Updated Thu, Feb 11, 2010 by Space Junkie
EVE Online is not an easy game to master. It is the bordeaux of MMOs, both challenging and rewarding. Because of the steep learning curve, new players can use all the help that they can get.
This is the first in a multi-part series dedicated to helping new players get into EVE right off the bat. I present to you five things that every new player should make a point of doing.
#5: Do The Damn Tutorial
Some games need no tutorial. If you fire up Peggle for the first time, it isn't going to be tough to jump right in. EVE is nothing like that. EVE is a very complex MMOG among complex MMOGs. In short, EVE is a complexity unto itself.
So, you need to do the tutorial missions. Really. People that don't do the tutorial play the game for years without noticing some of the basic game mechanics that the tutorial teaches. To ignore the tutorial is to deliberately remain ignorant of how to play the game. So do it.
#4: Don't Just Train Learning Skills
The learning skills are a necessary part of playing the early game. Without them, your character will gain skill-points at a depressed rate, making it take even longer for you to get into the end-game ships. But if you are just training learning skills for your first three weeks, you aren't going to have any sense of character progression, which stinks. Better to spend the first day or three training up the really basic learning skills, then start training weapon skills and destroyer or cruiser hull skills.
Don't just train the basic weapon skills, either, the fitting skills like Engineering, Electronics, and Weapon Upgrades (and eventually, Advanced Weapon Upgrades), are all important for being able to fit ships with the modules that they need to use in order to be effective. Without these skills, you are going to have a hard time fitting ships, and training them to level III or IV early in the game will make everything much easier.
Support skills for weapon systems are also very important. If you are using turrets, train a few levels of Motion Prediction, Rapid Firing, Motion Prediction, and Controlled Bursts. If you are using missiles, train a few levels each of Missile Bombardment, Target Navigation Prediction, Rapid Launch, and Missile Projection. The idea here is that you should not just be gaining access to bigger and better weapons, but that you should also be training skills so that those weapons will actually hit targets, and actually inflict damage. Training the skill to fly a battleship hull does you little good if you can't use any battleship-sized modules on it, and if your level 1 missions disallow ships that are larger than frigates from running them.
#3: Train The Social Skill
No matter what you are doing, high standings will eventually help you. Training Social to III (or IV when you get a chance) will pay off for the rest of the game, and take almost no time at first. The social skill increases the amount that your faction standings increase, any time you kill an NPC or complete a mission. Standings are basically how well your character is regarded by a particular NPC organization, and are one of the major things that EVE players grind to get.
High standings with an NPC faction cause them to charge you less ISK when using their station services such as repairing or market orders. Very high standings will allow you to refine at their stations without them taking a cut, or to use special services like leaving jump clones at their station. The higher your standings, the higher the level of mission that you will be able to access. Depending on what organization you are gaining standings with, you may eventually be able to use special R&D Agents that will give you datacores over time, whether you are actively running missions for them, or not.
The point is not that you should be worrying about any of this as a newbie, but rather that you should be maximizing your faction gains while still trying things out, so that by the time you are worrying about this stuff, you've already made significant progress towards them.