They're called missions in Eve. Unlike most MMOs, the early missions are really hard to complete in your noob ship. In fact, you might not be able to complete some of them at all unless you're in a group (called 'gang' in Eve).
You can complete missions together in a gang and the rewards are split between the members when one person returns to the mission agent. You do not 'share the quest' like in Warcraft. Mostly, just one person will have the mission. Lastly, there is no 'group loot' option, as in Warcraft; it's all based on trust.
For the combat missions you need to upgrade your rookie ship to one of those from the market. They'll cost at least 50K and up to 250K.
Don't attempt combat missions in the newbie frigate, do the tutorial agent missions (they might give you a ship!), then upgrade to a proper combat frigate:
- Punisher for Amarr
- Merlin or Kestrel for Caldari
- Incursus or Tristan for Gallente
- Breacher or Rifter for Minmatar.
Missons are hard
Be prepared to enter an area, kill one NPC ship, fly to station, repair, and then return for the next one. It's quite possible you will not be able to kill all the NPCs at once. Your tanking capability will not be up to it in a Frigate.
Long-range weapons like missiles and railguns will help you hit the NPCs before they're able to hit you.
Never fit close range weapons (rockets, blasters, autocannons) for missioning, use long range weapons. While doing level 1 missions in a frigate, you should be flying around at your top speed all the time, this makes you take less damage from missiles, harder to hit with guns, and allows you to control the range.
Aggression cooldown, huh?
When you kill an NPC you might get a scary warning in the top-left corner saying Aggression Cooldown. You'd think this is being flagged for PvP or something, but it's not in this case. It just means that the NPCs want to kill you for the remaining time. Doesn't mean much, because if you're near an NPC they'll agro anyhow.
Basically it's just the game mis-using the aggression cooldown mechanic, which is actually used when you genuinely PvP.
Where's the database of missions?
This page on eve-info gives you a breakdown of what to expect in each mission. Like, how many waves of pirates there are, whether they attack you upon warp-in, etc.
You do not start off with much ISK, the game currency. It's fairly easy to earn. Older Eve players will have hundreds of millions of ISK.
To put money into context:
- A Cruiser ship, which is your first ship-class upgrade, will cost about 4M ISK
- Fitting it will cost at least 50 to 300K
- Skill books from the market cost 40K for the low tiers, and 1M to 4M for middle-end, and up to 100M at the high-end
- A Battleship, which you can fly after Cruisers, cost 50M to 180M or so.
After you kill a ship, its wreck appears. If the icon is filled-in, that means there is stuff within it to loot. If its icon is hollow, there is nothing. (In either case, you can salvage it once you have a Salvager scanner fitted with the right skills learned).
There is no faster way to loot than: open loot window, select all (use ctrl-A), drag to your cargo icon.
A few ideas on how to make money. There are more ways. There are many specific skills you should consider learning in order to maximise each of these careers, dealing with trade, mining, refining and more.
You can earn a good income from killing NPCs in asteroid belts and deadspace complexes. They have a bounty you collect automatically from the kill. This is called ratting, it's like PvE grinding mobs.
Get the most from it by learning the Salvage skill and equipping a Salvager to your ship. You can sell what you get from salvaging the wrecks. When you're killing in 0.0, the salvaged stuff is used to make rigs - which are fitted to your ship, like enchantments to your armour in Warcraft.
Completing missions earns you ISK. It also gains you standing with the corporation who issued the mission, which eventually leads to level 2 missions and up. They pay more.
You earn money from PvP just like PvE: from the loot and wrecks of your victims. It's a good earner. You can also kill players who have a bounty on them, but it's not a consistent income earner.
You can be a pirate (generally frowned on legal within the game): victims' ships can be 'hostaged' if they're immobilised and attacked to near death. The victim is asked to pay the approximate value of the ship, or else its destroyed. Pirates also gank industrialists when they're carrying haulers around.
Pretty easy to do. There's a superb guide on it you should read for detail, but I'll summarise. Your income depends on how many cubic metres you can mine per hour. This means lots of Miners installed on a ship, jettisoning the ore (it stays safe in a jetcan) then swapping to another ship with a huge cargo capacity to haul it all back to a Station.
You can get blueprints which can be originals or copies. From these, you make ships, equipment, ammunition and so on. PvP corps require people with industry skills in order to continually replace the lost ships from operations. It's also profitable.
You can simply buy and sell anything you find for a profit. Eve lets you set up a standing buy orders. Sellers needing quick cash accept the loss and sell to you. Later you collect your goods, possibly take them to another Station and sell for profit. The Market interface only shows a Region of space, so you can sometimes profit by taking goods from one region to another.
This thread has some great information including how to recover your own wreck if you die to NPCs.
Standings: how it works
You need to pick an NPC corporation to specialise in, such as the Federation Navy. (They're the equivalent of Lower City, Cenarion Expedition, etc.) You build standings with the corp. That opens up the higher quality agents. The divisions of the corp have themes of the types of missions they give you. You can swap between divisions, but you should focus on one corp.
The corp you choose to focus on will have rewards themed to their type. So a military corp like the Navy will have combat-oriented rewards. Choose wisely.
Each division has agents who give missions. They do not refer you onto the next agent, like Warcraft does with a quest to a new zone. You have to go looking by yourself, there are various databases of agents you can use to find the next one. Check my links page.
Each mission agent has a Level (from 1 to 5) and a Quality (from -20 to +20). When you start, you can only pick negative agents. As you complete missions, you gain standing with their corp, which lets you work for positive quality agents. High quality means better rewards.
Working with an agent earns you loyalty points with their Corporation. You can spend the loyalty points in a shop. You can get very good one items with some thousands of points.
You can ignore Event agents, unless doing the Tutorial. They're basically useless; only giving small ISK rewards and storylines.
Every 16 missions completed for a corp, you are referred to a Storyline agent. They should be completed. They reward you with Faction standing, such as Gallente Federation (sort of like Horde or Alliance). You cannot use a Storyline agent unless you're referred to them, so don't travel across the galaxy under a delusion they'll help you.
Division mission themes:
Administration: 85% Kill, 7.5% Courier, 7.5% Trade
Advisory: 25% Kill, 75% Courier
Archives: 5% Kill, 90% Courier, 5% Trade
Astrosurveying: 50% Kill, 22% Courier, 22% Mining, 6% Trade
Command: 90% Kill, 10% Courier
Distribution: 5% Kill, 95% Courier
Financial: 30% Kill, 70% Courier
Intelligence: 85% Kill, 15% Courier
Internal Security: 92% Kill, 8% Courier
Legal: 50% Kill, 50% Courier
Manufacturing: 10% Kill, 90% Courier
Marketing: 50% Kill, 50% Courier
Mining: 5% Kill, 85% Courier, 10% Mining (II)
Personnel: 64% Kill, 36% Courier
Production: 5% Kill, 95% Courier
Public Relations: 34% Kill, 66% Courier
R&D: 0% Kill, 50% Courier(S), 50% Trade
Security: 90% Kill, 5% Courier, 5% Trade
Storage: 5% Kill, 95% Courier(L)
Surveillance: 95% Kill, 5% Courier
Kill: Kill one or more NPCs
Courier: Move or Deliver cargo (usually less than 2k m3)
Courier(L): Move or Deliver large cargo (upto 20k m3)
Courier(S): Move or Deliver cargo (requires specialized science skills)
Trade: Purchace items on the market and then deliver
Mining: Retrieve ore/minerals
(II): Got information from a Level II agent
Original list taken from this source.
Updated for Revelations 2.
Where is the next agent?
Because you are not automatically referred to the next agent when you can use them, you need to go looking.
Mission agents: this search lets you find agents near your current station. It also works in-game. You need to click the 'query' button each time you change something to update the results it shows. This is very useful as it helps you work out where to go next.
The formula to calculate the minimum standing needed to work with an agent:
Standing = ( ( Agent Level – 1 ) * 2 ) + ( ( Agent Quality * 5 ) / 100 )
So, to use a level 3 quality '-12' agent, you need a personal, corporation or faction standing of 3.4.
This works out to be a matrix like so: