The EVE Online World War Bee 2, the most expensive war in video game history, came to a close yesterday, and here is the full breakdown.
EVE Online is a free to play Space MMORPG developed by CCP Games. The game is characterized by vast space exploration, PVP and PVE battles, and a dedicated player base. Thanks to an ever-expanding sandbox, EVE leaves a lot of room for players to chart their own course. This appeal contributes to a thriving in-game economy where players often spend significant amounts of real currency to optimize their gameplay. Moreover, EVE Online also explores a broad brush of themes such as war, politics, piracy, trading and exploration. These factors contributed to EVE Online’s massive success over the last 18 years.
To understand the significance of this war, one needs a rudimentary knowledge of recent EVE Online politics. In EVE Online, players can band together to form groups called corporations. Corporations can then subsequently form an alliance together. Formal cooperation mechanics only go as far in the game. However, alliances informally tend to form large polities called coalitions. They can have their own group chats and Discord servers, but these arrangements are all made outside of the game itself. Whether united for security, economic or ad-hoc purposes, coalitions are the most important geopolitical actors in EVE Online. Even among coalitions, there are three major ones. First, Imperium, led by Goonswarm Federation and their allies. Second, Legacy, led by TEST, BRAVE, Fedup and their allies. Third, PanFam led by Pandemic Horde, NC and their allies.
Context Behind the War
Before the war, Legacy and Imperium signed a non-invasion pact together and were on friendly diplomatic terms. After all, they both had a common interest in fighting against PanFam. However, there was still bad blood between Goonswarm and TEST because of a previous conflict where the latter was forced out of its original territory. Furthermore, many in the Legacy coalition feared an Imperium hegemony in the galaxy. As a result, their pact became unsustainable. In June 2020, a TEST-led effort successfully dissolved Legacy’s non-invasion pact with Imperium. On July 5th 2020, Legacy would officially launch a campaign of extermination against Imperium.
The Early Stages of the War
Naturally, PanFam, also concerned by Imperium’s dominance, joined Legacy to form an even larger coalition called PAPI. Despite PanFam’s numerical advantage, the main commanders, such as Vily and ProGodLegend, remained from Legacy. PAPI’s numerical advantage over Imperium allowed it to attack multiple fronts. Of course, these pushes required massive logistical movement operations where freights brought materials through space lanes to build defensive structures in key areas. Nevertheless, PAPI had serious trouble piercing through the Imperium’s well-defended stargates and jump points.
Operations in Querious
We spoke to an important key player in BRAVE, Jake Saphhire, who participated in these events. ‘‘After failures in Querious (49-U6U) and Period Basis (TGAC-3), Legacy leadership changed its grand strategy. Around July 2020, command adopted an island-hopping strategy where our ships would link Cyno Beacons (jump drives) and bypass Imperium’s defences. To do so, they have to focus on a single region. I moved into Querious as part of BRAVE to that end. We needed to mine, build up and occupy the region long enough to erect defensive structures.’’ Querious saw some of the heaviest fighting throughout the war starting in September 2020 mostly over Keepstars. Meanwhile, PAPI used the island-hopping strategy to push further into Imperium territory all the while using Cyno jammers to disrupt enemy ships.
The Costliest Battle in Videogame History
In February 2021, EVE Online saw its most expensive battle in history known as the Massacre at M2-XFE. While the battle ended in a stalemate with both sides declaring victory, a server reset caused over 300 PAPI Titans (the largest ships in the game) to be stuck in an Imperium ”Hell Camp” with no escape. Eventually, PAPI managed to free the Titans and keep pushing into Delve (1DQ1-A), home of the Goonswarm. Despite being able to capture most of the region, the last constellation turned out to be impregnable.
According to Jake Saphhire, who also took part in that operation, ‘‘Moving capital ships through stargates is basically suicide, so we had to use subcapital fleets against their capital ones. We were pretty much mowed down instantly. We eventually realized that Delve is unassailable. All that was left to do is packing up and leaving.’’
PAPI Withdraws from Delve
Imperium alliances used its enemy’s focus on Delve to seize systems in PAPI’s rear, now left undefended. Once PAPI announced the withdrawal from Delve, the Imperium propaganda machine set into high gear and declared victory on Reddit. On the other hand, PAPI blames changes in the taxation system for not being able to sustain the assault. In any case, Imperium pilots celebrate, while their PAPI counterparts criticize their leadership.
The aftermath has led to many pilots on the losing side being forced to relocate elsewhere. This includes Jake Saphhire as well who remarked: ‘‘PAPI has fallen apart. I honestly don’t know what will happen to Legacy, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it disbanded before the end of the year. TEST might run off to the other end of the map. As for me, I’m staying in BRAVE, I like it here and it has excellent leadership. Although I’m still packing up to relocate somewhere else, I don’t know where yet.’’
Either way, Imperium, emboldened by victory, made it clear that TEST is next on their list. They won’t make it easy for any enemy pilot relocating.
Whether you believe that PAPI lost because of taxation or leadership issues, there are big changes to come and this will surely not be the last war on EVE Online.
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