EVE Online is widely perceived as a niche title. The dedication required to become proficient at any aspect of the game is not measured in the tens of hours, but by the thousands of hours. While you can certainly acquire the means to command the most brutal of vessels in the game by converting your hard currency into a combination of injectable skill points and in-game funds, competently flying those ships demand an investment of time as well as an expectation of loss.
In the game, you are a capsuleer. An immortal spacefaring soul capable of traveling lightyears upon lightyears in the ship of your choice. Any given ship is manned by tens, or hundreds, or thousands of personnel — but only a capsuleer can give its crew a higher purpose.
One pilot may be able to win a battle, but there is the certainty that one person cannot stand alone against a congregation of predators who seek to snuff out one instance of you for the thrill of a victory.
Wars require societies of like-minded individuals agreed upon a common goal. Conflicts are fought as a matter of survival. Campaigns are waged to ensure the disharmony of their adversaries. These causations are valid in the vast pocket of space called New Eden. But not all wars are fought for these simple reasons.
Some wars in EVE Online are simply fought for the almighty generation of content.
Alliances exist in World of Warcraft, but they exist as context to Azeroth’s ongoing story. Guilds are groups of people looking for the next rare loot drop or looking to compete against the world in one way or another. There is strength in numbers. These styles of groups are constructs to structure the highest form of participation or endgame.
Some games-as-a-service titles turn to similar ties on a repeatedly temporary basis. Destiny has long since heralded in seasons of competition amongst the three main classes in the game. And Titans always win. (Because Titans are always best.) In the world that exists under the shadow of the shattered Traveler, the many bands of influencers based on Earth sometime enter into a competition. On the surface, one banner is raised above the rest and others are cast aside. For a while.
In EVE Online, there are four empires that perpetuate an unending war to expand their territory. A recently surfaced fifth faction has made advances into the more secure parts of New Eden with a nefarious, unknown purpose. Even so, these are not the only coalitions in the game.
Many players venture out into the unsecured yet known parts of space beyond the reaches of the nations descended from Earth’s long, lost explorers. Groups of players enter into corporations devoted to a way of life, a station of service, or a vision of grandeur. Corporations with similar goals — or, perhaps, complementary functions — compose alliances that can carve out a bit of space to call their home. Alliances seeking mutual benefit often form coalitions of power to further expand their holdings.
Coalitions often parallel nations in the way they conduct themselves on the broader stage of the game. Whether it be by pooling their resources to elect representatives who are charged with influencing the game’s developer, CCP Games, or by arranging transactions and coming to agreeable terms allowing blocs to have borders, these powerhouses routinely engage in political dialogue with each other in order to secure the interests of their people.
Sometimes, however, their people become bored and a spark is required to maintain their allegiance. When the flint and stone are struck, the tinder catches flame.
For the past several years, two coalitions, The Imperium and the Legacy Coalition, operated under a non-invasion pact, a policy that small skirmishes and incursions on the other’s sovereignty would not escalate into a conquest of space.
This yearly agreement, a result of a previous war, was the promise that allowed these two nations to respect the border they shared. Other coalitions would come and go, but these two remained neighbors at arm’s length. The political fence erected between them allowed for their focus to be turned elsewhere. Every year, this contract was affirmed and renewed.
Over the last few weeks, diplomatic talks were held concerning this agreement. The Legacy Coalition made it known that they would be withdrawing from the non-invasion pact. From that point on, the coalitions agreed that the terms of the deal would expire on 5 July 2020.
This weekend, the fence was scheduled to be torn down. Legacy Coalition cornerstone Test Alliance Please Ignore and their allies would shortly afterwards begin the invasion of The Imperium’s territory. Months spent drawing up plans of invasion would be finally executed.
In response, The Imperium’s autocratic ruler declared war and simultaneously ordered aggression to begin from the earliest possible moment: one minute after midnight.
In the last moments of the treaty’s existence, The Mittani turned what would normally be an exclusive speech into a public address. His State of the Goonion cited diverse reasons for the imminent war and he made it known that while outnumbered roughly three-to-one, he would seek to outright conquer Test Alliance Please Ignore.
While psyching his troops up for an uphill battle, he also forced them to temper their reaction to loss, declaring their fleet of capital ships “dead already.” He told his comrades to not consider their current lines of ships, but he demanded their inventiveness by considering how to rebuild their lost ships and carry on the fight to the bitter end. In the background of his streamed speech, The Imperium’s strategic operations began.
After aggression began, progodlegend of the Legacy Coalition made his case for the invasion of Fortress Delve. The ‘Goons’ are the reason the game is in decline. The campaign is a means to an end, and that end is realizing a vision he has for a new normal in the game. Those remarks were followed up by another of Legacy Coalition’s leadership, Vily, who provided more context on the situation by pointing to sheer number of coalitions joining together with the goal of pushing EVE Online into a new era by razing The Imperium homefront.
With all of that being said, it’s important to note that the outcome of this conflict doesn’t mean the end of either entity.
The Imperium’s focus on making Test Alliance Please Ignore their main target in this conflict and the vast number of alliances now on the Legacy Coalition’s side suggest that the conflict will be centralized in the south-east (if using a cardinal direction to describe a game world based on the galaxy doesn’t make sense to you, trust me, it does). Victory for the Goons will depend on their discipline to form and their ability to continue forcing the fight on their terms.
As for Legacy, with its larger force and even larger political considerations to keep in mind, its campaign to drive into Imperium space can not be allowed to stall for a significant amount of time. For both forces, maintaining morale will be important, but as the fight drags on, the Legacy Coalition must maintain their composure.
Both sides are aware of the stakes. The Mittani promised to continue the fight in exile from a neutral region. Vily admitted he very recently compared the chance of a Legacy victory to a coinflip.
Make no mistake, this will be the most expansive conflict New Eden has seen for years. I am certainly excited to watch reports and updates trickle in as events unfold. All while living in the wormhole system I’ve called home for a few months. Practicing to reach a level of proficiency in a game I’ve been acquainted with for years, but have never scratched the surface of what it offers.
And yeah, sidenote: I’m back.