The Drift is split between five Factions that vie for control of the Drift. With the exception of Independent in most cases, each faction has its own agenda, ship design, uniform, and weapon preferences, as well as a Stronghold that is vital to their continued participation in the wars for the Drift.
List of Factions
A society built by engineers who were stranded in the Drift decades ago when they came to scout the area under the employ of Sovereign and subsequently built the infrastructure they and all the other factions fight over. Travel in very blocky, industrial ships.
A semi-nomadic group of soldiers who were accidentally teleported thousands of light-years from home and the new recruits they picked up along the way as standards for recruitment and ship construction fell right through the floor and into the core of the earth. Travel in cobbled-together ships with an often very wonky layout.
A deep space police force put together by the nearest planet to assert their legal claim on the Drift and try and impose law and order on the people living there. Travel in sleek white ships with a triangular design.
A gargantuan corporation larger than most governments that has come to the Drift after abandoning what would become Foundry there for decades when they realized it was a giant cloud of very high-quality, very valuable battery acid. Travel in ships designed to look crystalline with a somewhat clumpy design.
The player characters' faction, a very new faction, only controlling one station, Coldrock Haven, when a galaxy is generated. Unlike the rest of the factions, it lacks any sort of ships and instead fights by using guerrilla actions to take out specific targets and some level of propaganda to get enemy stations to defect to their side. Its goal is to cripple the four other factions to create a Drift free from outside dominion.
- The Independent faction is the only faction that can take territory.
- The starting station of the Independent faction is always a Foundry station, though it can be located anywhere, even on the other side of the map from Foundry space.
- In the prototype builds available from the Supporter's Edition, there are several differences in what factions are involved in the Drift and how the factions are handled:
- In the first 4 builds from December 2013 to April 2015, there are no named factions at all, just the player versus generic enemy ships, though the ship art added in the 3rd build is an early version of the Foundry ship art.
- In the 5th build, Novermber 2015, named factions appear for the first time, though they are identical. All ship graphics, stations, and equipment used are the same.
- The factions in play at this point in development are the following: Foundry, Offworld Security, Drift, Shiga, and Freezers.
- Like the final build, the player is part of a faction, but unlike the final build the player's faction is randomly selected and functions exactly like any other faction, with the exception of a very early version of the station liberation system based around isolating stations by breaking trade routes through missions to then capture for your faction as opposed to the more abstract final system.
- In the 6th build, April 2016, the factions in play are the following: Foundry, Shiga, Sleepers, Offworld Security, and Home.
- Unlike the final build, some factions may not appear in a galaxy.
- The Home faction is similar to the Independent faction of the final game, as all player characters are part of it and it is limited to a single station, called Home, at the outset. Though it still uses the 5th build's liberation system.
- The Sleepers, though removed as an active faction, are mentioned by Breaker Gemini as an unknown highly-advanced fleet that spoke an unknown language and was poised to take over the Drift before being destroyed by Sader Fiasco.
- By the 7th build, October 2016, the list of factions started to resemble the final game's, with the following factions being in play: Foundry, Offworld Security, Sleepers, Sovereign, and Home. Otherwise it is similar to how factions behave in the 6th build.
- The 8th build, March 2017, is close to the final build, finally seeing the replacement of the Sleepers by the Glitchers and the addition of varying ship and station designs as well as different equipment preferences of each faction. However, the player's faction is still somewhat odd compared to the final build:
- Once again, it is called Home, and in this build starts with a commandeered Sovereign station as opposed to the commandeered Foundry station from the final game, and it now liberates stations by building up attack fleets using ships the player hijacks and brings back to base, as opposed to the earlier trade route isolation system of the final build's complete missions to earn station liberation system.