Years of in-game progress are in jeopardy as EVE Online's player-run alliances are being bombarded by the Drifters in a galaxy-wide NPC invasion. The Drifters previously only attacked players in small groups - nothing close to this current mass-assault.
CCP Games' EVE Online is renowned for its massive galactic sandbox, where players have created huge in-game empires worth real-world money. The MMO has been around for 16 years and is poised to keep going for years to come, with a solid player base and regular updates. It's a shared universe that evolves via CCP Games' new developments (CCP Games and tech start-up Hadean recently showed off a tech demo of a 14,000-ship space battle), but it's EVE's players that truly keep the game interesting. Players have pulled off grand heists and even found themselves embroiled in real-world and in-game political scandals. With the development of this NPC invasion, however, CCP Games seems to be taking the wheel.
As detailed by PC Gamer's Steven Messner, the invasion began for one of EVE's largest alliances, the TEST Alliance, on June 27 around 3 p.m. EST. The players began receiving automated message they couldn't decipher. They could tell they were under attack, but it wasn't clear if by players or by something else. It soon became clear to TEST and others that this was an invasion by the Drifters, and not one faction would be spared the onslaught. According to Messner, the game's various player empires began losing structures, falling under siege and putting wars on hold to deal with the threat. Lone players traveling through space are being hunted down by the Drifters, even having their escape pods destroyed in the attacks. Players are having to write their own in-universe news posts in order to inform their comrades about the overwhelming threat.
Speaking with PC Gamer, TEST Alliance leader Dran expressed mixed feelings about the NPC assault. He said he applauds CCP Games for introducing something so "snowglobe shaking" into the game world to mix things up, but he and other players also feel that being completely overrun by computer-controlled would be unfair.
"If another player comes by and knocks down our sandcastle that's one thing [...] We didn't set anything up knowing that at any point with no warning NPCs would materialize and blow everything up. NPCs don't sleep, they don't get tired, they don't have to wake people up or take off work to show up for a timer. [...] EVE is supposed to be a sandbox driven by human interaction and intrigue. This just feels contrived."
Other players on the EVE Online subreddit don't share Dran's concerns. User u/ian007i hopes the invasion will last long enough to effectively reset the galaxy in order to give smaller alliances a chance to gain power. User u/-Spartans- shared the sentiment thanking CCP Games for the exciting new challenge.
"Most importantly, it returns the sense of hard and uncertain game to EvE. That is what I fell in love with when I started."
It's hard to tell what the outcome of this surprise invasion will be. According to Messner, at least one player faction, The Imperium, says they are successfully defending their empire, so the destruction caused by the Drifters could be limited. Perhaps the massive shake-up that players like u/ian007i are hoping for will never come, and the limited power of smaller alliances could leave them with the most losses.
Source: PC Gamer