Capping off an afternoon of introductions at last week's Eve Vegas fan event in Las Vegas, CCP CEO Hilmar Veigar Pétursson revealed Project Aurora - a new mobile strategy game set in the Eve universe.
Aurora is co-developed with PlayRaven, a Finland-based games studio made up of veteran developers from Remedy, Rockstar and Supercell. Described as a 'condensed' version of Eve, Aurora - that's a working title, to be clear - has players build up space stations and clash over resources and territory in a simplified, hex-based take on space.
Time is split between sending out fleets to mine resources, investing those resources in new ships and research and attacking and defending outposts that give your corporation access to new hexes. Recreating the rhythms of the MMO's legendary corp-on-corp conflicts is a key theme, with every player scrambling to ensure their faction gets the best of Aurora's 'Relic War' - a multi-stage battle that runs over the course of the day.
In the first phase of battle, Preparation, corps build up their fleets and stockpiles of resources and invest in buffs that carry over to the next phase, Contesting. Then, players do battle for relics in order to repair a damaged Jumpgate in their home territory. The first to finish fixing their Jumpgate is the winner of that specific Relic War, and leads the charge into a new map and a new cycle of the game.
CCP ran a three-day alpha test of the game exclusively for Eve Vegas attendees, with prizes handed out to a handful of high-performing players. Having now tinkered with the game for a few hours, first impressions are pretty good: Aurora is clearly still early in development, but the early focus on teamwork and the rapidly-cycling nature of conflict is sufficient to set it apart from other handheld build 'em ups.
Project Aurora is due for release sometime in 2018, although CCP plans to engage the Eve community regularly when it comes to testing and getting feedback on the game. That said, there are no plans for Aurora to interact with Eve proper: that's a matter for the official Eve app. Aurora wants to be its own thing: a way into CCP's veteran MMO for those who can't justify the time in front of the PC. Or, as Pétursson put it at the conclusion of his presentation: "is that a space station in your pocket, or are you just pleased to see me?"