Everybody talks about how steep the learning curve is in EVE Online. Long-time players brag about it, and ex-players talk about how they couldn't get over it. The game runs you through a ton of tutorials that teach you the basic mechanics of the game, but doesn't integrate you into the game's metagame or continuum of emergent behavior, which are the two things that EVE does better than any other MMO that I've ever heard about.
This is the second in a multi-part series dedicated to helping new players get into EVE right off the bat. I present to you a step by step guide to what every new player should do in their first month of the game.
Week One: First Thing's First
Your first week of the game should be spent familiarizing yourself with how the game works by doing the tutorial, and training the most basic skills, including some learning skills, fitting skills, and weapon/module skills. By the end of this week, you should know how to fly, fit, and use your ship, as well as how to travel around the universe of EVE Online. You should also have a decent chunk of your low-level learning skills done.
Doing the tutorial missions available in your starting station should take only a few hours, and give you a strong basis for understanding the rest of the game. While you are doing those, you should be training the basic learning skills. Learning skills don't improve your capabilities, but instead let you train other skills at a faster rate. They are essential, and as a new player your main challenge is to balance training learning skills with skills that will help you enjoy playing EVE Online. If you just train learning skills, it is possible that you will get bored of EVE before the skills pay off. If you just train interesting skills, you will learn them so slowly that the same thing can happen.
Here's what I recommend: train Instant Recall, Analytical Mind, Learning, Spatial Awareness, and Iron Will all to at least level III, then train things that will make you happy or more useful, like Destroyers or the cruiser skill for your race. Engineering, Electronics, and Weapon Upgrades are all easy to train few levels in, and will go a long way toward using more modules, and fitting more of them on your ships.
Week Two: Figure Out What You Like
The conventional path of progression for players is something like this: try mining, see some of the sights of EVE Online, and then run missions until you have high enough standings with a corporation to run lucrative level 4 missions with them. Along the way, you may or may not make some friends, join a corporation and/or alliance, and experiment with PVP. This week should be spent sampling your options, particularly missions.
In order to run missions efficiently and not make certain easy mistakes, you need to be warned about a few things. Firstly, if you are constantly running missions for different corporations, you are wasting your time. This is because your time running low level missions is only useful because it propels you along toward accessing missions that are actually worthwhile. Secondly, most combat missions limit access so that larger ships won't be able to access them. A friend of mine recently explained to me that he sold a timecard and skilled up to fly a battleship as quickly as possible, only to find that low-level missions wouldn't even let at ship that big into them. Never mind that he wouldn't have the necessary support or fitting skills to use it properly. Thirdly, the loyalty point store items with higher costs usually give the best point to value ratio, because of the time required to accumulate them.
For your reference, the missions of each level are generally oriented as follows:
- Level 1 Missions: Frigates and destroyers.
- Level 2 Missions: Cruisers.
- Level 3 Missions: Battlecruisers.
- Level 4 Missions: Battleships.
Week Three: Pick A Career (For Now)
By your third week you should have figured out what areas of EVE are more likely to interest you. Because EVE Online's incredibly intricate economy supports atypical career paths, you are mostly limited by your imagination. Well, that and your budget. Most newbies will eventually settle on some form of mining or running missions. At first, anyway.
Mining can be incredibly simple or a complex ballet of logistical, personnel allocation, and spreadsheet math. If you are mining, the benefits from joining a mining corporation are immense. As long as the corporation isn't fleecing its members, miners benefit more from collective effort than any other profession. Potential benefits: mining fleet bonuses, centralized hauling, bonuses from huge ships like rorquals and orcas, highly skilled refiners, production chains that will make the most of your minerals, collective defense against pirates, and more.
Running missions effectively involves picking a corporation that has level 4 agents in high-sec space of the sort that you want to run. Usually, these missions are combat-oriented, so you want to find an NPC corporation with level 4 agents of the Internal Security type. A lot more can go into the choice of corporation, including the specific loyalty point offers that corporation has available, or is likely to have available in the future. I'll cover that better, in another guide. In the meantime it is enough that you just want to make sure that your corporation of choice actually has level 4 agents. The most important increases in standing are the storyline missions that are offered periodically in the course of running missions. These improve standings dramatically with not only the corporation offering them, but also the faction that corporation belongs to, e.g. an Amarr Navy storyline mission would improve your standings with all Amarr corporations.
Other Career Options
Salvaging: Going pro with vacuuming up wrecks and loot from missions has a lot of potential, though it can get you blown up if you don't have the permission of the parties involved. Though some people have turned stealing this stuff into a calling, I recommend that you do this in tandem with a truster corp mate that is running level 4 missions. They drop a lot of loot, and most players probably don't bother to collect it all. In order to perform this effectively, you should train Salvaging. If you are going to join a corporation, you will want to pick up a few Small Tractor Beams to speed things up.
Production and Marketing: Much has been said elsewhere about making use of markets to your advantage, and producing for them. Even if you do not want to dive into production or market manipulation wholesale, most players build up a personal blueprint collection over the course of their EVE career, in order to supply themselves with needed ammo and modules, and to supplement their income.
Villainy: The most easy version of this is stealing ore from miner cans, though they tend to get wary and may blow you up for your trouble. Ransoming is a possibility, too, even if it's just to get you to stop bumping their ship away from asteroids. Small-scale corp theft is usually pretty easy, too, just join a corporation and take whatever they have lying around in their corp hangars --corp hangars are collective hangars corporations rent in specific stations, in order to better manage their goods, and most small corporations take insufficient precautions to prevent theft.
There are tons of other options, too, once you have a better grasp of the game, including: piracy, organizing a full-scale business, mining moon minerals, exploration, plumbing the depths of wormhole space, inserting yourself into a profitable step of a production chain, or any number of other things. If you can think of it, and think it will make money, go for it.
Week Three: Find Or Make A Home
If you made it to week three, you're no longer on a trial account. Barring some kind of special offer, anyway. This means you're sticking around for at least a month. Good. That means more corporations will consider letting you join. It also means that you need to decide where to live.
Different locations within high-sec have their virtues. The four main market systems are Jita, Amarr, Rens, and Oursulaert, in rough order of importance. Proximity to one of these systems will allow you to get pretty much any item, because the markets there are so well stocked. The closer one is to these hubs, the less asteroids there will be in belts, though, and the less mission agents will generally be available. Jita, the largest trading hub in EVE Online, has neither agents nor ore.
Staying near a "school system" where new players begin the game and most skillbooks are available on the market is a good idea, too, since you will need a lot of them during your first few months.
Ways to make your new home more amenable:
- Keep all of your ships there, in one location, for ready use. Having ten ships scattered across EVE is pointless.
- Buy the blueprint originals for whatever ammunition you use, and keep yourself supplied with ammunition that way, using minerals from your mining or reprocessed from your missions.
- When you pick your home, try to get skillbooks and other items you need in batches, so you aren't constantly auto-piloting between where you live and where the markets are.
- If you choose to join a corporation, all the above considerations apply, except that you should be moving to whatever area they inhabit, and doing you best to help your corpmates along the way.
Week Four And Beyond: Discovery
At this point you may feel confident enough to try something fancy, like one of the epic mission arcs. The most basic, newbie-oriented epic mission is based in Arnon, at IX - Moon 3 - Sisters of Eve Bureau. Fly there and talk to Sister Alitura. Her missions will take you on a tour of every area of high-security space, and introduce you to most of the major factions in EVE. It's occasionally challenging, but nothing a new player shouldn't be able to handle.
By now you should be getting into the swing of things a bit better. If you still find yourself getting frustrated, the best thing you can do is read more EVE guides, sift through the official EVE wiki, read the official EVE forums, read the other Ten Ton Hammer articles, and talk to corp-mates. Get corp-mates, if you haven't already. The vast majority of players that get frustrated with EVE do so because for whatever reason they have not availed themselves of the vast number of corporations that fit all play-styles and activity levels.
If you're feeling up to it, this might be a good time to try moving around in low security space. Perhaps you're one for sight-seeing, and you are willing to venture into low security space to see the EVE Gate in the New Eden system. Just don't use auto-pilot, no matter how abandoned it seems. The same goes for null-sec.
After a month of EVE, you will probably be ready to try getting your feet with with PvP, on an experimental basis. The best way to learn to PvP is to fly on ops with more experienced pilots, and learn from them. It is important to not fly anything that you can't afford to lose. For the first few months you should be flying frigates and cruisers, and that's it. Try not get too emotionally invested in victory. Even competent pilots lose their ships all the time. I've lost hundreds, but I've killed twice that.
That's it for now. Be sure to let us know how your first month of EVE Online is coming along, on the Ten Ton Hammer forums.