PvE missions have different requirements than do PvP encounters. This page discusses those requirements and describes a number of ships that work well in PvE. For a complete description of what "missions" are, and how to approach them, look at the Missions page, or try the Missioning 101 course. (Ships specifically appropriate to incursions are not covered here. You may want to read the page on Incursions, or look at the Incursions 101 course.)
|Ships by size|
|Ships by faction|
You can (usually) run from a PvE mission. This makes survivability a strategic objective and means that you can use fancy ships and equipment, as you do not expect to lose them. (Other players may attack you, however, and accidents do happen – so insurance is always a good idea.)
Each mission has a primary objective, given to you by the mission agent. While you will probably use the same ship for all missions on a given level, you may want to change the fittings, and your tactics should definitely take the mission objectives into account. Bottom line: read the mission statement carefully - you may need to pick something up, kill a specific NPC or destroy a structure - so be sure you know what you need to accomplish.
Mining, Distribution, and Research Missions
Mining missions require mining ships. A Venture will work at first, but you will want to move up to barges, and then exhumers as your mission levels increase. The only combat in mining missions comes from belt guardian NPCs, and these are no more powerful than the ones that spawn while you are mining ore. The same ships that you use for day to day mining are equally good for mining missions.
Distribution (courier) missions require that you transport a given cargo from one station to another. The size of the cargo increases with the level of the missions. There is no combat in distribution missions and you can use the same industrial ships that you would use to transport any cargo. Note, however, that you will need an industrial ship ... combat ships will not have the capacity to carry these large cargoes.
Research (trade) Missions require that you obtain specific items or materials and deliver these to a given destination. The size of the cargoes is usually not a concern, and delivery can be made using almost any ship. (In a pinch, if you have a very small ship, you may want to consider fitting an expanded cargohold to gain some extra capacity.) There are no combat requirements in research missions.
Security (Encounter) Missions direct you to go to a particular place and deal with a problem there. Most of these problems include some number of NPC enemies, and usually the solution is to kill them. Naturally, this will require a combat ship. However, it turns out that many ships that excel in PvP combat are not as well-suited for security missions.
Few ships and players are so evenly matched that they will fight to a draw; consequently, PvP encounters tend to be violent, but brief. On the other hand, PvE enemies almost always outnumber you, sometimes by very large margins. You have to take them out one by one, which means that security mission encounters generally drag on for awhile. You want a different kind of ship, with different fittings, for this kind of combat.
General Ship Preferences
Missions are about killing enemies, and you can use any kind of ship that has enough offense to get that done. (For example, I once started a character by training Covert Ops to a high level, for reasons having nothing to do with missions. Later, when I decided to start running security missions with that character, I used a Minmatar Hound stealth bomber. This is not a particularly good mission ship, but I had no problem completing level I and II missions.) The point is: it's all about killing enemy ships – don't let somebody else's opinion of what's "best" get in the way of your own preferences, experience and skills.
That said, although any kind of ship can be successful in running missions, because PvE targets come in waves, and because survivability is one of your goals, brawling tactics are somewhat less desireable in missions than are sniping and/or kiting. Faster ships, in particular missile and drone boats, tend to give better support to these kinds of tactics.
Particularly if you are just starting to run missions, you probably want to emphasize speed:
- Mission NPCs will target and chase you until you warp out or they die. And there will be multiple enemies, all focused only on you. So you may want to use a fast ship with longer range weapons and try to kite your enemies. There's nothing wrong with brawling; but kiting is safer.
- Some missions will have surprising twists, or more targets than you expected, and you will want to get some distance between you and your enemies while you rethink your approach.
- Some missions require that you obtain an item, but do not require you to kill every enemy at the site … getting quickly in and out is a benefit in these situations.
Loosely speaking, you want enough defense (armor, shields, speed) to give you time to maneuver, and time to escape if things go badly. And then you want as much offense as you can pile on – because the faster you kill the NPCs, the sooner you get to collect your rewards.
Missiles and drones are often preferred as mission ship weapons. One reason is range - drones, in particular, can operate at range against larger targets while the ship uses its main weapons to finish off the smaller/faster enemies. A second reason is damage selection. Missiles can be easily switched on the fly, and the same is true of drones if the ship has a drone bay large enough to carry multiple flights.
On the other hand, many players prefer to get in close with a slower, heavily tanked ship that has massive turret power. This approach has less margin for error, but it does have its advantages; one being that the dead NPCs tend to be in one place, and so easier to loot.
EVE has balanced the characteristics and fittings of the ships to make both approaches viable. You will probably be happiest if you simply rely on your experience and go with the approach that best fits your skills and preferred combat style.
General Fitting Preferences
You should choose your fittings, and plan your tactics, based on the mission objective. For example, if the mission calls for you to "investigate" an area without necessarily killing any NPCs, you will likely want a faster, more defensively oriented fitting. On the other hand, if the objective says "clear the area of pirates", you will want to bring your best offense to the party.
Dead mission NPCs can be looted. Assuming you want the loot, and that you do not have a friend who will do the looting for you, you will need to fit a salvager or carry a salvage drone or two. (You can also bring two ships, one to complete the mission and one to clean up afterwards - but this is usually not worth the effort until you get to Level IV missions.)
Since you do not intend to die, and since missions pay off in various ways, you should be willing to fit your ship with top flight gear. This is not just for vanity or fun … the faster you kill the enemies, the sooner you can loot them and move on to the next mission.
There is no specific "mission gear" - mission ships use the same fittings as all other ships. The key is to fit your ship to match your tactical style.
- Kiting: enough speed to stay ahead of the pack, longer ranged guns or missiles, targeting assists, faction ammunition
- Drones: drone type should match enemy damage weaknesses, high drone damage and range, ship weapons to kill the smaller targets
- Brawling: exceptional tank, heavy damage weapons, enough speed to break off the encounter
- and so on ...
Some enemies also use one or more forms of electronic warfare. But with the possible exception of some Level IV missions, these normally will not require any special refitting.
NPCs are more or less immune to most electronic warfare. For example, capacitor warfare cannot drain an NPC's capacitor, but it can replenish yours. And you can jam an NPC, technically, but their sensor strength is so high as to make this impractical. On the other hand, target painters work … presumably because they improve your capacity without affecting the NPCs. The bottom line: unless you have some very specific purpose in mind, don't bother to fit electronic warfare modules to your mission ship.
Agents and Stations
In some cases, especially if your skills are not highly developed, it may be necessary to refit for each new mission. And you will be collecting loot. So you will probably want to base your mission ship at the agent's station for the duration of the mission level. With this in mind, try to pick a station that offers repairs, as you will almost certainly need them.
Also keep in mind that Loyalty Point rewards accrue to specific corporations. If you are running missions for an agent of CreoDron, for example, the points you gain will only work in the CreoDron storefront. Because of this, you probably want to choose your agents from one or two corporations. Loyalty points let you purchase faction ammunition and a variety of enhancement plug-ins, so check out the store before you decide.
Your missions will surely take you to an adjoining system, and sometimes further. It is considerably more dangerous to run missions in low sec space, so as part of this selection process, be sure to look at the security level of the systems within two or three jumps of the agent's home base.
Have a Plan
There are a wide variety of activities available to every EVE player, and most of these require different skills. If you are just starting out, you will find life in EVE much easier if you develop a Skill Plan for your character. The process of deciding which of the many skills to train, and in what order, will help you think through your approach to the game.
If you are planning to do missions, for example, then in terms of ships you may want to consider:
- are you also doing PvP and want to train fully in frigates ... i.e., learning the frigate skills in each race ... or do you want to move quickly to larger ships?
- do you want to gain access to advanced ships by training one or more spaceship skills to Level V?
- how much training time are you willing to allocate to combat and ship handling skills?
In general, missions require lower levels of combat skills than does PvP - because once you can kill the NPCs at a given level, you need no additional power. And, it usually makes sense to train one particular weapons systems (e.g., missiles, drones, projectiles) to a high level and then look for a ship that uses those weapons. Most of the races have a number of drone and missile ships ... which is one of the reasons why these are a popular choice.
However, if you focus on developing skills for mission running, you will inevitably short change skills needed for other activities ... including such as PvP, exploration, mining and so on. THIS is why it is a good idea to develop a Skill Plan. Such a plan will help you decide which ships you want to use, and the plan can be modified as you gain experience and discover other things that you want to do.
Standard Ships by Mission Level
These are not requirements, but rather general guidelines. You can do Level III missions in a destroyer if you want to, and if your skills and abilities will let you pull it off. And although it seems like massive overkill, if you are coming to missioning later in the game and have well developed skills, and want to go fast, you could use a cruiser for both Levels I and II - or a battlecruiser for the first three levels. (Note that a few missions have special "Ship Restrictions" that limit the type of ship that you may use.)
The ships listed here are not a complete set of all "good" mission ships. But these are ones that players often use. Keep in mind that your skills are a BIG factor in missioning. The Minmatar Hurricane, for example, gets a five percent bonus to turret damage and rate of fire per Spaceship Command skill level. This means that the damage this ship does at skill Level V is huge compared to what it does at Level I. The need to selectively train the skills that help you the most cannot be overstated.
(Ships listed in italics are advanced models. These are discussed further down the page.)
Ship Class: Frigate, Destroyer
Most players start with missions in a rookie ship via the "Level 0" tutorials. They then begin doing PvP and Level I missions at more or less the same time, usually in a frigate. Each race has six standard frigates, and one or two of these will, with low to moderate skills, easily handle Level I missions as well as combat PvP. The four listed here are the ones most often mentioned as good mission ships for each race.
|Minmatar Breacher||shield||3 missile||10||365|
|Amarr Punisher||armor||4 laser||0||355|
|Gallente Incursus||armor||3 hybrid||5||340|
|Caldari Kestrel||shield||4 missile||0||325|
Arguably, the Breacher is the best of the set. It is the fastest, and its 2 drones allow for a sniping strategy with two launchers in support and one high slot given over to salvaging. However, if your skills limit you to a ship of your own race, any of these will do quite well.
Destroyers fall between Levels I and II. All destroyers have more offense than defense, and all depend on speed rather than armor or shields. As a result, they are somewhat fragile and thus less valuable for mission running. On the other hand, an experienced pilot can make excellent use of a destroyer's offensive capabilities in Level I and II missions. The offensive power will help you finish missions quickly, but keep in mind that these ships cannot take a lot of damage.
The most widely referenced mission destroyer is the Talwar.
|Minmatar Talwar||shield||7 missile||0||255|
The Talwar's base speed is slower than a frigate, but the destroyer's bonuses allow it to mount a microwarp drive without the usual increase to signature radius. This makes it very fast and hard to hit. It uses basic kiting tactics to string out a group of targets, keep them at range, and finish them one by one with its missiles. (The Talwar can be a lot of fun to fly, but if you are serious about missions, you probably want to skip over destroyers and move directly into cruisers.)
Ship Class: Destroyer, Assault Frigate, Cruiser
Cruisers are by far the preferred ship class for Level II missions. Each race has one or two cruisers that will work well in missions; the ones listed here are generally popular.
Notice that there are four different weapons systems represented here, along with drones. Since EVE skills often build on one another, you will find that the choices you make for cruisers will tend to carry over to Battlecruisers and Battleships. So, if you came into the game through the Gallente, for example, and have begun to train Hybrid Turrets, this is another place where you may want to rethink that and switch to some other system. It is NOT required that you make a change ... this is just a good time to stop and think about it.
|Amarr Omen||armor||5 laser||40||260|
|Gallente Thorax||armor||5 hybrid||50||240|
|Caldari Caracal||shield||5 missile||10||230|
|Minmatar Rupture||shield or armor||4 projectile, 1 missile||30||210|
|Amarr Arbitrator||shield||4 any||150||200|
|Gallente Vexor||shield||4 hybrid||125||195|
The Vexor and Arbitrator have bonuses to drone hit points and damage. The Vexor is one of the most widely used mission ships and is also used in PvP; the Arbitrator has a larger drone bay, and because it has no bonus to a specific weapon system, it can mount any type … which makes it a good choice if you have not trained in hybrid turrets. (Note that the Arbitrator's bonus to tracking disruption is wasted in mission running as it has no effect on NPC targets.)
The Omen and Thorax are also both widely used. Each is fast, mounts five guns and can carry a flight plus a few more drones. The Caracal is light on drones, but its speed and five missile launchers are good for kiting. The Rupture is a very balanced ship; it has the most defense and can be tanked for either shields or armor - and its four projectile turrets (plus one launcher, if desired) work well at kiting.
Ship Class: Battlecruiser, Heavy Assault Cruiser
Battlecruisers are the most popular Level III mission ships. Each race has three standard battlecruisers. One of these will be a high offense, low defense assault ship. One will use the race's primary weapons system, and one will use an "unusual" weapons system. (For example the Hurricane uses standard Minmatar projectile weapons, while the Cyclone is bonused for missiles.)
Any of the non-assault boat battlecruisers are viable for missions. (The Drake is one of the most popular ships in EVE, but the choice of the others is somewhat arbitrary and was made here to emphasize different weapons systems.)
|Minmatar Hurricane||shield||6 projectile||40||180|
|Amarr Harbinger||armor||6 laser||75||175|
|Caldari Drake||shield||6 missile||25||150|
|Gallente Myrmidon||armor or shield||4 any||200||145|
The Myrmidon is a drone ship. It is not bonused for a particular type of weapon, and it can be tanked either way … which allows great flexibility in fitting. The Myrmidon can carry large, mixed flights of drones, which is especially useful in mission running. The Drake is one of the most widely used ships in the game. It's dps is smaller than the Hurricane's, but it can mount a better tank. The Harbinger, too, is popular. It is a very balanced ship - rather fast with a very good tank, six lasers, and a substantial drone bay.
Depending on your preferred style of play, any of these ships will do well in Level III missions.
Ship Class: Heavy Assault Cruiser, Battlecruiser, Battleship, Marauder, Command Ship, Strategic Cruiser
The battleship is the primary choice for Level IV missions. The missions are considerably harder than they were at earlier levels. They involve larger numbers of more difficult enemies, and players are advised to have developed their basic combat and ship handling skills before they proceed.
|Minmatar Tempest||shield or armor||6 projectile||75||127|
|Gallente Megathron||armor||7 hybrid||75||122|
|Caldari Raven||shield||6 missile||75||113|
|Amarr Apocalypse||armor||8 laser||75||113|
|Gallente Dominix||armor||6 any||375||109|
|Minmatar Maelstrom||shield||8 projectile||100||94|
The Raven and Dominix are arguably the two most popular Level IV mission ships. Fitted with cruise missiles and a strong shield tank, the Raven is fast enough to use kiting as a tactic. The Dominix has bonuses to drone damage and range, and carries multiple flights of various sizes. It has no weapons system bonuses and can be fitted with up to six turrets, though usually a few guns are sacrificed for utility fittings.
The Apocalypse and Maelstrom provide massive offense via eight turrets. Both have good tanks, and both have roles in PvP fleets as long range damage dealers.
The Tempest and Megathron are well balanced ships with good speed, tank, drone capacity and solid damage via turrets.
Level V missions require a fleet of ships and are beyond the scope of this page. See the Mission Fleets page for more information.
Advanced piloting is heavily dependent on skills and ship fitting and is only recommended to experienced players. For those who might be thinking about training their skills to these levels, here are some representative mission ships. Keep in mind that one of the key features of advanced ships is their flexibility. Most of these ships can be fitted for either PvP or PvE.
(Advanced ships are usually very expensive, and they require high level skills to make them effective enough to justify the cost. The Ishtar, for example, is a cruiser sized drone boat often used with sentry drones. It is not worth buying an Ishtar unless you have Level IV and V drone skills. And you can't fit it properly without a number of Level V engineering skills.)
|SHIP||TANK||WEAPONS||DRONE BAY||SPEED||CLASS||MISSION LEVEL|
|Caldari Hawk||shield||missile||0||273||assault frigate||II-III|
|Gallente Ishtar||armor||any||375||175||heavy assault cruiser||III-IV|
|Caldari Tengu||shield||missile||-||-||strategic cruiser||IV|
|Minmatar Sleipnir||shield||projectile||25||165||command ship||IV-V|
- Hawk is representative of Assault Frigates, generally well-rounded ships with good speed and defense. Hawk has bonuses to shields and missiles, and it also has a role as a tackler in PvP.
- Ishtar is a Heavy Assault Cruiser. It has bonuses for drones and a massive bay that can carry multiple flights. Although it is popular in PvP, with careful fitting an Ishtar can take on Level IV missions. (This Evelopedia article provides a number of Level IV Ishtar mission fits).
- Kronos is a Marauder, a heavy duty battleship. It has a very strong tank, a good drone bay, four heavy guns, and can fit a micro jump drive. Its four additional high slots allow for a variety of utility fittings. Marauders are expensive to train, very expensive to buy, and they require high level skills. That said, who wouldn't want one?
- Tengu is a Tech III Strategic Cruiser. As such, it has no standard configuration, but rather depends on installed "subsystems" to establish a fit. Here, for example, is a Battleclinic Tengu PvE missile fit. Strategic cruisers are very expensive; subsystems require special skill training, and subsystem modules are very expensive. Consequently, while strategic cruisers are very powerful ships, you do not see many of them on any given day.