tl;dr Ascension will bring fleet boosting rework, mining support ships massively buffed, ghost fitting feature added, and of course the big one: Alpha Clones. I'm genuinely looking forward to seeing what will happen when Alphas
enter the game. Worst case, fuck it, 10 years is a pretty good run. But
I'm 99% sure this won't kill EVE; I really think it will extend and
expand EVE quite significantly. It's quite disconcerting to CCP have
actually put some real thought and preperation into a major change.
This is probably CCP's - EVE's - best chance in half a decade to undo the damage of the Incarna debacle. Incarna saw the end of CCP's "The War On The Impossible" (they actually called it that
, I've seen the posters in their big meeting room!) phase, and they spent about 3.5 years after that being very averse to adding "Jesus Features", instead spending a huge amount of effort tidying up their code base, polishing the game with literally hundreds of "Little Things" - quality of life improvements for the everyday activities in game and rebalancing ships and modules and generally clearing out a massive backlog of issues. And not the smallest improvement is that you don't have to D/L the whole client to start playing. As a game, EVE is still the same basic theme, but hugely improved and refined compared to the duct-tape-and-awesome-promises experience that fuelled the Summer Of Rage in 2011.
There's also been a cultural change. Many of the most powerful player organisations now highly value new players, and they've put in their own infrastructure, assets and time to building alliances to specifically attract and support them. There were many fewer such orgs in 2011 and those there were smaller and harder to access. This is an important change because no matter what CCP do, Ascension won't successfully atract and retain new players unless the existing playerbase support the new arrivals.
The other half of the reason why I'm optimistic about Ascension is that it's a powerful tool to reclaim old players. As of Nov 15th, there will be no such thing as a "unsubbed account". This will massively reduce the barrier to luring inactive players back, and, vitally, give them all the time they need to rebuild old contacts and rejoin old friends. I think it's quite likely that a few percentage of these prodigals will return and be swept into those all-important new player organisations - and that mixing of experience and curiousity, enthusiasm and expertise, has been already proved to be extremely effective in engaging both demographics.
Give me liberty or give me lasers