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Factional Warfare Issues

EVE Online System Focus - By Andrew Wallace on July 07, 2009

Factional Warfare Issues
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A few weeks ago, I wussed out of becoming a pirate again and instead decided to get involved with some Factional Warfare and re-enlist with the Caldari Militia. Factional Warfare arrived with the Empyrean Age expansion last June, and pitted EVE's four main empires against each other in a two sided conflict to claim areas of low security space. My old corp dove straight in at launch but, after the initial chaos we, like so many others, got a bit bored and moved on. Anyway, I signed up again; ready to smash some Gallente skulls, and maybe do a bit of low sec exploration to keep the ISK rolling in. Then the Caldari won the war.

Well, ok, you can't win the war- it's designed to be an ongoing territorial struggle -but they were the first militia to seize all of the systems owned by their racial enemies, the Gallente. They didn't win anything except for a medal, and bragging rights - the forums were almost instantly engulfed in the arguments that broke out over the supposed victory, with the most popular point of contention being that the Caldari only captured complexes and avoided straight fights, while the Gallente were far too manly to be bothered to go after complexes, blah blah blah. As usual, this wasn't anything more than the usual hysterical, "my gang is harder than your gang," nonsense that's been going on since the war started.

What's worth paying attention to is what has changed since the Caldari "victory", which is to say; nothing. All of those captured systems are in exactly the same state as they were before; only now they're marked as Caldari on the occupancy maps. This is the major problem with Factional Warfare.

As much as there are still people in it just for the fighting, with thousands of registered pilots in each militia, the system is still missing consequences. Factional Warfare hasn't seen any substantial changes since last summer and still has the same problems it's always had, which are now compounded by complex capturing still being as tedious as it was a few weeks after release.

Maybe I'm just not seeing the bigger picture here, but I also don't know anyone that's participated in Factional Warfare missions on a regular basis either. We've all tried them, but low sec mission running is dangerous enough as it is without dropping a warp beacon, which can be seen by everyone, at your location; if the opposing militia gangs don't get you, the pirates probably will.

Regardless, as much as recent events have laid bare the flaws in the system, it also shows the beauty of an open system. As I mentioned a bit earlier, pilots are still slugging it out, despite there being no tangible rewards. The success of the Caldari militia has also created an interesting situation, by turning what was once a relatively even territorial conflict into a Gallente rebel alliance fighting against a dominant Caldari empire.

Factional Warfare is still a skeleton of a system that is in desperate need of some meat. Meat called consequences. An occupied system still gives the same freedoms (such as the ability to dock inside stations) to members of the opposing militia, while giving no advantages to the controlling side. Even a small change, such as the ability to "lock" enemy players out of a station (which is already available out in 0.0 space) would deny them an impregnable location to repair, and instantly change the dynamic of invading enemy territory.

There are also other ways of improving Factional Warfare by drawing more players in, or introducing new factions into the conflict. Many of those in player alliances were dismayed to learn that alliances were not going to be allowed to join the various militias, but it was always a possibility that CCP might open the door for them at a later date. Adding alliances to Factional Warfare, at the very least, would provide a massive boost in terms of manpower and organisation to each of the factions. Then there are the various pirate groups that plague the EVE's main empires, which have also been hinted at as being a possible addition in the future. The exciting thing about adding these raiders, syndictates, and cults to the fight is that they will tear up the current two-sided conflict and turn it into a multi-faceted orgy of violence with three, if not more, militias fighting over one area of space. However, as much as the arrival of alliances and the pirate factions would increase the number of militia pilots shooting at each other, it's clear that the mechanics themselves need to change in order to breathe new life into Factional Warfare.

In slightly more recent news, Apocrypha 1.3, the third in a series of regular (-ish) updates, is finally out. The question now is: will there be an Apocrypha 1.4? Ever since CCP switched over to the SCRUM development system for the Apocrypha expansion, we've seen more post-expansion tweaks and revisions than ever before. (In fact, I'm reasonably confident that if Factional Warfare had been released after CCP had started working under SCRUM, we'd have a more refined and expanded version of it sitting on the server right now.) Word on the space lanes is that we're due some dev blogs in the very near future that will give us some information on what's going to happen in the next few months. The obvious thought is that there's a new expansion incoming, but we don't have any idea when. The rumour of a summer expansion (to make it three this year, rather than the usual two) is nothing more than that at the moment, the only expansion related information that we can be certain about is that a new version of the 0.0 sovereignty is being worked on, and Ambulation, the feature that will finally let us step out of our pods and relax inside stations, will not be part of the next expansion. There has to be more to the next expansion that just reworking 0.0, but what can it be?