EVE Evolved: Exploration -- Loot and plunder!

Exploration is one of EVE Online's most lucrative and enjoyable PvE professions, combining complex probe-scanning with mission-style combat. Through exploration, you'll find hidden sites across New Eden, packed full of NPCs to kill and loot to grab. Exploration is a casual PvE element that spans all skill levels, with new players able to get involved from their first week in the game. In last week's first part of this guide to exploration, I explained how new players can get into the lucrative profession and examined one of the most popular scanning techniques.

A wide range of hidden sites spawn across EVE, just waiting for a lucky traveller to scan them out. Tucked away in the depths of space, you'll find hidden asteroid belts, hacking database, archeological relics, salvaging fields and unstable wormholes. Those looking for riches will be pleased to find cosmic anomalies full of NPCs to kill and dungeon-like military complexes with a chance to drop rare and expensive loot.

In this guide, I look at the different types of site you can find via exploration, what loot you can expect to find in each of them and what kind of challenge you'll face.

Types of site: "Unknown"

Much to the dismay of complex-hunters, the "unknown" signature type is shared between deadspace complexes, cosmic anomalies and wormholes. If you find an unknown type cosmic signature, you'll have to keep scanning to see whether it's a deadspace complex or a wormhole. Cosmic anomalies, on the other hand, will always obtain a 100% positive lock when using probes or even the built-in ship scanner.

Anomalies are small sites with a concentration of NPCs to kill. Most have multiple waves that spawn in a single area, and many have the added chance of spawning a rare faction ship. Cosmic anomalies provide a steady stream of ISK but you won't make any big finds in most of them. Rarely, completing a cosmic anomaly will award you with an escalation in your mission journal. This sends you to a nearby solar system to complete a second stage of the encounter with greater rewards. If you're lucky enough to get several escalations in a row, the end reward can be worth a ton of ISK.

Types of site: Deadspace complex

Unknown type cosmic signatures that aren't wormholes will always be military complexes. These are multi-room combat sites similar to high-level combat missions. Unlike missions, however, many contain bosses that can drop expensive deadspace modules as loot. While warping to a site, you might get a pop-up message stating its DED rating out of ten. Sites with a DED rating will almost always have one or more bosses that can drop deadspace modules. The DED rating also serves as an indicator of how difficult the site will be and the maximum sizes of ship that can enter. The highest rated DED complex you can find In high security space is 4/10, which has a chance to drop rare cruiser-sized corpum modules.

Not all military complexes have a DED rating, so take care when entering a complex you've never been in before. The NPCs you'll face are usually the same type as can be found in the local asteroid belts, though sometimes others are found. Rogue Drone complexes, for example, can be found all over New Eden. These aren't very popular with most explorers as they provide refinable materials that must be looted instead of direct ISK bounties. Like cosmic anomalies, some military complexes also have a chance to escalate and send you to a much more lucrative site.

Types of site: Profession site

Over the years, CCP have introduced three mini-professions that players can take up: Salvaging, hacking and archaeology. All three mini-professions play a huge part in wormhole expeditions and the creation of tech 3 strategic cruisers, but they have their uses in normal space too. Strewn across New Eden are hidden profession sites where you can put those skills to use. Cosmic signatures with radar type signatures are hacking sites, in which a codebreaker module can be used to tap into enemy database structures. The structures are generally protected by NPCs and when opened yield research materials for tech 2 invention.

Magnetometric signatures are a little more ambiguous as they're used for both salvaging and archaeology profession sites. The message that appears when warping to the site will provide some clue as to which module will be required. Salvaging sites contain wrecked ships that appear as containers in space and can be opened with a Salvager module. They yield mostly tech 1 rig components and sometimes yield a few valuable tech 2 components. Archeology sites work in a similar way, where an Analyzer module is used to unearth tech 2 rig blueprints and sometimes rare skillbooks from the remains of long-dead civilisations.

Additional finds

Depending on whether you're into mining or not, finding a gravimetric signature can be a cause for elation or frustration. These are hidden asteroid belts, typically containing ore of a higher grade than can be found locally. In a nullsec system with only gniess, for example, you might find a site containing large quantities of bistot and crokite. Some of these sites spawn a small number of NPCs, so be sure to have some backup if you plan to mine in them.

Just over a year ago, unstable wormholes began randomly appearing all over New Eden. If you manage to scan one down, it can instantly transport you to another location. By right clicking the wormhole and clicking "show info", you can obtain some vital information on how stable the wormhole is and what type of system it goes to. Wormholes to other normal star systems can be used as trade shortcuts, and those leading to nullsec can be useful for short-term access to nullsec resources. There's a strong chance, however, that the wormhole won't lead to a system within the EVE stargate network. They can instead bring you to one of 2500 hidden Sleeper star systems.


Whether you're scouring high security space for that elusive 4/10 DED complex or searching for invention materials in nullsec, exploration is a great way to make ISK. The chance of making a big find is a strong lure, often drawing players out from the safety of high-security space. Many are drawn to the fortunes hidden in EVE's lawless nullsec regions or the mysterious exploration content in wormhole systems, all of them hoping to strike it rich.

Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at Massively. The column covers anything and everything relating to EVE Online, from in-depth guides to speculative opinion pieces. If you have an idea for a column or guide, or you just want to message him, send an email to brendan@massively.com.
This article was originally published on Massively.