EVE Evolved: Will EVE Online’s Abyssal Deadspace ever be expanded?

EVE Online‘s recent Into the Abyss expansion has managed to grip me in a way that few expansions have, providing a challenging new solo PvE feature that’s as addictive as it is lucrative. Now that players are starting to figure out ship fittings and strategies for taking on abyssal deadspace and it’s being farmed at an increasing rate, the question on many players’ minds is “what comes next?” The Triglavian storyline is far from resolved, and these new size-restricted instances could be expanded on in dozens of different ways to spark a virtual renaissance for small-scale PvE and maybe even PvP.

CCP Games has a long history of making impressive “first steps” like these in new areas of gameplay, but sometimes those ideas don’t go much further and the first steps are the last. Abyssal deadspace could easily become another one shot feature that joins EVE‘s permanent gameplay, just like the Sansha incursions that are still in the game years after they probably should have ended. I seriously hope that CCP doesn’t abandon the feature this time though, as further work on abyssal deadspace has the potential to open up whole new types of gameplay that aren’t available anywhere in EVE right now.

In this edition of EVE Evolved, I theorise about some of the different ways abyssal deadspace could be expanded and how the story of the Triglavian Collective still has a long way to go.

Could we just get more Abyssal PvE?

The first phase of abyssal deadspace is limited to solo cruisers, but there’s definitely room for new variations with different restrictions. The obvious choice would be to make a set of filaments for Frigates, Destroyers or Battleships leading to new abyssal deadspace sites suited to those ship classes. Cruisers represent a unique middle-ground between these two extremes and so have a much wider variety of strategic options, but constrained versions of the sites for smaller or larger ships are definitely possible.

Frigate or Destroyer sites could require considerably less dps but have more speed checks and larger distances to traverse, possibly with more environmental clouds and Triglavian structures. Certain NPC spawns could be linked with associated environmental effects that help against them, making it more essential that you reach them and use them to your advantage, and new obstacles such as proximity mines could even be added to test your manual piloting skills.

Battleship sites would have to conversely be much longer tank and gank affairs where the challenge is less about piloting and more about picking good targets and and learning strategies to mitigate certain dangers. There could be structures that sound the alarm if you get close or call in reinforcements after a certain amount of time but that can be destroyed, and you’d have to pick which enemy type you most want to avoid and destroy its structure first. We could also see some high-damage NPCs that need to be killed before they get in range, or Drifter battleships that charge up a superweapon and need to be prioritised before it fires.

Changing the player limit

The other restriction that could potentially be altered for new abyssal deadspace filaments is the single player limit, which would have some interesting results. CCP could make new two-player abyssal filaments, for example, which jump one player into the pocket and leave behind a single-use wormhole into the pocket for another player to use.  This could function partly as a solo PvP instance as many players would attempt the sites solo and risk someone coming in behind them, though there’s no way to stop the player from bringing a second character or a friend to take that spot.

The PvE gameplay options two-player instances open up would be pretty astounding, though! As soon as it’s possible to have a second player in a pocket, you have the potential for dedicated electronic warfare ships, logistics ships to repair damage, dedicated tackling or anti-frigate ships, and several other strategies. The sites themselves could even have totally different content to the current sites, including simultaneous objectives that have to be completed at the same time to unlock the gate to the next pocket. Imagine a hacking challenge where two cruisers can each hack separate locking devices within 10 seconds of each other for some advantage, or a site where two cruisers could split up and each tackle a different pocket solo to save time before joining back together. Now that would be cool!

The Triglavian Domain

When abyssal deadspace first landed, it was clear that the pockets were procedurally generated by picking background objects, colours, triglavian structures, gas clouds, and NPC spawns at random. Players quickly came to recognise all of the large set pieces that make up the new sites’s backgrounds, and the sites began to look very formulaic. Under the hood though, each abyssal deadspace pocket actually exists in a real star system somewhere cut off from the rest of the universe. Efforts to map this abyssal underspace have even shown some success.

The lore explanation is that our ships can entangle their warp drives with these new filaments to temporarily enter abyssal deadspace and can only exist in there for 20 minutes before the warp bubble keeping us safe collapses, but the Triglavians, Rogue Drones and Drifters appear to have no such drawback. The way I like to think of travel within abyssal deadspace is that transfer conduits re-entangle your warp drive with another pocket (thus transferring you there), while origin conduits safely unentangle your warp drive from whatever pocket it’s in. While we return to normal space at our point of entry when entering an origin conduit, it’s possible that the Triglavians return to their own star systems and a point of entry outside the abyss.

It’s also important to note that while we’re entering small calmer pockets within abyssal deadspace, these chaotic abyssal regions seem to themselves be embedded in perfectly calm star systems. There are several recurring planet types seen in the backgrounds of many pockets, and there’s always a central star to see. It’s not an unreasonable hypothesis that these star systems are where the Triglavians live and they’re exploring abyssal deadspace and setting up gates there the same way New Eden’s factions set up complexes inside standard deadspace with magnetic acceleration gates to propel ships inside.

There are still many unanswered questions about the Triglavian threat, but it’s clear that they are performing research in abyssal deadspace rather than living there. If this is true, it means that other regions of abyssal deadspace might exist and we may eventually be able to find our way into the Triglavian star systems themselves.

The possibility exists for abyssal deadspace pockets dedicated to frigates or battleships, ones that can open to two players with unique co-operative challenges. We could even get an endless dungeon where the player must see how many pockets deep he can get before deciding to turn back and retrace his steps to exit the same way he came in. This is a feature that CCP could leave on the back-burner and never revisit, but that would be such a shame when there’s so much potential to take it further.

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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