Weapons are divided into four categories - turrets, missiles, combat drones, and smartbombs. Each category requires a different set of skills in order to use effectively, and have distinctive behaviours. Additionally, certain types of equipment have an important effect on tactics used in combat, namely warp scramblers/disruptors (and their counter, stabilizers) and webifiers.
Signatures and sizes
In order to balance combat between all ship sizes, two main factors play a very important role when battling in EVE - signature radius and ship velocity.
All ships, stations and structures in EVE have a certain signature radius; this is basically the size of a targetable object in space. It should be noted that the radius does not reflect the actual size in space, but is in a scale of itself. This size is measured in meters and ranges everywhere from small drones of 25 meters to huge titans and stations of 1500 meters or more. Turrets of different sizes also have a corresponding measurement of size called signature resolutions. Typically, small guns made for frigate-size vessels have a resolution similar to that of frigates, while large guns found on battleships have a signature resolution around 400 meters, which is also similar to the signature radius of battleships. Missiles also need to be balanced in this manner, their corresponding attribute is called explosion radius. This value works similar to signature resolution and is applied onto signature radius in the same manner and scale.
One can very easily understand how this balancing mechanism works by imagining the signature radius as a circular dart target. The signature resolution of a turret would be another circle placed on top of this target. This second circle is an area within which all shots hit. It can be logically assumed that the bigger the signature resolution circle is than the signature radius circle, the higher percentage of shots fired by the gun misses, and that's how the system works. Explosion radius works in the same way, but since missiles can't miss, the damage of the missile is mitigated in a scale depending on how much bigger the explosion radius is, rather than affecting hit percentage.
This system prevents, for example, a huge capital torpedo from obliterating a small frigate with only one salvo. Smaller ships are, as one would expect, not at all penalized for attacking bigger targets, but their individual damage usually isn't enough for breaking through the defenses of bigger ships.
The second factor, speed, is another system with the same balancing purpose. Turrets need to track moving targets in order to hit them, see below. The corresponding attribute of missiles is called explosion velocity, and is pretty much self-explanatory. A ship traveling in a speed higher than the explosion velocity of the missile which hits it, mitigates the damage by seemingly "fleeing" from the explosion. Just like explosion and signature radii, the bigger the difference between a larger missile and a smaller ship, the higher the mitigation.
EVE Gunnery amounts to a mathematical evaluation of a weapon's likelihood of hitting its target. Factors such as distance, transversal velocity, tracking speed, the size of the target and the precision of the weapon are all taken into account.
All turrets in EVE have an "optimal range" - within this range, the gun theoretically has a 100% probability of scoring a hit, though this is inevitably altered by other factors. Turrets then have a falloff range - between the optimal range and the falloff range, turrets have a respectable (though decreasing) chance of hitting, at optimal plus falloff range they have a 50% chance of hitting, and beyond the falloff range, the chance of scoring a hit dwindle to 0% at about optimal plus two times the falloff range.
Turrets also have a targeting radius, which reflects the size of target they are best at hitting. A Battleship's large turrets are designed to hit large, slow-moving ships like battleships and capital ships, and tend to suffer against smaller cruisers and frigates. On the other hand, the small and medium-sized turrets employed by frigates and cruisers have little difficulty striking the battleship, though their lesser potential for damage makes it more difficult for them to have significant impact. See above section for more details.
Finally, turrets have a tracking speed, measured in radians per second, which reflects how fast they can track a moving target. A target with a high transversal velocity (such as an interceptor orbiting at close range) can be very difficult for a turret with a slow tracking speed to target effectively.
EVE players are tasked with discovering where the best balance between falloff and tracking lie in order to improve their chances of hitting - at closer ranges, the base chance of hitting is improved, but the relative velocities involved are higher.
Guns fall into three categories, sorted here by type.
Hybrid ammunition consists of a metal round that contains an ionized plasma of some description - iron, uranium, tungsten, even antimatter. When a hybrid weapon fires, a single round is expended. Hybrid weapons come in two varieties; railguns, and blasters. Both varieties do a combination of kinetic and thermal damage.
Blasters work by extracting the plasma from the hybrid round, holding it in a cyclotron, and firing it at the enemy. The plasma dissipates quickly, but does significant damage on impact. In game terms, this translates to blasters being very damaging weapons with a very short range. Blasters are most commonly used by the Gallente.
Railguns use magnetic accelerators to fire the entire round, casing and all, directly at the target. This is less damaging than blaster fire, but railguns have the best optimal ranges of any guns in the game, making them excellent choices for long-range combat. Railguns are most commonly used by the Gallente, though the Caldari also make extensive use of them. Note that despite their name, the railguns in the game are actually coilguns (also known as gauss weapons).
EVE energy weapons are medium-ranged weapons with a respectable damage profile. Their high energy consumption can prove crippling unless they have been mounted on Amarrian ships (which provide innate bonuses to make the weapons more energy-efficient). For this reason, lasers are used almost exclusively on Amarrian vessels. Energy weapons come in two types: beam lasers and pulse lasers. A beam laser fires a concentrated beam of energy at its target, resulting in longer range at the expense of damage and tracking speed. By contrast, pulse lasers emit an oscillating energy beam at their targets, inflicting more damage than the beam laser along with providing higher tracking speed, at the expense of range. Energy weapons have the advantage of not consuming ammunition in the same way as other types of weapon - energy ammunition consists of "frequency crystals" which modulate the energy beam into a certain range of the electromagnetic spectrum, altering the range and damage profile of the weapon (the shorter the wavelength, the more damage the weapon does, but the shorter the accurate range). These crystals occupy very little cargo space and since only one is needed for each turret, pilots can carry around different types of crystals, enabling them to quickly switch and alter their range and damage depending on the situation. Energy weapons are limited to EM and thermal damages, making them outstanding at reducing a target's shields, but they tend to suffer against armour.
Projectile weapons come in two forms - artillery and autocannon. Artillery weapons provide for long-range combat with an excellent damage-per-hit profile, whereas autocannons are close-range rapid fire weapons with better tracking that do less damage per shot. Nevertheless, due to their slow rate of fire, artillery cannons do less damage over time than do autocannons. Projectile weapons are characterized by having extremely short optimal ranges, but long falloff ranges, meaning that although they are not as consistently accurate and reliable in certain situations as some other weapons, they retain their accuracy better over a greater range of distances. Projectile weapons require no capacitor energy in order to fire, allowing for more extensive usage of other modules on a ship sporting these turrets, as well as effectively preventing enemies from disabling offensive capabilities through power draining or neutralizing. Their damage profile is heavily dependent upon the type of ammunition loaded into them, as well - titanium sabot rounds do kinetic and explosive damage, for example, while EMP rounds do EM and Explosive. Projectile weapons are used almost exclusively by the Minmatar.
Tech 2 Ammunition
There are now tech 2 varieties of the ammunition and crystals employed by the various forms of turret in the Eve universe. Examples would include 'null' and 'void', which are upgraded versions of pre-existing ammo most commonly used by blasters. 'Void' is the t2 version of 'antimatter'. It uses even more power to fire, and has a shorter optimal range, but provides a massive increase in damage.
Tech 2 laser focusing crystals deteriorate over time, and provide no more than a thousand shots before they must be replaced. This keeps them in line with other tech two ammunition, which is somewhat expensive.
Missiles are self-guided weapons that home in on a target and detonate on impact, doing a significant amount of damage to the target. Although they usually have slower rates of fire than guns, they usually do significantly more damage, and also have the advantage of being an almost guaranteed hit.
Missiles, unlike guns, only do a single type of damage, dependent upon the type of missile purchased. They also fall into a number of size categories, with each size category reflecting a missile with a greater range and damage profile, but a slower speed. The largest missiles are so slow that a fast frigate or interceptor can outrun them. There are also missiles specifically designed to destroy other missiles. There are two main categories. Guided Missiles and Unguided Missiles. Guided Missiles gain some useful effects over their unguided counterparts (longer range, the Guided Missile Precision skill), but do less damage over time than their counterpart.
|Damage per shot
|Point defense. Some larger missiles can survive a single defender. Can be fired from any launcher.
|Fast fire rate leads to more damage over time than Light Missiles. Designed to be fitted to frigates.
|F.O.F variants exist of Light, Heavy and Cruise Missiles, and these randomly pick hostile targets in range. They do not need a target lock to fire, making them immune to Electronic Warfare.
|Anti-frigate missiles. Fired from Standard Launchers (designed for frigates) or Assault Launchers (designed for cruisers).
|Heavy Assault Missiles
|Fast fire rate leads to more damage over time than Heavy Missiles. Designed to be fitted to cruisers.
|Used for long-range bombardment. Designed to be fitted to battleships.
|Slow. Battleship-grade missiles. Usually destoyed by defenders.
|Capital-grade missiles. Only fieldable by capital ships and stationary turrets.
Used by all races though mastered by Gallente, drones are computer controlled weapons platforms that operate on behalf of their owner, attacking hostile targets or assisting in other tasks such as ship repair or mining. Unlike missiles, drones can be targeted and shot by enemy ships. Drones fall into a number of categories:
|Light Scout Drones
|These drones take up a tiny amount of space, have the highest velocities, but are the weakest of the drones in both firepower and hit points.
|Medium Scout Drones
|These drones are fast and agile, and more durable than light scouts. They have trouble hitting extremely small, fast moving targets.
|These drones do a respectable amount of damage, and are very resilient. They are, however, quite slow and have a hard time hitting small fast moving targets.
|Deployed by carriers and motherships, fighters are essentially, with decent drone skills, cruiser guns and hit points mounted on frigate hulls. They are extremely expensive, costing 20m ISK each or more and uninsurable. What sets them apart from other drones is the ability of a carrier or mothership pilot to assign them to gang members, turning them into wingmen for friendly pilots.
|These are static drones with long-range, high damage guns. Like the heavy drones, these have a hard time hitting small fast moving targets.
|While not actually weapons, logistics drones are used instead for logistical purposes like armour repairing, and shield boosting a target.
|Electronic Warfare Drones
|These drones come in the same classes as light, medium, and heavy drones, but rather than doing damage, they disrupt the targets electronic systems. There are different ones for different effects, such as "webbing" propulsion systems, Dampen or jam targeting sensors, etc.
|These drones harvest ores and return them the host ship, allowing the owner to mine effectively without compromising on defensive turrets. Mining drones cannot be used to harvest ice.
Smartbombs are an uncommon weapon choice, though they have been known to be used to great effect under specific circumstances. They damage everything— including allies— within a given radius around one's ship. They are nearly impossible to use within empire space, since they are very likely to hit a neutral craft, causing police forces to destroy the smartbomb user. However, they are often useful for quickly clearing drones or close-range frigates around one's ship.
Doomsday weapons can only be mounted on titan-class vessels. Doomsday weapons are by far the most powerful weapons in the game, doing a base damage of 37,500 HP, before skill bonus, within an area of effect. The damage type depends on which make of titan and weapon is being used. The Caldari "Leviathan" titan mounts the "Oblivion" Doomsday Weapon, which does 37,500 kinetic damage, while the Amarr "Avatar" mounts the "Judgment" weapon, which does EM damage instead. Regardless of type, this much damage is usually sufficient to destroy a battleship instantly, allowing titans to effectively wipe out an entire enemy force in a single attack, though it must be deployed with care, as it also damages allied ships. Furthermore, Doomsday weapons can be targeted and deployed on cynosural fields present in the same star system. To mitigate their sheer destructive potential, Doomsday Weapons have a cycle time of one hour.
The fitting requirements to mount Doomsday Weapons are so prohibitive that only Titans, which are specifically designed to take them, are capable of using them at all.
Although rumor had it that the Band of Brothers Alliance completed the first Titan around the end of May, in actual fact this honor officially belongs to the Ascendant Frontier Alliance, which deployed the first player-owned Titan on the Tranquility server on the 26th of September 2006, a fact later confirmed by the EVE Online community service manager, Kieron. Previously existing videos of player owned Titans in combat in fact originated on the "Singularity" test server. There is still limited contention on this issue (see Spaceships).
On October 3rd 2006, the ASCN Titan deployed the "Judgment" doomsday weapon in combat for the first time during a skirmish with Band of Brothers. (EVE player news article - you must be a registered player to view)
Electronic warfare modules can affect targeting systems, ship velocity, and ship warping.
The following modules fall into the category:
Abbreviation for electronic counter measure, these modules vary a lot, some being stronger against one of four different types of targeting systems at the expense of being weaker against the others, while others are weaker but offer equal jam strength against all types of targeting systems. As one would expect, the latter is a better choice when the type of ship the enemy sports is unknown. ECM modules send out a burst of electronic signals which disrupt and jam the targeting systems of the enemy, rendering them unable to fight back. The jamming has a certain strength, if this value is equal to or greater than that of the target ship's sensor strength, the success rate for jamming is 100%. If the jam strength falls below the sensor strength, a percen chance to jam successfully can be calculated by dividing the jam strength with the sensor strength. For example, an ECM with a jam strength of 8 attempts to jam a ship with a sensor strength of 10, it has an 8/10 =0.8= 80% chance to succeed. There is an area-off-effect variation of ECM, called ECM burst. It operates on all targets within a fairly small radius but serves only to break their target lock, not to jam them for 20 seconds as do the normal ECM. So the enemy can retarget immediately. ECM can be countered by boosting the sensor strength of the ship through the usage of appropriate modules and skills. One of these modules is called ECCM - electronic counter-counter measure.
- Sensor dampeners
Reduces the targeting speed and range of the target, making it slower and more restricted in combat.
- Tracking disruptors
Reduces the optimal range and tracking speed of enemy turrets, making them less effective when attempting to hit smaller and faster targets.
- Stasis webifiers
A module that slows a target down to high degrees. These have two main functions. Smaller ships can webify larger ships in order to more effectively taking advantage of high speed to orbit the ship and make tracking difficult. Larger ships can also counter smaller ships by webifying them, effectively holding them in place for easier tracking.
- Warp jammers
Hi-tech modules that jam a ship's warp frequencies, making it impossible to run. Warp jammers can be countered by large numbers of cheap, passive modules called Warp Core Stabilizers.
- Target painters
Modules that put a bead on a target, increasing its signature radius. A bigger weapon on a smaller target can inflict much more damage when the target is painted because of the resulting reduction of damage mitigation.