The History of Factional Warfare Missions
Mission running has been a part of Faction War since FW was first implemented back in 2008 in the Empyrean Age expansion. FW missions were setup quite a bit differently than high sec missions:
First, they were designed to be quite a bit easier, objective-wise, than their high-sec counterparts of the same level. Most FW-based missions require killing a singular object or NPC, or a small group of NPCs.
Secondly, although easier from a mechanics standpoint, they were also intended to be riskier from a PVP standpoint. Long before the factions could take sovereignty from each other, (which was introduced four years later in Inferno) the missions were designed to make the pilot travel into hostile ‘enemy’ territory, which at that point were set areas of sovereign space.
And finally, in addition to having to travel further than average missions, and into more hostile areas of space, a public beacon would show up in local at the site of the mission, allowing people to easily warp to the missions and potentially disrupt the mission runner’s abilities to complete their mission.
Massive changes were made to Faction War in the 2012 expansion of Inferno. And, significant updates and changes have been made since then. However, one thing that has barely been touched is Faction Warfare missions.
The addition of sovereignty mechanics meant that players would now have a direct impact on what constituted ‘Amarrian’ space vs ‘Minmatar’ space. (Or Gallente/Caldari) However, the missions remain tied to the original, underlying systems that the Factions originally owned pre-Inferno. This means that depending on which systems militia decide to take sovereignty in, their missions can now take them to friendly, safe territory.
Furthermore, warzone control factors additionally impact mission payouts. So, in addition to running these easier missions in the safety of their home systems, militia pilots will often be getting paid as much as 3 times as much for them. With certain, basic social skills, and warzone control 4, payouts can reach as high as 60,000 LP or more. (While running a few missions at Tier 5, I personally got missions with as much as 80-90K LP payouts, with only basic social skills trained to lvl 3.)
There are currently several main issues with missions in Faction War. Some of these issues have been around since Faction Warfare was first introduced and have simply never been addressed. Other issues have been introduced or exacerbated by changes made in Inferno, or in later expansions and patches.
Risk vs. Reward
The first, and most obvious issue is that of risk vs. reward. In many ways, the outrage over plex farming has served as a smoke screen, disguising the real source of LP farming in Faction Warfare. Not only is mission running quicker, and less dangerous then plexing, it also yields significantly more LP.
While there are no publicly released numbers to back it up, I would claim with much confidence that the majority of LP that gets earned in FW comes from mission running –by a massively wide margin.
Inconsistency Between Militias
The second issue is that not all missions are created equally. FW missions greatly make use of factional differences –therefore depending on which militia you are in will depend on what ships, objectives, and etc., you will encounter in your mission.
As a result, lvl 4 missions in one militia might be quite a bit harder than lvl missions in another.
Currently, missions in Minmatar militia are considered to be the easiest, based on the NPCs and objectives encountered. Most Minmatar militia pilots run missions in nothing more than a stealth bomber.
Rewards, Consequences, and Impact
The third major issue with missions is that they mean nothing in Faction Warfare, and yet yield the greatest rewards.
In many ways, missions in FW feel like a ‘tacked on’ mechanic. While running missions produces the best income in Faction War, ISK/HR, there is nothing in mission running that is really at all connected to any of the other militia game mechanics—mechanics involving sovereignty, warzone control, and the battle between the factions.
I’ve read and discussed quite a few potential solutions to Faction War missions with members of other Factions. Some of these range from band aid fixes –such as temporarily adjusting mission payouts so that plexing and pvp payouts become at least an equal source of income –to completely revamping mission objectives and NPC behaviors.
I will be detailing some of my own ideas for fixing FW missions in a later post.