Upgraded NPC AI
Mission runners, drone hunters and fans of shooting up rats (NPC pirates) across the universe will now find their adversaries smarter and more challenging. Across Empire Space and throughout the drone regions, pilots will find some of the below tactics adopted by one or more of their non-player opponents:
Selecting optimal target for the engagement – As you know, the first target is not always the best target. Now the NPCs know, too.
Switching targets – NPCs will change target if a more desirable target comes within range.
Selecting secondary targets – NPCs can attack multiple targets, sometimes firing on one player while jamming or disrupting another.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
Q) Will the NPC's switch targets now?
A) Yes, yes they will.
Q) Will the NPC's choose a targets of the same size, so NPC frigates will first target player frigates?
A) Yes, the NPC will try and pick targets matching their own size.
Q) Will NPC's kill my drones?
A) Yes, but they don't hate them nearly as much as sleepers. I ran 9 level 4 missions and lost 2 drones. It does mean you need to pay more attention though. We can adjust their hatred of drones though which is why we are asking for feedback when this hits a test server.
Q) Will NPCs do any new electronic warfare?
A) No. Their actual weapons and effects will not be changing.
Q) Does this change things like spawns or range activation?
A) No. When the NPC decide to start hating you is still based on the individual mission.
Q) Does this also cover DED sites, exploration sites, belt NPC, faction navies, and hauler NPC?
A) Yes. It covers everything except CONCORD.
Along with changes to the AI, Retribution creates a richer drone space, adding more ships and some new rewards.
Rogue Drone Officer ships which drop officer modules have been added to the drone regions
Hauler spawns have been added to the Rogue Drone regions
Killing rogue drones will provide security status gains
Rogue Drone salvage drops have been slightly buffed
Devblog: Brains Nom Nom - CCP Foxfour’s devblog on the NPC AI changes in Retribution (source of the above FAQ)
EVElopedia: Rats - the EVE wiki section on rats (NPC pirates)