The Drifters are a mysterious new faction that appeared in New Eden in early YC117 (2015). So far all attempts at communication with them have failed. They are seen by most as invaders and after attacking the Amarr empire and killing empress Jamyl I, the Amarr empire declared war on them. The behavior, fighting tactics and capabilities of the Drifters have been changing continuously since their appearance, so be wary of any changes to the status described here.
|By all appearances and indications the Drifters are members of the Jove race, albeit far removed and with a strangely altered physiology. The high degree of cybernetic modification that Drifters exhibit seems to go hand in hand with an implacable single-mindedness and utter ruthlessness while pursuing their mysterious goals. Whatever their ends may be, the technology at their command unquestionably rivals and perhaps even surpasses that which other Jove have been seen to use.|
The Drifters faction is similar to that of other NPC organizations such as the empire and pirate factions. By default, no capsuleer has standings with them. As soon as you kill Drifter ships, you will quickly gain negative standings (12% per battleship kill). Negative standings don't seem to have any effect currently.
Evidence points to various connections of the Drifters to New Eden's factions:
- Jove observatories have been decloaking in k-space and Jove corpses are floating in the Drifter wormhole systems.
- Sleeper ships and installations also appear together with the Drifters in wormholes.
- Fleets of Sisters of Eve ships can be seen as well in those wormholes and the alpha clone technology pioneered by the SoE may be connected to the Drifters as well.
Vigilant Tyrannos (Corp)
The Drifters faction has one member corp, the Vigilant Tyrannos corporation. Their CEO is Tyrannos Strategos and so far four pilot names have been encountered: Apollo Tyrannos, Artemis Tyrannos, Hikanta Tyrannos and Arithmos Tyrannos. Hikanta is only found in Drifter wormholes, Arithmos only in C5 and C6 wormhole escalations. As the Drifters have been found to harvest capsuleer, Jove and sleeper corpses, one speculation is that all identically named Drifters are clones of each other. The name Tyrannos points to the long lost 2nd Jove Empire, which was erected by the so called 1st Tyrant Miko Bour and later reigned by so-called Tyrants, powerful but not really tyrannical leaders.
Little is known about the Drifters' ships, but so far capsuleers have encountered the following ships:
Encounters with these ships have revealed several unique mechanics related to them alone. One such mechanic is that of an "overshield" - an additional layer of shielding colored blue on the targeting display. When this blue shield has been depleted, target locks on the Drifter break, in the manner of ECM. Many have also reported that the Drifters' weapons deal massive amounts of damage, difficult for any sub-capital ship to tank without a specialised fit. Even capital ships are not immune, with many carriers being lost to Drifters, many by players attempting to test their capabilities. Drifters drop blue loot and Antikythera Elements.
There are 3 different types of Drifter battleships:
- The type flown by Apollo and Artemis features an overshield and a doomsday weapon, but has a relatively poor tank. It can be found in known space and in Drifter wormholes.
- The Hikanta type is similar but more dangerous. It is only found inside the Drifter hive sites in Drifter wormholes.
- Finally the Arithmos type has no overshield or doomsday, but has a very strong tank, neuts with an impressive 6GJ/s and is warp core stabilized with 5 points. It can only be found in C5 and C6 wormholes, where it spawns in site escalations. It holds high-value loot, but does not despawn and will roam the system until destroyed. Spawning multiple Arithmos in a system affords interesting challenges and opportunities.
Drifter battleships can reach up to 3500m/s and do about 1300dps of omni damage with their standard Lux Kontos suspended weapon system. Their additional doomsday-like weapon that does about 750000 damage.
Note that both the stats and the engagement tactics of Drifter ships have changed several times and can not be relied upon. Detailed - but possibly outdated - stats can be found at Drifter Battleship (chruker).
These appear to be cruiser sized scout drones that operate in groups of four or five and scan all installations and ships in New Eden. They appear in all systems that have Jove Observatories in them and are generally not hostile unless attacked. There are exceptions to this: if you're near a Jove Observatory or a Drifter Wormhole and Autothysian Lancers or Drifter Battleships show up, they are likely to aggress you if you don't leave quickly. Once this happens, the drifters in that system can aggress you anywhere. 
When engaged they usually warp in another wave of Autothysian Lancers but there is also a chance a drifter battleship will warp in. Note that they - unlike other NPCs - will pod players. If killed they each drop 2 Sleeper Data Libraries and have a chance to drop an Antikythera Element - which is used in the production of entosis links. They do about 76dps (EM/Thermal) at ranges up to 100km, have about 10kHP with high resists (73%-85% shield resists, weakest is EM). Their max speed is 1240m/s and they try to orbit at 10km. Because of their sturdy tank but relatively moderate dps, they can e.g. be hunted in active tanked cruisers with short range weapons equipped with a web and a prop mod.
|The design of this Sleeper drone is unlike anything that has been seen to date. The drone explores with a mechanical indifference to the monotony of its task, executing each new maneuver with a flawless, unthinking precision.|
Since the Ascension expansion, Circadian Seekers only appear during the initial tutorial storyline for new players. They have only 20 HP and do minimal damage, so they can be defeated in a Corvette.
There are currently 3 tactics to take down Apollo, Artemis and Hikanta Drifter battleships including their possible Autothysian Lancer and sleeper support:
- Capitals and a few subcapitals (e.g. Paladin, Abaddon) are able to tank the doomsday at full health. This requires a very blingy tank on the primary and a support fleet with dps and logi.
- A swarm of cheap high burst dps ships (with webs) will take a Drifter down easily, but lose at least one ship in the process.
- Since the doomsday weapon has tracking and signature limits it is possible to survive the doomsday in a fast close orbit with a small signature radius. Often logistics ships with Halo implants are used. A fleet of 20-30 ships (dps cruisers with logistics, tracking disruption and webbing support) can take down a drifter in seconds with careful piloting and timing and (mostly) without losses.
For more details on (slightly outdated) ships and tactics see Drifter Hive Doctrines : History and Evolution (pdf)
There are groups organizing public fleets to run sites in wormholes:
- The ingame channel "Consortium Operations" runs weekly open fleets in Drifter wormholes with a doctrine around T3 destroyers (Confessors) and T1 cruisers. These fleets are PvE focused and newbie-friendly. The associated roleplaying channel is "Arataka Communications Router".
- A group named vulfpeck runs fleets into C5/C6 wormholes and runs sleeper sites including Drifter escalations. They are open to any pilot and use a doctrine around T3 destroyers (mainly Confessor) and T2 logistics (Guardians). Most Vulfpeck fleets focus on ISK making and avoid PvP - although there are also NPSI PvP fleets.
Drifters in Known Space
In a large number of k-space systems huge Jove Observatories can be found. They are visible on the Overview as a beacon. These Observatories seem to have fallen into disrepair. k-space entries to Drifter Wormhole systems seem to only appear in systems with a Jove Observatory. Systems with a Jove Observatory are the only systems where Autothysian Lancers are seen, and when Drifter Wormholes appear, the systems are are also roamed by Apollo Tyrannos and Artemis Tyrannos battleships. The battleships and seekers seem to roam the system and guard the Jove Observatories and the Unidentified Wormhole sites, attacking any ships that get too close.
Drifters Wormhole Systems
There are 5 known Drifters wormhole systems that are similar to shattered C2 wormholes with certain system effects. Although they are named by the typical J-type designations, they are often informally named after their predominant structure: Vidette, Redoubt, Sentinel, Barbican and Conflux. Note that the first four names suggest an advanced military fortification. In each system, both the main hive site and a Sisters of Eve Flotilla appear as beacons on the overview. All Drifter wormhole systems seem to have 20 connections to known space (k-space) plus a C2-C2 static. K-space connections always appear in system with a Jove Observatory. Their k-space connections are quite different from all other wormholes however:
- On the K-space side the wormhole is marked by a beacon called "Unidentified Wormhole" and is thus visible on the default overview.
- On the wormhole side the connections carry the usual K162 designation after being opened, but are deadspaced, so you will always warp in at 80km distance.
- Drifter battleships regularly visit these connections and will attack anybody trying to approach or travel them. A cloak and/or MWD is highly recommended.
- The k-space side connections carry unique signatures that are related to the type of wormhole:
|Drifter System Name||K-space signature||J-Type||System Effect|
Each Drifter wormhole contains five unique combat anomalies. They are visited and defended by regular Drifter patrols. More detailed information is available via Drifter Hive Systems Anomalies (pdf). All listed wormholes are of the violent type and not passable.
|Vidette||Ship Graveyard||Sleeper Engineering Station||Spatial Rift||Sleeper Enclave in Coral Rock||Crystals and Stone Circle|
|Redoubt||Ship Graveyard||Caged Wormhole||Spatial Rift Generator||Sleeper Enclave||Hollow Asteroid|
|Sentinel||Monolith||Wormhole in Rock Circle||Opposing Spatial Rifts||Sleeper Enclave Debris||Crystal Resource|
|Barbican||Wrecked Ships||Unstable Wormhole||Spatial Rift||Heavily Guarded Spatial Rift||Crystals|
|Conflux||Monolith||Caged Wormhole||Rock Formation and Wormhole||Particle Acceleration Array||Guarded Asteroid Station|
All Drifter wormholes contain a huge Drifter Hive protected by a sequence of deadspace pockets and connected via acceleration gates and warpable Rifts. The layout of these sites is slightly different in each of the 5 different Drifter wormholes, but the main rooms are the same. The entrance appears as a beacon on the overview under the name of the site, e.g. "Conflux".
- Entrance: Contains warp-in beacon. Warp at range is possible. The beacon is 50-80km from the acceleration gate.
- Lobby or Split: Contains two acceleration gates plus a warpable rift that leads back to the Entrance. Is protected by 5 Emergent Patrollers (sleepers). The acceleration gates lead to a number of Transfer and Access rooms whose layout depends on the specific system.
- Antechamber or Antichamber: Contains the gate to the final room, the Hive. Protected by various sleeper ships up to battleship size and webbing sleeper frigates.
- Hive: Contains the main hive structure. Protected by Hikanta Tyrannos (at 250-400km and aggros on warp in, moves at ~2km/s) plus sleepers up to battleship size. Contains Vault (access with index in hold to get 10 elements). Nexus Transfer gate leads to Nexus room.
- Nexus: A giant cluster made up of hundreds of "bars" engulfed by a huge blue sphere. The shape of the bar cluster is changing over time. It started spherical like a sea urchin and currently has an s-shape.
Additionally there are rooms that depend on the specific site:
- Access Alpha etc: Contains access units - hackable by data analyzer - named according to the gate: Alpha, Beta, etc; up to Gamma depending on specific system. Protected by sleepers.
- Transfer Alpha etc: Contains no specific installations. Protected by sleepers.
A detailed Drifter Site Overview (pdf) lists the rooms in their original state. Since then the parallel hacking that was required has been dropped.
For a while there were also Drifter Incursions into high sec systems. Multiple Drifter battleships decimated Amarr navy task forces and some capsuleers engaged the Drifters as well.
Drifters in C5 and C6 wormholes
Arithmos Tyrannos spawns at end of sleeper site escalations in C5 and C6 wormholes in a Drifter battleship. He needs to be pointed (4 points WC strength) to keep him from warping away and his ship contains most of the value of the escalation. Arithmos Tyrannos does not use a doomsday weapon but has a lot of HP and heavy energy neuting. Arithohmos Tyrannos is best killed with caps or luring to a anti-cap fit citadel to kill. EVE forum post
Below are links to related pages about Drifters. The IKAME research reports are highly detailed but note their date as there may have been changes in Drifter behavior and sites since then.
- Drifter Complexes Overview (pdf)
- Analysis of Materials Salvaged from Drifter Hives (pdf)
- Historical Review of The Amarr-Drifter War (pdf)
- Drifter Hive Doctrines : History and Evolution (pdf)
- CONCORD Assembly Lowers Alert Status as Capsuleer Encounters with "Drifters" Raise Questions
- Unidentified Structures Uncloaked, Sightings of "Drifters"
- Drifters - An Overview