This is a guide to what cruiser-class ships are best for running low-level missions. Many new players struggle with ship choice and sorting the effective ships from the chaff. Luckily, you have us to do that for you.
Ship choice is the biggest choice a player can make in EVE Online, analogous in many ways to choosing a class in other MMOs. When running missions, your ship and modules determine your chances of success: a good ship with the right fittings will have no problems, while deficiencies in either department usually end with an explosion.
The Cruiser Class Of Ships
Cruisers are the middle class of ships. They are larger than frigates and destroyers but smaller than battlecruisers and battleships. The tech I cruisers are good for new players and budget PvPers, while the tech II ships are highly specialized ships that fill a wide range of roles in the game.
Each race has a good cruiser option for running missions.
The Four Races
Each player race has four tech I ship options available. Some are niche cruisers, only useful in very specific circumstances. Others have varying degrees of flexibility, while some are essentially useless in their tech I form and exist solely as a platform to base a tech II ship on.
Still, players of each race will want to run missions, and at some point during their careers they will likely do so in cruisers. These are the best tech I cruisers of each race for that purpose.
Amarr: The Maller
Though the omen may be preferable for less difficult missions because of the rate it can burn through NPC opponents, the maller is generally preferable because of its powerful ability to tank damage. The maller can shoot NPCs and repair itself at the same time, in any level I or II mission that is intended to be tanked (note that some are intentionally impossible to resist, and are intended to be run like gauntlets). A well fit maller can even tank some level III missions.
- Because of its unfortunate capacitor problems, the omen has trouble keeping armor repairers running. This means that it can do some missions but not the long slogs.
- The arbitrator requires a high skill point investment in drone skills before it is really good, and many newer Amarr players will prefer to skill up elsewhere. It may be a superior option for Amarr players that get into mission running after they have a few million skillpoints under their belt.
- The augoror is not useful except as bait or perhaps if you are helping a teammate in some weirdly capacitor-heavy situation, and is a strong contender for worst tech I cruiser in the game.
Caldari: The Caracal
The caracal can fit a reasonable tank, with either a lot of shield hit points or actively shield boosting. It churns out good missile damage for a cruiser, which is handy since most early Caldari players are probably doing the missile thing in preparation for using the drake battlecruiser. Lamentably, it does not have an extra high slot for salvaging, but that does not stop the caracal from being the best option here. Your time is better spent running the mission as fast as possible so that you can work on getting to the more lucrative level III and IV missions, anyway.
- The osprey is a support ship and lacks much in the way of solo capabilities.
- The blackbird is an electronic warfare ship and does not do well against NPCs.
- The moa is arguably a better mission runner by any objective standard, but because it does not use missiles it ends up needing skills that most early Caldari pilots will not possess, and will not need or want until much later.
Gallente: The Vexor
Drones are king of missions. If you can withstand the incoming damage, your drones will merrily do all of your murderous work for you, with very little human interaction needed. Warp into your mission, wait until the NPCs have all locked onto you and are attacking, and launch your drones. They will happily destroy any NPCs within range while you can concentrate on shooting any frigate-size enemies that get too close, or perhaps on salvaging wrecks. Most Gallente pilots will have trained at least some drone skills, and drones can deal any damage type, so this is a really good option.
There is no one best cruiser because each race is adept at fighting certain NPCs.
- The exequror is a decent salvager or armor-repairing support buddy, but not so hot on its own.
- The celestis uses remote sensor dampeners, an obsolete form of electronic warfare that is exceptionally useless against NPCs.
- Finally, the thorax is good but generally requires that the user have more support skills trained than any newbie is likely to possess.
Minmatar: The Rupture
When it comes to running missions, it is generally more useful to fly a ship that can withstand a ton of damage while chewing up enemy ships and spitting them out. The rupture does this with gusto. The rupture spits out huge amounts of damage while shield or armor tanking depending on your preference, and even throws in some drones for good measure. Because projectile ammunition is nearly as flexible as missiles, the rupture can deal the right type of damage needed for any particular mission. The rupture may arguably be the overall best tech I cruiser for mission running in all of EVE Online.
- The bellicose is an ugly support ship with even less going for it than the Amarr augoror, and its electronic warfare bonuses to target painting do not vindicate its lack of damage output.
- The scythe is a mining vessel that dabbles in using remote tracking enhancement modules. 'Nuff said.
- The stabber is good for hit and run or smash and grab missions, but is less effective at missions that involve killing whole swarms of NPCs.