Places to Kill in EVE Online
MMORPG.com EVE Online Correspondent Andrew Wallace writes this guide to different combat areas within CCP's sandbox sci-fi game.
I've been a mercenary, a pirate, an anti-pirate, a salvager, a mission runner, and an explorer. I've fought in Factional Warfare for the Caldari State, assaulted Player Owned Stations in Empire, and flown suicidal fleets into 0.0 space. There are thousands of players that populate the vast universe of EVE Online, each one following their own path on a single server. There are no set character classes or careers, and it's up to the players to decide what they want to do. From peaceful industrial activities, like mining, to vicious piracy; there is a wide variety of roles and professions to explore. Isk, the currency of New Eden, is a driving force behind any profession. If you are having fun, or making money from it, then it's perfectly valid, and if you can find something that gives you both, then you may have just found the path that's right for you.
Now, as much as the freedom of choice is one of the great features of EVE, the sheer variety can be utterly daunting for new players. The purpose of this article is to provide a brief overview of some of the different areas available for those players looking for a fight. Don't think of these as specialised careers, but just as options. They are all different facets of the combat system in EVE; each one uses a similar set of skills for different ends, whether it's shooting NPCs, or other players.
Let's start of with the simple stuff: The killing of NPC pirates, also known as ratting, is an age old activity and nets you a small amount of loot and isk (the game's currency) from the bounties on their heads. These can be found at the asteroid belts in a system, and occasionally near gates and stations.
A step up from ratting is mission running. Missions are the closest thing EVE has to traditional MMO questing. Various security division agents, working for the assorted factions, hand out missions for players looking to shoot at NPCs. These reward you with isk, as well as loyalty points that can be redeemed for special items available from that faction. Now, onto the more exciting stuff: Player versus player combat!
While you are in the relative safety of high security space, shooting actual players is a bit troublesome, as the NPC police will appear out of nowhere and shred your ship into metal confetti. The answer to this problem is a war declaration. As long as you can pay the fee to maintain it, your corporation can declare war on any other corporation, and attack them anywhere in space, without the police intervening. There are whole corps dedicated to warfare in empire space, either for griefing defenceless players, or seeking out worthy opponents.
Another use of the war declaration system is mercenaries. Not everyone in EVE is willing or able to fight, but if they have the money then there are guns to be hired; why start a war with someone when you can pay other people to do it for you. Essentially, you get paid to shoot people, and while it's great if you can get a regular stream of customers, you have to be patient, professional, and prepared to get involved in other people's politics.
For those players who don't want their shooting to be constrained by the rules of empire space, there is the "wild west" of 0.0 space. It has a little bit of everything, as well as large scale territorial warfare between hundreds of players in major alliances. There is no law out there. Anything goes, and if you don't want territory you can just fly around and try to kill everything you see.
Then there's Factional Warfare, which was introduced last year as part of the Empyrean Age expansion, and pits the four main factions in EVE into two sided war to take control of certain low-security regions. All you have to do is sign yourself, or your corp, up to one of the four militias and start capturing systems for your side. Factional Warfare agents also offer special missions as well, but just watch out for the opposing militia members, and pirates.
Both adored and despised by the EVE population, piracy is the ancient art of shooting someone and taking their stuff, and it's a big part of EVE, whether you like it or not. Once you stray into low-security space, you too can become a target for the big bad wolves of New Eden. However, as enjoyable as indiscriminately killing other players might be, there are some penalties to consider. The more people you illegally kill, the lower your security status goes. This stops you from entering certain high security systems, unless you want to be shot on sight by the police. If it gets below minus five, you will become a free target for everyone in the game.
In response to piracy, there are various anti-pirate organisations that actively hunt down outlaws. A good example would be the Rancer Defense Force. Fed up with constant pirate attacks on travellers moving through the Rancer system, a group of players have recently banded together with the sole purpose of removing them from the area. It's an important example, as there is no "anti-pirate" class. It's entirely created by players seeing an opportunity (usually to make money) and taking advantage of it.
While it's entirely possible to just stick to one area, these are not set careers, and most pilots have their fingers in many different pies; most of the players that I know have some form of secondary income to support their PvP habit. The main thing to remember is that there is no "endgame"; there is no definite finishing point. Whether you think it is a strength or a weakness, EVE is not a game that tells you where to take your character. You log in and decide what you want to shoot today.