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EVE Evolved: What does Thera mean for EVE?

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If you've been keeping up with the recent news updates on EVE Online, you've probably heard about the upcoming Rhea update scheduled for December 9th. This mega patch will introduce the new tech 3 Tactical Destroyer ship class, Sleeper incursions into normal space, hands-on WASD flight controls, and 101 new wormhole systems (including 25 that are limited to small ships). The new wormhole systems have had all of their planets shattered by an as-yet unknown stellar phenomenon, and clues as to what transpired there will be hidden in the rubble. This infusion of new content and story will mark the first time the wormhole storyline and gameplay have been significantly expanded in over four years.

Each of the new shattered star systems is guaranteed to have at least one outgoing wormhole leading to normal space at all times, increasing the likelihood that pirates will catch you exploring or farming them. And since these systems won't have any in-tact moons, you won't be able to put up a permanent starbase to retreat to if hostiles appear. I'm pretty excited for exploring this new lawless frontier, but it's a unique shattered star system called Thera that I'm most looking forward to finding. Thera will be the first and only wormhole system to have fully kitted NPC stations and will serve as neutral ground for anyone who wants to live there. It's been described as the Mos Eisley of EVE, a permanent home to pirates, PvP corps, and smugglers looking to make some quick ISK.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I look at how the Thera system could revolutionise EVE for a lot of players and where the EVE storyline could go as a result.



EVE Evolved side imageHow will Thera function?

Thera will serve as a kind of floating hub system for all of New Eden, with several outgoing wormholes connecting it to highsec, lowsec, and nullsec at all times. Anyone living in normal space could log in one day to find he's got a wormhole to Thera in his back yard, one that could spew out bloodthirsty pirates or provide a lucrative trading opportunity. The system will have four neutral NPC stations that provide a full range of services, including factories, research labs, public markets, contracts, cloning bays, and corp offices. The current version of the system on the test server doesn't let you jump clone into the system, but developers have confirmed that this is a bug and will be fixed.

To keep the system from being camped to death by the biggest alliances, CCP has placed its four stations hundreds of AU apart and disallowed capital ships from entering the system. You also won't be able to build capital ships inside the system or use anchorable warp disruption fields, and Thera's many wormhole entrances will be so far apart that it's unlikely any one group could lock the system down for long. There are also rumours that CCP will put sentry guns on the NPC stations to stop people from camping them for long, but this hasn't yet been confirmed. It remains to be seen how this will pan out in reality; the lure of controlling the most unique system in all of EVE is strong, and several alliances are sure to make a stab at locking the whole system down initially.



EVE Evolved side imageDisrupting existing gameplay

Wormholes disrupted EVE's normal gameplay in a small but meaningful way by letting people find alternate routes to destinations that bypass chokepoints, hostile alliances, and pirate gatecamps. With its multiple connections to known space, Thera will have the same disruptive effect on a galactic scale. Useful shortcuts are more likely to open up via Thera for traders who want to move their loot to market, for alliances looking for a shorter logistics run, and for territorial alliance fleets heading to a war zone. The fact that there are NPC stations in Thera also means that you don't have to have both of the desired wormholes open at the same time; you can haul items to a Thera station and wait for a wormhole to open roughly where you need it.

As happened with the initial release of wormholes, faction warfare, and many other features, Thera will catalyse the formation of new corporations and alliances full of people who want to make the move to Thera full-time. Pirate corps will use the outgoing static wormholes to nullsec and lowsec to run PvP raids on unsuspecting players, and traders will undoubtedly smuggle supplies in through the highsec wormholes to make a killing on the market. Cloaked ships may be the weapons of choice in Thera, but disposable tech 1 ships would be much more cost-effective and are easier to haul in or build. Since the Rhea update will also remove the cost of dying in a clone without implants, we may see a lot more disposable pirate fleets smashing expensive tech 3 cruisers to pieces.

EVE Evolved side imageThera in the EVE Storyline

Though the name Thera is coincidentally an anagram of the word Earth, it's more likely that CCP took it from the volcano of the same name in Greece, the eruption of which devastated the Minoan culture in the late Bronze age and may have been the basis for the Atlantis myth. The Thera star system appears to have suffered its own natural disaster that obliterated the moons in the system and destroyed several permanent space stations orbiting the inner planets. The unstable blue star appears to frequently throw off coronal mass ejections, and the inner system is littered with wreckage of ancient Talocan structures and modern NPC stations.

The secrets of what exactly transpired in Thera and the other 100 shattered systems will be up to players to piece together from rare exploration sites and live events, but that hasn't stopped people from speculating. The ruins around Thera's star hint that the nomadic Talocan race may have been extracting something from it thousands of years ago and conducting experiments with opening wormholes. The disaster in Thera is much more recent and likely due to the Sisters of EVE's secret intervention, and it has had the side effect of opening the system to the public via dozens of unstable wormholes. There's a mystery here to be solved, and it's going to be fun figuring it out.

In the devblog on Thera, CCP confirmed that the system will be intimately tied to EVE's developing storyline from now on, which makes me think that it'll be where the first player-built stargate is going to be constructed. That would explain why the NPC stations in Thera are owned by the Sisters of EVE faction, a neutral group that has been studying the original EVE Gate for years. Interestingly, the system containing the supergate in CCP's Prophecy trailer from EVE Fanfest 2014 appeared to have lighting from a blue star similar to the one in Thera, and the original screenshots of Thera showed a similar light blue background. Either this is all a huge coincidence or the group that controls Thera could one day control the sole doorway to a completely new galaxy.


EVE Evolved title image
Throughout EVE's long history, there have been several watershed moments and expansions that redefined the game for adventurous players for years to come. The release of starbases and outposts in 2004 and 2005 sparked years of nullsec colonisation and empire-building, 2008's faction warfare release brought instant action PvP to the masses, and 2009's Apocrypha expansion led to several years of amazing exploration and emergent PvP.

The upcoming release of the Thera system gives me the same kind of feeling, as if it could potentially usher in the next big chapter in EVE's living history. Nobody can know for sure how Thera will end up being used or where the EVE storyline will ultimately lead, but I think I'm going to be glad I'm here to see it happen.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.

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