EVE Evolved: Have the Drifters conquered the Jove Empire?

EVE Online‘s Carnyx release is right around the corner on June 2nd, and it’s going to be a big update! The Caldari will finally get their tech 3 tactical destroyer with the release of the Jackdaw, a tough little ship that specialises in light missiles and rockets. We’re also getting some graphical tweaks, more cruiser-sized burner missions, and the long-awaited rebalance of afterburners, microwarpdrives, shield extenders, and armour plates. This release will also add the Entosis mechanic I’ve discussed in previous articles, though players will be able to use it only in a limited capacity to disable station services.

While it’ll be good to see all of the above implemented, the thing that I’m most looking forward to is the opening of five more mysterious new wormhole systems as part of the advancing Drifter storyline. The new star systems can be reached via unidentified wormholes that appear in systems with Jove Observatories and appear to lead directly to Drifter space, where new group PvE challenges lie. This next step in EVE‘s storyline also seems set to tie everything new in the game together, from the upcoming structures and new capture mechanics to new PvE types and maybe even plans to eventually give players control over empire space.

In this lore-filled edition of EVE Evolved, I delve into the story surrounding the Drifter menace, speculate on where the Jove fit into the picture, and look at how an in-character YouTube series is really bringing EVE‘s patches to life.

drifterpewpewDrifter wormholes

When unstable wormholes first began appearing across EVE in 2009, players stepped cautiously through into a completely alien star cluster that played by a very different set of rules. It took months for players to fully figure out the workings of wormhole space and the mechanics behind the new Sleeper NPCs and exploration sites. Players faced the challenge of setting up permanent homes in the void, learned all there was to be learned about the Sleepers, and spent years concocting strategies for fighting in this new environment.

CCP has been trying to recapture this sense of exploration with additions like the shattered wormhole systems and Thera wormhole hub, and it looks as if the new Drifter wormholes will really help rekindle that same explorer’s curiosity. While the original wormhole systems were full of decaying ruins and the destroyed remains of the ancient Sleeper empire, the five new Drifter wormholes contain shiny new structures of such massive scales that they put titans and existing space stations completely to shame.

The Drifter systems are named Sentinel, Barbican, Vidette, Redoubt, and Conflux, and each one contains five unique unidentified anomalies to tackle. Each system also contains one main PvE complex that requires a group of players to complete as there are multiple objectives that must be tackled simulataneously to progress. Your fleet will have to split up and go down two separate paths to complete these objectives, then join back together for the final room. It’s not yet known what kind of loot we can expect from these systems or how difficult the Drifters will be to take down.

drifterheadsWhat do we know about the Drifters?

Drifter battleships showed up just a few months ago, shortly after the Circadian Seekers appeared in empire space and began scanning everything in sight. The steady flow of news pieces and videos on the Drifters has since revealed some startling information on their origins, and the forum and EVEblogs have been alive with speculation for months. It now seems that the Drifters were originally confined to within the Sleeper virtual environment and used the Circadian Seekers to reach out and explore the galaxy.

The Seekers are definitely of Sleeper origin, and their arrival was followed by cloaked Jove observatories appearing throughout known space. We later discovered that the Circadian Seekers were harvesting our corpses to rebuild their bodies and leave Sleeper constructs as Drifters. Powerful Drifter battleships then appeared on the scene with technology far in excess of what the Sleepers should be capable of. They began forcibly dismantling the Jove observatories and transporting an unusual material called Antikythera back through unidentified wormholes that players currently can’t enter.

We’ll be able to go through those wormholes into the five core Drifter systems once the patch lands on Tuesday, but players on the test server have already visited a few of them and begun filling in some of the gaps in our knowledge. The biggest and most recent plot twist was the discovery of both Sleeper wreckage and Jove corpses near the massive Drifter structures, leading to wild speculation on how the powerful but elusive Jove Empire ties in with the Drifter storyline.

jovestationDigging into the Jove mystery

When the other races technologically regressed with the collapse of the EVE Gate, the Jove used cloning and genetic engineering to adapt to their environments and survive. As an unintended side-effect of meddling with their own genome, all Jove eventually die of an incurable genetic condition calledThe Jovian Disease that makes them go insane and kill themselves. The Sleepers broke away from the Jove Empire millennia ago and went into suspended animation to avoid the disease, while the remaining Jove continued advancing in technology in the hopes of finding a cure.

To survive as a species, the Jove eventually placed most of their population into cryogenic stasis aboard three motherships and sent them off to find a more suitable home. Though they eventually left the motherships and settled Jove Prime, the ships themselves and the stasis technology were retained. When Sansha’s Nation managed to conquer a Jove station a few years back, players speculated that the Jove race must have died out or gone back into stasis.

It’s possible then that the Circadian Seekers may have got a hold of a mothership filled with sleeping Jove and probed its inhabitants’ minds for information. That would explain how they knew where to find the Jove Observatories, where they got the corpses to create all of their soldiers, and where they got their impressive new technology. Drifter ships fire a green beam weapon that bears a striking similarity to the Jove beam weapons from the The Battle of Vak’Atioth, and the recent Drifter autopsy showed that they are similar to the Jove. It looks as if the Drifters have essentially inherited the Jove’s technology, built colossal structures inside five shattered wormhole systems, and are now churning out ships in possible preparation for war with New Eden.

shieldgenBringing patches to life through lore

If you’ve been paying attention to the EVE Onlinechannel on YouTube, you’ve probably caught a glimpse of the recent video series from in-game news channel The Scope. The channel has released a few videos on the capsuleer fighting in New Eden, but its primary purpose is to introduce new content and technology in a fully immersive in-game way. When we got the SKIN technology that lets us change ship skins while in space, The Scope ran a story on a notorious narcotics smuggler using a new prototype camoflage system to paint his ship and pretend it was a different ship.

With the impending release of the Caldari Jackdaw, the channel similarly put together a story onthe Caldari Navy pressing the ship into service and the Gallente joining the arms race with its own tactical destroyer due later this year. The latest video is an announcement from Empress Jamyl Sarum of the Amarr empire, and it paves the way for all the tasty new structures we’ll be getting in the coming months. Jamyl has somehow obtained and publicly released the specifications for the classified DED shield technology that makes NPC stations and stargates invulnerable to attack.

While the technology isn’t compatible with ships, it can reportedly be installed on a range of structure sizes. The lore reason for the reveal is that capsuleers will need the technology to fight the Drifters, but it’s basically an excuse for why we will no longer shoot at structures and why the Entosis link will be neccessary to capture or destroy them. Another interesting possibility is that this opens up a way for CCP to let players take over stations and structures in empire space in the future.

drifterfinalEVE Online has always been known as a game in which the players create the story, but the past few months have really flipped that on its head. The Drifter storyline is advancing at a rapid pace and is being used to cleverly explain many major gameplay changes in an in-character form. It gives me the impression that everything we’ve seen to date in wormholes has been just the tip of a very scary iceberg, as the Sleepers we’ve been hapilly farming for years are now finally free from their virtual environments and have technology lightyears ahead of our own.

There are still plenty of unanswered questions, such as why the Drifters are massing ships for war and what their collossal new structures are for. Some also believe that the Drifters are actually the Talocan race, ancient Jovians, rogue drones taking over human bodies, or a terrible AI consciousness born within the Sleeper virtual environment. The action kicks off in just a few days when the Carnyx release goes live and explorers scramble to be the first to kick down the Drifter’s front door and unearth their secrets.

EVE Online expert Brendan ‘Nyphur’ Drain has been playing EVE for over a decade and writing the regular EVE Evolved column since 2008. The column covers everything from in-depth EVE guides and news breakdowns to game design discussions and opinion pieces. If there’s a topic you’d love to see covered, drop him a comment or send mail to brendan@massivelyop.com!
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