Eve Online is bringing the drama of evolving war to PvE systems

A destroyer-class Thrasher ship approaches a massive stargate in Eve Online. The stargate is built around a fiery ball of orange energy, and other ships slowly orbit the structure.

If you’re not an Eve Online player, the odds are pretty good that when you hear something about the long-running space game, it’s about a massive battle – thousands of players smashing each other’s ships in a catastrophic engagement that’s part of a large inter-factional war. Historically, those wars have taken place in Eve’s unregulated wild west, known as null-sec (for Security Status 0). But with the coming changes to factional warfare, some of the drama of Eve’s wars will be making its way to low-sec space, which has historically been much more predictable.

Developer CCP Games’ vision for Eve Online going forward is one that’s unified around a new narrative arc system. While each arc will have a story to tell, they’ll also be vehicles for rolling out new features, and the new factional warfare system will play a major role in how this works.

“I’m incredibly excited to be finally able to talk about factional warfare, and that we’re diving into factional warfare,” Eve Online creative director Bergur Finnbogason tells us. “It’s an area of the game that is fundamental to the idea of a sci-fi universe.”

Since 2008, factional warfare has involved pledging to fight for one of Eve’s four NPC empires, which each are involved in one of two wars: there’s the Caldari-Gallente war, and the Amarr-Minmatar war, and both of these wars have hot warzones that span the borders shared by the belligerent empires. Players and corporations try to capture systems inside the warzones, or complete missions in the warzones to earn loyalty points and faction standing.

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All that is going to change, however. At Fanfest, CCP Games revealed that its plan for factional warfare involves shifting frontlines that shape the character of nearby systems and dynamic objectives for each faction.

Neighbouring systems controlled by rival factions will be considered frontlines, and you’ll stand to gain higher rewards for engaging in PvP combat in them. Fighting will naturally be focused in these systems, which will also be relatively easy to capture.

Systems one jump back from the frontlines will be designated ‘command operations’ systems, where crucial logistical support operations take place to supply the front. Systems that are another jump back from the frontline are considered ‘rearguard’ systems. As you move further back from the frontlines, the systems become increasingly difficult to capture, so factions will spend most of their energy and fighting forces on the fronts.

The geography of the front lines will in turn determine each faction’s objectives, and helping achieve these will yield big rewards. These could include clandestine strikes deep in enemy territory, as game designer Jessica ‘CCP Aurora’ Kenyon explained during Fanfest.

Another important change will be that players will be free to join up with any faction they like, even if their corporation would rather stay out of it. The new allegiance system will let anyone enlist to fight for the faction of their choice on an individual basis.

CCP hopes to use this dynamic, reactive factional warfare as both a canvas and vehicle for its new narrative arcs, which in turn will provide the story basis for additional new features. The overall idea, it seems, is to create a more unified and comprehensible Eve, which will be more welcoming and appealing to new players.

“We really want to make this the backbone of content going forward,” Finnbogason says. “Everything has a meaning. Everything you do can affect the world. And that mixed with the incredible work that the team has been working on throughout the years, from the original Drifters in 2015, through to mining operations, forward operating bases, shipyards, Abyssal Deadspace, the Triglavian Invasion – we’re taking all this knowledge, we’re constantly building on it, and new we’re basically applying it to the whole world.”