Even if you’ve never played Eve Online, you’ll have probably heard stories about it. The MMORPG space sim has been around for 13 years, during which time hundreds of thousands of players have signed up to its $15 per month subscription. But with the latest expansion, Ascension, Eve Online is finally offering a free-to-play option.

The update splits players into two categories: those who wish to pay the subscription fee are classed as Omega clones, while anyone who wants to experience Eve for free are Alpha clones. As is the case with other MMOs that offer F2P and paid-for tiers, such as Star Wars: The Old Republic, there are some limitations on free accounts.

While Alpha clones can still explore the massive Eve universe and join any of the numerous groups that occupy it, they only have access to Tech 1 frigates, destroyers, and cruisers, along with basic industry ships. Additionally, Alphas have slower training speeds than the Omegas; their skill queues are limited to 24 hours instead of being infinite; and players can only have one active account at a time.

“Access to trading, industry, and exploration skills will allow Alpha pilots to explore the vast, mysterious universe, harvest its raw materials, fulfil their shrewd economic dreams, and construct the war machines that make Eve battles famous,” CCP says.

One of the main complaints with Eve was how inaccessible the game proved for new players; throwing newbies in at the deep following such a brief introduction often saw them quit and never return. But Ascension introduces a tutorial story that should help newcomers get accustomed to the complex game mechanics. It lasts between 2 and 5 hours, and it’s designed so players can take a break in the middle.

Ascension brings other changes to Eve, including new ships, NPC mining fleets, and graphical improvements . You can see the full patch notes here.

Introducing a F2P option to Eve could see the game’s player numbers swell. The subscription was a big barrier for those wishing to take part in the MMO’s epic space battles. And with the addition of a story tutorial making it more accessible, there’s never been a better time to take that first step into Eve’s amazing universe.