A good friend emailed the other day and asked "whats another good PvE ship? Any recommendations that I should shoot for?"
I know he is a Caldari pilot and I'm a Caldari pilot and the topic is one I am very familiar with, so I figured a post on the subject would be called for.
There are several types of PvE in Eve:
- missions that require you to tank a lot of damage over a long period of time
- exploration complexes that vary in size and difficulty
- belt ratting that has less demands on tanking (usually)
- high sec NPC pirating (yes, its true! I've done it myself. The rewards suck though... hmmm, another blog post?).
For the purposes of this post (i.e. keep it from becoming too long) I'm going to cover the experienced pilot's goals: Level 4 or 5 missioning, tough exploration encounters, Sleepers, and null sec belt ratting.
The Drake is often the first bigger-than-cruiser ship Caldari pilots get into and it serves them well. With proper training the Drake can tank a lot of damage with little effort and its DPS is not too bad with its 7 heavy launchers. I've heard it can tank the DPS from some level 4 missions but I've not tried it.
The Drake's success lies in the fact that it can passive tank so much damage that you just sit there and let the enemy fire roll off you, and since it requires next to no capacitor you can take your time to thin the herds of enemies. And takes time it does; in order to have that super awesome passive tank, you pretty much have to abandon damage mods and accept the lower DPS.
In belt ratting the Drake performs adequately if slowly. Against Sleepers passive tanking is not ideal, but the eighth high slot can try and fit some sort of remote repping to work in the confines of a gang. Not an ideal solution.
Pros: Cheap, easy to train for, tanks very well for little capacitor.
Cons: Low DPS, sort of slow, can't handle large damage situations.
Good for: some level 4s / complexes, belt ratting
Cerberus Heavy Assault Cruiser
The Tech II Caracal is the smallest ship we will visit today. As befits a cruiser hull, it is fast and agile compared to the rest and has the ability to shoot very far with Heavy Missiles, or hit decently hard with Heavy Assault. It tanks very well due to its high base resistances and can alleviate some incoming damage with a speed mod and small signature.
The "Cerb" is not the best choice for missioning but makes excellent work of belt rats and lower end Sleeper and exploration complexes. With heavy assault missiles and an afterburner it can rip through belts in 0.0 while still be agile enough for a quick warp out if local spikes. Downside is that its got the Tech II price tag and lack of good insurance.
Pros: Fast, agile.
Cons: DPS like the Drake, expensive with no insurance
Good for: belt ratting and low end complexes / sleepers
The ubiquitous Raven is the ultimate mission running ship. Relatively cheap and insurable, great DPS, solid tank... it defines the perfect ship for running lots of level four missions.
Equipped most often with cruise missiles and an active boosting shield tank, there are few level four missions that will force it to warp out before its done its assigned task. Its drone bay allows it flexibility in dealing with frigates or cruisers, and the long range of the cruise missiles ensures all rats are within range.
But the big Raven is not so ideal for other PvE scenarios. Exploration complexes are similar to level four missions for the most part, but Sleeper complexes can prove disasterous since most players prefer remote repping armour and not shield transporters. Belt rats pose no threat but the lumbering battleship might get caught by a quick enemy pilot interceptor.
Pros: Cheap and insurable, good DPS and tank.
Cons: Slow, lumbering, tank requires lots of cap
Good For: Solo running level 4 missions, exploration complexes
Raven Navy Issue
With an extra launcher and more hitpoints, there is no reason to not like the Caldari Navy Raven, aka CNR. Well, except the fact that it can only be gotten from the Loyalty Point Store and thus is very expensive with no covering insurance. Everything that applies to the Raven in terms of capabilities applies to the CNR only a bit more so.
Pros: Great DPS and tank
Cons: slow, lumbering, tank requires lots of cap, expensive with no good insurance
Good For: Solo running level 4 missions, exploration complexes
The only non-missile ship on the list, I would be remiss in not including it as it is the ship I used to run level four missions for many months.
The Rokh is a tanking battleship getting bonuses to its shield resistances. As such, it boasts a better shield tank option than a Raven. In addition, when equipped with large Railguns it can use different ammo to reach incredible distances to smash even approaching Frigates instantly as their direct path can lower the transversal to near zero.
In belt ratting, the rail guns can be exchanged for short ranged but hard hitting blasters that make quick work of rats.
Furthermore, in Sleeper complexes the Rokh can make a decent armour buffer tank and fit a remote repper to work with pilots from other lineages. Not ideal, but it works.
The downside is the hybrids themselves are cap intensive putting even more pressure on your capacitor (along with shield boosting) and they are limited to Kinetic/Thermal damage types meaning some rats will take forever (Angels for example were always a pain, Serpentis soooo easy).
Pros: Great solid shield tanking, long range instant damage or high powered short range damage, can armour tank for Remote repping in a pinch. Insurable.
Cons: Single damage type, battleship-slow, small drone bay.
Good for: Solo running level 4 missions, exploration complexes
Nighthawk Command Ship
If you took the Cerberus and mashed it up with a Drake, what you might get would look a lot like a Nighthawk. Based on the old Ferox hull but bonused for missiles, it boasts Tech II resistances and six launcher hardpoints that can fit a passive shield tank superior to a Drake's.
A Nighthawk is perfectly capable of going through level four missions like a battleship, and belt ratting in a 'hawk is a joke. The downside to this ship is that its very expensive and not worth insuring, making the worry of taking it out of high sec to low sec or null sec an expensive proposition.
Pros: Good DPS, great passive tank, faster and more agile than battleships
Cons: Very very expensive and crap for insurance
Good For: Solo running level 4 missions, exploration complexes, belt ratting if you can afford it. Low to mid end Sleeper complexes.
Golem Marauder Battleship
The final word in mission running, the Marauder is a Tech II Raven that boasts the equivalent firepower of 8 launcher hardpoints while still having high slots for utility items like tractor beam and salvager. It also has a bonus to shield boosting and another for a target painter along with a low slot changed to mid slot to fit it without sacrifcing tank. It also has some improved resistances to add to its tanking abilities along with an improved cap recharge rate.
The idea is that the Golem can kill the NPCs while tractoring in the wrecks and Salvaging them on the spot into its large cargo bay. The target painter adds to its ability to take on smaller ships by making their signatures bigger. Any incoming damge is easily negated by the powerful active shield tank.
For all of this, it carries the heaviest of price tags, beating out the Navy Raven for base cost and having no worthy insurance options. It might be capable of handling belt rats, but would you want to risk the better part of 700 million ISK or more doing it?
Pros: Awesome shield tank, awesome DPS, ultility slots and cargo bay
Cons: Damn hell expensive, uninsurable, terrible at PvP due to low sensor strength
Good For: Solo running level 4 missions, exploration complexes.