If one thing singles EVE Online out from the rest of the MMO pack, it’s this: Players make it all happen. They drive the economy. They make the choices. They create the stories. And this last weekend, the two largest player alliances in EVE went to war.
This was a long time coming and reportedly months in the planning. EVE has seen its share of large-scale battles, where losses racked up to tens of thousands of real-world dollars in ships and bases. This one, between the TEST Alliance and CPF, outpaced all previous record holders. An official monetary tally hasn’t been made yet, but over 4000 pilots hammered away at each other in a space sector designated 6VDT, with close to 3000 ships destroyed during the six-hour conflict.
It was massive, spectacular, and — as reported by The Verge — entirely decisive.
The focal point of the war was a TEST space station in close proximity to several moons deep in 6VDT. The motivation? Both sides had grown too big to tolerate the other. This war, like most carried out in the real world, was over territory … specifically, planetary systems, their resources, and trade routes. Winning that station would give CFP effective control of the sector.
This hardly represents CFP’s first such incursion. That alliance includes the fairly infamous Goonswarm Federation, a faction that promoted EVE’s more anarchic gameplay by launching an economic attack on the “safe” high-security zones.
EVE Online senior producer Jon Lander called that strategy, “absolutely brilliant.”
EVE developer CCP Games takes a rigorously hands-off approach when it comes to the game universe, allowing events to unfold as the players dictate. Their only intervention? Due to the sheer scale of the event — and the fact that it took place on one server — they slowed game time down to 10 percent of normal in order to process all the action accurately.
TEST Alliance took up defensive positions as CFP marshaled their fleet and attacked. It looked like TEST planed for a siege where they could whittle their enemy down, using jamming techniques to hinder and slow down the advance.
It didn’t work. By all accounts, CFP had them outmaneuvered from the very start. Well before the actual battle started, CFP forces occupied every moon in the system, cutting off every safe haven TEST forces might’ve used to regroup.
Then, roughly three hours into the fighting, CFP committed a massive fleet of capital ships — a steep financial risk, given the high price tag on each ship. It’s unclear how bad CFP losses were, but the risk paid off. Roughly 20 minutes later, the TEST Alliance issued orders for their forces to scatter and run.
Half an hour later, the TEST leadership declined to send in reinforcements, effectively ceding the battle to CFP.
Ownership of sector 6VDT has definitely switched hands, but this battle could end up changing the landscape in the larger EVE universe. The mauling given to the TEST fleet effectively loosens their hold and makes CFP de facto the ruling alliance in the “no-security” side of the EVE universe. How they chose to flex that muscle — and whether they can hold so big an alliance together, given its high concentration of malcontents and pranksters — remains to be seen. Either way, the balance of power in EVE has shifted.
But however it shakes out, it will be the players who chart the course of EVE Online. That’s what makes it so popular.