EVE Online guide for beginners (2016)

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UPDATE 12/2016: EVE Online has gone free2play after 13 years of having only pay2play model. This however does not mean that F2P players can do anything; they have their limitations. I have updated this guide with some FAQ from the influx of new players.

I have played EVE Online for ten years, on and off, exploring most of the games content but mostly sticking to the high security sector, mining, building and doing missions. Since this is exactly what every new guy will be doing at first, unless he joins real life friends playing the game right at the start or possibly joins a noob-friendly PvP corporation who will help him into PvP waters, I decided to write an EVE Online beginners Guide for the year 2016, since there were a lot of changes since the early days, but one thing remains the same – the most important information is hardest to find.

This EVE Online guide, however, is not the classical “click here, click there” step-by-step tutorial. It is a list of tips you will want to follow in case you want to have an amusing time in the game. if not, the chances you will have a horrible time and quit before long. Which leads us to my first point:

EVE Online – You will either love it or hate it!

There are games you might like or dislike, but EVE Online is very much a game that will split the audiences like a sharp knife, and most of them will actually hate the game. There are several reasons for it – I will mention some further on in this article – but I have rarely seen anything that will split people in different camps. But those who will love the game will probably have it in their system for years and years. It is actually more like an additction then simply “liking” the game. Yous tart to live the game, because it starts intersecting with the real life to a greater degree than any other game I have ever known.

There are several reasons while EVE Online has a bad reputation and people don’t even want to play it:

  • Incredibly steep learning curve. As a new player, you feel yourself being thrown to the wolves. i wonder how many people quit the game within the first 5, 10, 15 minutes or couple of hours – I expect that EVE probably has more problems with the retention rates in those starting hours than any other MMO. Even though a new player gets tips on how to fly a ship, do missions, navigate space and make purchases and sales on market, he will get dropped pretty soon, looking around with puzzled bewilderment and wondering “what the hell should I do next!?”.
  • Dog-eats-dog universe. The EVE Online community has often been described as “toxic” and “vicious”, and even though I have personally met and played with a lot of great people, I must admit that it describes the community well enough. griefing and abuse is rampant; new players are often being ganked, robbed and shot down for no other reason than amusement – but considering that in EVE Online a player actually suffers losses, that they lose the ships they are flying along with its cargo, yes, even lose valuable implants and actual skills if their avatars gets killed without sufficiently developed clone (back up of the avatar) this griefing and ganking gets an entirely different dimension then it has in other MMOs such as World of Warcraft or Star Trek Online.
  • The negativity spills into the Real Life. An outsider would be very surprised to which extent a game such as EVE Online pulls a person in and doesn’t let him/her easily out. The wars that the great alliances would lead would reach over to the real life, where people would hack each others accounts, forums, websites, email… Stories where major players are publicly calling for harassment of a player who is suffering from depression and suicidal tendencies don’t really help.
  • It is a second job. You can’t just jump into EVE and play for 15, 30 minutes, doing something meaningful and fun. EVE takes time. It takes effort. it takes patience, hard work, grind, connections, investment. As an old school gamer, I used to play dozens of MMOs, I raided in the vanilla World of Warcraft where I would spend 2-3 evening per week, 4 hours each (hey, I was young and single, I could have afforded it!) trying to make the Molten Core bosses drop some phat loot. If you think that is hard core, imagine people who would spend 8-10 hours in fleet fights, get up at 3AM just to participate in fleet action, spend hours and hours transporting their assets from one part of the EVE galaxy to another… Now, that is hard work, and one that you won’t be paid for!
You Don't Play EVE Online; you live it!

You Don’t Play EVE Online; you live it!

If you re still here and reading this, well, color me impressed. You are not that easy to scare. Well, it is time to talk about main ways to make a fortune in EVE Online.

What happens when you die in EVE Online?

Most MMORPG’s have a simple system in place, but EVE Online is – once again – special. Death is complicated in EVE. There are dire consequences, more serious than any other MMO out there.

You might say that there are two stages of death:

  1. The destruction (death) of your ship
  2. The destruction (death) of your pod

The player actually resides in a pod, a capsule that is inserted in a ship that player flies. Think of it as your protective cocoon, your shell. Whether you are flying a shuttle or a freighter, same thing applies.

When you get into a fight, the first thing that will be destroyed is your ship. Now, if you are doing PvE and your ship gets blown up during the mission or get ganked by other players, you will loose the ship, all its fittings (which can be often much more expensive than the ship itself) and anything that you carry in the cargo hold. After the destruction of the ship there will be a wreck, often containing some modules or some parts of cargo hold that have survived the blast. Anyone can scoop these and run away with that stuff. You can somewhat set off the danger of loosing a ship by insuring your ship up to a certain amount, but that is entirely up to you.

Now, once the ship is destroyed, you will be in your pod. Pod always survives the explosion of the ship. It is very vulnerable and can be fairly easily destroyed, but its fast and hard to target, which will give a player the chance to warp away before being destroyed aka “podded” by other players (NPC’s won’t be attacking your pod). But if the pods gets destroyed, you are killed and your body destroyed, with all the implants in your headand automatically wake up in your clone on the station where you have used the cloning services. There you simply get on a new ship and fly back to your assets. The problem, however, is the backup clone and the question if it has been recently updated?

Your avatar learns skills in EVE Online. When you reach, say, 5 million skillpoints, you need to have a clone that will be able to serve as a backup for all these skills. There are different grades of clones and each higher level store more skill points, but also costs more. If you forget to update your clone and get more skill points than your clone has, you will lose the excess of your skill points when you die.

UPDATE: Thanks MKat for pointing out that CCP has dropped the need to update your clones – this went completely under my radar. Still decided to leave this up for the new players to have a reference on how it used to be…

Since Rhea expansion there will no longer be any skillpoint losses upon death.

In short, dying in EVE will get you some or all of these penalties:

  • loss of your ship
  • loss of the modules on your ship
  • loss of the content of your cargo hold
  • loss of the implants that you have in your avatar
  • loss of the skills if you don’t have a properly upgraded clone

How to make money in EVE Online with mining?

Having been a miner for a very long period of time, I can tell you two things with certainty: firstly, it will highly probably bore you out of your mind and secondly, well, you will find yourself among the most despised and mocked group of EVE Online; the carebears.

Yes, you will read it here first – mining is incredibly dull in EVE Online. In fact, you need to be slightly mad to enjoy it at all – pretty much like the author of these lines – because it requires very little activity on your behalf.

You arrive with your ship to the asteroid field, scan it, lock on to the best (in your opinion) rocks and start firing lasers. Maybe you also launch drones to speed things up. And then… You wait.

Seriously, it is as fun as watching paint dry.

If you don’t have a rookie ship with a small ore cargo hold which gets filled up in a blink of an eye, but a devoted mining ship, the boredom grows even deeper. Why? Because the ore capacity of the bigger ships is far bigger and you have more time on your hands. With smaller ships you at least need to eject a can with ore inside, and then transfer ore from your ship to the temporary space can every time it gets filled up.

Which is not a huge improvement, actually. I am still looking for the fun factor.

But wait, I can imagine you thinking after reading these lines, haven’t you said you were a serious miner? Why are you telling us now that mining is boring? How come you did it for so long!? It can’t be that bad!

Yes, I was and still am, a miner. A despised carebear. An AFK player. There is no other way to play as a miner – you mine stuff semi-AFK while doing some other stuf or watch Netflix. You are a little more than a bot, and a huge majority of EVE PVP players think you are the worst thing that ever happened to their game. I have been writing several emails and now this article while EVE is running on my secondary monitor. I click a new asteroid or transfer ore every 7-8 minutes, and perhaps every half an hour I haul the mined ore to the local station. Then I return to the belt. I rinse and repeat.

When is mining in EVE actually fun?

When you do it with friends! Pretty much like any other activity, mining is only fun when you got your friends with you to chat and talk to via Teamspeak while you are killing rocks. Oh, it also helps to run several accounts as well. I had a mining fleet of four Hulks and an Orca as mining support. Asteroid belts would disappear in proverbial minutes when I would get along with my friends.

Is mining in EVE actually profitable?

In short, yes. Mining was/is  fairly profitable. It was possible to, in theory, earn around 20 million ISK per hour mining in high sec (per mining ship). Depending on the mineral prices, wars, nerfs and buffs to ships, these numbers would go up and down. But mining is still a fairly profitable activity in EVE Online, and if you don’t mind the drudgery, you might get quite some money out of it.

If you are either returning to EVE or just starting out, here are my top tips for miner-wannabees.

EVE Online Mining guide tips (2016)

There is an old saying in EVE Online: never fly what you cannot afford to lose.

Which is fairly stupid, IMHO. You can afford to lose anything. It is just a game. If you love it that much, you would start again from scratch if necessary, not to mention regret of a loss of a single ship. But if you are mining, please, pretty please, don’t fly anything really expensive. Why? Because of the suicide gankers.

Suicide gankers are a “special” group of people that will fit out a ship for one purpose only – to harass mining carebears – and will track these down in high security space to blow them up. They will get anihilated by Concord, that is true, but they usually manage to blow their target up before the NPC police blows them up. And, absurdly enough, they will usually suffer much less financial loss, ie their ships will be several times less worth then the mining ships they blow up.

Suicide gankers exploit a hole in the game, yes, but CCP pretty much doesn’t care. So, what you need to know about how not to attract the attention of suicide gankers is following:

  • Be quiet and keep a low profile. N, seriously, do not get into fights, do not provoke people, do not mouth off in the local chat. Get your lazorz fixed and your headset on, do your mining thing and let the rest of EVE kill each other. You never know when you have pissed someone off and who sent the gankers to seek you out in that remote asteroid field.
  • Fly cheap ships. I think everyone and their mother is aiming for an exhumer these days, a top tier mining ship, especially Hulk, because the Hulk is da shit! Well, don’t. You will have to watch over it like a mother goose if you don’t want it to come to a harm, and it still will get blown up. Hulk’s tank is squishy. If you choose another exhumer, just because it is tankier, the ganker will simply get bigger guns to kill you. Also have in mind that the ganker will not care how much money he will use, he will instead care only about how juicy his target is. Hulk with its current price of something around 220m ISK is much juicier target then a 30m ISK Retriever. Which I coincidentally used while mining for the couple of last hours, making some 15M ISK median ore value.
  • Move around. It is tempting to have an entire base of operation on the same spot forever and then some, but moving around means you are far less on anyone’s radar. As a miner, you want to be inconspicuous.
  • Don’t cry when you get ganked. Gankers feed of one thing alone; carebear n00b tears. Nom nom. When they don’t get it, they are even more frustrated then the guy who lost his ship. You see, if you do not give a ganker the satisfaction, his entire endeavor doesn’t make sense anymore.

Ok, so much about general tips. How about something more concrete? Well, here it comes.

  • Mining is best once you sit in a mining ship. For that reason, you might consider doing other things such as missions grind and similar while leveling the mining skills. Something actually fun.
  • Pick the right ship for the right task. If you are in a fleet, pick a Hulk. If you want survivability, go with a Skiff. If you are on your own, a Mackinaw with a 40k ore hold might be the best choice, but with a price around 200M, it is still a valuable target that gankers might find themselves attracted to. You might best be served with…
  • Flying a Retriever. It takes you around 9 days to be able to get into that fancy ship. You can easily make 5-6M ISK per hour, at least, with solo mining and no hauler (its ore hold will easily harbor 27k ore). It costs around 30M around the time where I am writing this, so you can easily make afford to have a new one during that time. Oh, do not set this one to “tank” ganks. There is little point to it. Go mining modules all out, but don’t go with expensive ones.
  • Mine in 0.8 to 1.0 systems. If you are after Veldspar or Scordite, these systems will provide you with an ample opportunity to mine there and gankers usually do not poke and prod those areas. The lowest I will ever go with my mining barges and exhumers is 0.5, since everything else is inviting trouble.
  • Read a mining guide. Here is the link towards Halada’s Mining guide. Yes, it is damn old, a lot of stuff is no longer accurate (learning skills, adieu!) but it is highly inspirational and will you a sense towards the spirit of mining.

eve online empire ore chart

More valuable reading material about mining can be found on the following link towards the EVE University.

 

Trading 101 – How to make ISK in EVE Online with trading

I will be talking about trading here, as in working with trade goods, selling buying them low and selling them high. That is the entire wisdom. How exactly you can do that is a different story. I am not talking about trading the commodities that other players provide, or the famous station trading. I will be writing about that at some other point. Have one thing in mind, though; trading overall can be as fun as watching the paint dry.

This is a fairly passive method to gain ISK, since I honestly don’t know anyone who enjoys watching a hauler doing 25 jumps though high sec space. I would generally never suggest to go trading in low sec because it is way too dangerous with too small a pay off, generally speaking. They are exceptions, but not for a new player who is starting out in EVE.

eve online trading and hauling

Eve Central is the first place you need to go in order to find out the best possible trade routes. Pick out the Trade Finder and select what kind of a route you want to fly. You can fly:

System to system. For Example, buy stuff in Rens system and fly it to Jita system, where you’d sell it.
System to region. Buy stuff in Rens system and fly it to The Forge region.
Region to region. Buy stuff in Heimatar region and fly it to The Forge region.

You can use the same tool to check out for minerals, ammo and anything else your heart might desire to sell for profits. I would suggest to go easy at the beginning, and check out what volumes you can haul with the ships you have at your disposal.

Before buying the stuff you want to haul, make sure that you have enough volume in your cargo hold to pick it up. You will essentially trade in your (AFK) time for money. Check out the number of jumps and the profit you will get for each jump (trade tool will help you in that regard).

Warning: Never haul anything of high value, unless you are sure you can protect yourself from suicide gankers! The idea is to either keep a low profile and fly under their radar, so to speak, or to be alert and pay a good attention to what is happening. Worst case scenario is to set your squishy industrial on an autopilot and go AFK while hauling a 100M worth of cargo. People will blow you up just for the fun of it. I will check if I can find good hauler passive tanks and will post them here later on for your convenience.

Also, make sure you are trying to fly your errand missions during the time when as few people are online as merely possible. Avoid weekends. Avoid peek hours.  Fly safe o7.

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Vlad The Impaler

Vlad is an old school gamer, all the way back from the times of Commodore 64. Yes, with 30 years of gaming and some 15 years as an editor and author, writing reviews for a number of magazines and online gaming portals, he is the true OG of the gaming generation. Cake is a lie. The chicken is real. The truth is out there.

13 Comments

  1. I’m downloading the game right now while reading and I’m confused. Is this a Rogue-like game? You figuratively die and it’s game over and you start from the beginning? If so, you’ll die sooner or later and in that case how can anyone own anything significant?!
    Sorry for the noobish question; never played Eve before.

  2. Vlad The Impaler
    Vlad The Impaler on

    There are no noobish questions in EVE; there is no learning curve, there is a learning cliff, and people fall off it.
    Alas, there are “two stages of death” in EVE; first one is when your starship get blown up, and second one is when your pod, the capsule you actually reside in gets destroyed. When playing versus NPC, they will destroy your ship but never your pod. When you play versus live players, they may actually kill your pod. In that case, you will wake up in your clone (the backup copy of yourself) in whichever station you have your clone in. If you regularly update your clone as you skill up, you won’t lose any skill points and off you go again into your adventures.
    I will add this part to the guide to make things clearer for beginners. Cheers!

  3. Just a quick point. Updating your clone hasn’t been a thing for some time now. There are now no circumstances in which you will ever lose skill points. You can pretty much disregard any reference to it in the article.

    • Vlad The Impaler
      Vlad The Impaler on

      MKAT, thanks a lot for this hint, this went completely under my radar. Updated the guide accordingly! Cheers!

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