Wormholes are the latest addition to the EVE Online landscape. These random, swirling tears in space can lead players to other systems in the New Eden cluster, including the new unknown systems that aren't visible on the star map. Since they first appeared- with the release of Apocrypha at the start of March - players from all across the universe have been seeking them out; looking to harvest the riches, or plunder them from each other. To say that wormhole exploration is a dangerous business would be an understatement, so here are a few tips:
First, before you even think about looking for a wormhole, you're going to need some probes and a probe launcher. Thanks to the recently revamped probing system this is much easier than it used to be, as any ship with a spare high slot can easily fit a core probe launcher. Specialised probing ships still have their niche, though; the astrometric frigates have a bonus to the strength of their probes, which makes it easier to find signatures. Probes are essential for wormhole exploration, and it is worth having one fitted to most of the ships in your exploration fleet.
Once you've got some probes, set the filter to pick up signatures, and start scanning around the system. There should be a wormhole in most systems, but this can vary wildly due to their random nature. These first show up as "unknown" signatures on a scan, but once you have narrowed down the position it should show up as an unstable wormhole (certain complexes also show up as "unknown" signatures, but these aren't as common). Warp to that and you should be confronted with an ominous looking vortex.
Now, before you charge blindly in, drop a bookmark so that you can return to this location whenever you want. Bookmarks are very important, especially once you enter unknown space, as there are very few celestial objects to warp to, and wormholes cannot be warped to without a bookmark (or a friendly ship nearby). I've already made the mistake of entering an unknown system and then warping off without marking the exit several times, and doing that without probes can effectively leave you stranded if you don't have support.
The other thing to keep in mind before you jump in is the state of the wormhole. A right click and show info will give you some vague details as to how long it will last, how stable it is, and, most importantly, where it goes. As well as going to high security, low security, and 0.0 security space, there are also gateways to unknown, dangerous unknown, and deadly unknown systems. There are also visual signs to watch out for; as more mass passes through the wormhole it becomes smaller; if the wormhole is rippling violently, then its time limit is almost up. Mass is an important consideration, as it is the easiest way to collapse a wormhole, and the reason why a smaller gang of lighter ships is often better than a full fleet of battleships if you don't want to risk a collapse.
It's worth reminding yourself of the stats of your ship before taking the plunge. Certain unknown systems have anomalies- including pulsars, dual suns, and black holes -that can have a dramatic effect on your ship, for better or for worse.
Ok, so, you've probed out a wormhole that leads to unknown space, bookmarked the other side, and your fleet is ready to explore; now what? Well, if you are looking to score some of the new materials for tech three ships, then you'll need to break out the probes out and start looking for signatures again. Unknown signatures are other wormholes (and there can be multiple wormholes in a system at any one time); gravimetric are asteroid belts for mining; Ladar are gas clouds, Magnetometric are archaeology sites, and Radar are hacking sites. It's always worth bringing along the odd analyzer or codebreaker module to make the most of the last two types. Of course, this is assuming you can take care of the guardians.
The Sleeper drones that watch over the ancient ruins of these sites are much more of a threat than your average NPC. As well as being able to deal out, and take, fierce amounts of damage they can intelligently switch targets, adjust their movement to make themselves more difficult to hit, scramble and web targets from long range, and repair each other. Anyone looking to fight them will need to be very careful, unless they are in a decent gang that can support each other. The ability to repair yourself, and other members of you're a gang, in these fights is very important, as there are no stations for players to dock and repair in unknown space. A logistics ship or two can be quite handy.
The only thing in unknown space that is more dangerous than a group of Sleepers is a band of other players out to uncover some goodies, even if that means taking yours. Always keep one eye on your directional scanner, and be ready to make a run for it if you see other ships nearby. Do not talk in local; players will not show up in the local player list unless they talk there first and with a cloaking device you can become completely invisible to other players. Unknown space also has a security rating of 0.0, which means that anything goes, and other players can shoot you on sight without any kind of penalty. Be wary of other travellers.