Details of the next EVE expansion, The Empyrean Age, have emerged via an interview with designer Matthew Woodwards at MMORPG.com.

After providing a graphical upgrade, some new ships and a smoother introduction in the last update, Trinity, developer CCP is now concentrating on fleshing out the narrative side of the EVE universe. Empyrean Age's centrepiece will be a great war between four rival empires.

"Empyrean Age is the first expansion that we've really been building the story into things," said Woodward. "It's about four big empires who exist in a kind of uneasy peace for some time. It all comes to a head and it all starts. The whole cluster is extreme and everything is kicking off."

These events will also be fleshed out in a novel of the same name by Tony Gonzales.

Players will be able to sign up for any of the four empires, either individually or as corporations, and complete missions for them, gaining standing as they go. But they will also be able to contribute to the war effort by participating in more free-form battles.

According to Woodward, the goal is to bring player-versus-player combat enthusiasts, and players who generally play missions in safe space, together. CCP is particularly keen to encourage more of EVE's population to try out PVP.

"The step from one to the other is a big step, and what we're trying to do is build a bridge so that you can say 'I want to try some PVP in a semi-controlled environment,'" said Woodward. "It's not safe, obviously. You're going to die a lot, because that's what PVP is about. Still, once you get into the mindset of 'I'm going to lose this ship', it's all a lot more fun."

There's no release date yet for The Empyrean Age, but check Eurogamer MMO soon for more news on EVE's player elections, or follow the game's recent progress in our latest re-review.

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Oli Welsh

Oli Welsh

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Oli is the editor of Eurogamer.net and likes to take things one word at a time. His friends call him The European, but that's just a coincidence. He's still playing Diablo 3.

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