EVE Evolved: The faction warfare mission debacle

When faction warfare went live with EVE Online's Empyrean Age expansion back in the summer of 2008, It was a magnificent success. It was intended as a way for newer players to get into PvP and as a stepping stone from the safe haven of empire to full-on sovereignty warfare. It wasn't long before large fleets were duking it out in low security space and for a time, it was great. Eventually, problems began to come to light that demanded developer attention. Capturing exploits and a lack of rewards were causing players to leave the war and after a year with no development, faction warfare was looking abandoned.

Rewards were eventually implemented in an attempt to revitalise the ageing faction warfare system and promote PvP. With the Dominion expansion came the most anticipated of those rewards - new tier 1 navy battleships available only from the faction warfare loyalty point store. Since the announcement that they were coming, mission-runners have been farming faction warfare missions like crazy for loyalty points. The promise of unique rewards from the missions was intended to revitalise the game and give pilots something to fight over. But did the rewards really improve faction warfare and promote PvP or was it a huge mistake?

In this three page exposé, I run down the history of faction warfare missions, from the development mistakes to the EVE corp that made almost enough ISK to build a titan. Did the mission buff revitalise faction warfare or did it put the final nail in its coffin? And just how did mission-runners make billions of ISK?

Enter faction warfare:

Faction warfare provided an ad-hoc instant-action type of PvP that was sorely lacking in EVE. Pilots could join their local militias with no previous PvP experience and practically no skillpoints, getting right into the action. When it was actually released, most of the designed parts of the expansion like missions and capture points were drastically underused but the expansion itself was still majorly successful at meeting its main goals. Players practically didn't use the faction mission system as it simply wasn't worth the effort.

Tired of fighting over star systems that didn't mean anything, corps and some entire militias gave up system captures and concentrated on PvP. Instead of using the missions and capture points CCP had designed, pilots that wanted a stepping stone into PvP did it the good old-fashioned way - by blowing the crap out of each other in tactical fleet maneuvers. A few good fleet commanders raised their hands and made names for themselves on the field of play. They led rag-tag bands of ships in combat maneuvers, some culminating in glorious victory and others glorious defeat. For almost a year, faction warfare was the epitome of what defines EVE Online. It was pure PVP, remastered for the masses.

The fall of faction warfare:

With the lack of new content with the Quantum Rise expansion, Faction warfare remained the "new thing" for an entire year and enjoyed a long, popular life. This came to something of an abrupt end with the announcement of the Apocrypha expansion. Apocrypha promised to be the next big thing and many pilots, myself included, were drawn to the call of wormholes, exploration and adventure. Those who stayed with faction warfare reported a drop in active pilots and further development from CCP was not forthcoming.

It appeared that faction warfare had been abandoned and marked complete. After an entire year, faction warfare still hadn't even seen the updates that were promised immediately after its release. System ownership was still pointless, the missions still weren't worth running and a whole host of new issues had come to light. Imbalances in the NPCs in complexes and capturing exploits marred the warzone and ruined the gameplay. Faction warfare was failing and it was up to the developers to step in and save it.

Read on to page 2, where I talk about how the developers tried to save faction warfare and accidentally turned it into a farmer's paradise.

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