In this lore-packed article, I look at the story behind EVE's Sansha abduction event, how you can get involved in some of the epic battles and what could be improved in future events.
In the wake of the Seylinn disaster that spawned the unstable wormholes we now have in EVE, Julianus Soter and Justin Vallar founded the Synenose Accord. Their main aim was to get the bottom of what caused the disaster, a mandate that was later expanded to include an investigation of the threat posed by the Sleeper AI found in wormhole space. In response to the disappearance of a Ducia Foundry wormhole expeditionary team, the Synenose Accord had been investigating the possibility that the Sleepers were responsible. Evidence at the time suggested that the attack wasn't characteristic of Sleeper assaults and the abduction of the expedition team was just another unsolved mystery.
When Julianus got his hands on the classified CONCORD ISHAEKA documents, it all started to make sense. The report confirmed that Sansha's Nation were behind the abduction of the Ducia Foundry wormhole expeditionary team, providing camera drone footage of the invading Sansha force. Perhaps most worrying was the revelation that CONCORD had tried to actively cover up the incident and keep the Sansha military build-up under wraps. Julianus released the files to the public the moment he heard that attacks had begun in the hopes that capsuleers could mount a defense.
It wasn't long before reports of Sansha attacks began flooding in. One by one, they began attacking populated worlds in the four empires and abducting citizens by the tens of thousands. The Sansha fleets bypassed all navy security measures by emerging from a wormhole right into the target system. Disturbingly, they opened the wormholes in orbit of the planets they planned to invade. This suggested that Sansha's Nation had somehow learned to control the inherently unstable wormholes that began appearing after the Seylinn disaster.
The attacks typically begin with the wormhole opening and a fleet of Sansha NPC ships emerging. Once they're dealt with, a reinforcement wave with another fleet of NPC ships isn't far behind. After that, one or more Sansha slave ships piloted by actors may appear. Most are Nightmare faction battleships, the signature ship of Sansha's Nation. Incursions in low security space are typically headed by at least one Chimera class carrier and the attack on Tama was even backed by a Wyvern class super-carrier.
To keep up with the Sansha attacks, pilots in the SynePublic and Live Events channels have been keeping a near constant locator agent watch on known slave pilots. If any of them enters a populated system, it's not long before the locator agent shows where they are and capsuleers are on their way to investigate. The EVE facebook page has also been updating regularly with news of new attacks in progress and screenshots from the events. Pilots have also reported getting advance warning of Sansha attacks from the nation themselves by registering their support and intent to aid them in battle.
Some pilots are actively searching through wormholes to try and locate the main Sansha base from which the attacks are being launched. Although capsuleers cannot enter the unstable Sansha wormholes, CONCORD have recorded the point of entry as the uncharted system J235456. If any wormhole explorers manage to find themselves in this class 5 red giant system, the SynePublic channel has a reward of over 600 million and growing for a way in.
The latest word
Last night's attacks culminated in the discovery that CONCORD officer Sutola Endoma was secretly aiding the Sansha in their attacks. Republic Fleet commander Silonneri Balginia destroyed Sutola's ship in a bid to search the wreckage for evidence but capsuleers intervened. After destroying the CONCORD officer, Silonneri's fleet issue Tempest came under fire from capsuleers. Despite the best efforts of logistics pilots struggling to keep Silonneri's ship alive, it was soon destroyed.
In the chat that followed, it became known that the CONCORD wreck had contained vital information that could help shine some light on Sutola's affiliation with Sansha's Nation. Players eventually came forward to provide evidence for the republic's investigation, including a log of the kill, an inventory of the ship wreck and Sutola's frozen corpse. There are many competing theories on CONCORD's involvement and the story continues to unfold every day in-game.
In a massive attack in Schmaeel this morning, a Sansha force including two Chimera class carriers fended off capsuleer efforts to halt their invasion. Joined by pirate capsuleers with a triage carrier in support, the force took one million settlers captive to be turned into mindless servants of the nation.
So far, the live events have been everything I've wished for since events were canceled all those years ago and more. They've managed to take a storyline arc that was uninteresting to all but a few role-players and turn it into something relevant and exciting that everyone can get involved in. If I had to say anything bad about these events, it would be that they bare the same hallmark short duration that rendered previous events disappointing all those years ago. With no contingency plan to scale the event up and stretch its duration out, being close enough to participate is a matter of pure luck.
By the time a Sansha attack is confirmed in high security space, it's often too late for anyone more than 15-20 jumps from the incident to arrive in time to take part. Once those within a 5-10 jump radius reach the fight, their numbers make short work of the Sansha ships and the event rapidly accelerates. Within around 30 minutes, the whole thing is over and the wormhole closes. Last night I tried in vain to reach two separate incidents. In both cases, the attack ended just as I reached the target system, leaving dozens of pilots that missed the party to pick over the wreckage and role-play in the local channel.
So far I've been thoroughly impressed with the events and how they've started to bring the storyline to life. This event is really starting to show that the storyline of an MMO isn't worth anything if you can't get people actively involved in it. This has been one of those experiences that just makes me glad to be an EVE player. It reminds me that, with its single-server structure, EVE is probably the only game in which live events can really thrust people into such a tangible, evolving story. The only disappointment I've had is that I haven't been able to reach any of the attacks before they're practically over. With CCP collecting feedback for use in future events, the future is looking promising for EVE's storyline element.