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Thousands prepare for war in Eve Online — is the game up to the task?

We spoke with fleet commanders on both sides of the conflict, and CCP

Lasers arc out from hundreds of ships, large and small, attacking a massive starbase which returns fire, in Eve Online
PAPI ships attack the last keepstar in Fountain, a territory held for a time by The Imperium.
Image: CCP Games via RonUSMC
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.

Players in Eve Online are maneuvering for a massive war in the southwest, with thousands of accounts on both sides of the conflict known as World War Bee 2. But in the past, the servers that the game runs on haven’t quite been up to the task. Now, more than two years after one of its biggest failures, developer CCP Games tells Polygon that its infrastructure is ready.

In January 2018, players in Eve were gearing up for what was dubbed “the million dollar battle.” Nearly 6,000 players showed up to participate, and that’s when all hell broke loose. Players reported that their clients were crashing, and leaders on both sides said their ships were not responding as expected. In the days that followed, CCP admitted that things didn’t go as planned, and said it would redouble its efforts to increase stability.

Since that time, CCP has migrated Eve Online to a new 64-bit architecture and committed additional server resources to the game. What’s more, CCP says that the slow pace of the ongoing war — which began on July 5 — as well as open communications with both sides of the conflict has left the studio in a great position to support World War Bee 2.

“CCP has been gradually installing new and improved server hardware in a process that began in 2018,” said Erlendur S. Þorsteinsson, who goes by CCP Explorer, in an email to Polygon. “These improvements use the best available server hardware that Intel has to offer and on paper, showed a 20% performance increase compared to the hardware installed in 2015. The new server nodes have been allocated specifically to the systems where these big fleet fights take place, as well as neighboring systems, to ensure the smoothest experience possible for our players.”

What’s the in-game situation, though? Alex “The Mittani” Gianturco, who’s on the defending side of World War Bee 2, says the infrastructure feels rock-solid. “The game, I believe, is in the best state it’s been in forever,” he said in an interview with Polygon last week.

That’s a good sign, especially since Thursday will see a critical mass of players coming together for a series of pivotal engagements. Gianturco’s Goonswarm is under siege by a powerful alliance called PAPI. Fleet commanders for PAPI tell Polygon that a major push will begin around noon EDT in an attempt to establish a beachhead in Goonswarm’s home system of Delve. Rather than thousands gathered in the same place, multiple engagements will be taking place across several star systems. Leaders say they are confident that CCP’s servers will hold up.

We’ll have more on World War Bee 2 as it unfolds, but you can watch the action play out Thursday on Twitch.

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