Before I begin in earnest, I want to apologize for the delay in columns for the last few weeks. I've spent that time re-re-locating from Japan back to my home in the United States, but am settled in now, and looking forward to getting back on schedule with Rogue Signal again. Now, on with the show!
PvP, though pervasive in EVE Online, can be a frightening prospect at first, be it as a fresh-faced cadet, or a deep-space miner taking up arms for the first time. The continued discussion of The Empyrean Age no doubt has even more new and old pilots seeking advice for that first PvP encounter. For the newcomer to EVE's PvP, one of the most daunting challenges comes long before undocking. You have your shiny new war ship, and you know you are going to fight with it...now what? While ships in EVE, like flat-pack furniture, come easy to assemble, they are also missing key components (also like most flat-pack furniture). This week's Rogue Signal will deal with filling in those bits needed for combat, and getting you ready to contribute to fighting the good fight.
The goal of this week's column, as with many of the Rogue Signals produced thus far, is to help acquaint the new player, or perhaps recently converted PvPer, to the "basics" of PvP. They are "basics" since EVE has this wonderful habit of being perfectly playable on a simple level, but having layers of depth underneath where it really comes alive. Please take this advice as a jumping-off point. There are some intentional omissions of more nuanced (and sometimes boring) theory and general MMO stat nerdery. If that is your kind of pursuit, then EVE holds endless possibility for you, but for those simply looking to get into a ship and watch the pretty blue explosions, these guidelines and tips should get you on the right track. Later editions will likely deal with what you should be fitting on your ships. This week, we're focusing on how to fit things to your ship, and how to know what will and will not fit.
When fitting a ship for PvP, you are concerned with three main attributes of the ship. The most obvious of these is slot layout, and a quick look at the fitting screen of a ship you're currently docked in will show you the other two, power grid and CPU.
The slots of a ship are rather intuitive. They are divided into high, medium, and low-energy module slots. Each of these categories have certain types of modules associated with them in PvP. High slots are typically used for weapons or energy vampires. Medium slots can be used for propulsion equipment, shield equipment, electronic warfare equipment, or some combination thereof. Low slots are used for most armor and hull equipment, weapon boosting equipment, as well as modules to increase both your CPU and power grid. Which slot a module fits in is shown by a small symbol on the module icon containing one, two, or three lines on a black background. One vertical line is for a low slot. Two horizontal lines is a medium slot, and three radial lines is a high slot.
Now you know where your modules go, but what stops you from fitting a gun meant for a battleship onto a tiny frigate? EVE uses CPU and power grid, as mentioned earlier, to measure the ability of a ship to support a subsystem. These measure, as one might expect, the output of the ship's power core and the processing power of the ship's computer, respectively. When fitting a ship, these are displayed underneath the area where the fitting slots are on the window. Smaller ships tend to have a great deal less power grid than larger ones, preventing them from using modules designed for much bigger vessels. CPU scales as well, though to a much smaller degree than power. When deciding fittings, you simply add up the power grid and CPU of the modules you would like to use. If the totals are less than the output of the ship, then it will fit.
There are two common ways to make it possible to fit equipment to your ship that would not otherwise fit due to grid and CPU, potentially allowing more powerful weapons, a stronger tank, better e-war capability, or really anything else that you could want out of a ship.
The first and most obvious way is to use low slot modules that increase the fitting statistics of the ship. For CPU, there are co-processors. They boost the output of the ship's computer by a given percentage. They take very little fitting resources themselves. The other two "fitting modules," as they are called, are Power Diagnostic Systems (PDS) and Reactor Control Units (RCU). These both impact power grid. The PDS gives a smaller increase to power grid, but also gives bonuses to capacitor and shields, whereas the RCU just gives a larger grid boost. Tech one versions of these modules are usually fairly inexpensive, and the skill requirements are reasonably low, Electronics Upgrades 2 for Co-processors, and Energy Grid Upgrades 2 for PDSes and RCUs. Be aware, though, that use of these modules costs low slots, so there is sometimes a significant tradeoff. Make sure the increase in fitting ability outweighs the lost utility of the slots that are taken up.
The other way to cram more gear onto your ship is more time-consuming, but one of those things that most vets will advise you to do some day, and that is train your "fitting skills." Fitting skills refers to any skill that either increases the power or CPU output of your ship, or lowers the requirements of certain modules. The most basic fitting skills are Engineering and Electronics. Each gives a 5% bonus per level to power grid or CPU, respectively. There are other specialized skills, that instead lower the needs of a given module. Weapon Upgrades, for example, lowers the CPU need of any turret weapon by 5% per level. While the differences these skills make may seem small at first, they begin to add up quickly, and can result in two identical ships being very mis-matched if one pilot has the skills to fit larger guns, armor plates, and repair units than the other pilot.
As with all things in EVE, don't be afraid to ask veteran players. They often have been through exactly the same issues with figuring out the game as you are, and might have some insight. Also, don't be afraid to just get out there and try something (always remembering to never fly something you can't afford to replace, of course). Fitting ships is the sort of thing that you never really stop learning. Tactics, changes to the game, and changes in personal playstyle all mean that there are adjustments to be made to how you fit your ships for combat. The trick is to not get intimidated by the number of options in front of you. This column is (intentionally) only scratching the surface of fitting in EVE, so if you have additional questions, please send them on!