Ardwulf’s Rookie Guide to EVE Online

EVE Online, as the deepest and most complex of today’s big-ticket MMOs, can be a big challenge to get yourself into. The game itself has a reputation, not entirely unearned, for a terrifying learning curve, and even if that doesn’t generate any fear in your gullet, the game presents an additional challenge: making it fun. This latter is as difficult as it is because EVE doesn’t spoonfeed you content; programmed content is there, but mostly the EVE player finds his or her own stories to tell, instead of following the predefined ones set up by the game designers.

This article, therefore, is my take on how to go about this. There’s a lot of resources available about EVE Online, but less guidance when it comes to actually approaching the game. I therefore present a series of tips to help the complete rookie approach the game correctly and get the most out of it.

The Universe is Yours. There are no artificial barriers in the EVE universe, called New Eden. You can go anywhere, and do anything. The game’s rules represent a set of tools for you to use for doing what you want, not a canned story for you to experience. EVE gives you the laws of a universe when it drops you inside it. Explore both those laws and the universe itself. Explore the different activities available in the game – exploration, the market, factional warfare, PvP, research or planetary interaction. Explore the skill systems and the almost limitless combinations of ships and modules. Try different things; you’ll like some of them, and not others. Then do those things that you enjoy. If you don’t like mining, don’t mine.

Play through the tutorials. All of them. Because they’ll teach you a lot about the game, directly or indirectly. And because running them will give you a lot of free stuff, from implants to ships to skill books that you’d otherwise need to spend millions of ISK on. They’re a little dry, but you need to know this stuff anyway, and they really don’t take that long to complete in toto.

Take Your Time. The way that the EVE skill system works and how a character advances means that not only should you not rush through the game, you really can’t. But EVE doesn’t penalize you for not playing a veteran character. Characters a week old mining in frigates are just as important a part of the game as all that high-drama fall of alliances business happening out in 0.0.

Think about it – the rookie mining Veldspar in 0.9 sells his ore. The ore gets bought by an armaments manufacturer. The missiles built with it get flown out to 0.0 in a ship built from the same batch of Veldspar, where they help to overthrow a mighty alliance. It may not be obvious, but the rookie miner is a part of that – a very important part.

On top of that, the EVE skill system isn’t nearly as unforgiving as it might appear. As I pointed out a few weeks back, the 100 million skill point player isn’t a hundred times better than the 1 million skill point character, because those skill points are spread out across many different spheres of activity. Anyone can become respectable at a couple of things in the first week or two of play, and highly proficient in a couple of months.

Find a way to make ISK. ISK is the currency of EVE Online; how much of it you have determines how powerful you are just as much as your skill point total does, perhaps more so. You need a way to make it that you’ll enjoy doing. This may be as simple as finding a corporation that will finance your preferred activities, but most players find that they need to be able to make ISK on their own. EVE presents many avenues for this; the best known, mining, is only one of them. Manufacturing and research are others. But all three of these avenues are fairly low-excitement. Trading – buying low in one system and selling high in another – is more exciting, especially if you want to dare risky routes into lowsec or 0.0. And the latter may require you to negotiate passage with the corp or alliance that controls the space, flexing your diplomatic muscles. Yours, that is, and not your character’s. For more aggressive players, they’re ratting and piracy, although you’re best advised to find at least a partner for either of those (it’s helpful for any activity, really, but it’s harder to make money ratting or doing the ARRR routine by yourself.)

The other route to money-making is running missions, which is a little more structured. There’s actually more to this than the newbie tends to think, but you can get started with the tutorial agents and move on to running level 1 missions in high-sec, building up your standings (and social skills,) as your fighting skills expand and increase. After a little while, you’ll be able to move up from the level 1 missions (intended to be flown in frigates,) into level 2s, where you’ll be flying cruisers. And so on up the ladder. By the time you’re comfortably flying (and salvaging) level 4 missions, you should be making enough money to finance pretty much any activity in EVE short of building capital ships – including paying for your subscription with PLEX.

The ins and outs of mission-running warrants its own article, so I’ll leave it at noting it as a viable option.

Set Goals. No, really – the more specific they are, the better. You must do this or your EVE experience will seem directionless. Long-term goals are great too, but if you’re shooting for something that will take you the better part of a year, set intermediate goals along the way so you’ll feel the progress better. Especially starting out; being able to fly Battleships is a good long-term goal to start out with, but it’ll take some weeks to do. So work yourself up to cruisers first, and fly them for a couple of weeks while your skills mature into that level of ship, before moving up to Assault Ships or Battlecruisers.

Exercise caution. Don’t fly what you can’t afford to lose more than once. Keep your clone updated. Pay your insurance premiums. Watch local. Beware gate camps and suicide ganks.

Be aware of your limitations. Just because you can fly a Battleship doesn’t mean you can fly a Battleship well. Go ahead and train the BS skill up, but train up the other stuff beside it. This is an especially damning mistake to make because the underskilled player flying an expensive ship is often in a poor position to replace it when it gets blown up.

You will die. Don’t get mad – get even. Take the long view. Use locator agents. Lie in wait in a covert ops ship. Employ mercenaries to run your foe down and burn his ship to cinders around him. Undercut his position in the markets. Bribe his corp to give him the boot, or spread rumors he’s working for the Goons. Remember your Klingon proverbs.

Avail yourself of the many online resources. There’s CrazyKinux, the world’s premier EVE blogger, now complete with Excellent Mustache. There’s EVEMon and the EVE Fitting Tool. There’s the Mining Guide, the Missions Guide, and the Rifter Guide to Solo PvP. Plus more, many of them usable via the in-game browser.

These are just a few hints to get people started and exploring – and I may add more as they occur to me or as new information develops. And, remember, you can support Ardwulf’s Lair by clicking on one of the modest ads available on this site to get yourself a 14-day free trial.


7 responses to “Ardwulf’s Rookie Guide to EVE Online

  1. Nice article. My only beef is in the section where you’re advising players to get even you mention setting a bounty as a way to do that. Most anyone with a bounty on them will simply have a corp-mate blow them up, or will blow themselves up with an alt account in order to collect it themselves.

    Bounties are fail.

    The rest — awesome!

  2. I keep meaning to check out EVE. I’ll try it via that 14-day link next year, I think. Does it do anything for you if I don’t wind up subbing, though?

    Thanks for this, though. I’ve skimmed CrazyKinux’s place, and it’s great, but this is a nice overview.

  3. “spread rumors he’s working for the Goons.” in your new “get even section. . .

    I have to take issue with this now too. I’ve flown with the Goons and their people I was talking with in the logistics wing of the fleet were very friendly, knowledgeable, helpful, and forgiving of my noobishness (it was my 1st time ever flying Logistics). I learned a TON from the Goons in that op. I’ve flown on combat ops with them before and was simply a “ship in the blob,” but their fleet commanders were skilled, scouting operations went well, and the ops were all very successful.

    Odd that — I’d always intended to be an enemy of the Goons when they were in the south, but since they moved north and the corp/alliance I joined is in the north too, I ended up being an ally and finding I like them. Who knew?