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The Rifter is a very powerful combat frigate and can easily tackle the best frigates out there. It has gone through many radical design phases since its inauguration during the Minmatar Rebellion. The Rifter has a wide variety of offensive capabilities, making it an unpredictable and deadly adversary.
Minmatar Frigate bonuses (per skill level):
As a basic Tech 1 frigate, the Rifter is a forgiving and undemanding ship. New pilots will get more out of it, though, if they train at least a few levels of relevant gunnery skills to back up its bonuses for projectile turrets.
The Rifter is not an outstanding frigate, but it does have a balanced 3/3/4 slot layout, which allows pilots some tactical flexibility.
With no need to tackle the kind of enemies faced in new-player PvE combat and Level 1 missions, Rifter pilots can try mounting a small shield tank and putting a Damage Control and Gyrostabilizers (for more damage) in the low slots. The Rifter is a perfectly good ship for most or all Level 1 mission work, but pilots will probably soon move on from the Rifter to the Thrasher and then (for Level 2 missions) the Rupture.
The Rifter sees some use in small-scale Faction Warfare battles. With its speed and its falloff bonus (and especially with T2 autocannon, which can use the falloff-boosting Barrage ammo), the Rifter can try to kite at the edge of warp scrambler range. Artillery fits are a squeeze, but can attempt kiting beyond scram range and within point range.
In PvP fleets, the Rifter is not a bad choice for a new Minmatar character who wants to bring some small-sized DPS to the table, but it is worth checking with your FC whether or not a tackling Slasher might offer more utility to the fleet.
For more than a decade of Eve Online's history, the Rifter was the best of all Tech 1 frigates, highly popular for solo PvP and for cheap, low-SP "swarm" fleets. It was regarded as "EVE's AK-47": an affordable and reliable weapon wielded by many. This popularity, and perhaps its iconic silhouette when seen from above, gave it pride of place in publicity material and player memes.
Since a major frigate rebalancing in the middle of the 2010s, the Rifter has become a significantly weaker ship, and one seen much less often in PvP. Its iconic silhouette is still used in game for the fitting window icon and the cargo hold button within the Fitting window, however, and outside the game itself a picture of the Rifter is used as the icon for the popular third-party fitting tool PYFA.
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