During Fanfest in 2015, CCP unveiled their plans for replacing the POS and outpost systems with a set of player owned structures. These would work on a unified model and cover all the functions of the current system. The first set of these structures, citadels, where added to the game in April 2016, after being presented by one of the best trailers made by CCP during Fanfest that year.
The genesis of a new era
Hundreds of those were soon™ built all over the cluster. The XL-size version allowing for docking super capitals launched a race between the biggest alliance. After one year of deployment, over 10,000 (yes, that’s ten thousand) of them can be found. Huge success, as some might say.
Their engineering counterparts were released in November, capable of carrying out all manufacturing and research processes. They met the same building rage: 6,000 are floating in space after less than 6 months and much of the industry previously done in stations has transferred to them.
With these two structure families, CCP covered the functions of outposts and a part of those from POSes. Two remained: moon mining and refining (and compressing but let’s say that’s a package).
This will be covered by the new Refineries, that CCP will release later this year.
CCP is now looking to remove outposts, and this is where it becomes hairy.
How to remove unremovable objects
The removal of outposts was known, and the ability to launch new ones was already removed in December. Fraternity deployed the last one, just before the deadline. No new outpost: check. Now what? That was the question for several months, and CCP just answered it during its update on structures during Fanfest.
To quickly recap the process:
- Outpost will be replaced by 5 faction Fortizars. Models will be rescaled to fit the Fortizar size. The fifth racial variant is called “Immensea” and corresponds to the non-racial outposts. Each of these racial citadels gets a bonus related to the current ones (reprocessing for Minmatar, manufacturing for Amarr, research for Caldari and fuel bonus+service slot for Gallente). The Immensea variant will provide extra defence, hitpoints, slots and a general bonus. Bonuses will however not make those better than Refineries and Engineering Complexes.
- These Fortizars will be transferred to the outpost owner on patch day (p-day). All assets will be moved to the new structures.
- A memorial beacon will appear (text to be defined).
- A special rig will be fitted to each of these, reflecting the upgrades given to the outpost. This means that even though they can be unanchored and moved like any Structure, they will lose part of their bonus in this case.
This means that everyone holding an Outpost on P-day will see it change into a skinned Fortizar. This Fortizar will provide all functions from a Fortizar with a racial base bonus and a rig replacing outpost upgrades. It will also have the services that the outpost provided fitted. These citadels will be collectors (no more will be added to the game) but will be movable.
To allow for the owner to fit his new stronghold, a period of one week of invulnerability will be guaranteed. And, of course, fuel will be provided to cover for this period.
The outposts war: soon™, in Eve Online?
Let’s now discuss the impact of these revelations. First, when invading space, the current meta is to drop citadels in enemy space. Why? Because they are way harder to destroy! If you take an outpost (which is done via entosis, as a reminder), it will often go back and forth between freeport and owned states. This is mainly due to the fact that as ADM will be lowered, so are entosis timers, and thus the response time to an attack. Taking space starts with having a foot in it, and structures (especially citadels) provide a strong ground.
Replacing the outposts by Fortizars might cause bigger groups to start taking interesting outposts that are out of their territories: at the time of the change, they would have directly set Fortizars providing advanced bases all around their power projection range. Taking outpost from smaller alliances around you is not hard at all, but would not provide much interest right now. Fortizars provide better defensive capabilities, and along with the “tether my titan and bridge” technique widely used, it dramatically increases power projection. Since Fortizars provide a single grid to control, they are also often considered as easier to defend. In the worst case, losing the Fortizar would at least not give the enemy a foothold in your garden.
Some outpost dense region (yes Providence, we are looking at you) could soon™ be overwhelmed if all outposts were attacked at the same time, as entosising only requires few numbers. In this case, outposts would certainly change hands, even with a good defence. After the change, the Fortizars would need more powerful fleets to attack and prevent this kind of split warfare. Other regions could also be targetted due to outpost being placed on good routes to hubs. A solution to this might be to have smaller blocks entering diplomatic processes in order to keep their space relatively clear while giving out one or two outposts to bigger blocks.
They are 1335 outposts in Eve Online and 68 conquerable stations. Most regions have more than 50% of their systems covered by outposts like Providence with 79 outposts for 84 systems. Others have less than 25%, for example, Catch (10/44). Even more: some regions have 3 or more Conquerable stations, while others do not have any. All these new Faction Fortizars give racial bonuses, and owning an Immensea or Gallente one seems the best bonus for combat/sov oriented goals.
The strange case of Freeports
Another question that raises is: What about freeports?
Several outposts are maintained in freeport states for “reasons”. What will happen on P-day? Will they return to the last holder? One could also guess that several outposts will be attacked near to P-day: will they be locked to the last owner?
We guess that CCP will announce a day on which they will lock outposts states. If they are freeport at this time, the first group to secure a special timer (in form of entosis war) would win the outpost. This is just speculation but seems the more reasonable choice.
Dark times ahead
CCP choosing to unveil these plans so early, with the huge impact they might have and the tension it might cause, seems somewhat risky. There are no doubts that groups will make moves to secure themselves the most interesting Outposts. To combine this with the changes on moon mining will lead to a certain instability, and we expect skirmishes to happen all over the cluster to gain territorial control and reclaim moons.
As good as this is for the gameplay and meta dynamic, it also will probably not help smaller groups that are currently living in buffer space between bigger groups. To predict the exact effect of these changes is not possible, but one thing is sure: Winter is Coming.