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Eve Online is once again embroiled in a massive war

The battle at UALX-3, in the Tenerifis territory, is likely just the beginning

Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

According to developer CCP Games, thousands of players joined together in a single battle in Eve Online just last week. Let’s break down the major players and catch up on the drama of the past few days.

Eve is a massively multiplayer spacefaring game, one that’s unique for a number of reasons. It’s important to understand is that the whole world (except China) plays together in the same universe, meaning in-game factions often have roots in a single country or a shared language and could include thousands of players each. Factions can also scale and integrate, merging individual corporations into even larger alliances.

One such mega-alliance, known as the Imperium, is led by Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco with his own Goonswarm Federation at the core. You might recall hearing about them in 2016 when an equally powerful, mercenary-led coalition funded by an in-game casino magnate went toe-to-toe with them in an all-out war. Called World War Bee, it seriously bruised the Imperium and left The Mittani looking for revenge.

According to Eve News 24, the recent engagement pits allies of the Imperium, supported by Goonswarm’s own massive fleet, against some of those same mercenaries who fought in World War Bee, including the mighty Pandemic Legion. Developer CCP said that nearly 4,000 players were in the UALX-3 system for the battle, which centered on a massive player-built defensive structure known as a Keepstar.

A brawl of biblical proportions is currently unfolding in UALX-3, Tenerifis, as Imperial Legacy defends an anchoring...

Posted by EVE Online on Wednesday, July 18, 2018

As the battle drew to a close, Pandemic Legion and their allies retreated inside their space station and logged off. The forces of the Imperium stayed online to entrench themselves, deploying defensive infrastructure as well as ships capable of casting bubbles into space to slow anyone intent on escaping. Again, Eve News 24 does a decent job of describing the strategy, known as “hell camping,” that trapped those players offline, unable to log into their accounts and escape.

Late Tuesday night, the mercenaries, led by Pandemic Legion, were able to make good their escape. The surviving fleet was able to evacuate in less than 10 minutes, which you can see happen in real-time in an archived video on YouTube.

Where things go from here is anyone’s guess. Given the sheer number of organizations aligned on either side, and the size and range of the military forces involved, the front line of this battle extends more or less across Eve’s entire universe from the northwest to the southeast.

A hasty graphic, pulled from daily sovereignty maps posted online, shows the front line. On the left sit the forces of The Imperium, while on the right are those allied with Pandemic Legion and other powerful mercenary groups.
Michael McWhertor/Daily Sov Maps

These types of massive battles in Eve are only getting bigger. In January, more than 6,000 players showed up for a fight. Once in position, say some of the combatants, the game itself ground to a halt with key offensive systems failing to function at all. CCP tells Polygon that is is committed to building out the backend architecture of its now 15-year-old MMO, paving the way for bigger engagements to come.

Polygon has reached out to some of the factions involved and will continue to follow the story in the coming weeks. For more on Eve Online, check out our explainer on World War Bee and a podcast interview with writer and Eve historian Andrew Groen.

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