After a year of fighting, EVE Online's PAPI super-coalition has abandoned its mission to dethrone The Imperium.
A ᴡᴀʀ ᴏꜰ unprecedented magnɪᴛude ɪɴ EVE Onlɪɴe ɪs comɪɴg ᴛᴏ ᴀɴ unᴇxᴘᴇᴄᴛed ᴀɴd ᴀɴti-climᴀᴄᴛic ᴇɴᴅ. Fᴏʀ ᴏᴠᴇʀ a yᴇᴀʀ, sᴏᴍᴇ ᴏꜰ EVE Onlɪɴe's ʙɪɢgest pʟᴀʏer-ʀᴜɴ fᴀᴄᴛiᴏɴs, ɪɴcludɪɴg TEST Alliᴀɴce, Pᴀɴdemic Hᴏʀde, Frᴀᴛernɪᴛy, ᴀɴd Brave Collective—a sᴜᴘer-coalɪᴛiᴏɴ naᴍᴇd PAPI—ʜᴀᴠᴇ laid siege ᴛᴏ tʜᴇ villaɪɴoᴜs Imperium wɪᴛh tʜᴇ sᴏle ɪɴᴛᴇɴt ᴏꜰ wipɪɴg tʜᴇm ꜰʀᴏᴍ tʜᴇ ɢᴀᴍᴇ enᴛɪʀᴇly. Tʜᴇ ᴡᴀʀ hᴀs ʙᴇen brewɪɴg ᴇᴠᴇʀ sɪɴce ᴀɴotʜᴇr ʜɪstᴏʀic cᴏɴflict ꜰʀᴏᴍ 2016 cᴀʟʟed Wᴏʀld War Bee, ᴀɴd ɪɴ tʜᴇ lᴀst yᴇᴀʀ hᴀs ʀᴇsᴜʟᴛed ɪɴ sᴏᴍᴇ ᴏꜰ tʜᴇ ʙɪɢgest ꜰɪɢhts ɪɴ EVE Onlɪɴe's ʜɪstᴏʀy. But ᴀꜰᴛᴇʀ 13 ʟᴏɴɢ ᴍᴏɴᴛʜs ᴏꜰ ᴡᴀʀ, tʜᴇ PAPI coalɪᴛiᴏɴ hᴀs ᴀʟʟ ʙᴜᴛ dɪssᴏlved ʀɪɢʜᴛ ᴏɴ tʜᴇ Imperium's ꜰʀᴏɴᴛ ᴅᴏᴏʀ.
World War Bee 2 is the second time some of EVE Online's biggest alliances have banded together to root out The Imperium. It's also the second time they've failed. Why the grudge? It's simple: The Imperium has, for years, dominated null-sec, the enormous lawless ring of star systems that surround New Eden's less hostile areas of the game. With some tens of thousands of players under its banner and an industrial infrastructure that could rival a small nation, The Imperium is the king of EVE Online—and it does its best to make sure everyone else knows it too.
It's only natural that so many thousands of players would want to see The Imperium completely crumble. But that's not what happened.
The Imperium held strong, did not waver, and outlasted the most ferocious assault ever seen in EVE.Dunk Dinkle, Brave Collective
For 13 months PAPI has systematically invaded each of The Imperium's key territories and captured them. Boasting an estimated 52,000-plus players, they outnumbered The Imperium so significantly that, back in September 2020, Imperium leader The Mitanni sent an email to old Goonswarm members who had quit EVE asking them to come back and fight. By Christmas PAPI had The Imperium up against the ropes in its home region of Delve, with a beachhead secured just jumps away from The Imperium's headquarters.
This led to some of the biggest battles in EVE Online's entire 17-year history. On December 31, both sides brawled over a Citadel starbase in the M2-XFE system and—in a rare display of bravado—both armies deployed their Titan supercapital fleets. As the biggest, deadliest, and most expensive ships in the game, Titans are the last resort players have to turn the tide of a conflict. Nearly 7,000 players fought for over 14 hours in that single battle, destroying a total of 257 Titans (and thousands of smaller ships). It became the most destructive battle in EVE history by a wide margin and even netted the game's developers two Guinness World Records.
But as a new year dawned, PAPI's momentum seemed to dwindle. Months of gruelling military operations began to take their toll. This wasn't the first time the Imperium had been pushed into a corner by half the galaxy, which only strengthened the morale of its frontline soldiers. Meanwhile, PAPI's own armadas seemed to be slowing down, with engagements happening less and less frequently. In an interview with PCGamesN, CCP Games community developer Peter Farrell speculated that easing pandemic quarantines meant fewer players were keen to hole up inside for hours on end shooting spaceships.
Fearing the stalemate would sputter out, PAPI leadership renewed the war effort several weeks ago intending to drag Goonswarm into a series of deathmatches that would ultimately decide the war once and for all. On August 2, PAPI launched an all-out assault on the Imperium's headquarters in 1DQ1-A. The battle raged for hours before PAPI forces unexpectedly began to retreat. Minutes later word was spreading that alliances within PAPI were withdrawing from the war altogether and heading home.(Image credit: CCP Games)
It's not clear what exactly happened—and everyone has their own version of events—but in a matter of hours PAPI's joint leadership completely collapsed into their separate alliances. In an emergency town hall meeting, TEST leader Progodlegend announced the alliance's imminent retreat and blamed part of the defeat on developer CCP Games and some recent changes it had made to the in-game economy that supposedly damaged TEST's wartime economy. "The timing could not have been fucking worse. It was a serious gut punch there from CCP," he said.
"The war is over and we have lost," said Brave's leader during his own address to his soldiers. "The Imperium held strong, did not waver, and outlasted the most ferocious assault ever seen in EVE."
Immediately after the announcement, PAPI forces began evacuating their fleets back to their home regions. Meanwhile, the Imperium's forces have begun attacking the retreating PAPI fleets, retaking systems that were lost during the initial conflict and pouring propaganda into EVE's subreddit gloating over their win.
Though the fighting is still far from over, World War Bee 2—EVE Online's biggest conflict yet—most certainly is.