This is a brief guide to weapons in Eve Online, defined as "any ship equipment that can be used to damage other ships." This does not include electronic warfare modules (unless such modules can directly damage other ships) or mining equipment, both of which are given more thorough treatments elsewhere. In general, ship weapons in Eve Online inflict at least one of four primary damage types:
- Electromagnetic (EM) damage, caused by the abrupt induction of high-voltage electrical currents within deflector shields and structural components. Although such currents often generate thermal damage as well, EM damage refers specifically to the damage caused by the electrical discharges and electrostatic attraction, repulsion, and explosions taking place where it is hazardous to the ship's well-being.
- Thermal damage, resulting from the excitation of the gaseous matter held in the ship's deflector shields and the solid matter from which ships are constructed to the point where it is no longer in a state sufficiently stable for the ship to hold together.
- Kinetic damage, structural disruption caused by the physical impact of high-velocity particles of matter against a ship's shields and hull.
- Explosive damage, caused by intense shock waves resulting from the rapid decompression of matter, most commonly supercritical masses of radioactive substances or fusing quantities of hydrogen and helium isotopes.
In general, most ships' deflector shields are designed to prevent micrometeorites and solar wind from penetrating and eroding ship hulls, and so are relatively resistant to kinetic and explosive damage, but the gravimetric technology by which the particles are held in place tends to be easily disrupted by thermal and EM damage. Armor, on the other hand, is usually designed to conduct and re-radiate EM and thermal damage with good efficiency, but being composed of solid matter, tends to chip and even shatter when struck by sufficient kinetic or explosive force. There is a wide variety of ship equipment and ship designs that can compensate for these general weaknesses, however, so it's a good idea to research enemy weak points prior to fighting them whenever possible, and to be able to change weapon damage types in battle should a target prove highly resistant to the weapons being fired.
Turret-based weapons fire unguided high-velocity particles or energy at their targets. Over ranges less than 500km, turret fire strikes enemy ships within a tenth of a second, causing its damage to "front-load," that is, have a higher instant damage (known as "burst damage" or "alpha strike") followed by a gradual decline in DPS over time to its average DPS. Because of this, PvP ships tend to fill their high-power slots almost exclusively with turrets, using missiles only as support and then only if other high-slot tools like energy destabilizers (or even salvagers) cannot be added to the fit.
Turrets are also notable as one of two weapon classes (the other being drones) that can fail to strike targets that are within their firing range. Even the computer-assisted targeting used by all combat ships cannot guarantee a hit on a target that is not only so far away as to only be visible as a blip on a radar screen, but also attempting to evade weapons' fire. The odds of scoring a hit on an opponent are determined by a number of factors, including the size, speed, and distance from the target; the rotational tracking speed, signature resolution, optimal range, and falloff range of the weapon being fired; and even the trajectory of the attacking ship relative to the ship being fired upon. The formula used is fairly complicated, but can be boiled down to the following factors:
- There are two basic factors that increase the chance to miss a target: the distance between the attacker and the target (range penalty) and the efforts by the target to move too fast for your turret to compensate (tracking penalty); the former increases at longer ranges and the latter increases at shorter ranges, both combining along an exponential scale to form a particular "sweet spot" range at which a turret's chance to hit (and therefore DPS) is maximized.
- The range penalty is the more straightforward of the two. Turrets have an "optimal range" beyond which a 100% chance to hit can no longer be guaranteed, due to the beam losing coherence or the projectile wavering off course. The range penalty increases to a 50% chance of missing at optimal + falloff distance, and increases to about 99.99999% at optimal + (2*falloff) distance.
- The tracking penalty is primarily affected by the traversal velocity of the attacker's ship in relation to the target's, divided by both the distance to the target and the tracking speed of the turret, and secondarily affected by the ratio of the turret's signature resolution to the opponent's signature radius.
- The "traversal velocity" is the difference between the direction and speed the attacker is heading and the direction and speed the target is heading. Calculating it at any given moment is too difficult to perform in combat, but fortunately the traversal velocity can be added as a column in the overview window, for monitoring in real time. To reduce it, steer your ship to match the speed and direction of your target, and to increase it, fly perpendicular to your opponent's flight path as fast as you can (the "Look At" command is very useful for determining which direction your opponent is heading). Keep in mind that your traversal velocity is identical to your opponent's, so if you are reducing your traversal velocity to make him easier to hit, you are also reducing his traversal velocity, making yourself easier to hit. The "approach" and "Keep at distance" movement orders will tend to reduce your traversal velocity as much as possible (maintaining a requested range for the latter command), while the "orbit" movement order will usually maximize traversal velocity as much as possible while keeping the opponent at a given range. None of these automatic movement commands prioritize traversal velocity, though, so the best way to fully control your tracking penalty is to use manual control.
- Realistically, as long as the traversal velocity is nonzero (i.e. either the attacker or target is moving), there is no way to avoid some tracking penalty. Keeping the penalty below 50%, however, is as simple as keeping your traversal velocity (in m/s) equal to or lower than the distance between your ships (in meters) times your turret's tracking speed (in rads/sec). Since the tracking speed is a fixed property of the turrets your ship has mounted, you can quickly approximate the critical threshold by using the first nonzero digit in the tracking speed (0.03765 = 3, for example), multiplying the distance to the enemy by that number, and then moving the decimal point left the same number of times as you would have to move it right to pass the first nonzero digit (0.03765 = move the decimal 2 digits left). ex. You're firing on an opponent from 50km, with a gun that has a tracking speed of 0.03675. 3 * 50,000 / 100 = 1500, so as long as you can keep your target at less than 1500 m/s traversal velocity, you will not suffer more than a 50% loss of accuracy from the tracking penalty.
- The sig resolution / sig radius ratio is mostly only significant when it is greater than one (i.e. the attacker's resolution is greater than the target's radius). The attacker's tracking penalty will rapidly skyrocket when this happens, with practically no chance to hit anything but a stationary target while remaining perfectly still when it reaches 3 or more. If less than one, there will be little change in the tracking penalty until it drops below 75%, at which point it will begin to significantly lower the effects of traversal velocity. With a ratio of 1/4 or less, traversal velocity will have no practical effect on your ability to track the target. All small ship weapons have a sig res of 40m, medium weapons a sig res of 125m, large weapons 400m, and capital weapons 1000m. Since on most ships using a micro-warp drive (MWD) effectively cuts this ratio to one-sixth its previous value, they are almost completely ineffective in evading turret fire at close range, only at escaping beyond optimal range as quickly as possible.
Exact formula: Chance to Hit = 0.5^((((Vt/(Td*Wt))*(Wsr/Tsr))^2)+((MAX(0,Td-Wor))/Wfr)^2)
- Vt: Traversal velocity (in m/s)
- Td: Target distance (in meters)
- Tsr: Target signature radius (in meters)
- Wt: Weapon tracking (in rads/s)
- Wsr: Weapon signature resolution (in meters)
- Wor: Weapon optimal range (in meters)
- Wfr: Weapon falloff range (in meters)
Turrets are classed into three primary types: Lasers, Hybrids, and Projectiles.
Laser weapons fire intense beams of coherent electromagnetic energy at targets. They inflict EM damage primarily, with thermal damage occurring as a side effect of the absorption of the beam's energy. Lasers use the ship's stored capacitor energy as ammunition, relieving players of the need to frequently reload their guns or use up cargo hold space to carry enough ammunition to avoid running out at an inopportune moment. However, the energy requirements of lasers are so great that many laser-mounted ships must fit capacitor injectors and carry capacitor boosters, to avoid having critical ship's systems shut down in combat due to the drain of sustained laser fire.
Lasers can be fitted with a variety of focusing crystals which alter the dynamics of the laser beam in ways similar to changing ammunition types in hybrid and projectile weapons. However, switching laser crystals in combat does not incur the 10-second delay that reloading ammunition requires, so keeping a variety of crystals in the ship's cargo bay and switching them to match the range enemies are attacking from is a viable combat tactic. Standard focusing crystals can be used indefinitely in most laser turrets, but the power of starbase lasers will gradually burn out the crystals fitted to them, and faction, navy, and Tech II crystals will also burn out over time. Partially burned crystals cannot be repackaged, sold, contracted, repaired, or even reprocessed.
|Crystal Type||Damage Inflicted||Optimal Range||Falloff Range||Capacitor Use||Extra|
|Multifrequency||7x EM, 5x Th||-50%||-||-||-|
|Gamma||6x EM, 5x Th||-37.5%||-||-15%||-|
|X-Ray||6x EM, 4x Th||-25%||-||-25%||-|
|Ultraviolet||5x EM, 4x Th||-12.5%||-||-35%||-|
|Standard||5x EM, 3x Th||-||-||-45%||-|
|Infrared||4x EM, 3x Th||+20%||-||-35%||-|
|Microwave||4x EM, 2x Th||+40%||-||-25%||-|
|Conflagration||7x EM, 7x Th||-50%||-||+25%||-50% tracking speed, T2 pulse only|
|Scorch||9x EM, 2x Th||+50%||-||-||-25% tracking speed, T2 pulse only|
|Gleam||7x EM, 7x Th||-75%||-||-||-25% tracking speed, +12 to 25% signature radius, -10 to 20% shield max HP, T2 beam only|
|Aurora||5x EM, 3x Th||+80%||-||-||-75% tracking speed, T2 beam only|
|x = 1*damagemod for Small, 2*damagemod for Medium, 4*damagemod for Large, 8*damagemod for X-Large|
Like other turrets, lasers are divided into two range classes. The short-range variants are called pulse lasers, while the long-range variants are called beam lasers. Optimal and falloff ranges are more balanced than other turrets, making lasers more dependent on both long-range and short-range targeting bonuses. Lasers also exhibit less variance in ranges between the short and long range variants; pulse lasers have a longer range than either autocannon or blasters, while beam lasers have a shorter range than either artillery or railguns.
|S/M Beam||S/M Pulse||L/XL Beam||L/XL Pulse|
|Sub-optimal range = 50% range penalty to hit|
Compared to other weapons, lasers have the best average DPS at decent range, and a reasonably effective alpha strike. Further boosting the DPS of lasers is the fact they do not always require periodic reloading, and take just one second at most to replace a burned out specialty crystal. For these reasons, lasers are the weapon of choice for providing the most flexible firepower in solo and roaming PvP engagements.
Hybrid weapons are so named because they require both ammunition charges and ship's capacitor to operate. Hybrid weapons do kinetic and thermal damage from the impact of the hyper-accelerated or hyper-charged particle streams they launch.
Hybrid charges are made of precisely measured masses of completely pure elements, held in a powerful magnetic bottle to prevent contamination. Even a single atom of any other substance within the magnetic bottle can cause the exacting tolerances by which hybrid weapons operate to fail explosively (or, in some charges, induce immediate detonation). All hybrid charges for a particular size class of gun are identical in volume, allowing for simpler cargo calculations.
|Charge Type||Damage Inflicted||Optimal Range||Falloff Range||Capacitor Use||Extra|
|Antimatter||7x Kn, 5x Th||-50%||-||-||-|
|Plutonium||6x Kn, 5x Th||-37.5%||-||-5%||-|
|Uranium||6x Kn, 4x Th||-25%||-||-8%||-|
|Thorium||5x Kn, 4x Th||-12.5%||-||-40%||-|
|Lead||5x Kn, 3x Th||-||-||-50%||-|
|Iridium||4x Kn, 3x Th||+20%||-||-24.5%||-|
|Tungsten||4x Kn, 2x Th||+40%||-||-27.5%||-|
|Iron||3x Kn, 2x Th||+60%||-||-30%||-|
|Void||7x Kn, 7x Th||-25%||-50%||+25%||-50% tracking speed, T2 blaster only|
|Null||5x Kn, 6x Th||+25%||+25%||-||-25% tracking speed, T2 blaster only|
|Javelin||6x Kn, 8x Th||-75%||-||+25%||-25% tracking speed, -10% ship speed, T2 railgun only|
|Spike||4x Kn, 4x Th||+80%||-||-||-75% tracking speed, T2 railgun only|
|x = 1*damagemod for Small, 2*damagemod for Medium, 4*damagemod for Large, 8*damagemod for X-Large|
The short range hybrid weapon is the blaster, and long range hybrid weapons are called railguns. Both are characterized by relatively long optimal ranges compared to their falloff ranges, a side effect of the weapons' focus on super-high muzzle velocity and direct-fire precision. The relatively simple sharpshooting skill is thus favored over more complicated trajectory analysis, and the optimal range bonus or penalty of the ammunition loaded has a much greater effect on hybrid weapons' performance in combat. Due to the delay incurred by unloading and reloading ammunition in space, hybrid weapons tend to fare rather poorly in situations where the opponent can control engagement distance (in other words, has a faster ship). Many hybrid railgunners will actually favor low damage iron charges, just to be able to guarantee accuracy over the widest possible variety of ranges.
|S/M Railgun||S/M Blaster||L/XL Railgun||L/XL Blaster|
|Sub-optimal range = 50% range penalty to hit|
Compared to other turrets, hybrids require a great deal more planning and strategy to use effectively. Both types are highly specialized around a particular combat role: long range sniping for railguns, and near-collision range damage output for blasters. Both roles require preparation of the battlefield and careful selection of targets, to avoid having the situation abruptly go sour during combat. When they can be properly applied in combat, however, they can obliterate ships armed with more general-use weapons, before the attacker can take significant damage in return. In well planned and executed gate camps and fleet engagements hybrid weapons are unrivalled.
Projectile weapons use the tried-and-true design of terrestrial weapons, providing nothing more than a simple triggering and aiming mechanism for the self-contained shells it launches. Since the propellant is entirely contained in the ammunition, no significant amount of capacitor energy is needed to fire projectile weapons. This allows projectile turrets to continue firing even after the ship's capacitor is completely drained, which can turn around even the protracted battles they fare poorly in. Unfortunately, the limitations of Newtonian physics force ships to devote significant amounts of time compensating for the recoil of each shot without losing control and spinning away, which forces projectile turrets to fire at a much slower rate than most other weapons.
While the principles of projectile ammunition are so simple even 17th century physicists could grasp them, it's human nature to add complexity wherever possible, and over the millennia the simple explosive shell has been enhanced with eight standard modifications, offering shells that specialize in dealing damage of each type (though nearly always doing some kinetic and explosive damage from the impact and detonation), in a short-range and long-range variant. These gimmicks unfortunately cause some shells to take up significantly more space than others, resulting in fewer of the shells being loadable into a projectile weapon's magazine at one time and forcing more frequent pauses to reload.
|Shell Type||Damage Inflicted||Optimal Range||Falloff Range||Ammo Capacity||Extra|
|EMP||5x EM, 2x Kn, 4x Ex||-50%||-||-50%||-|
|Phased Plasma||8x Th, 2x Kn||-37.5%||-||-41.2%||-|
|Fusion||2x Kn, 8x Ex||-25%||-||-33%||-|
|Titanium Sabot||6x Kn, 3x Ex||-12.5%||-||-23%||-|
|Depleted Uranium||2x Th, 3x Kn, 3x Ex||-||-||-||-|
|Proton||3x EM, 4x Kn||+20%||-||-16.7%||-|
|Nuclear||2x Kn, 5x Ex||+40%||-||-28.6%||-|
|Carbonized Lead||3x Kn, 3x Ex||+60%||-||-37.5%||-|
|Hail||3x Kn, 11x Ex||-50%||-50%||-50%||+10% cap recharge time, -50% tracking speed, T2 autocannon only|
|Barrage||5x Kn, 6x Ex||-||+50%||-50%||-25% tracking speed, T2 autocannon only|
|Quake||5x Kn, 9x Ex||-75%||-||-50%||+20% cap recharge time, -25% tracking speed, -20% ship speed, T2 artillery only|
|Tremor||3x Kn, 5x Ex||+80%||-||-50%||-75% tracking speed, T2 artillery only|
|x = 1*damagemod for Small, 2*damagemod for Medium, 4*damagemod for Large, 8*damagemod for X-Large|
Short range projectile weapons are called autocannon, and the long range variant is technically called artillery. There are a number of short-range pieces that contain the phrase "repeating artillery," making asset and station hangar searches a bit more annoying. Due to the relatively slow speed (between two and three hundredths the speed of light) of projectile shells, they tend to have a very short range in which they can be precisely aimed, but a much slower decline in accuracy beyond optimal range than other weapons. Training in trajectory analysis can reduce this decline even further, but never eliminate it completely, so projectile weapons will nearly always have a penalty to their damage output. On the plus side, the range modifiers on standard ammunition have significantly less effect on projectile weapons' performance than they do on other weapons, freeing the player to load the most damaging ammunition he has rather than ammunition with a particular range modifier.
|S/M Artillery||S/M AutoCannon||L/XL Artillery||L/XL Autocannon|
|Sub-optimal range = 50% range penalty to hit|
Compared to other turrets, projectile weapons are highly idiosyncratic, relying more on the elements of surprise and panic than on actual destructive power. Projectile artillery is rightly known for its legendary "alpha strike" capability, but the power of the alpha strike is muted when fired from beyond optimal range, or from within optimal range at moving targets. In almost any situation besides firing a single volley at stationary targets from within optimal range, artillery is crippled by its extremely poor rate of fire, tracking penalties, and poorest average DPS of any turret weapon. Autocannons, for their part, combine the effective range of blasters with lower DPS and burst damage than pulse lasers. They are designed to be used on "speed-tanked" ships, hitting opponents weakly with their excellent tracking while their opponents cannot hit back at all, but since the Quantum Rise patch eliminated truly unhittable speed tanking, they are relegated to being useful only against targets fitted with long-range guns and lacking combat drones. Combat using projectile turrets over a sufficiently long term to destroy an enemy ship typically depends on compensating for their inherent weaknesses, by using targeting lasers and stasis webs to improve the accuracy of artillery against moving targets, tracking disruptors to accomplish what speed alone no longer can, or energy destabilizers to drain enemy ship capacitors so they fire back infrequently, if at all.
Missiles are particle detonators mounted on powerful but short-lived sub-light engines. They reach their targets much more slowly than any turret-fired weapon, but if they can reach their target before they run out of fuel, they cannot miss. Despite the tactical advantages of being able to reliably damage opponents from extremely long range and while flying evasively at high speeds, the delay between firing the missile and striking the target causes missile damage to be "back-loaded." Missiles do no DPS until the first missile hits, with the DPS gradually increasing over time to the average DPS, while turrets deal burst damage right away that declines over time to their average DPS. As a result, missiles are typically only used for NPC mission running and ratting, rather than PvP. This is not to say missiles can't be effective in PvP, but a ship that can do the same DPS with turrets rather than missiles will inevitably kill its opponents faster, resulting in less chance of additional participants joining the fight before it ends, as well as less chance of being destroyed first in a close fight.
Although missiles cannot technically miss their targets as long as they can reach them, they do inflict reduced damage against targets that are faster or have a smaller signature radius than the missile is designed for, often eliminating the damage completely. All missiles are rated for Explosion Velocity (the speed at which the payload is launched when the missile detonates) and Explosion Radius (the radius in which the payload spreads upon detonation). These factors are compared to the target's velocity and signature radius at the time of impact, producing a "target signature" penalty and a "target velocity" penalty, the greater of which reduces the damage of the missile. As with turrets, the exact formula is fairly complicated, but can be boiled down to the following general features:
- The "target signature" penalty is simple enough, being equal to the target's signature radius divided by the missile's explosion radius (capped at 1, so there is never a bonus, only lack of a penalty if the explosion radius is less than the signature radius). This effectively sets the minimum damage penalty a missile can have when fired at a perfectly stationary target, as follows:
- Rockets have no signature penalty against any target (even light scout drones).
- Light missiles have up to a half damage signature penalty against light drones and some Tech II frigates but otherwise suffer only minor penalties at most.
- Heavy and assault missiles do 1/2 damage to destroyers, 1/3 damage to frigates, and little damage against light drones.
- Cruise missiles deal half damage to cruisers and very little to anything smaller.
- Torpedoes cut off at battlecruiser size, doing half damage to them and not much damage to anything smaller.
- Citadel torpedoes do 1/4 damage to battleships and little practical damage to anything smaller.
- The "target velocity" penalty is more complicated, and (since the Quantum Rise patch) factors in the signature radius/explosion radius ratio as well, primarily to keep this penalty from exceeding the "target signature" penalty on ships using MWDs. Essentially, if the explosion velocity of the missile, multiplied by the signature radius divided by the missile's explosion radius (NOT capped, so with an explosion radius significantly smaller than the target's signature radius there is no "target velocity" penalty at all), is less than the velocity of the target ship, damage is reduced. The penalty (if there is one) is then decreased logarithmically according to a "Damage Reduction Factor" intrinsic to the missile. Higher damage reduction factors result in higher target velocity penalties.
- The end result of all this is that the ratio of the target's signature radius to the missile's explosion radius is by far the most important factor in determining missile damage for any target, not only by setting an upper bound for the damage you can do on a target holding completely still, but also for magnifying the target velocity penalty to the point that a ship using an MWD and flying at maximum velocity will take the same damage as it would without the MWD and holding still, and furthermore, if it cannot achieve maximum MWD velocity for any reason (hard turn, stasis web, etc.) it can actually take MORE damage than it would remaining completely still without the MWD activated. Target painters will also reduce any existing damage penalty against painted ships, whether moving or standing still, by the percentage they increase the target's signature radius (25% per tech I target painter).
Exact Formula: Damage = Base Damage * MIN(MIN(Tsr/Mer,1),((Tsr/Mer)*(Mev/Tv))^(LOG(Mdrf)/LOG(5.5)))
- Base Damage: Listed damage of missile multiplied by the launcher's damage modifier
- Tsr: Target Signature Radius (in meters)
- Tv: Target Velocity (in m/s, direction is not a factor)
- Mer: Missile Explosion Radius (in meters)
- Mev: Missile Explosion Velocity (in m/s)
- Mdrf: Missile Damage Reduction Factor
Every type of missile launcher fires a different type of missile ammunition, with the exception of Standard and Assault Missile Launchers, which both fire light missiles. There are two general categories of missiles as well, referred to in various places in the Eve interface as "guided" (light, heavy, and cruise missiles) and "unguided" (rockets, assault missiles, torpedoes, and citadel torpedoes). This is something of a misnomer, as "unguided" missiles will guide themselves to their targets just like "guided" missiles do. Aside from a particular skill that reduces the damage penalties for guided missiles alone, the only gameplay differences between the two types are that guided missiles have longer effective ranges (velocity * flight time), deal less damage with greater target signature and target velocity penalties, and come in tech I "FoF" variants as well as "Fury" and "Precision" tech II variants; while unguided missiles have a shorter effective range, deal more damage with lighter penalties, and only have "Rage" and "Javelin" tech II variants. All missiles inflict damage of a single type, but there are four missiles of each variant that inflict each of the four damage types.
|Light Missile, FoF||Seeker||Firefly||Serpent||Exterminator|
|Heavy Missile, FoF||Stalker||Hellhound||Hydra||Eradicator|
|Cruise Missile, FoF||Hunter||Phoenix||Dragon||Obliterator|
FoF (Friend or Foe) missiles do about 25% less damage than the standard missile varieties, but are designed to lock onto and attack their own targets, without requiring the ship's sensors lock onto the target first. In fact, they tend to ignore the locks the ship does have, attacking the nearest target at the time they are fired, whether friend, foe, or even harmless space debris. For this reason they are rarely used, in spite of the fact that they can still be fired and will seek out targets while the ship sensors are scrambled by ECM. In situations where several enemies are flying around a ship, they will also often target different enemies each time they are fired, making focused fire impossible and further reducing their utility.
As mentioned above, tech II missiles offer different variants for guided and unguided missiles, as follows:
- Rage missiles inflict 25% more damage, but with slight penalties to flight time, explosion velocity, and explosion radius, as well as increasing the signature radius of the ship for every launcher loaded with them.
- Javelin missiles inflict 10% less damage, but have a higher flight velocity, increasing their range and making it harder for fast ships to outrun them. They also penalize the ship's speed for every launcher loaded with them.
- Fury missiles inflict 28% more damage, but have slight penalties to flight time, explosion velocity, and explosion radius, as well as increasing the signature radius of the ship for every launcher loaded with them.
- Precision missiles inflict 13/15ths (83.33%) normal damage and have a -50% penalty to flight time (and therefore half normal range), but offer significant bonuses to explosion radius, explosion velocity, and damage reduction factor. They also penalize the ship's speed for every launcher loaded with them.
Drones are remote-controlled weapons platforms that have a great deal in common with missiles, in that most must reach enemy ships before they can begin inflicting any DPS. Like turrets, however, the particle beams they fire may miss smaller or faster targets than they were designed to track, further limiting the DPS they inflict in actual combat. Finally, drones can be targeted and destroyed just like any other ship, and replacements are much more expensive than most ammunition. In spite of their weaknesses, however, drones have one important benefit other weapons lack: they do not require high slots that could be put to more effective use with turrets or support equipment. Instead drones are installed in a special "drone bay," included on many ships, which cannot be used for any other purpose than to carry and launch drones. For this reason, drones are as highly recommended for any combat ship as missiles are derided; any extra bit of DPS can only help, as long as nothing is sacrificed to add it.
The drone bay is a specialized cargo bay that lacks the mechanical interfaces needed to access cargo containers, and so can only be loaded with drones that are freely floating in space. Modern ship fitting services do include equipment that can transfer drones from a ship's cargo bay to its drone bay without the use of a jettison container, allowing such transfers anywhere ships can be refitted. The signal connection needed to control a combat drone can also only be established with drones held in a ship's drone bay, typically as they are launched. The signal connection consumes "drone bandwidth," which acts to further limit the number and size of drones a ship can control at any one time. Some ships, especially ones of Gallente design, have significantly larger drone bays than their bandwidth can properly support. The extra space is typically used to hold spare drones for launching when the active drones are damaged or destroyed, or to hold multiple squadrons of drones for deployment in varying situations.
If the ship is either controlling at least one active drone, or the drone bay contains at least one deployable drone, a "drone window" will be added to the heads-up display while in space. The drone window is used to monitor and control the drones at the ship's disposal. The drones in the drone bay can be deployed using a right-click menu, as well as gathered into groups for quick deployment of any particular set of drones. Drones in local space ("on grid," within the area where ships can be shown on the overview) are displayed in a second section of the drone window, from which they may be ordered to engage a locked target, orbit the ship, return to the drone bay, or even deactivate themselves ("Abandon drone") to float in space until destroyed or another ship picks them up. Other options, "Scoop to cargo bay" and "Scoop to drone bay," will be visible for ship controlled or deactivated drones that are within 2.5km of the ship, allowing players to scoop such drones to either their cargo bay or drone bay, respectively. Any ship may scoop up abandoned drones (and take control of them, if taken into a drone bay), making it possible to use the abandon and scoop commands to transfer drones from one ship's drone bay to another in space. A third section of the window, used only by fighters, lists drones in deep space beyond the combat scanner range of the controlling ship.
Another feature of the drone window is the drone settings window, which can be accessed with the "Drone settings" command from the drone window's main menu. From this window, drone behavior can be set to "passive" (do not engage targets without direct orders under any circumstances) or "aggressive" (attack any targets that aggress or are aggressed by the drones or their commanding ship). Note that drones set to aggressive behavior will not automatically engage targets that have already aggressed or been aggressed by their ship before they are launched (denoted by a red square appearing around the other ship's bracket), only ones that aggress or are aggressed by their commanding ship after they are launched. After destroying a target, drones set to passive behavior will return and orbit their commanding ship until they receive new instructions, while drones set to aggressive behavior will engage the nearest ship that has aggressed or been aggressed by the drones or their commanding ship, until there are no more such ships within their command range. The "Focus Fire" option, when checked, causes aggressive drones to strongly favor targets other drones are engaged with when selecting new targets autonomously. Most PvPers prefer aggressive mode, not only because it relieves them of having to micromanage their drones, but also because the drones will continue fighting even if their commanding ship's sensors are being dampened or scrambled by electronic warfare attacks.
Combat drones fall into five classes: light, medium, heavy, sentry, and fighter. Within each class there are four types of drones, each inflicting one of the four primary damage types (and, in the case of faction and fighter drones, a second related damage type as well).
- Light drones are very small and fast, take up only 5m^3 of space and 5 units of bandwidth, and suffer no tracking penalties when attacking any ship or drone. They are also very lightly armored, but very difficult to hit with most weapons. Bombs or smartbombs will destroy them en masse, of course.
- Medium drones take up 10m^3 and 10 units of bandwidth, and like light drones rely more on speed and size than on heavy defenses, though they do have better defenses than light drones. Their weapons also have a tracking penalty against frigates and light or medium drones, and their larger size makes them more vulnerable to being hit hard by weapons designed to hit frigates. Lacking cruiser-sized smartbombs (more a specialty tactic), properly fit destroyers can make short work of these.
- Heavy drones take up 25m^3 and 25 units of bandwidth, limiting their utility to larger or more specialized ships. They do excellent damage to anything cruiser-sized and up, including fighters, sentry drones, and other heavy drones. Most notably, they are much larger and slower than light or medium drones, rendering them more vulnerable to standard weaponry (turrets and missiles). However, their strong defenses render them much harder to kill.
- Sentry drones are a unique drone type, in that they are unable to move under their own power at all. Instead, they are equipped with (relative to other drones) powerful long-range weapons used to snipe anything that strays too close. They require the same space (25m^3, 25 units bandwidth) and have defenses similar to heavy drones, but their immobility renders them much more vulnerable to turret and missile fire. They also suffer from tracking penalties that cripple their damage output at close (<5km) range, especially against fast targets or targets smaller than battleships.
- Fighters are also a specialty drone, that can only fit within the spacious drone bays of carriers and motherships (5000m^3), though they only require 25 units of bandwidth to control. They boast cruiser-class defenses and higher damage output than heavy drones, but their most powerful feature is the warp drives with which they are equipped. Fighters will warp anywhere in the star system in pursuit of a target, hounding it until it leaves the system, enters a station or POS shield, or dies. Carriers and motherships can also assign fighters to any other ship in a system, and the fighters will take orders from that ship as if they were the ship's own drones, even following their new commander into warp. Fighters commanded this way count toward the maximum number of drones both the capital ship that assigned them and the pilot they are assigned to can control at a time, but the ship that assigned the drones provides the bandwidth, essentially acting as a signal relay for the fighters' new commander. This enables carriers and motherships to effectively engage enemies with their most powerful weapons without actually putting themselves at risk on the battlefield.
Smartbombs are so named because they are smart enough not to cause damage to the ship that detonates them, not because they are smart enough to differentiate friend from foe. When activated, they cause damage to every ship within a given distance from the ship they are installed on. Standard smartbombs consume enormous amounts of capacitor energy and have poor enough damage potential and blast radii to be mostly useless outside of specialized tactics, but the most infamous variant of the smartbomb, the doomsday device, is easily powerful enough to wipe a battlefield clean of all but the most heavily protected ships, making its deployment an immensely valuable combat tactic (and often sufficiently noteworthy to make headlines in the Eve newspaper).
Doomsday devices can only be mounted on titans, and each titan can only mount one specific type of doomsday device that inflicts upwards of 50k damage based on their racial specialty (EM for Amarr, thermal for Gallente, kinetic for Caldari, and explosive for Minmatar) on everything within combat sensor range. Activation of these devices requires mass quantities of rare strontium clathrates and around 20% of the ship's maximum capacitor. When activated, all enemies in the area of effect are given a 10 second warning before detonation. After the doomsday device is detonated, the titan cannot use its device, jump drive, or jump portal generator for one hour, leaving it potentially vulnerable without a support fleet. Since a few ships, such as heavily buffer tanked battleships, can survive a single doomsday activation, double and even triple doomsdays have become more common among the corps wealthy enough to be able to rally them.
Bomb launchers can only be mounted on stealth bombers, making bombs much rarer in application than other weapons. However, their effect is powerful enough that they are extremely useful in a surprising number of situations. When launched, the bomb flies to the location where its target was at the time it was fired, and explodes, inflicting enormous damage to everything within 15km, and reduced damage to everything between 15km and 17.5km, of the detonation point. This includes the launching ship itself, so either careful deployment or a good tank against the bomb's damage type is advised.
Although a conventional bomb's damage potential is easily high enough to wipe out massive numbers of drones and frigates, larger targets will usually survive the blast of a single bomb, and the 2+ minute delays between launchings give them more than enough time to fully regenerate shields, repair armor, or simply escape. For this reason, massed bomb launchings are a popular tactic; 11 simultaneous bomb detonations would deal at least as much damage as a doomsday device. Unfortunately, the bombs themselves can be destroyed in flight, especially by the detonations of other bombs as they near the same impact point, forcing bombers using different damage types to wait until the previous explosions clear before launching their own bombs. Bombs do have 99.5% resistance to the same damage type they cause, but as a practical matter only 6 bombs of the same type can be detonated at one time; additional bombs will disintegrate before they can detonate.
Two types of electronic warfare bomb can also be launched from bomb launchers, both of which cause only minor damage (just enough to prevent mass bombardments of more than 9 at a time) but can still turn the tide of a battle if deployed properly. Lockbreaker bombs emit a powerful multispectral ECM pulse that scrambles the targeting of all ships within the area of effect. Ships having less than 12.5 sensor strength are automatically jammed for 20 seconds, while ships with up to 25 sensor strength have at least a 50% chance of being jammed. Void bombs drain 1800gj from the capacitor of all ships within the blast radius, instantly depleting all cruiser-class and smaller ships, and even putting enough of a dent in battleship capacitors that they may have to burn through cap boosters to remain in action.