? I think the only conclusion that I can draw is that an effort has been made to spread out and nerf the usefulness of the universe, to make the game “harder”. I’m not sure what purpose this serves, except to make the core gameplay loop more frustrating for long term players, and scare away new players. If the reasons to tech up and grow are diminished, and we have soft base caps limiting expansion, I think a lot of players will find themselves hitting a wall sooner rather than later, where continued growth seems pointless. The number of playstyles that will be supported will diminish greatly when players are relegated mostly to subsistence farming or basic resource extraction. The funny thing is that no starter package even exists for basic resource extraction, even when that is something that we will need the most in the coming months.
What can we do about this? I’m not sure. I think this entire universe that was generated is just a lot of fluff and extra stuff for the sake of making the universe look bigger, when really most of it is just useless empty void. We didn’t need hundreds of new systems filled with planets that will never be used, what we need is a universe that was crafted (or tweaked) by an experienced game designer who wants to make it interesting, and can balance the interests of new players, old players and the need for a viable business model. Right now it feels like most of it was spit out by a random number generator, and not one that was designed with enough thought to produce anything interesting.