Tech and meta levels
These three terms are all indicators of the quality of an item or ship hull and all mean different things. The definitions also differ whether the item is a module, ship or rig.
Most modules in EVE have several (up to tens) of variants (each a module in their own right), which fulfil the same basic function, but have different statistics. You can find all related modules through the in-game "Show Info" window, under the "related items" tab, where you can also compare the modules' statistics using the item comparison tool. Modules have an attribute (also visible in the "Show Info" window) called "Meta level", which is roughly a measure of the module's quality - a module with a higher meta level will generally (but not always!) have better stats than the equivalent module with a lower meta level.
When shopping around for a module, it's recommended to use the item comparison tool to compare the module variants. While higher-meta modules tend to be better than lower-meta ones, there are plenty of exceptions, particularly for modules with many attributes (where modules will have different advantages and drawbacks compared to each other). Additionally, don't forget the cost - while officer and deadspace modules will greatly outperform Tech 1 and Tech 2 modules, they often cost hundreds or thousands of times as much!
Module variants are grouped (as explained below) to make it easier to differentiate between them. You can tell which group a module belongs to by the little symbol in the upper-left corner of the module's image. Related modules all have the same base image, only differing in that symbol.
Civilian Modules are a special case and are only mentioned here for completeness. You should NEVER consider fitting a Civilian Module except in the Tutorial Missions and on your trusty Rookie Ship. These modules are useless except for educational purposes.
Tech 1 (Meta 0)
These are the basic modules that are manufactured by players from blueprints seeded on the market by NPCs. Meta 0 modules have no Meta level attribute visible in their attributes. They have generic names based on their type such as "1MN Afterburner I".
If someone offers you a "meta 0" duel, they mean a duel in a Tech 1 ship with only this type of module installed.
Tech 1 (Meta 1-4)
These are dropped by NPC ships and are not manufactured by players. The higher the meta level the better quality the item. Higher meta level items are more effective and usually have lower fitting requirements as well, but this is not always the case. Meta level 1-4 items do not require more skills to use than meta 0. Because of their better performance higher meta level modules will have a higher price on the market.
These modules have more colorful names such as "10MN Monopropellant Enduring Afterburner" and "150mm Light Gallium Machine Gun", and are therefore also called "named" modules.
After the module tiericide, named modules will have adjectives in their names which describe the main aspect in which they differ from their Meta 0 counterparts.
- Upgraded: Straight-up better stats
- Compact: Reduced fitting cost (less CPU and powergrid use)
- Enduring: Longer cycle time and/or lower capacitor use
- Ample: Higher capacity
- Scoped: Longer range
- Restrained: Less severe drawbacks
Often shortened to "T2", these modules are manufactured by players through the Invention process. T2 modules are usually more effective than Tech 1 Meta 4 modules, but sometimes they are identical (and, in rare cases, slightly worse). Tech 2 modules usually require more skills to use than Tech 1 modules, and they usually take more CPU and/or Powergrid to fit. T2 modules have a meta level of 5.
When deciding whether to use a Tech 2 module, make sure to compare it to a Tech 1 Meta 4 module before making the purchase. In some cases the meta 4 module has the same performance with lower fitting requirements.
Storyline modules are rewards from missions, specifically COSMOS missions and some Epic Arc missions. In COSMOS missions you don't get the item itself, but you receive 3-run Blueprint Copies (BPCs) that need some decent skills and sleeper technology to produce and most of them are quite expensive (in ISK and skills) to produce. Epic Arc rewards are given as items but their availability is limited to how often you can do the epic arc, and the time it takes to complete them. As such, both types of storyline items tend to be expensive despite being similar quality to Tech 2, and are not traded in great numbers.
Faction modules are equal or superior to Tech 2 modules and are purchased from Loyalty Point stores either as items or blueprint copies. These items will have a meta level of 6-12 (although most have a meta level of 6-9). They have names based on their faction such as "Caldari Navy Ballistic Control System". They tend to require the same skills to use as Tech 1 items.
You can identify a module's origin (i.e. which loyalty point store(s) you can buy it from) by its name:
- Ammatar Navy: Ammatar Mandate
- Caldari Navy: Caldari State
- Dark Blood: Blood Raiders
- Domination: Angel Cartel
- Dread Guristas: Guristas Pirates
- Federation Navy: Gallente Federation
- Imperial Navy: Amarr Empire
- Khanid Navy: Khanid Kingdom
- Republic Fleet: Minmatar Republic
- Sentient: Rogue Drones
- Shadow Serpentis: Serpentis
- Sisters: Sisters of Eve
- Syndicate: The Syndicate
- Thukker: Thukker Tribe
- True Sansha: Sansha's Nation
Deadspace and Officer modules are dropped in deadspace complexes and as loot drops from rare named enemies (which can be found, for instance, in asteroid belts or DED complexes in nullsec). These are the best modules and as such are very expensive. These items have a meta level of 7 or higher (although most have at least a meta level of 9). Deadspace modules have names based on their faction (using the same nomenclature as the NPC rats) and quality such as "Pith B-Type Large Shield Booster". The progression from lower to higher quality is: "C-Type", "B-Type", "A-Type", "X-Type" - so a "B-Type" module will usually be better (and more expensive) than a "C-Type" module, but you should always check the detailed stats. Officer modules are named after the NPC they drop from, such as "Estamel's Modified Adaptive Invulnerability Field". While officer modules are usually better than deadspace modules, this is not always the case; always check the attributes before you buy.
Tech 1 ships such as the Rifter are bought from NPCs or manufactured by players from blueprints seeded on the market. After the tiercide these no longer have different power levels. Instead they are grouped into roles, such as attack, combat, and disruption. Attack ships are fast and hit hard, but combat ships are more resilient, while disruption ships focus on EWAR.
Empire faction ships such as the Imperial Navy Slicer are bought from the loyalty point stores of empire factions, such as the Gallente Federation Navy or Minmatar Republic Fleet. They are obtained as either complete ships or as limited run blueprint copies. You can also purchase these ships second-hand from players on the market. Empire faction ships are more powerful and much more expensive than Tech 1 ships, and are normally less powerful than Tech 2 or Pirate faction ships. The main advantage of Empire faction ships is their low skill requirements. If you can fly a faction's Tech 1 ships, you can fly the Empire faction ships, making them a good way of gaining an advantage during the long skill train to Tech 2 or Pirate faction ships.
These ships are only manufactured by players through the Invention process. They are usually comparable in price to Empire faction ships while being more powerful, but have high skill requirements to use. As well as better performance and bonuses, T2 ships have increased damage resistance, making them tougher. Additionally, many (but not all) Tech 2 ships are more specialised than their Tech 1 counterparts. An example of a Tech 2 frigate is the Wolf, a Tech 2 Minmatar Assault frigate based on the Rifter.
- Main article: Pirate Faction Ship Guide
These ships are bought from non-empire faction loyalty point stores, including Pirate factions, and others, such as Sisters Of Eve. They can also be purchased second-hand from players on the market. These non-empire faction ships require two different races' Spaceship Command skills to use. For example, the Dramiel, an Angel Cartel frigate, requires both Minmatar and Gallente frigate skills. They do not require high levels in them, however, making them considerably easier to train for than Tech 2 ships. Non-Empire ships typically have equal or better performance to Tech 2 ships, but cost considerably more.
There are two classes of Tech 3 ships currently in the game:
- Tactical Destroyers are very versatile destroyers which can switch between different "modes" on the fly.
- Strategic Cruisers are constructed with Sleeper components that can only be found in wormhole space, and are therefore very expensive, but they are the most powerful ships in the game for their size. T3 ships have similar skill requirements to fly as T2 ships.
Tech 1 rigs are made from materials salvaged from Tech 1 player or NPC ships, or found in Relic sites. They are made from blueprints seeded on the market by NPCs. Rigs do not have meta levels and there are no subdivisions of quality other than their Tech level.
Tech 2 rigs are made from materials salvaged from Tech 2 player ships. As such they are much more rare and expensive than T1 rigs, but they also provide larger bonuses.