PVE T1 Frigates and Cruisers

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New players often use PVE as a way to gain ISK and experience with fitting and piloting. The ships listed here are widely recommended for early PVE security missions and combat sites.

Frigates

Frigates are the ship of choice for the easiest combat sites and for Level I security missions. Players often choose a ship based on its weaponry: projectile turret, missile launcher, laser turret, hybrid turret, drones. Drone and missile fitted frigates are especially popular because they let the pilot shoot from a distance. (NPCs tend to gang up on the Player ship, so distance is often a good thing to have.) On the other hand, this is just a preference, and many players choose the excitement of close combat with autocannon and blasters.

  • Missiles make good starter weapons because they need no capacitor energy, and they fly directly to their targets without worry about optimal range, tracking speed, and the other limitations of turrets. Missile ships usually stay at long range and "snipe" their enemies, a tactic that can be used even by players with minimal skills. The downside to missiles is that they take a long time to reload.
  • Drones fly out and attack your enemies, a tactic that gives you time to run away if things go bad. However, drones have a variety of skills that need to be learned if you want to progress to more advanced equipment. Also, if you lose some of your drones during the fighting, you have to dock at a station to replace them.
  • Projectile, Hybrid and Laser Turrets all have short-range and long-range weapon variations. In general, Turrets require that you get closer to your enemy and play close attention to what you are doing. Many players find this exciting, and it is also good practice for PvP combat if you are going in that direction.

Every ship listed here requires at least Level I of the Spaceship Command skill for the ship itself. Additional useful skills include The Magic 14 and specialized skills for the specific type of ship you choose to fly (i.e., drone skills for drone boats, shield skills for shielded boats, etc.)

Ship names here link to the page for the ship in this Wiki.

Breacher - Minmatar - Missiles. The Breacher is widely used as a PvP combat ship, but its missiles and the ability to carry a pair of light combat drones also make it a good fit for PvE. The ship is bonused for light missiles as well as shield boosters, and so is usually shield tanked. Note that the Caldari Kestrel has four launchers, but no drones.
Incursus - Gallente - Hybrid Turrets. This is the only Gallente frigate with 3 turret slots. The Incursus can deal more damage than a drone ship for pilots without higher level drone skills. (But note that hybrid turrets only do thermal and kinetic damage ... no EMP or explosive is available.)
Kestrel - Caldari - Missiles. This ship has four missile launchers, which gives it a strong offensive punch. Kestrels are usually shield tanked.
Punisher - Amarr - Laser Turrets. With excellent armour strength, a bonus to armour resistances, and five low slots for installing armor fittings, this is one of the strongest T1 frigates in terms of defense. Its four turrets can give a reasonable damage output. (But note that laser turrets only do thermal and EMP damage ... no kinetic or explosive is available.)
Rifter - Minmatar - Projectile Turrets. The Rifter has three mid and four low equipment slots, which gives it the ability to either shield or armor tank and provides flexibility in fitting. Its speed is an advantage, and it has bonuses for projectile turrets. The Rifter doesn't stand out in any particular category, but it is a very good all-round combat frigate.
Tristan - Gallente - Drones. This is the only T1 frigate that can operate five drones, and it has bonuses to drone defense and speed. Very good drone skills increase its damage considerably, and it is the ship of choice for players who are developing these skills. The Tristan also has a bonus to hybrid turrets, of which it can carry two, but these are often replaced with other equipment since the ship's primary damage lies in its drones.

Cruisers

Cruisers are much stronger than frigates. While slower, they carry more powerful weapons, they have better defense, and they require a higher level of skills to fly. Generally, cruisers are the ship of choice for Level II combat missions and the next higher level of combat sites.

Cruisers give you a chance to expand your knowledge of ship fitting. The skills and fitting know-how that you develop while flying cruisers will prepare you to advance to more complicated kinds of ships.

Every ship listed here requires at least Level I of the Spaceship Command skill for the ship itself. Additional useful skills include The Magic 14 and specialized skills for the specific type of ship you choose to fly (i.e., drone skills for drone boats, shield skills for shielded boats, etc.)

Ship names here link to the page for the ship in this Wiki.

ARBITRATOR - Amarr - Drones. Generally considered one of the best T1 cruisers in the game, the Arbitrator can carry six flights of light drones or a mix of light and medium drones, and it has enough bandwidth to fly a full flight of five mediums. Drones are the Arbitrator's primary weapon, but it has two turret slots AND two launcher slots, which allows you to mount the weapons for which you have skills and use the other slots for a tractor beam, salvage beam, or the like. It can be fit for armor or for shields, depending on your best skills.
CARACAL - Caldari - Missiles. This ship receives bonuses that increasing the range and the rate of fire for missiles. It uses shields, and generally damages enemies from distance.
OMEN - Amarr - Laser Turrets. The Omen has bonuses for medium laser turrets, and it is usually armor tanked. While it is not a drone ship, it can carry eight light drones, which is enough for a full flight of combat drones and three salvage drones.
RUPTURE - Minmatar - Projectile Turrets. With four projectile turrets and room for a full flight of drones, this ship uses artillery and drones to destroy enemies from range. It can use armor or shields with equal facility, making it a popular ship for PvE.
VEXOR - Gallente - Drones. One of the most popular ships for PVE, the Vexor can carry five flights of light drones, or a mix of light and medium drones. It has enough bandwidth to fly a mix of light, medium and heavy drones, which can be useful in some Level 3 missions. The Vexor has a bonus for hybrid turrets, but the damage from these is small compared to its drones, and other types of weapons and devices are not unusual. It is most often armor tanked.

Summary of PvE T1 Ship Characteristics

PvE Frigates and CRUISERS
Amarr Caldari Gallente Minmatar
Armor Punisher
ARBITRATOR
OMEN
Incursus
VEXOR
Rifter
RUPTURE
Shield ARBITRATOR Kestrel
CARACAL
Rifter
RUPTURE
Drone ARBITRATOR Tristan
VEXOR
Projectile Rifter
RUPTURE
Hybrid Incursus
Laser Punisher
OMEN
Missile Kestrel
CARACAL

Summary of Weapon Characteristics

Links here go to wiki pages that discuss the particular weapon or characteristic.

Weapon Trade-offs
Tracking Homing Reload Damage Type
Missile yes yes all
Projectile yes yes all
Hybrid yes yes all
Laser yes never runs out thermal, EMP
Drones yes yes no all

Shields versus Armor

Shields take damage first. As shields are damaged, armor comes into play. Finally, if shields and armor are gone, the hull gets hit.

  • More shields make you easier to target, but let you go faster than the same amount of armor.
  • More armor slows you down, but you're harder to hit than with the same amount of shields.

Armor tanked ships usually lose their shields fairly quickly. Shield tanked ships should never lose their shields ... if they do, it's time to warp out. There are other ways of tanking, but these are the two most widely used.

For more details: Tanking.

A Note On Battlecruisers and More Advanced Ships

Level III missions and the more advanced combat sites generally require a Battlecruiser or an equivalent ship ... of which there are many. By this time, many players will be using T2 fits. Some will be flying T2 ships, and a few may even be flying T3 ships. Because of this, the choice of ships and fittings is open to discussion. A player with this much experience should enjoy the challenge of finding and fitting a ship that matches his or her skills.

Many guides that help with choosing ships for higher level missions and combat sites can be found in this wiki:

Progressions

If you have a favored weapons type and want to plan ahead, here are a few commonly followed tracks for PvE: frigate --> cruiser --> battlecruiser --> battleship

Missiles: Kestrel --> Caracal --> Drake --> Raven Train Caldari ships and missile weaponry together. The Raven may be the single most popular Level IV mission battleship.
Drones: Tristan --> Vexor --> Myrmidon --> Dominix Train Gallente ships and drone weaponry together. The Dominix is also a very widely used Level IV mission ship.
PvP If you want to train for PvP along with PvE, you will be most interested in T1 cruisers and T3 destroyers. There are a lot of choices to made on the PvP path, and it is worth reading our Solo PvP page as you start out.