As I hurtled towards an enemy in their Rifter, my Kestrel's rockets screamed toward the enemy ship's hull. Webifing and Warp Scrambling so the fast enemy ship couldn't get out of danger, I swooped in, Mjolnir rockets penetrating the Minnmatar ship's hull, destroying the ship little by little. Eventually, the deed was done - my enemy lay ruined in space outside a station in the system of Ouelletta, and I turned my attention to another ship weaving through the mayhem.
This was a constant theme on Saturday morning as myself and my fledgling Corp took part in the player-run 7th Annual Frigate Free-For-All, hosted by A Band Apart and Stay Frosty in EVE Online. However, what made this event special for me and countless others wasn't the fact that it was guilt-free carnage without the stressors that would normally come with taking your expensive new ship into lowsec space, prowling for PvP.
For me, it was a chance to rack up my first PvP kill on the live version of EVE Online since I started playing the space-faring MMO since 2015.
Since I started playing EVE Online, I've bounced around between multiple different career paths. I tried my hand at piracy and bounty hunting initially. However, being killed a few times with ships I couldn't affford to replace dissuaded me from that path, though. Then I undocked with one of my now favorite ships, the Astero, and began to explore the universe of New Eden. And for a while that kept me busy, but it too started to wear on me.
Mining and industry was another of my more recent practices, hopping into my Orca or Procurer and just shooting asteroids while watching documentaries on my second screen. However, I never really felt like I was playing EVE during those moments, rather just watching the world go by.
Today we gave out 6,300 Frigates during the FFA Event! Just less than 1,000 in local at a time! Amazing Event and thanks to everyone who came and participated. Special thanks to @CCP_Convict and the community team! <3 #tweetfleet #eveonline pic.twitter.com/fEQqncY2sf— Rixx Javix (@RixxJavix) March 6, 2021
Most recently, then, a friend of mine and I started a Corporation in low security space with the intent on become pirates. We're learning the art of gate camping, as well as how to work in a fleet - something the two of us don't have a ton of experience leading, either. We've got a few members and have done things like Abyssal Dead Space and combat sites together since starting up, but never a large fleet event against other players. At least, until last Saturday.
We warped into Ouelletta, determined to have some fun, but also rack up some of the first PvP kills for ourselves and our corporation. The general format was to dock in one of the stations in the area, request a ship by trading with a host member, and then simply taking out as many ships as you can before you go out in a blaze of glory.
Given that it was a free-for-all, while we were in a fleet with each other, we weren't really ganging up on people initially. A few of the new members started getting their first kills as part of our Corp, but for me it was more personal first. I wanted to secure that long-coveted PvP kill in EVE Online finally.
Sure, you can make the argument that this "doesn't count" since it was a semi-controlled environment and the ships involved were free. However, it still took skill for every one of those pilots fighting to known when to orbit, when to kite, when to overload and more. Understanding how to fight with the specific frigates given out during the event was one of the major hurdles, as the only ships at that point I had piloted were the Kestrel and the Rifter. Learning the Tristan, Tormentor and the really cool-looking Merlin was a challenge in-of-itself, added onto the fact that whilst you learn, players would be gunning for you.
All told, according to organizer Rixx Javix, over 6,300 free frigates were given out with just under a thousand people in local at the time. In the same blog post, Javix states that Ouelletta saw upwards of 11,000 ship and pod kills the day of the event, and game designer Josh "CCP Fozzie" Bayer stating that they think this could be a new record for kills in lowsec for most pvp kills in one systemin a single day.
I'll confirm tomorrow, but yeah this is very likely the new lowsec record for most pvp kills in one system in one day. The only previous events anywhere in New Eden that should surpass that number of multiplayer kills were some of the old RvB FFAs in Poinen— Josh Bayer / CCP Fozzie (@CCP_Fozzie) March 6, 2021
When I undocked the first time during the event, I was flying a Tristan, a ship I'd seen, but never flown personally. Having fit all my rigs and loaded the weapons, I was ready for some, effectively consequence free, PvP. A Merlin loomed ahead of me, and I immediately started to warp scramble and tackle the ship. Ion Blasters screamed to life, while my Small Energy Nosferatu sucked the cap from the enemy ship. We danced around each other for a minute or so, guns blazing out as we tried to see who could outlive the other. finally, as the damage racked up, it became clear I was going to emerge victorious.
I was elated. Before I had sent killmails during EVE events, such as a PvP station set up at the last EVE Vegas when I learned some of the ropes from veteran players around me. However, this was my first in-game ship kill and I savored it.
It didn't take long afterwards for another player to target me and send me packing, though. But by then I was hooked. The event had made PvP fun for me, especially in a game where I had been engaged before, however never quite able to fight back enough to save my large ships, such as the Machariel I lost a few months back to a gate camper in highsec. Now I had been given a taste of PvP and sending killmails to players and I wasn't about to stop.
I kept going back and getting new ships, undocking and hurriedly flying into the fray, eager to try my hand at more combat. Some times it was just a 1v1, the two of us orbiting each other to see who could outlast the blistering gunfire. Othertimes I'd see multiple people target my enemy and steal the final blow from me.
One interaction specifically sticks out in my mind. As I targeted and started firing on an enemy Kestrel, I got a PM from the pilot, asking if I was enjoying myself. As we launched rockets at each other's face, we had a conversation about the event and how cool it was to see this type of player-led initiative. After a while it seemed like I was going to lose the fight, and the other pilot told me then I was their first PvP kill.
As my Kestrel blew up and my pod emerged from the wreckage, one final message from the player who had just destroyed me came across the comms: "Thanks - GLHF."
And that is what this weekend was all about. All told, I was involved in 22 kills this weekend, losing 10 ships (and my pod) in the process over the three hours I spent fighting in the system. My corporation, having never fought together before, went from zero total Corp kills to 67 destroyed with only 27 total losses (between the 4 of us who were there). As I reflected on the weekend, it got me wondering if more corporations and players would try their hand at this type of event. One of the major reasons why players, especially new ones, might be shy about getting involved in combat like this is simply down to the fear of loss and being able to replace what they will lose. Giving an environment where players can enjoy the rigors and spectacle of EVE Online PvP - lagfest though it can be - without stress of losing a beloved and expensive ship might encourage more to get involved based on the learned experience during an event like this.
I know, for my part, I'm now more interested in joining my corpmates when we decide to go prowling lowsec for players, secure that I've now got some real experience under my belt and will go into that first encounter a bit more confidently versus yesterday. That first kill was invigorating. And the feeling doesn't die down - instead it only ramped up from there.