Starting with the Ascension expansion (November 2016), there are two different ways of playing EVE:
- You can play for free (i.e. without paying a monthly subscription fee), but you will be limited in which skills your character can train. This is referred to as "Alpha".
- Paying a monthly subscription to play the game, which allows your character to learn every skill in the game. This is referred to as "Omega".
In-game this system is referred to as Clone States. Characters on Alpha accounts are referred to as "Alpha clones", and characters on Omega accounts are referred to as "Omega clones". If you pay for a subscription (paid for with time cards, monthly payments, PLEX...), your account (and all the characters on that account) receive "Omega" status until your subscription runs out (or you cancel it), at which point they revert back to "Alpha" status. There is no way to tell an Alpha from an Omega clone in-game. The conversion from Alpha to Omega is immediate, while the conversion from Omega to Alpha will always happen when you next log into the game.
If an Omega clone is downgraded to an Alpha clone (because the account's subscription has run out), any skills that character has trained which are not part of the Alpha skill set are locked and become inactive, i.e. they cannot be used, but the invested skill points will not be lost. Any items or ships which require the locked skill become inactive and cannot be used, and the skill training queue will be paused (but can be resumed by logging into the game). If the account's subscription is renewed, then the character is automatically upgraded back to an Omega clone and can once again use all the skills they have previously trained.
Alpha or Omega status is tied to your game account. If you have multiple accounts, then you can choose to pay for a subscription for some, all or none of them, and each account (and the characters on that account) will have the corresponding Alpha or Omega state.
Compared with Omega characters, Alpha characters are limited in the following ways:
- They may only train certain skills
- They may train for free up to a maximum of 5 million skill points.
- They may add skill points to skills in the Alpha set up to 20.5 million skill points with skill injectors.
- They take twice as long to train skills and have a shorter skill queue (24 hours, as opposed to unlimited for Omega characters)
- They pay an additional 2% tax on any industry job (e.g. manufacturing or research)
- If you are logged into the game with an Alpha character you may not log in simultaneously (multibox) with any other character (on any account)
Alpha skill set
The set of skills that Alpha characters may train limits them to:
- Combat ships up to battleship size, as well as basic industrial ships.
- Tech 1 sub-capital modules and ships with a few exceptions.
- Arms Race patch granted Alpha clones the skills for T2 Small and Medium weapons.
Expand the table below to see which skills you can train as an Alpha, and to what maximum level. For a list of skills you start the game with, see starting skills.
While they are well suited for getting introduced to EVE Online, Alpha characters should be seen more as an "indefinite trial" rather than as a "free-to-play" option.
Alpha characters are perfectly viable in low-level PvP and PvE, and in support roles in larger-scale PvP (such as EWAR or tackle for a fleet). However, their performance will not be on par with Omega characters once the latter has trained the skills to start using Tech 2 modules and ships.
Alpha characters can mine (ore or gas) in a Venture (but not use more advanced mining ships), and can perform basic (only Tech 1, no invention) manufacturing. While they will not be as efficient as an Omega character (who have access to more advanced ships and skills which improve mining and manufacturing efficiency, and are not subject to the addition 2% tax levied on Alpha characters), they can nonetheless participate in basic industry. They can salvage wrecks, but they cannot, however, do Planetary Interaction.
Alpha characters can trade, but they will pay higher taxes on their transactions and have fewer options at their disposal (e.g. they can only sell items located within 5 jumps, whereas an Omega character has the option to train skills allowing them to sell items anywhere in the current region). Alphas can have 1 active contract at a time (i.e. they can create 1 contract, but have to wait for it to be fulfilled before creating another), but they can accept contracts.
Basic hauling is an option for Alpha characters as they have access to Tech 1 industrial ships.
Alpha characters can do basic exploration.
Choice of race
Alpha clones are no longer locked to skills of the character's race as they were during launch. However, the starting skills count toward the free training skill limit while in Alpha clone state. The subsections below describe the benefits of training into skills of a specific race. Keep in mind that every ship in the game has its nuances, and there are always exceptions to the rule; Omega characters in particular have many more possibilities to bend or break the principles listed below.
There are different weapon types in EVE:
- Turret weapons, further subdivided into
- Energy weapons (lasers), which use a lot of capacitor, and can only deal two of the four damage types, but have infinite ammunition. Energy turrets are the primary weapons system for Amarr ships.
- Hybrid weapons, which can only deal two of the four damage types, and can either do very high damage or fight at long ranges, but not both. Hybrid weapons are used by the Caldari and Gallente, with the Caldari tending towards long-ranged combat and Gallente towards shorter-ranged combat.
- Projectile weapons (essentially, guns) use no capacitor to fire and are very flexible in what damage types they deal, but have a slightly more complicated ammunition selection. Projectile weapons are the primary weapons system for Minmatar ships.
- Missile launchers, which fire guided missiles. They can deal all four damage types and use no capacitor to fire, but take time to reach their targets and don't offer the on-the-fly trade-offs between range and damage that turret weapons do. Missiles are used by the Caldari and Minmatar. Defender Missiles can be trained and used by all races.
- Drones, which are small semi-autonomous spaceships. They, too, can deal all four damage types and use no capacitor to fire, but the drones must first travel to reach their targets, and they can be shot down by enemy ships. Drones are used by the Gallente and Amarr.
Tank and speed
There are two main approaches to tanking (i.e. to mitigate incoming damage) ships in EVE: strengthening either your ship's shields or your ship's armor to absorb as much damage as possible.
- Caldari and some Minmatar ships rely primarily on shield tanking. Shield tanked ships tend to be faster than armour tanked ships, and shields regenerate by themselves over time. However, shield tanked ships also tend to have a larger signature radius, causing them to take more damage from incoming fire.
- Amarr, Gallente and some Minmatar ships rely primarily on armor tanking. Armor tanked ships tend to be tougher than shield tanked ships, and make more efficient use of capacitor to repair damage. However, armor tanked ships tend to be slower than shield tanked ships and do less damage.
Alpha characters can also play in basic logistics roles, repairing friendly ships to help them survive for longer in combat. Amarr and Gallente logistics frigates and cruisers are bonused to repair other ships' armor, while Caldari and Minmatar logistics frigates and cruisers are bonused to repair other ships' shields.
While each race has faster and slower ships in their lineup, Amarr ships tend to be the slowest and Minmatar the fastest, with Caldari and Gallente falling somewhere in between.
Each race has its own type of electronic warfare, which is used to decrease the effectiveness of enemy ships in battle.
- The Amarr use Weapon Disruption, which reduces the effectiveness of the enemy ships' weapons
- The Caldari use Electronic Countermeasures (ECM), which breaks the enemy ships' target locks
- The Gallente use Remote Sensor Dampening, which interferes with the enemy ships' targeting
- The Minmatar use Target Painting, which makes enemy ships easier to hit and take more damage
Each race has two basic industrial (hauling) ships that Alpha characters can fly. Additionally, Minmatar and Gallente characters can fly industrial ships specialised in carrying large quantities of a specific cargo type: ammunition for Minmatar (Hoarder); ore, minerals, and planetary commodities for Gallente (Miasmos, Kryos, and Epithal).
Omega clones may use any skill, ship and item in the game. Additionally, you may log into the game with more than one account at a time (multiboxing), but only as long as all the accounts being logged in have Omega status.
- Dev Blog: Introducing Clone States (August 2016)
- Dev Blog: Clone States - Post CSM Summit Roundup (October 2016)
- Patch Notes for the Ascension expansion (November 2016)
- Forum Post: [December] Defender Missiles (November 2016)
- EVE Support page for Alpha and Omega clones
- EVE Support page for Alpha Clones and Omega Clone lapsing - Quick Facts
- Dev Blog: Clone States - The Next Steps (December 2017)