Uncover ancient relics and hidden
pathways outside of the known universe
What is Exploration Anyway?
Exploration in EVE Online involves using specialist probing equipment to go beyond what most Capsuleers can see. On this page, you'll learn which ships to use, how to fit them, and how to use the Probe Scanner and Analyzer tools to uncover hidden treasures. In your journey as a new Explorer, you'll be able to break into exploration sites for profit and, if you dare, venture into the deep unknowns of wormhole space.
If you like the idea of discovering unmapped, ever-shifting space in search of rare loot then this is the place for you.
The Wonders of Exploration
The only thing standing between you and the stars is knowing where to start. When you choose exploration in EVE Online, you'll be taking a journey into mysterious, stunning, far-flung and occasionally dangerous unknown parts of space in your ship.
Set a Course
Don't know what to do next? Why not try one of these activities and see what you find along the way:
- Fit your ship with the Probe Scanner, and Analyzer modules
- Scan down and hack a Highsec Relic Site
- Scan down and jump into a wormhole
- Bookmark every Cosmic Signature in a system to visit later
The Basics of Exploration
Some of the videos below are still a work in progress! Keep an eye out on Twitter and Facebook and check back as more are created. Until then, please enjoy a selection of related content to go along with the tips and tricks provided.
Exploration sites can be found randomly in nearly any system by checking your Probe Scanner window. Cosmic Anomalies can be warped to immediately, but you'll need a Core Probe Launcher and eight Core Probes to begin scanning for Cosmic Signatures on the solar system map. If you're having trouble scanning a site to 100% then try equipping a Scan Rangefinding Array to your ship.
Hacking for Profit
Some of the Cosmic Signatures you come across may be Data or Relic Sites. By fitting a Data or Relic Analyzer to your ship, you can enter the site and hack the containers for a chance at loot! Using the correct Analyzer module will bring up the hacking minigame where your goal is to guide your computer system's virus through the maze in search of the System Core. Break this core to unlock the container and receive your loot.Watch Video
Wormholes are a very different kind of Cosmic Signature that you could scan down in any system. Such a wormhole might lead to anywhere else in the universe including High, Low, and Null Security space - you only need to jump through to find out where it goes. Some wormholes will even lead outside the known universe to wormhole space, a loose collection of hostile systems organized into six classes of increasing difficulty from Class 1 to Class 6 (C1-C6). These systems may be home to the extremely dangerous Sleepers, but they can be extremely lucrative for a Capsuleer willing to brave the darkness.Watch Video
Combat Sites and Escalations
Some of the anomalies or signatures you find may be combat sites and will be indicated as such in the Probe Scanner. These contain waves of hostile NPCs or a series of acceleration gates that you must unlock and pass through to reach the site boss for a chance at some valuable loot. The difficulty of these sites will be determined by their name and the area of space that you are in, with Lowsec and Nullsec featuring higher difficulty sites with greater rewards. Some combat sites have a chance to escalate and send you on a journey through a chain of exclusive missions. More information about each site can be found in The Agency.Watch Video
If you find a wormhole, it may contain several Sleeper-infested sites listed immediately in your Probe Scanner. Defeating the Sleeper drones will reward you with loot worth vast amounts of ISK, but be warned - combat sites in wormhole space are much more difficult than those in Highsec. A good place to start with wormhole combat is to find a Class 1 wormhole and to try a site using a battlecruiser or cruiser with strong defensive capabilities.Watch Video
Empire Exploration Packs - Explore the Unknown
Want to dive right into exploration today? Jump ahead with one of the four Empire Exploration Packs. Each pack comes with everything you need to head out and explore the unknown with confidence:
- Explorer Expert System - 7 day upgrade to your exploration skills & skill levels that will allow you to discover the unknown in a Tech 1 Amarr exploration Frigate.
- Fitted Exploration Frigate - A fully fitted exploration Frigate that can use a probe scanner, hack into loot containers at Data and Relic Sites, and salvage spaceship wrecks for valuable materials.
- 10 PLEX - Trade it for in-game ISK and buy new ships, modules or Skill Injectors, or spend your PLEX in the New Eden Store.
Fits to Fly
Going exploring? Great! A Core Probe Launcher will fit onto nearly any ship in the game, but ideally, you're going to want something a bit more specialized. Each of the four empire races has their own Tech 1 (basic technology) scanning frigate which is bonused towards probe scanning, salvaging, and hacking. As you progress, your skills will allow you to use stronger Covert Ops frigates or even a stealthy strategic cruiser. Your ship progression path can easily be viewed using the in-game Ship Tree.
The key to fitting your exploration ship is to make good use of navigation equipment such as a Microwarpdrive to move quickly, and Nanofiber Internal Structures or Inertial Stabilizers to make your ship more agile. You want to get in and out fast before anyone else can catch you. Next, make sure to equip Data and Relic Analyzer modules to hack data vaults and unlock relic caches for their loot.
The final and most important part of the fit will be to ensure that you have a Core Probe Launcher I fitted and 8x Core Scanner Probe I's in the cargo bay. A useful module to augment your scanning is the Scan Rangefinding Array which increases the strength of Core and Combat Scanner Probes. Later, you might opt for an additional Prototype Cloaking Device to keep you safe in wormhole space, but this is by no means necessary to take your first steps.
Fits in EVE can be imported directly into your client by using the Import from Clipboard option in your fitting browser under the Import & Export menu. Simply copy the full fit including the ship name in square brackets then head in-game and paste. You can then multibuy everything you need at once and fit it all to your ship in a matter of seconds! You can also find these fits alongside other beginner options in the in-game Community Fittings tab. For more advice on the Fitting Window, check out the relevant help article.
[Magnate, Academy Magnate] Type-D Restrained Inertial Stabilizers Type-D Restrained Inertial Stabilizers Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Relic Analyzer I Data Analyzer I Core Probe Launcher I Salvager I [Empty High slot] Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I [Empty Rig slot] Hobgoblin I x8 Core Scanner Probe I x16
[Heron, Academy Heron] Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Relic Analyzer I Data Analyzer I Scan Rangefinding Array I Scan Rangefinding Array I Core Probe Launcher I Salvager I [Empty High slot] Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I [Empty Rig slot] Hobgoblin I x7 Core Scanner Probe I x16
[Imicus, Academy Imicus] Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Relic Analyzer I Data Analyzer I Scan Rangefinding Array I Scan Rangefinding Array I Core Probe Launcher I Salvager I [Empty High slot] Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I [Empty Rig slot] Hobgoblin I x8 Core Scanner Probe I x16
[Probe, Academy Probe] Type-D Restrained Inertial Stabilizers Type-D Restrained Inertial Stabilizers Type-D Restrained Nanofiber Structure 5MN Quad LiF Restrained Microwarpdrive Data Analyzer I Relic Analyzer I Scan Rangefinding Array I [Empty High slot] Core Probe Launcher I Salvager I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I Small Gravity Capacitor Upgrade I [Empty Rig slot] Hobgoblin I x7 Core Scanner Probe I x16
Skills to Survive
The best way to get a head start with exploration in EVE Online will be to start training the relevant scanning and hacking skills. To make this process easy, check out the certified Skill Plans in-game. Simply visit the skills panel from the top left of your Neocom, select Explorer, then pick the race of exploration ships that you wish to train for. The description on the Plan will tell you more about what it offers and what you’ll be able to fly once complete.
Check out the list below for a brief description of what each skill does. You can always find out more by viewing the Show Info panel on the skills in-game.
Key Exploration Skills
Exploration Support Skills
These skills are primarily for use in non-combat exploration activities. If combat sites sound exciting then mixing in some of the advice from the Enforcer path is the way to go.
Hone Your Skills
The content covered so far only scratches the surface of what's possible once you're undocked. Here are a few examples of just what is possible and how to get involved in more difficult content as an explorer.
Scattered around both known space and wormhole space, you'll occasionally come across what is known to most as a Ghost Site. This will be shown in a format similar to Standard Serpentis Covert Research Facility in the Probe Scanner once scanned down. Warping your ship to the site will start a short timer - a countdown to detonation and the arrival of some extremely dangerous pirate NPCs.
If you're quick and make good use of a Cargo Scanner to check each of the locked containers, then you may have just enough time to break open a few using your Data Analyzer. The loot that drops from Ghost Sites varies, but their explosive nature means that some of the rewards might even be worth billions to another pilot. Beware, though, failing a hack just once triggers an early explosion and could destroy your ship immediately.
Another rare exploration site that you might come across is a Sleeper Cache - previously cloaked hideaways used by the Sleepers to store items collected from across known space. They can be very difficult to scan down and, in addition to relic and data vaults, feature Sleeper defenses that must be navigated to reach the loot. Expect to find corrosive damaging clouds, defense turrets, and even minefields barring your progress.
Successfully completing a Sleeper Cache can potentially reward several hundred million ISK of rare loot. They are also the only location for finding blueprints to produce extremely powerful polarized weaponry.
Living in Wormhole Space
For some, "daytripping" into wormhole space simply isn't enough. Instead, many Capsuleers have taken to living full time inside of an ever drifting wormhole, disconnected from New Eden and the safety of CONCORD. Accomplishing this goal usually means working together with other pilots in a corporation to anchor an Upwell structure and fill it with supplies to survive extended periods without a route to trade hubs such as Jita 4-4. Combining your scanning with others to build temporary maps of the surrounding wormhole systems is also vital, making scanners invaluable to any wormhole organization.
Pilots may choose to live full time in wormhole space for a variety of reasons, though it's often for easy access to exploration and combat sites worth more ISK than almost anywhere else. That's not to say that wormhole space isn't dangerous once you have friends, though. The lack of usual in-game intel and the easy access to regions anywhere in the universe make it an exciting and unique environment for pilots interested in PvP.
Harder Sleeper and DED Combat Sites
Standing as the pinnacle of PvE content, many exploration pilots find their way into completing more and more difficult combat sites. Most frequently, this will mean working your way up through pirate strongholds rated by CONCORD's Directive Enforcement Department (DED) in search of ultra-rare loot drops. This typically requires a well-fit and specially designed strategic cruiser or battleship to survive the incoming damage. Finding just one piece of good loot can be worth hundreds of millions on the markets, if you can get it home safely that is.
High-class wormhole content differs from DED sites in that it is much simpler with little variation other than the types of Sleepers you encounter in each site. Rewards are collected in the form of "blue loot" from Sleeper wrecks to sell to NPC buy orders in known space markets. Rewards increase in-line with difficulty in the higher classes of wormhole. C5 sites, for example, will reliably offer just under 300 million ISK in loot. This comes at the cost of being extremely difficult to beat with your best bet being to fleet up with other Capsuleers and make good use of remote repairing Logistics ships.
Try it Out!
Now that you've got the knowledge, you need to put it into action! Pick a goal that excites you, undock, and find out what awaits you in New Eden.
- Find and follow a combat site Escalation
- Find a Class 2 wormhole
- Find a second wormhole deeper into wormhole space
- Scan down and hack a Lowsec Relic Site
- Hack your way through a Ghost Site before the site explodes
- Find your way to Nullsec by scanning wormholes
- Scan down and hack a Nullsec Relic Site
- Defeat the Sleepers in a wormhole combat site
Ready to move on? The resources below have all been created by Capsuleers in the EVE Online community. They're available in almost any format you can choose to learn in the way that suits you best.