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EVE Online is a game of grand strategies, petty betrayals, and ridiculous player-driven stories, but at it’s very core, it is a game about spaceships. Spaceships are the heart and soul of EVE, serving a dual role as a player’s avatar and the class they have chosen to play.
These unique vessels come in many different shapes and sizes — from tiny, nimble frigates to the lumbering leviathan-sized Titans that are said to alter planetary tides if they are not carefully positioned in orbit. Out of the hundreds of ships available in EVE Online, the 15 on this list are the very best the game has to offer:
Ship Class: Frigate
Role: Low-risk kiter
Hull Length: 103 Meters
Kestrels are not only the cheapest ships to build on this list, but also the ones with the lowest skill point requirements. Brand new EVE players can undock in a Kestrel and launch themselves into the fray within minutes of first logging into the game. Therefore, it would be easy to write the Kestrel off as one of the weaker ships in the fleet, but that would be a mistake.
Kestrels excel at range-control, keeping their opponents at the exact perfect range for the ship’s weapons to strike while at the same time reducing the effectiveness of any return fire. They do this through a process called “scram kiting.” By installing a warp scrambling module to the Kestrel, skilled pilots can keep their own engines burning at full power while reducing their target’s engine output. The Kestrel can then match its enemy’s speed, all the while maintaining a safe distance in order to deliver a devastating rocket barrage. When executed correctly, the Kestrel pilot remains relatively safe and inflicts massive damage at the same time.
This ship proves that, in EVE, one should never underestimate any ship based on its look or size.
Ship Class: Battleship
Role: Long-range damage platform
Hull Length: 806 Meters
Most commonly used for running quests in the High Security areas of EVE Online, Ravens are perhaps the best choice when you need to lay waste to endless waves of AI-controlled opponents. To that end, Ravens typically come fitted with long-range cruise missile launchers and a near impenetrable array of shields.
For players who just want to relax and shoot at NPC ships without having to stress over their ship getting destroyed, the Raven is the perfect tool. That’s not to say that the ship doesn’t have any use during more high-risk encounters. Because of the incredible range provided by the cruise missiles, the Raven works well as a siege engine in PvP battle scenarios, unleashing devastating missile barrages onto structures and enemy fleets from well outside the range of any feasible retaliation.
Ship Class: Battlecruiser
Hull Length: 534 Meters
From the earliest days of EVE Online, the Drake has proudly served as a multi-purpose vessel, used both for PvE missions as well as an entry-level ship in massive player-run fleets due to its relatively low-skill requirements. It’s relatively affordable, durable, and capable of doling out devastating and incredibly accurate missiles.
In fact, the Drake has become such a common ship that it’s spawned its own meme, “Can I bring my Drake??” New players often train towards flying a Drake as a PvE ship in order to earn money early in the game. But when it comes time to join a PvP fleet, the only ship they know how to properly deploy is a Drake, much to the disdain of their fleet commanders.
Lately, the Drake has fallen out of favor, replaced by other, more specialized ships, leaving the old standby out in the cold. In spite of this, the Drake lives on through the meme, as hardly a fleet is formed without someone asking, “Can I bring my Drake?”
Just for the record, EVE players: No, you can’t bring your Drake!
Ship Class: Capital Industrial Vessel
Role: Economic powerhouse
Hull Length: 2,449 Meters
The Rorqual stands apart from the rest of the ships on this list. It’s not a quick, agile fighter craft or a floating weapons platform capable of destroying anyone who would dare cross its path. What it is, however, is the greatest economic superweapon ever introduced to EVE Online.
This massive capital industrial ship is responsible for creating the largest fleets that EVE has ever seen. Originally intended as a mining support vessel, offering area of effect buffs to smaller mining vessels, increasing their capacity, and providing other support functions, the Rorqual evolved into a mining platform of its own in 2016.
After the upgrade, the ship was able to deploy five mining drones so efficient that they were originally capable of out-mining any other ship in the game. In addition, the Rorqual was given the ability to equip a unique module, the Pulse Activated Nexus Invulnerability Core, aka the P.A.N.I.C. button. When activated, the P.A.N.I.C. creates an invulnerability field surrounding the Rorqual and all the other industrial ships in its fleet, rendering them immune to harm for six minutes, giving reinforcements some time to show up during an enemy attack.
The drones’ mining capacity and the safety provided by the P.A.N.I.C. module soon sparked a gold rush soon after developer CCP implemented the changes. Pilots who previously scoffed at mining converted to flying Rorquals and reaped the benefits. Years later, these changes have enabled a massive proliferation of capital and super capital ships. It is not uncommon for factions to bring several hundred of these enormous ships to a fight, where only three years ago, seeing one Titan was a rare and awe-inspiring occurrence. No other ship has changed the course of EVE Online as much as the Rorqual.
Ship Class: Cruiser
Role: Drone control platform
Hull Length: 806 Meters
The Vexor, along with its two derivative vessels, the Vexor Navy Issue and the Ishtar, make up a disproportionately large slice of the EVE Online economy. All three ships focus on drone-based combat, releasing swarms of AI-controlled micro-vessels which swarm enemy ships like a nest of angry wasps. This combat tactic allows the Vexor’s pilot to focus on other things, like navigating their ship away from harm, activating electronic warfare modules to further harry their enemies, or watching a YouTube video while their drones do all the work.
An unfortunate side effect of the heavy reliance of drone combat inherent to the Vexor hull-line is that it enables pilots to reliably kill NPC ships, and even inattentive players, while not fully paying attention to their game clients. This quirk makes the Vexor the best ship for grinding NPC pirate ships to generate in-game income, but also one of the most actively hunted and destroyed ships in the game.
Vexors aren’t only used for AFK income generation, though. When used actively in fleets, these ships provide incredible amounts of DPS and electronic warfare support from long distances. Properly utilized, these tactics allow Vexors and their cousins to fight outnumbered to great success. The combined PvE and PvP utility of these hulls have made them, at times, some of the most prolific vessels in the game.
Ship Class: Frigate
Role: Covert Operations
Hull Length: 67 Meters
The Astero is one of the best-looking exploration-focused ships in the fleet, featuring the circular main drive ring that is a trademark of the Servant Sisters of EVE humanitarian aid organization. On top of looking snazzy, the Astero is designed for getting players into and out of tight spots during loot missions. Exploration-minded players can use the cloaking technology available to the Astero to traverse hostile space while in search of valuable relics from the past, avoiding players who seek to do them harm and escaping with loot secured in the cargo hold.
Not everyone who chooses to fly the Astero is looking to avoid fights, though, and the ship does have some teeth to it. Thanks to its sizeable drone bay and inherent survivability bonuses, the Astero is a bit of a wolf in sheep’s clothing, as its most common prey is other explorers.
The looks and capabilities, combined with the relatively low amount of skill points required to fly it, make the Astero a common choice for new players looking to try out stealth-based gameplay, peaceful or otherwise.
Ship Class: Battleship
Hull Length: 1,452 Meters
Machariel fleets were once the pride and joy of the pirates who make their home in the Low Security areas of the New Eden galaxy. Thanks to the incredible firepower of the battleship-class projectile weapons systems, the vessel’s durable armor plating, and its powerful propulsion system, the Machariel reigned as the uncontested king of Lowsec space for years.
This ship’s sleek hull design enables it to function as a kilometer-and-a-half-long, heavily armed and armored muscle car. It can achieve warp speeds faster than any other battleship, allowing fleets comprised of them to redeploy across the battlefield or multiple star systems faster than any other ship of its class. These speeds are achieved with almost no noticeable drawbacks to the firepower or survivability of the battleship, and a fleet of these ships can deal serious damage before enemy fleet commanders can react to them in a combat situation.
Machariels can be outfitted as either long-range artillery platforms or as medium range brawlers with autocannons. Artillery weapons have a substantial reload period between shots, but do tons of damage when fired, enabling an “alpha strike” strategy, where pilots coordinate their attacks over voice communication systems and fire every gun in the entire fleet in the span of only a few seconds. These alpha strikes are intended to destroy enemy ships one-by-one, instantaneously, which prevents the enemy from repairing its ships between volleys. When equipped with autocannons, Machariel fleets close range and deliver a continuous barrage of withering firepower, chewing through enemy defenses, and more often than not, overwhelming their targets.
Ship Class: Frigate
Role: Stealth Bomber
Hull Length: 123 Meters
The small, unadorned hull of the Purifier makes it the least ostentatious vessel in the Amarr fleet, which makes sense, considering it’s a stealth bomber designed for ambushes facilitated by its covert cloaking device. As one of the few ships in EVE that is able to use its warp drive while cloaked from view and all known sensor devices, the Purifier can maneuver itself into advantageous positions and strike from the shadows to great effect.
With cloaking devices, torpedo launchers normally reserved for kilometer-long battleships, and bomb launchers capable of dealing huge amounts of area effect damage, the Purifier serves dual roles as a scout and as a force multiplier vessel. Experienced fleet commanders tend to deploy attack wings of Purifiers to deliver precision bombing runs, destroying fleets of larger ships. Enemy space stations, industrial ships, and even capital vessels have all fallen victim to the Purifier’s might.
Whether being used as force multipliers to massive fleet fights or in asymmetrical insurgent tactics, Purifier fleets are one of the most powerful tools of war an EVE fleet commander has at their disposal.
Ship Class: Frigate
Hull Length: 105 Meters
If the Macherial battleship is the loud, flashy muscle car of EVE Online, then the Garmur is the insanely over-tuned foreign import. Garmurs are blisteringly fast frigates, capable of flying circles around enemy ships, all the while delivering precision strikes with either long-range missile volleys or close-range rocket barrages.
Garmurs are well suited for “scram kiting,” similar to the Kestrel, but due to a massive built-in increase in warp scrambler range, this ship does the job much more efficiently. The Garmur can also take on ships many times its size by traveling at incredible speeds that the larger ships simply can’t keep up with.
The Garmur does normally have to sacrifice its own survivability to empower these tactics, as it requires supplemental power sources to help fuel its massive engines. If the Garmur pilot falters for even a second and those engines fail due to enemy electronic warfare, it’s almost impossible for the Garmur to recover.
Despite the delicate balance of maneuverability and durability, the Garmur remains an incredibly popular solo or small group PvP ship.
Ship Class: Battleship
Hull Length: 1,083 Meters
When you need to gather five hundred or so of your allies and turn an entire region of space into dust, look no further than the vaunted Megathron. This ship has long been a staple of the warring player-run empires due to its relatively low cost, durability, and ability to fit long-range rail guns.
On top of the Megathon’s practicality as a reliable war machine, its split hull design makes it one of EVE’s most visually distinct spaceships. In fact, the design became so popular that three variants of the Megathron are now available in the game: the pirate faction Vindicator, the upgraded Megathron Navy Issue, and the indomitable Kronos are all specialized versions of the base Megathron design.
When talking about the Megathron, one player, in particular, must be mentioned. Baltec1. Baltec famously fell in love with the ship, going as far as to modify the ship so that he could fly it in any fleet his alliance decided to field. He even crafted a version of the ship that could match the speed of the comparatively tiny and nimble frigate fleets used by his friends, ships that normally run circles around Megathrons. His alliance even named their Megathron fleet “Baltecfleet.”
Ship Class: Strategic Cruiser
Role: Multi-role Versatility Platform
Hull Length: 481 Meters
The Tengu is perhaps the most versatile ship in EVE Online due to its modular design and highly adaptable components. Before weapon systems, drive enhancements, and defensive modules are equipped to the Tengu, a player must consider what they intend to do with the ship when they undock it, as it can be customized from the ground up each time it is flown.
The Tengu is equipped with four different component slots that change not only the look and feel of the ship but also its capabilities. Engine modules can be installed to make the ship faster, more maneuverable, or render it immune to certain warp disruption attacks. Weapon hardpoints can be swapped in to enable long-range rail guns, close-range high-damage blaster turrets, or precision missile strikes. The ship’s sensor suit can be scrapped on the fly to help it perform in a stealthy exploration or infiltration role or so that it can isolate and eliminate smaller vessels. Even the ship’s reactor core can be altered depending on a player’s needs.
The Tengu’s versatility comes at a steep price, though. When a Tengu is destroyed, its pilot suffers from mental trauma, destroying parts of the pilot’s mind that enable them to fly the vessel and draining skill points from the character which have to be re-learned.
Ship Class: Titan
Role: World Domination
Hull Length: 13 Kilometers
The Avatar-class Titan is the pinnacle of Amarr technology. Armed with nearly impenetrable armor, laser batteries that can reduce fleets to ruins in moments, and its Judgement-class Doomsday weapon, Avatars are the apex predators of EVE Online. These lumbering behemoths changed the way wars were fought from the moment they were first introduced to EVE over 10 years ago. To this day, Avatars make up the majority of EVE’s famous Titan fleets.
When they were first introduced, building an Avatar took the combined effort and time of hundreds of players. Over the years, these ships have become more common due to escalating arms races between factions (and because Avatars are incredibly hard to destroy).
More recently, a new Doomsday-class weapon was introduced for EVE’s Titans. The Bosonic Field Generator (BFG) enables Avatars and other Titans to fire a cone-shaped volley of death capable of erasing hundreds of enemy ships from existence in the blink of an eye.
The Avatar’s distinctive hull, plated in reflective gold and ivory, and a superstructure made to resemble a grand cathedral drifting through the stars, have also made it one of the game’s most beautiful ships.
Ship Class: Destroyer
Role: Fleet Interdiction
Hull Length: 271 Meters
The Sabre is, at first glance, an unassuming vessel, small and with the appearance of being cobbled together from scrap metal. Don’t underestimate this ship, though. Pound for pound, the Sabre has caused more destruction than any other ship in EVE Online.
The ship’s high DPS, speed, and interdiction sphere launcher make it a staple of almost any fleet roaming the lawless lands of EVE’s null security space. When activated, the interdiction module can create a warp destabilization sphere rendering almost any ship caught in its influence unable to activate its warp drive, trapping it in place. Ships caught in this sphere are then left to the mercy of the Sabre’s weapons and its fleet mates.
Sabres most often serve as advanced scouts or as rearguards for fleets, preventing its quarry from catching up with their allies. These ships can also use their speed and maneuverability to avoid incoming enemy fire and activate electronic warfare modules to further restrict their targets’ ability to escape. More than any other ships in the game, Sabres often mean guaranteed kills in a warzone. This makes skilled Sabre pilots heroes in the eyes of their friends and hated enemies to their foes.
Ship Class: Destroyer
Hull Length: 218 Meters
The Kikimora first emerged from the depths of the Abyss, stalking through the void like a shark searching for prey. Introduced in the Into the Abyss expansion, the Kikimora is one of the vessels used by the mysterious Triglavian NPC faction to melt through the defenses of ships several times its size in a matter of seconds.
This ship is armed with Entropic Disintegrator weaponry powered by a singularity trapped within its core. The longer a Kikimora’s disintegrators remain focused on the same target, the more devastating the beam weapon becomes, increasing in damage every few seconds until reaching damage numbers previously only available to battleship-class and larger ships.
The speed and agility of the Kikimora’s destroyer-sized hull allow it to fight battles on its own terms, and with an array of electronic warfare modules, it can halt the movement of its chosen victim. Since its introduction to the game, the Kikimora has earned a reputation as one of the most successful solo hunters.
In small groups, the Kikimora is even more dangerous. Its unique disintegrator weapons allow the ship to equip more support modules than other vessels in its size category, so it can perform multiple functions in a fleet while doling out insane damage. The Kikimora can provide remote repairs to allies, equip point defense weapons to destroy enemy drones, and even supplement the energy reserves of other ships. Unsurprisingly, it’s become a favorite of players forming wolf pack-style fleets to hunt in enemy territory.
Ship Class: Supercarrier
Role: Being awesome
Hull Length: 3,318 Meters
The first time I ever logged into EVE Online, I spent several hours just exploring the in-game ship browser. This browser lets you preview every ship available to players. As a day one newbie, I saw the Nyx and instantly fell in love.
The Nyx is a supercarrier, capable of launching flights of powerful and agile fighters, pivoting your EVE experience from a third-person spaceship simulator to a real-time strategy game. Each of the five flights of fighters can be controlled independently and given different objectives. This capability allows the Nyx to control whatever battlefield it’s on, regardless of the enemies arrayed against it.
This is a ship perfect for those players who want to test their strategy skills during PvP encounters.
Lee Yancy is a freelance contributor. Read more of his work here.