There have been lots of creative attempts at boosting excitement for upcoming game expansions. Fortnite chucked its entire original map into a black hole to set things up for the launch of Chapter 2 back in 2019, for example. For the Eve Online Uprising expansion, CCP Games went and blew up a star. The Turner I Event, as it’s now known in the long-running sci-fi MMORPG, is going to be the inciting incident for a whole new era in New Eden, marking the advent of some game-changing new systems CCP Games has been talking about adding to the free-to-play game for the past year.
While Eve Online’s biggest and most headline-grabbing wars take place in the player-controlled free-fire zones known as Nullsec, there are hundreds of systems in the safer, more regulated areas called Highsec and Lowsec. These systems are controlled by Eve’s NPC empires, and with the November 8 launch of Uprising, these factions have officially gone to all-out war.
Regardless of how invested an Eve player might be in the faction warfare component of New Eden, the arrival of Uprising has some important implications. The faction warfare update itself is a sea change, of course: rather than arbitrarily designated hot zones, faction warfare will now take place in frontline systems that draw the bulk of the fighting. Systems one jump back are now designated ‘command operations’ systems, where daring pirates and blockade runners might try their luck disrupting logistics operations.
Crucially, systems become more difficult to capture the further you move away from the front lines, and as possession of the front line systems shifts, the overall geography of frontline, command ops, and rearguard systems will shift and change. Uprising remakes faction warfare into an ever-evolving wargame between powerful space empires.
That’s not all that’s changing in this update, however. Uprising is the first update that CCP is calling an ‘expansion’ in years, and it follows a more regular trickle of smaller updates and quarterly ‘Quadrants’ that have introduced new things one at a time, or at least, more gradually. Uprising contains several groundbreaking new systems: there are a bunch new ships for players to outfit, new ships for each NPC navy, and the initial pieces of the new heraldry system that will allow players to “fly their colours” as they embark on an all new narrative-driven experience that cuts a bit against the grain of the largely player-directed interstellar sandbox that Eve Online is best known for.
It’s a big moment – one that could go wrong in countless hundreds of ways that would be impossible to predict ahead of time, and CCP Games is keenly aware of this.
“I mean, if you don’t have butterflies in your stomach, you’re not doing it right,” Burger Finnbogason, Eve Online’s creative director, tells us the night before Uprising’s launch. “But one of the great things about coming out of Quadrants was that we added a tool to our toolbox that allows us to drop stuff frequently, and really develop frequently. That’s something that we will continue to do.”
CCP Games also worked through October adding in some new Eve ‘Evolved’ features to make sure the bugs were ironed out before Uprising’s launch – but there’s only so much you can do with a game like Eve Online and an audience of Eve Online players before you press the big button marked ‘launch’ for an update that’s going to add important new systems and alter several existing ones.
“Yeah, I mean, it’s definitely a bit scary,” Finnbogason says. “Especially, you know, we design for immersion. So you know, immersive things will happen.”
It’s also an exciting time to be playing Eve, because a raft of significant balance changes aimed at shaking up the dominant heavy assault ship meta means fleet commanders and players will have to get to work figuring out the best compositions and fits again.
“With that change, I really wanted to introduce some fresh air into the Nullsec ecosystem,” explains game designer Jessica ‘CCP Aurora’ Kenyon. “When those battles happen, there’s now a situation where a lot of those FCs don’t entirely know what the best option is.”
That uncertainty opens up new opportunities for creativity and invention, Kenyon explains. “That’s just the sort of thing we want,” she says. “Some regular shifts in the meta keep it interesting.”
“Eve players thrive on working on these massive complexities, making sense out of craziness,” says Eve Online community developer Peter Farrell. “So when you have expansions like [Uprising], it delivers a little bit for everyone. It gives everyone a whole bunch of new systems to figure out, and it keeps them on their toes. It keeps them thinking about Eve.”
Eve Uprising is out now.