Faction Warfare (FW) was introduced to EVE Online back in June of 2008 with the Empyrean Age expansion. It was, and this is me trying to describe it, a way to let capsuleers fight for the four major NPC empires in wars of conquest across several low sec regions.
If you have to find an analog for FW in other MMORPGs, it is probably most akin to Realm v Realm PvP. Unlike the wild west of null sec, there are rules and guard rails and you can earn prizes for participating beyond kill mails and stories to tell at FanFest.
FW has always been a bit less than a complete success, and occasionally a victim of the dreaded “collateral damage” when CCP fixes something for one aspect of the game, breaking things for another. (Upwell structures were very much a bad thing for FW for a while.) And, of course, like any content it has been mastered in many ways and even exploited a few times. At one point some Goons figured out a way to farm the Loyalty Point rewards to such an extent that CCP had to go in and change how they worked.
But, in my opinion, the biggest problem for FW over the last 15 years has been the need to commit to yourself fully to it as a play style in a way that other aspects of EVE Online do not require. You can go 3rd party on null sec battles or day trip to wormhole space or run missions or abyssals in your free time, but if you want to get into FW you had to belong to a corporation that had committed to one of the factions.
So back in November, when we got the Uprising expansion which finally gave FW players the revamp they had been waiting years to get… seriously, they were way overdue for some attention… it was more than a bit disappointing to find out that the corp restriction on joining in on FW was still in place.
In the Imperium there was a call for people who wanted to try out the new FW changes to join in… but only with an alt because you had to join a special, out of alliance corp that had been created.
But now, with lat week’s update called the Shipcaster Shadow War, non-aligned players can join in on FW events without the commitment… sort of.
You can now go find FW events in The Agency.
There you can find the first such event, the Shipcaster Shadow War, laid out for you. All you have to do is click through and pick which of the four main empires you want to support and you can join in.
There is still some relationship to your corp or alliance. They can block members from joining specific factions. But your corp doesn’t have to commit fully to FW and you don’t have to quit your corp and find another one if your won’t commit.
The thing is, are you really a part of FW when you do this?
I mean yes, you are in fact supporting one of the empires and working out in the low sec FW regions doing FW adjacent activities. But my read… and I haven’t gone out in person… is that you are not actually taking or defending objectives of your chosen empire like those who have fully committed.
I saw something the other day… I think it was in the latest Pulse video from CCP… that made it clear that there is this version of FW and there is the traditional full commitment version.
Which, I guess, is neither here not there so long as one understands that FW hasn’t really changed, it just has some parallel activities for outsiders. Also, that this current event replaces The Hunt, the Guristas focused event that they introduced five years back.
Still, there are some other changes around this that are interesting.
As part of the game lore around all of this, there has been something of a falling out between the traditionally allied empires. FW has been focused on two parallel conflicts. There is the Armarr vs Minmatar war, which stems from the Minmatar uprising to free themselves from Amarr slavery, and there is the Caldari vs Gallente war, which saw the Caldari also rise up to… um… given the Caldari avarice driven empire, to own the Gallente libs I guess.
As part of that the Caldari and the Amarr were allies and the Minmatar and Gallente were allies. But the Caldari caught the Amarr spying on them and the Gallente… I don’t know, decided they didn’t like rust… and now the empires have been decoupled.
I’m not sure what the long term implications of that are, but I know that back in the day I was able to move from Caldari to Amarr space and pick up mission running because you got a boost with Amarr when you were helping the Caldari.
And, finally, there is the whole shipcaster thing, and the race to build them, which is the point of this event. These will apparently be jump bridges that will let pilots of a faction jump straight to contested systems.
I always sort of thought of FW as being something of a low stakes version of null sec conflicts, so I guess giving the factions their own Ansiblexes makes some sense. I will be interested to see how this breaks FW, because it is very hard for CCP to not break FW most days of the week.
Anyway, I wanted to mention all of this as it is a significant change to the game and could bring more people, if not directly into FW, then at least into the systems where it happens and provide more targets for those involved and the third parties that just like to hunt there.
- TNG – The Shadow War Event
- CCP – The Paths to War
- CCP – Patch Notes for FW Update