Earlier this week EVE Online players got surprise attacked by hordes of NPCs without warning, and people are freaking out

(Image credit: CCP)

EVE Online, for those who don't know, is a mammoth MMO with thousands of players contained to a single server, all caught up in their own fights between factions run by other players, building stations in space over months at a time, and is full of some of the most dastardly examples of cutthroat espionage you'll see in cyberspace. 

On Wednesday afternoon, something unprecedented happened: hordes of a hitherto unremarkable NPC faction named Drifters suddenly attacked players' bases en-masse, causing widespread panic and confusion. Some thought this surprise onslaught was a bug, as the Drifters have until now been at the fringes of EVE Online as mere nuisances, only piloting small fleets. 

(Image credit: CCP)

The developers behind EVE Online, CCP, have assured players that the Drifter attacks are intentional. No-one knows why this is happening, but the biggest (and most infamous) player factions, like The Imperium and TEST Alliance, have been forced to retreat to their home stations to save them from Drifter sieges. Ongoing battles that were being raged across the system by warring player factions have been effectively abandoned as groups rush to protect their territories and properties. 

Elsewhere in EVE Online, ordinary players are being affected too as Drifter squads are ambushing travellers through other systems, which sounds like this NPC faction is more of a threat than they've ever been before. Speaking to PCGamer, EVE player Rhivre says that "it very much caught everyone by surprise… there was no warning or hint that it was going to happen, then suddenly reports came in from all across null-sec [EVE Online's equivalent of no-mans-land] about structures being shot at." 

And as for CCP, the people behind all this chaos? All they have to say is that they've "reached out to the Drifters for comment, but they rejected our hailing frequencies." Guess we'll just have to wait and see how this turns out… 

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Zoe Delahunty-Light

While here at GamesRadar, Zoe was a features writer and video presenter for us. She's since flown the coop and gone on to work at Eurogamer where she's a video producer, and also runs her own Twitch and YouTube channels. She specialises in huge open-world games, true crime, and lore deep-dives.