Judging Retribution’s New Destroyers

As it stands, destroyers in EVE Online occupy an awkward and often-ignored middle ground between frigates and cruisers. Their larger sensor footprint and poor ability to take damage leaves them an uncommon sight on most battlefields, whether in high-sec or null-sec space. Interdictors - Tech II destroyers - remain a necessary, if disposable exception.

To breathe new life into the Tech I side of this class, CCP is set to release a new Destroyer for each race with the Retribution expansion this December. The specifications for each new addition to the class have been available for some time, but how much use will they see in New Eden?

The new hulls largely focus on drones and missiles, in contrast to the current turret-based destroyers. Their intended use remains the same: frigate-hunting. For a clearer look at the future, we’ve analysed the specifications posted by CCP Ytterbium.

Amarr Destroyer - Dragoon

Destroyers skill bonus per level:
+10% to drone damage and hitpoint per level
+20% bonus to energy vampire and energy neutralizer transfer range per level
Role bonus: 25% microwarpdrive speed to drones
Slot layout: 6 H, 2 M, 4 L, 3 turrets, 3 launchers
Fittings: 55 PWG, 150 CPU
Drones (bandwidth / bay): 25 / 75

The first addition to the destroyer class is a complete departure from the regular Amarr and destroyer lineup. While the split slots are an unusual feature, it is perfectly capable of fitting a full complement of lasers and launchers, with drones providing additional support. Its potential damage output is great, as is its ability to replenish lost drones.

Out of all the new destroyer ships, the Dragoon is the odd one out. The intended role of neutralizer platform doesn’t appear to be effective in hunting frigates, and has already been filled by the Sentinel. The Dragoon also goes against CCP’s design goals for Tech I Amarr ships, given its launcher slots.

We approached renowned PvP video creator and CSM 6 alternative delegate Prometheus Exenthal for his opinion on this hull.

This one is the most confounding of the lot. Assuming you avoid the redundant neut bonus, it's not a bad ship.

First things first, it's damage output potential is great. It can work in a nearly identical manner as Gallentes new offering. It sports the same MWD drone bonus, and is capable of plenty of fitting for MBLs/MPLs &  Rockets/SMLs. Its tanking ability is on par with the Gallente.

The main issues lie in (what I think is) a wasted bonus. The neut/nos range bonus is totally worthless on this hull. Destroyers don't need cap help against their primary targets (frigates), and ganks aside, don't field big enough tanks or small enough sigs to effectively handle larger ones.

The range bonus isn't great enough to shake of tackle at range, OR handle larger targets effectively. The ship also doesn't have a cap bonus (or the midslots) to effectively maintain neut pressure.

Perhaps the most worrying aspect is that it seems CCP forgot this was supposed to be a Destroyer. This ship is the odd one out across all the new ships, as it has the cap warfare bonus.
Hell, it seems they totally forgotten that they've already got a ship specifically for that role (Sentinel).

Additionally, CCP has gone on record stating that they wanted to avoid missiles for T1 Amarr, but here they are. My recommendations would be to give the ship a weapons range bonus of some sort, rather than the half-baked neuts. Run missiles of some sort, forget the neuts.


Gallente Destroyer - Algos

Destroyers skill bonus per level:
+10% bonus to drone damage and hitpoints per level
+10% bonus to small hybrid turret tracking per level

Role Bonus:
+25% bonus to drone microwarpdrive speed
Slot layout: 6 H, 3 M, 3 L, 5 turrets
Fittings: 55 PWG, 150 CPU
Drones (bandwidth / bay): 35 / 60

The Gallente offering presents a much more sensible drone-heavy platform. While its tanking ability is similar to the Amarr Dragoon, the increased drone bandwidth and larger number of turret slots easily gives the Algos the highest theoretical dps of the bunch. Fittings involving Tech II blasters, a microwarpdrive and solid combat drone backup lets the Algos pack a nasty punch on paper, at around 370 damage per second. Additionally, extra room for ECM drones should give the new Gallente destroyer extra survivability should it need to retreat from a battle.

The Algos stands out as a relatively uncomplicated and solid brawler.

Prometheus' Take:

This one seems a bit of an odd choice. A drone-based destroyer.
Make no mistake, this ship easily has the most damage potential of the new ships. The difficulty will come in applying it, and maintaining it.

The ships bonuses imply a ranged approach. The MWD bonus to drones ensures frigates will have a very hard time outrunning a flight of Hobgoblins or Warriors, and the tracking bonus means that  railguns will have no issues slapping the aforementioned from 20km or so.

On the flipside, you can easily break 400 dps when utilizing blasters, without any damage modifiers in your lows, while still maintaining a respectable (destroyer-sized) tank

Its issues lie in the reliance of drones. The nature of drone behaviour mean that frigates with tracking and speed will have a pretty good defence against against them as they are continually playing catchup.


Caldari Destroyer - Corax

Destroyers skill bonus per level:
+5% to rocket and light missile kinetic damage per level
+10% to rocket and light missile explosion velocity per level
Role bonus:
+50% to rocket and light missile velocity
Slot layout: 7 H, 4 M, 2 L, 7 launchers
Fittings: 45 PWG, 210 CPU

Seven launcher slots and Caldari heritage make this destroyer look like a baby Drake from the specifications sheet. With its missile-related skill bonuses, it aims to be fairly formidable for its class.

However, a major caveat to the Corax is in its weak power grid. Speculative fittings from our PVP expert Hilmar Keller show that any plausibly competitive fit will be extremely tight on the power grid, requiring multiple grid-boosting rigs. Even still, power grid-enhancing implants will be required for most fits using Tech II weapons. This could be CCP trying to pre-empt a nerf, but it does present an additional barrier when making full use of light missile launchers with this hull.

The end result is that the Corax will be effective at ranges up to 15km with faction rockets, or 63km with faction light missiles. Although it should have no issues applying damage at range or close up, it will not have the same level of firepower as the Algos.

Prometheus' Take

[Corax and Talwar:] The brothers from different mothers. With the proposed missile changes, they come across as fairly formidable foes. As far as performance and issues go, these two ships are nearly identical.

Their biggest pitfall is their fitting requirements. Both of these ships are extremely tight on grid when trying to get a decent fit going. Maybe this is CCPs idea of a pre-nerf, but truth be told, they've been a bit harsh on their grid (and Caldari CPU). Both of them need to sport several ACRs in order to apply destroyer-level damage and field a destroyer-level tank at the same time.

On the plus side, both of these ships will have no problems applying damage. With a range tank and SMLs, both will swat everything sans Interceptor without issue. Compared to their similarly range fit, turret-based counterparts, they do quite well. When running for close range, they both sport decent tanks as well as great range and projection. However, neither of them can come close to matching the Amarr or Gallente in raw damage output.


Minmatar Destroyer - Talwar

Destroyers skill bonus per level:
+5% to rocket and light missile explosive damage per level
+15% reduction in microwarpdrive signature radius penalty per level
Role bonus:
+50% to rocket and light missile velocity
Slot layout: 7 H, 3 M, 3 L, 7 launchers
Fittings: 48 PWG, 200 CPU

The Minmatar offering appears much like its Caldari cousin from the outset, being a missile boat with similar fitting specifications and bonuses. Like the Corax, the Talwar is a straightforward brawler or sniper with fitting issues thanks to its lacklustre CPU and power grid. However, rocket-based fits coupled with a microwarpdrive show far greater promise.

A properly kitted-out Talwar should be able to fit BCS IIs, tackling gear, a decent shield tank, as well as a full compliment of Tech II rocket launchers with a bare minimum of power grid-enhancing modules or rigs. Of the two, it should be most fun to fly, and end up more survivable than its Caldari counterpart.

Beyond that, the Talwar should be the easiest of the new destroyers to train into. It requires only one weapon skill, with rocket-based fits requiring far less PWG/CPU tweaking. Light missiles will be trickier, much like with the Corax, but the Talwar should excel at zipping about and laying down explosive fire.


The Bottom Line

CCP has made some unusual choices with the new destroyers. The number of prospective hoops that Corax and Talwar pilots will need to jump through to carry a full complement of light missiles is disappointing. However, the Talwar appears to be the superior ship of the two. If their stats remain as they are currently, the Corax will probably see little use where destroyers are relevant.

The Dragoon has generated the most controversy with its very un-Amarr split weapon slots, and the questionable vampire/neutralizer bonus. Given its doubtful usefulness and the need to train three different weapon systems (drones, missiles, and lasers), it is not likely to become popular with experienced players or new pilots.

Anything that the Dragoons end up doing, the Algos will do better. Given that it has the highest potential DPS and utility amongst the new destroyers, the Algos will likely end up on top alongside the Talwar.

All of the new ships do exactly what CCP said they would do: hunt frigates in a different way than existing destroyers. However, with half of the lineup looking like lemons, the future of the destroyer remains in doubt.

I'm a games writer from New Zealand.