Tip #1: Scan in underused systems
This tip derives from the spawning mechanics used for exploration sites and complexes. Shortly after a site is completed, it respawns elsewhere in the EVE universe. As they can appear in any system of the appropriate security level and type, sites are as likely to appear in one of New Eden's many underused star systems as they are to show up in a high-traffic area. With many players scanning high-traffic areas over the course of a day, sites naturally collect in unscanned areas. As such, by scanning in a more remote location, you're much more likely to find valuable military complexes and profession sites.
The easiest way to find low-traffic systems to scan in is to open the map and select "Jumps in the last hour" under the "Statistics" panel of the stars tab. Look for regions and constellations with as few jumps per hour as possible. Alternatively, "pirate and police ships destroyed in the last 24 hours" will show areas where less PvE is going on. Another useful way to find low-traffic areas is to study the dotlan EVE map tool, which can give more useful information like typical peak usage hours for a given system.
Tip #2: Use a dedicated scanning ship
There are two main schools of thought on scanning for exploration. The first involves kitting out a combat ship with a core probe launcher and scanning for sites using it. This works for ships like the Drake with its spare high slot, which is a popular choice for mission-runners and explorers alike. The probe launcher makes it incredibly easy to find all the cosmic anomalies in a system at once, but with no bonus to scan probes it can have difficulty getting an accurate lock on cosmic signatures. A more popular alternative is to keep your combat and exploration ships entirely separate. Although this means making two trips when relocating to a new region to test the waters, it's definitely worth the extra effort.
The technique most commonly practiced is to scan out an entire system or constellation with your specialised scanning ship, bookmarking sites as you find them. Then you can switch to your combat ship and tackle the sites you've found. Both the tech 1 astrometrics frigates and their tech 2 covert ops counterparts make excellent specialised scanning ships. Both get a bonus to the strength of scan probes, but the big difference is in the rigs you can use. Frigates use extremely cheap small rigs, making it dirt cheap to kit them out with two "Gravity Capacitor Upgrade" scan-probe-strength rigs. If you were to do this on your combat ship, you'd also be wasting valuable rig slots that could be used to upgrade your tank or damage.
Tip #3: Bring a newbie
In both high- and low-security space, most cosmic signatures can be scanned with relatively low skills and inexpensive equipment. While you could get by with scanning out sites yourself, it's a lot more efficient to bring a newbie along for the ride. As you run sites, the newbie can be scanning other systems to find the next juicy target for your exploration escapade. For added profit, the newbie could help loot and salvage sites while scanning in the same system you're running sites in.
This method can be a much more effective use of your time and has the added benefit that you can let a newbie tag along as a highly useful part of your exploration crew. I've personally done this with new players whom I've introduced to EVE and it was always great fun for both of us. On encountering a site that your newbie can't scan down, you can always jump into their ship and give it a try if you have the skills.
Tip #4: Delve into those wormholes!
When scanning for lucrative "unknown" type military complexes, you'll occasionally find an unwanted wormhole. The best advice I can give when this happens is to take the time to go inside and see what you can find. Some wormholes lead to high- or low-security space, giving you the opportunity to scan for exploration sites further afield. Similarly, wormholes linking to nullsec will give you temporary access to the huge resources to be found there. In addition to nullsec-only exploration sites, you'll have access to all the NPCs and ore in the local asteroid belts. Just remember to bookmark the wormhole on the other side so you can escape if pilots enter the system and make you feel threatened.
Perhaps most valuable are wormholes leading to one of the many "Unknown" Sleeper systems. Wormhole systems can be a terrifying place if you don't know what to expect. As a result, many players have an almost irrational fear of Sleeper space. In addition to often containing massive asteroid belts full of ore, cosmic anomalies in Class 1, 2 and 3 systems can be lucrative when run solo or with a small handful of pilots. To check what class of solar system you've entered, look up the locus signature on dotlan map tools.
While in Sleeper space, other players won't show up in the local channel unless they talk, giving them ample opportunity to sneak up on unsuspecting victims. Since Sleeper systems are treated as nullsec for the purposes of combat rules, it can be a risky place to visit. Much of that risk is mitigated by the awesome profit to be had and the fact that there are relatively few players in wormhole space, making the risk of an encounter potentially lower than in a standard nullsec system. Routinely scanning for probes and ships using the directional scanner can alert you to many incoming threats. Making a habit of hammering the directional scanner may save your life out there.
Exploration is a lucrative profession that players of all skill levels can get into. Over the course of this three part guide, we've looked at the equipment and techniques you'll need to become an exploration guru, and the types of site and loot you can expect to find. With these few top tips, we end this three-part guide to exploration in EVE Online. If you have any of your own tips to share, why not drop them in the comment box below?
Brendan "Nyphur" Drain is an early veteran of
EVE Online and writer of the weekly EVE Evolved column here at massively.com. 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 post or guide or just want to message him, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.