More than 5,700 players gathered over the weekend to destroy a massive player-made structure in Eve Online, making it the single largest engagement in the game’s history. It’s evidence that the MMO, now in its 14th year, is undergoing a kind of renaissance brought on by the recent “world war” and a move to allow free-to-play accounts.
Over the weekend one of Eve’s most successful mercenary factions, called Pandemic Legion, concluded a months-long assault on a region of space controlled by another in-game faction, known as Circle of Two (CO2). Their main objective was the destruction of a Keepstar citadel, a tremendously expensive player-built defensive position that was introduced in Eve’s April update.
Keepstars are huge structures, over 160 kilometers tall and costing billions in in-game currency. They also pack a potent super weapon that’s particularly dangerous to larger capital ships. This was the first fully operational Keepstar to be taken down in Eve, and more than 5,700 players were on hand to get their piece of the action. Developer CCP Games confirms that makes it the largest battle in Eve history.
You can watch the whole battle on the official Twitch stream here, but we’ve snagged the big boom that comes at the 1 hour, 40 minute mark in the clip above.
At the top of this story is the promotional video that CCP posted to Facebook in advance of the battle. It gives a good run-down on the tactics involved, but leaders on both sides tell us that in practice it was a particularly one-sided affair.
“The Keepstar was dead the moment we lost our defensive posture over a month ago,” the CO2 fleet commander, who goes by the in-game handle of “progodlegend,” told Polygon today on Skype. “The material cost is negligible, since both sides well outspent the cost of the Keepstar in the execution of this war.”
Pandemic Legion’s representative, who goes by the handle “Killah Bee,” was disappointed that CO2 didn’t show up for the final battle.
“They extracted from the system one week prior,” Killah Bee said via Skype. “They were expecting to lose the structure and they just never entered the system over the weekend to fight.”
CO2’s commander says he was able to extract some vengeance by destroying Pandemic Legion ships in other systems as they were rallying to enter the fray, but it was ultimately a rout.
But in Eve, sometimes losses can be a good thing.
“We get to take all this momentum and experience we built up from successfully stonewalling the best, the most skilled alliances in the game for two months,” progodlegend said, “and unleash them on some poor, less powerful foe.”
Update: Reached for comment, CCP’s executive producer Andie Nordgren acknowledged that this high-population event was a big deal for the community, and for the company.
"We are really seeing sustained, hugely increased activity on all fronts in Eve,” Nordgren wrote in an email. “New players are finding their way to all of this action — because there is nothing stopping them from getting into whichever part of the universe they want. We are super, super excited for the future of Eve and all the epic things players will come up with.
“We're also hard at work both strengthening our backend systems and the current game features to sustain all this new activity, and of course also in full planning mode for the new stuff we'll add next year."