Factional Warfare. It’s next to Ambulation the biggest next upcoming thing in Eve Online. Time to write a post about it, also because I do know a few things that aren’t all that widely known yet. Let me start by saying that I’ve actually already beta-tested some of the Factional Warfare content. Or alpha-tested, which might fit it better. And no, I’m not kidding.
How? Well, let me explain it all. You’ve might have seen some of the 7th Fleet storyline news-articles a couple of months ago. After a while someone of the Amarr Navy (the npc corporation, yes) posted this on the Intergalatic Summit, asking Amarrian capsuleers to help out the 7th Fleet against the Defiants. Of course being in PIE Inc, our glorious leadership quickly enlisted. Enlisting to the Navy already smells a bit like Factional Warfare doesn’t it?
I don’t know what exactly happened in the background. We spotted several “actors” of the Defiants (matari rebels) in the Bleak Lands. Aurora might be booted, but ingame appearance of “npc” characters isn’t completely gone. Must say I was positively surprised, instead of shouting about it, CCP kept it quietly and just did it, so the news spread quietly with a lot of rumors around it. Wouldn’t even surprise me if people on ‘other side’ like the Ushra’Khan know more.
Then the 7th Fleet Automatic Defense Units appeared, which we on the Amarrian side were supposed to defend. These are complexes you scan down, after you’ve scanned them down the beacons appear for on the overview. If you arrive at the beacon there’s a stargate that leads into the complex, which had some bunkers, a floating cathedral and stupid 7th Fleet npc’s that actually aggro’d on us as well. Ushra’Khan and other Defiant supporters (including oblivious players that just thought “hey, a complex, lets clear it!”) try to blow up these complexes, while the 7th Fleet supports (including us) try to stop them from doing so by blowing up, which of course confused the hell out the oblivious players. The complexes supposedly drop some 7th Fleet related items as well.
The interesting thing of these complexes is that the stargates only allow frigate and destroyer sized ships, so inside the complexes you’ll always be having frigate-sized fights.
After two months or so we were asked for feedback by CCP. They wondered if we enjoyed the whole thing and how it worked out in practice. Quite a few people that were (sometimes remotely) involved, were invited to an IRC channel to directly talk to some of CCP about the whole thing, including me. It was pretty much confirmed that it was indeed a test for Factional Warfare. It was a good conversation, but without any real news, CCP kept their mouth shut about Factional Warfare of course, the only thing I could make up is that there’ll probably be some dev-blogs on FW soonish.
So well, we still don’t know much of Factional Warfare. But it is very likely that it’ll use these star-gates to filter out the big ships and MWDs are also disabled in deadspace. It’ll probably involve npc’s as well and some way to enlist as player or as alliance/corporation. CCP is probably still in the early stages of developing Factional Warfare. I doubt it’ll be out in 2008.
Personally I think Factional Warfare is very much needed in Eve Online, but I remain a bit skeptical. I mean, implementing a system that enables 4 (or more) huge npc factions duking it out on eachother all dynamically with a reasonable amount of player influence is pretty much the hardest thing imaginable in a MMO. At the same time we don’t know if they want to go that far, there are much easier ways to give a FW feeling to the game. All they need to do is add a way for players to enlist to a faction, and enable those enlisted people to shoot at people that enlisted for an enemy faction, just look at the succes of Privateers (and more recently RedvsBlue) and you know there are more than enough people interested in something like that.
What I would like to see is more consequences for players actions inside Empire space. Let there be consequences for pod-pilots that do mission for Minmattar agents and shoot down Amarr Navy vessels. Give players more ways to provide consequences. If storyline involved actions have more realistic (and sometimes harsh) consequences, players will be more aware of(/and careful with) their actions. It would also remove the divide between roleplay and non-roleplay as many people tend to see it.
FW could also rebalance risk vs reward in Eve Online. People willing to take more risk, should be rewarded for it. While now it’s flawed with the lvl4 mission-runners in high-sec, that can completely ignore the whole sandbox, get the best rewards against low risk. Factional Warfare could fix this with giving people that enlist extra mission that make more ISK, but are also more risky. I remember I had a post of suggestions about FW a long time ago, it’s here.
What I fear for most is CCP implementing a PvP mission-equivalent that enables players to ignore the whole sandbox and is just a grind for special rewards. Better let the sandbox do it’s work instead then. And don’t forget they were already talking about Factional Warfare back in 2004, it should’ve been in the game for a long time already. But perhaps…. Ah well, I’m pretty sure we’ll hear of CCP about Factional Warfare soonish.