Alongside their ongoing invasion of empire space, the Triglavian Collective is also inviting capsuleers to prove themselves in all-new Proving Grounds within the depths of Abyssal Deadspace. Unlike the old Abyssal Proving Grounds, which were accessible through a Triglavian gate at the end of some standard Abyssal PVE runs, these new Proving Grounds will become directly accessible via a new set of dedicated Proving Filaments that will be active during a series of limited time events. For the first time ever, the new Abyssal Proving Grounds will be accessible to small groups of Capsuleers, fighting against each other in a variety of ship types.

In the tradition of other recent additions to the game, such as the Needlejack Filaments, the new Proving Filaments are intended to provide players with another unique form of short session PVP that is full of variety and that complements the other PVP systems already available in the game.

These Proving Grounds will allow players to face off against each other, using their mastery of both piloting and theorycrafting to overcome their opponents. They will also be able to track, compare and boast of their prowess through leaderboards that will allow players to follow the action throughout each event.

The story so far

The original Abyssal Proving Grounds were introduced in the Onslaught release in late 2018 as an experimental addition to the popular Abyssal Deadspace content. Many players have enjoyed the old Proving Grounds over the past couple years, however CCP has been gathering a lot of similar feedback from active abyssal PVPers, whether it was on social media or the forums, or at the player events like the EVE World Tour. This feedback has often included a few of the same concerns:

  • Many pilots want the ability to enter the Proving Grounds directly instead of being required to complete an Abyssal Deadspace run first. While the combination of PVP and PVE can be interesting under the right circumstances, many players have expressed that they want to be able to PVE when they feel like PVE and PVP when they feel like PVP. The current system requires you to go through one to get to the other, and that was an impediment to some players engaging with the content.
  • The other concern was the premise that the existing Abyssal Proving Grounds meta has been “solved.” After a year and a half of the same format, PVP in the Proving Grounds has become stale, and players have developed a handful of optimal fits that are repeatedly used, and the result has been the stifling of innovation and creative thinking. Over the first half of 2020 over 83% of the kills within the old Abyssal Proving Grounds were made by the same five ship types, and 48% of the kills were made by one ship type, the Ikitursa.
  • In addition, quite a few requests have been made from players who would like to compete in Proving Grounds style PVP engagements with their friends, rather than being restricted to 1v1 engagements. While the Abyssal Deadspace PVE content gives players the option to enter with groups of up to three frigates instead of a single cruiser, the old Proving Grounds PVP engagements have been limited to solo cruisers only. We all know that EVE is at its best when played with friends, and CCP completely agrees with the players asking for the ability to compete alongside their friends in the Proving Grounds.
  • Finally, players claimed that the system for finding opponents could do with some improvements. In the old system, the gate to the Proving Grounds would spawn when it detects that enough characters were active in the Abyss. Players could then choose to enter the Proving Grounds and might wait for significant periods of time for an opponent. It was even possible for them to win by default when no opponent could be found within the time limit.

Based on these observations and all other player feedback CCP is planning to address all of these issues with the new Abyssal Proving Grounds and Proving Filaments system this July.

The new hotness

Proving grounds filaments

Starting next month with the launch of EVE’s third quadrant, the old Abyssal Proving Grounds feature will be replaced by a new set of limited time events where the Triglavians will invite Capsuleers to enter the Proving Grounds to compete in a variety of formats. To enter the Proving Grounds, your fleet will activate a new Proving Filament, which will find your group a suitable set of opponents and then launch you directly into a pocket within Abyssal Deadspace for a fight to the death.

The “format” for each Proving Grounds event in Q3 2020 will consist of a set of ship types that are able to use that filament to enter the Proving Grounds, as well as a specific fleet size of Capsuleer participants. Over the course of the third quadrant, CCP is currently planning for 1v1, 2v2, 3v3, 5v5, and 5 player free-for-all formats. They will be mixing and matching ship restrictions and fleet sizes to ensure that each event provides players with a unique PVP experience, and that the meta never grows stale. Each Proving Filament event will last for a limited time, generally either three days over a single weekend or ten days across two weekends and the intervening week.

The following events are work in progress and subject to change:

July 16-26: 2v2 Tech One Combat, Attack, and Disruption Cruisers
Ship Types: Omen, Caracal, Thorax, Stabber, Maller, Moa, Vexor, Rupture, Arbitrator, Blackbird, Celestis, Bellicose

July 31-August 2: Five Player Destroyer Free For All
Ship Types: Coercer, Dragoon, Cormorant, Corax, Catalyst, Algos, Thrasher, Talwar, Sunesis

August 7-9: Amarr Foundation Day Special Format: 3v3 Imperial Navy Slicers
Ship Types: Imperial Navy Slicer

Preliminary schedule for the rest of the Proving Ground events in Quadrant 3 can also be found below. The details of the formats for these events will be revealed nearer their dates:

  • August 14-23: Event 4 - TBA
  • August 28-30: Event 5 - TBA
  • September 4-6: Event 6 - TBA
  • September 11-20: Event 7 - TBA
  • September 25-27: Event 8 – TBA
  • October 2-11: Event 9 – TBA

The idea is to adjust the format plans based on community feedback from each event and CCP will be using these events to experiment with a wide variety of different format options to see how capsuleers enjoy them. Most events will focus on relatively inexpensive and accessible ships so that the widest variety of players can participate, however CCP plans to have some special events with more flashy ships as well.

These events will be continuing in Quadrant 4 and beyond, with the frequency of the events depending on how popular this version of the Proving Grounds proves to be with the EVE community. The frequency of events will be adjusted to maximize the likelihood that players will be able to promptly find opponents when they compete during each event.

The proving filaments

Proving grounds filaments

The new Proving Ground matches will follow a simpler process than the old Proving Grounds mechanic. There will be a unique filament for each event. When activated, the filament will launch a capsuleer and his fleet into the Proving Grounds, just like an Abyssal Filament launches a player into Abyssal Deadspace or a Needlejack filament launches a player into a random nullsec system.

The filaments will be obtainable through several different methods (which may change over time and between different events), including as loot from Triglavian PVE content. CCP will be experimenting with a number of ways of distributing the filaments in the future, so the methods available for obtaining the filaments may change from event to event. The filaments can be sold on the market, so if you just want to focus on pure PVP you will be able to obtain them there. Each filament will have a specific start and end date for its event, as well as information about the details of the Proving Grounds match format for that event.

The process of using one of the new Proving Filaments will be very similar to that of a Needlejack filament. Your whole group will need to be in a fleet together, and at a location away from stations, gates, and other obstacles. The player with the filament activates it, and their fleet will enter the queue for the Proving Grounds event. While the group is in the queue, they will remain outside of Abyssal Deadspace and will be able to cancel their match and have their filament returned if they choose to do so. Once the Proving Grounds find a random opposing team, both teams will be transported through the trace directly into the Abyssal Proving Grounds arena.

The new abyssal Proving Ground arenas are a variety of visually stunning Abyssal environments, including crystal rock formations that Abyss players will recognize and an all-new environment above a large hot asteroid. The Triglavians have also constructed a new set of structures around their Proving Grounds, to better observe the Capsuleers who have come to prove themselves through ritual combat.

The matches

The new Proving Ground battles will last a maximum of 15 minutes, with the resistances of all ships being reduced around the 8-minute mark, just like in the old Proving Grounds. The combat field is contained within a bubble of safe space and exiting the boundaries will result in progressive damage to your ship. The match ends when the only ships (other than capsules) left on the field belong to a single team of Capsuleers, or when the 15-minute match timer completes (whichever comes first). The winning team can choose whether to show mercy and allow the losing Capsuleers to escape with their pods or whether to send them directly back to the home station in a fresh clone. If the timer runs out before one team has succeeded, the bubble of safe space within the abyss will collapse, destroying all the ships and capsules from every team and rendering the match a draw.

Once a team has been crowned the winner, a Triglavian cache will explode within the arena, allowing the victors to collect their spoils: loot that will often include Triglavian Survey Data and more filaments. An origin gate will also activate, allowing the surviving players to return back to the same location in normal space where their adventure began.

Glorification of the fit

Proving grounds filaments

Individual results in each limited-time Proving Filament event can be tracked through a new window that will be accessible through a link in the filament UI or directly through the Neocom menu. This window will allow players to view the format for the current event, track their wins, losses, and draws, as well as view a leaderboard displaying the top 100 Capsuleers by total number of wins in that particular event. At the end of each event, a set of prizes will be distributed to the accounts that reached this top 100 leaderboard and then the leaderboard will reset for the next event. The rewards for reaching the leaderboard in an event in Quadrant 3 will include a set of unique ship SKINs. These SKINs will only be accessible by reaching the top 100 in one of the Proving Ground events during Quadrant 3 2020. This means that if you see one of these skins being sported in space you can know you’re looking at a top competitor in one of the Quadrant 3 2020 Proving Ground events. In addition to the unique skins that will be shared by all the Quadrant 3 events, there will also be specific rewards for those on the leaderboards of each event, and those rewards will change from event to event. These rewards are in addition to the loot from both the Triglavian cache and the wrecks of opposing ships that will be available to the winners of each individual Proving Grounds fight!

Looking to the future

Hopefully many capsuleers will enjoy these new Proving Filament events. Make sure to let CCP know what you think of it or simply post any of your suggestions on the official forums. Just as the old Abyssal Proving Grounds and the needlejack filaments were built on the foundation of the abyssal deadspace filaments and as these new Proving Filament events are built on the foundation of the old Abyssal Proving Grounds, CCP plans to see these Proving Filaments serve as a building block towards even greater things in the future.

Some of the future additions that CCP is looking to explore are the addition of new forms of format restrictions including restrictions on fitted modules and implants that would allow for an even greater variety in Proving Ground event formats.

CCP is also aware that any discussion of structured PVP will raise questions from the players who miss the old annual Alliance Tournament about whether this is intended to “replace” the AT, so CCP wants to make it clear that this feature is intended to stand separate from tournament gameplay and was primarily designed to replace the old Abyssal Proving Grounds. There is an obvious appetite among the community to see organized tournament gameplay return to EVE, and this feature has been built in a way that might potentially allow parts of its code to be useful for potential future work. That being said, at this time CCP wants to focus on making sure the new Abyssal Proving Grounds gets the attention it deserves and they have time to iterate on the feature based on data and player’s feedback before they start exploring the next exciting opportunity. In the meantime, if you are looking at organizing a tournament using existing options on the Thunderdome server, please reach out to the Community Team by sending an email to [email protected]

The new Abyssal Proving Grounds will be opening for public testing on the Singularity test server today, and hopefully all interested players will try them out and share their feedback. A mass test will also be available soon to stress test the feature on Singularity. More information about dates and times for the mass test will be coming soon.

The team of developers working on this new feature will be reading the forum feedback thread for this dev blog as well as future feedback threads that CCP will be creating in the test server feedback section of the forums. Please feel free to let them know what you think. What about this feature excites you? What would make it even better? What formats would you like to see later in Quadrants 3 and 4? Hop over to the official forums and share your feedback.