Zarzakh and The Deathless
EVE Online: Havoc will be the second major expansion for EVE in 2023, and as with the Viridian expansion in June, the In Focus series will give you early insight into specific upcoming elements of the expansion due in November, starting here!
Havoc will allow you to align with the Angel Cartel or Guristas pirate factions and spread corruption in empire warzones, introduce brand new Angel and Guristas ships – including the long-awaited Angel Cartel titan – as well as building on the strong foundations for player corporations that debuted in Viridian with enhancements to Corporation Projects, AIR Opportunities, and more.
At EVE Fanfest 2023, the previously-uncharted Zarzakh star system was opened, and it was revealed that the system was under the control of a group of insurgents called the Deathless Circle. This narrative revelation will drive the upcoming Pirate Insurgencies from Zarzakh into Factional Warfare space within empire territories and the ability for capsuleers to align themselves with the Angel Cartel and Guristas. Get the lowdown on this new space as it is discussed throughout this article, in the video below, as well as on stream via CCP TV at 16:00 UTC on 12 October!
Going into the Havoc expansion, the opportunity to advance some of New Eden’s storylines was taken, with more being revealed about the Jove Empire. During the EVE Operations: Epiphany event, capsuleers were tasked with finding four ancient and previously hidden Jovian stargates, all leading to the mysterious new Zarzakh system. These gates were opened up to capsuleers at Fanfest 2023, and Zarzakh was suddenly on New Eden’s map as an ancient, abandoned nexus in the hands of the shadowy Deathless Circle faction, led by The Deathless himself. Zarzakh’s four Jovian gates are connected to the Curse and Venal nullsec regions, as well as the Turnur and Alsavoinon systems in lowsec.
Speaking of mysteries, the Deathless Circle is also currently something of an enigma. They have clearly moved into Zarzakh before anyone else, have been there for some time, and have managed to establish a basic understanding of its contents and technology such as operating the Jovian stargates.
Inside Zarzakh, there are Jovian relics which provide a fascinating background to the pirates who occupy the system, including a Jovian megastructure called “The Fulcrum” where The Deathless has set up base. He has allied with Angel Cartel and Guristas pirates by promising them a brighter future, offering them this sanctuary hidden from the empires.
Zarzakh itself has a completely different atmosphere to the rest of New Eden. It represents brand new space for capsuleers to explore, including a totally unique environment that is as ancient and advanced as many will come to expect from anything touched by the Jove Empire. It has limited visibility and a lot of it has not yet been discovered. Within the system is an interstellar shipcaster construction site, and this location, plus The Fulcrum, and the four stargates are surrounded by safe zones that do not damage any ships. However, venturing outside of those safe zones will immediately come at a price, as Zarzakh’s hostile environment begins to damage a ship’s hull at an increasing pace.
Going forward, the in-game narrative will develop to allow capsuleers to participate in unraveling more of Zarzakh’s secrets. Linking Turnur, Alsavoinon, Venal, and Curse through Zarzakh may also be significant in terms tactical movements within New Eden in the future.
EYES ON THE STORM – ZARZAKH’S VISUALS
When designing the Zarzakh system and conceiving its atmosphere, the desire was to create something visually stunning, but also something that had not been seen before, as well as incorporating the new volumetric cloud technology into this space. The environment is brighter than many locations in EVE, but it is chaotic as well, reminiscent of being in the heart of a sandstorm. The effect of including gigantic, silhouetted structures in space set against this chaotic, cloudy, but relatively bright environment creates a moody contrast, one that is befitting of an ancient Jovian location.
The unique nature of the Zarzakh system is reflected in the way it feels to explore it in your ship. The mystery of its origin is translated into the visual experience of flying through the sandstorm, avoiding the treacherous regions within that space, and the partially obscured full scale of The Fulcrum megastructure.
Another atmosphere that needed to be created to fit thematically with the narrative and atmosphere of Zarzakh is the interior of The Fulcrum. Come November, capsuleers will be able to dock at the Jovian station, and the visual impact of that will add to the overall theme of aligning with pirates in their sanctuary beyond the empires.
DARKNESS & CHAOS – ZARZAKH’S SOUNDTRACK
The soundtrack created for Zarzakh conveys the chaotic Jovian darkness of the system, aiming for an auditory experience that lies somewhere between sound and music. There are no musical themes as such, no pulse, rhythm, or chord progressions, but a flowing and constantly evolving texture that maintains a common thread in its sound while never repeating itself in exactly the same way.
With music that is specific to a star system like Zarzakh which could potentially play for hours, variation is important. Making music which is never precisely the same every time you enter Zarzakh is one way of addressing this challenge. The sound and feel may be the same, but the organization of the “musical piece” is always different. Striking a balance between music and pauses in the music is also important here.
The music stays in the background and merges with the SFX, so that it is not obvious what is music and what is sound design; it’s one thing. Special attention has been paid to create a subtle but clear transition in soundtrack between safe zones and death zones. It is less of a warning UI sound and more an eerie feeling that something is just not right out there in the death zone.
Overall, both audio and graphics work harmoniously to portray Zarzakh as a different, foreign world that can be dangerous and harmful, while maintaining the wonder of exploring new space and ancient mysteries.
As capsuleers continue to collect materials for The Deathless during the ongoing Awakening Zarzakh event leading up to the release of EVE Online: Havoc on 14 November, they will get more access to pirate Loyalty Point tokens to save or exchange for the new pirate destroyer BPCs. The Fulcrum will also get closer to full operating capacity, which promises to kick proceedings up a gear! The Deathless is motivated to gain a deeper understanding of Jovian technology and the history of the Zarzakh system, so there will be more mysteries to uncover after the release of the Havoc expansion. Get involved now by aiding The Deathless and his pirate allies in bringing more revelations to light!