It's been an eventful twelve months for EVE Online. Two expansions: Inferno and Retribution. Even as controversy and shenanigans came out of Reykjavik and New Eden, the game took long strides forward. Let's examine the year.
Broadly, 2012 saw two massive conflicts take place, spanning months and changing the face of the galaxy forever.
Sovereignty as held January 1st 2012
In the north, the CFC, headed by Goonswarm Federation, conducted a series of wars against northern inhabitants aimed at securing New Eden's Technetium supply. The year began with the CFC blitzkrieging through White Noise's Branch, but the coalition ran into stiff resistance against both Raiden in Tenal, and DOTBROS (NC. BL. S2N) in Tribute. Still, by December, it was all over. The Technetium Wars saw the vast majority of New Eden's tech supply fall under a single banner.
In the south, the Southern Coalition (SoCo), headed by Against All Authorities (-A-) began the year in a stalemate against the (former) DRF consisting mainly of Red Alliance, and supported by XDeath. This was an interminable, back-and-forth war, which through 2011 had gone very well for RA. -A-'s persistence and expensive doctrines turned the war around, and SoCo was able to break RA's defence. Similarly, with SoCo support, SOLAR was able to overthrow XDeath. The two long-time Lords of the East had been removed. With only two real power blocs left, the stage was set for possibly the largest war EVE had ever seen.
Depending on who you ask, it was Delve IV or V. What started as Pandemic Legion (PL) having fun in Delve slowly escalated into a full on sovereignty war. The CFC and TEST were pitted against SoCo and friends, with SOLAR and NC. conspicuously sitting it out. The well-advertised war was a fizzle, with the illustrious -A- deciding to fall back and cede Delve to the invaders. Delve would become known as the most overhyped, disappointing event of the entire year. What would have been one of the largest conflicts in video game history ended with a whimper, and began what would be a mass exodus of alliances from the Southern Coalition.
The remainder of the year saw the conclusion of the Technetium Wars, a rather lazy defeat of SoCo, the unseating of -A- by the Honeybadger Coalition (HBC), and the rise of a new coalition formed primarily around Nulli Secunda, an alliance who in 2012 reinforced their solid reputation in the community.
At the end of 2012, we are left with several major powers.
- The CFC: led by Goonswarm Federation, they remain the stalwart guardians of the north, and probably the richest coalition in New Eden.
- The HBC: led by TEST and PL, this force became the powerhouse of the south, and established itself as the largest coalition by sheer numbers.
- SOLAR and pets: both gained the majority of their sovereignty in 2012, and began what could be a very long war towards losing it.
- N3: centered around Nulli Secunda, Northern Coalition, and Nexus, they established themselves as an entity, took large tracts of the south from the crumbling SoCo, and have begun a crusade against SOLAR.
Sovereignty as held December 29th 2012
I have heard complaints that nullsec is "too entrenched." Those voices have certainly been proven wrong this year, with sweeping changes across the map. The outlook for 2013 is bright as these new powerhouses square off.
From small but significant events like the closing of Veto corp, to the drying-up of Hulkageddon and the beginning of widespread freighter ganking, much has changed in Empire space. The first half of the year, it seemed, was spent wrangling over the wardec changes and attendant drama. Then: bounties! Freighters pillaged en masse! Miner bumping! Dec Shield and the wardec trap! Suffice it to say that much has changed.
Let us not forget that this year, we have seen vast improvement in the game we all love (or hate). Faction Warfare recieved a major overhaul, making it both more entertaining to do, and profitable for both individuals and large alliances. If FW is any indication, CCP has shown their intention to revitalize neglected features, and that some of the more broken areas are receiving, and will continue to receive attention.
Speaking of continued progress, you can't talk about 2012 without talking about CCP Fozzie and his ship rebalancing team. The changes begun with Crucible's humble destroyer rebalance have morphed into a full-fledged rebirth of fun, accessible PVP. Previously terrible ships are now good for something and we're seeing a real spike in diversity of craft flown.
CCP has also invested significant development time into UI upgrades, general usability and ease of gameplay. Features such as the annunciator bar, the timers, and safeties show that CCP is working on making the game more accessible for newbies and more readable for all of us.
Depending on who you ask, DUST 514 is either a disaster in the making or CCP's potential salvation. I, for one, think that it will be a valuable addition to the universe if done correctly. CCP has shown that they would rather get it right than release a bad product. That's what one could infer by their continued pushing back of the release date and focus on additional content, anyways. 2013 promises to be, at the very least, interesting in this regard.
2012 in the EVE community would not be complete without recognition of Vile Rat. I think all of our readers know the events surrounding Vile Rat this year. If nothing else, it was amazing to see an entire community of players who are normally cursing, fighting, and certainly never in agreement come together in recognition of the contributions of a single person, who was the victim of a terrible attack. People stopped shooting each other, even for just a few hours. Reds went to each other's staging systems, offered condolences, burned spies, chatted on each other's comms, and hundreds of stations were renamed in honour of the man who affected our universe so much.
Although our community shrunk by one, it also grew for yet another year in a row. With over 450,000 subscriptions, EVE is certainly not 'dying' as some of the louder forum posters would have you believe. As a whole, 2012 was a very successful year for CCP and EVE alike. The game and community have recovered greatly from the disaster that was 2011, and 2013 looks as if it could shape up to be a very eventful year.