EVE Online is an MMORPG created by CCP Games in 2003. It's one of the most unique MMO's to date, due to the unorthodox stance on player control. A lot of the focus in EVE is on player decisions. Players ultimately decide which big alliances win and lose wars. Players decide which regions get what items, and what to sell them at. Players decide when and where to stage their fights, and how to fight. Players make the economy in EVE happen. Players decide a lot of things in EVE, and that's what makes it so unique. There are no character levels, nor is there any definitive endgame. The endgame is whatever you decide it is. The focus of the game is to build your own adventure, and it achieves that very well.
Some would say that EVE is Microsoft Excel in space, but the truth is, it's merely a deception simulator with spaceships. Espionage, corporate backstabbings, and counterintelligence are regular things in EVE, and are fully supported and endorsed by the developers. Ultimately, the players with the most experience and wits about them emerge as the victors.
Command empires in lawless space, become a trading magnate and determine the economies across the vast reaches of space, or become a pirate and roam in low-security space, catching and killing anybody who crosses your path. Maybe even decide to let them go if they can tell you a funny joke. The possibilities are limitless, as long as you have the imagination and the determination to make it all happen. Trade, mine, salvage, run missions, go exploring in wormholes, etc etc. The list of things to do in this game is incredible.
The game is updated quite regularly, and every major expansion is FREE. It has both FTP [Alpha, though its more like an extended trial] and subscription [Omega] of which Omega gives you the full features [can fly more ships etc]. The game is NOT P2W. The only microtransactions in EVE are for cosmetic items such as clothes for your character or ship skins. In the future you will be able to buy skillpoints which are skimmed off existing characters with diminishing returns the more skillpoints a character has, as said before experience and skill win the day in eve and hopefully newer players will be able to catch up if not in experience then in skillpoints to veteran players, buying skillpoints via isk.
There are four playable races in EVE. Each race has their own unique strengths and weaknesses. The four races are as follows: Amarr, Caldari, Minmatar, Gallente. The Jove Directorate is a fifth non-playable race. Each race favors certain styles of combat, but ultimately, race isn't a deciding factor in what you can and can't do. In the early days of EVE, your race determined what kind of skills you started with (some character builds were more geared towards mining, or trading, or using missiles). Nowadays, the only thing race affects is character appearance, and what racial frigate and frigate skill you start with.
In EVE, there are no character levels. Rather than grind to level up in a particular area, EVE has a system known as skill training. Every module and ship in EVE has a prerequisite amount of skills and levels per skill. To meet those requirements, you purchase the skills you need off of the market, and begin training them. Some skills have prerequisite skills that must be trained beforehand. This is a unique system, because it does not require any player input beyond adding the skills and the necessary levels to a queue and waiting. You can log off and go to work or school, and your character will still be training as long as you fill the queue regularly. You could seriously only log in once and fill your queue for a decade and not log in until it's done. Just remember that you shouldn't wait for a skill to complete before playing, as you can do things from the get-go.
CORE FITTING SKILLS
All skills in these categories will give you access to more powergrid, CPU, and capacitor energy. Train them up if you have issues fitting something on your ship!
I HIGHLY recommend skilling these up to level 3 or 4. Level 5 is great, but having these all at 4 is wonderful and will give you a lot of wiggle room with your fittings, letting you use more efficient and powerful fits for your ships.
There are ways to speed up skill training time, which is achieved through the use of attribute enhancing cybernetic implants and neural remaps. The time on a skill is ultimately determined by your character's attributes (Intelligence, Perception, etc). Every skill relies on at least two of your attributes, and the higher they are, the faster it will train. By using implants, you can modify a particular attribute up to an additional maximum of 5 points. This can be further enhanced with a neural remap. All characters start with the same attributes, but they also start with two available remaps. A remap allows you to alter the point allocation of your attributes. The catch is, however, once you burn through all of your remaps, you have to wait a full year before one becomes available again (or turn a PLEX into one). What a lot of people do is use third-party programs like EVEMon to build a year long plan, and then use a feature in EVEMon to best plot the necessary attribute points so a remap isn't wasted.
All combat in EVE is point-and-click. Recently, however, the option for keyboard controlled movement has been added. There's a variety of fighting styles in EVE, and it all varies based on ship type and what it's fit with. There are quite a few weapons in the game, and their categories are as follows.
As you can see, the weapons in EVE are quite extensive. Each race specializes in particular weapons as well. The Caldari use Railguns and Missiles. The Gallente use Blasters and Drones. The Amarr use Energy Turrets and Drones, and the Minmatar use Projectile Turrets and a variety of tanks. Each weapon system and tank provides unique playstyles. For example, you can fit a speed-tank Rifter (Minmatar frigate). Minmatar ships are extremely nimble and very fast, making them ideal for speed tanks (a type of tank where the sheer speed and low electromagnetic footprint of your ship allows you to take very little damage).
The Caldari are more geared towards mission running and PvE activities. Missiles aren't that great for PvP, but for PvE, the Caldari are gods. The Raven is a heavy, slow missile boat that hurls Cruise missiles at its targets, and relies on its' heavy shields to sustain all incoming damage.
Tanking refers to the ability to absorb damage, and in EVE, tanks are taken very seriously. It's serious business. Don't armor tank a ship that has a bonus for shields, and if you do, don't post your fit here or you'll end up getting yelled at and we will run you out of the thread. Seriously. It's happened before. There's three types of tanking: armor, shield and hull [seriously its good now, fit for buffer], and two subsets: active and passive.
Tanking in EVE boils down to three factors: damage resistances, damage sustenance, and total incoming damage. Tanks in EVE are rated by DPS against particular damage types. For example, to survive a Level 4 mission, it's practical to have at least 500 DPS on your tank. The first part to tanking against damage is to find your ship's most vulnerable damage resistance. On Caldari ships this is almost always EM damage. Once you figure out where your ships resistance gaps are, that's when you patch them up with modules like shield hardeners or armor hardeners. Passive shield tanks hit their peak recharge rate around 33% shield capacity. If your passive tank falls below that line, your tank is cracked and you should probably get out before you get blown up.
So, what's the best tank to use? For PvE, active shield tanks will provide the highest likelihood of survivability in a nasty mission. There's a few exceptions to this, though. The Caldari Drake is pretty much a brick, in that it's passive tank is pretty crazy. The Drake, when fit properly, can easily tank a Level 4 mission. For PvP, it's all about buffer. You want to build your tank around the idea of maximizing your effective HP (Effective HP factors in damage resistances). As long as you have more hitpoints than the other guy, you'll probably win.
There are tons of useful, third-party resources available for everyone to use. Below is a list of all of the major ones. These tools and resources range from skill training companions, to fitting tools and mission guides. Use these resources! They're by far the most useful things you'll ever have for EVE.
UNIWiki: Probably the best place to find out about various eve online game mechanics, made by rookie pilot learning alliance Eve University.
EFT: EVE Fitting Tool is a lightweight program that allows you to link a multitude of characters to it by using API keys. With this program, you can fit a ship exactly the way you want it and see how your character's skills make use of the modules. I highly recommend using this program to theorycraft a fit just to make sure your character has the right fitting skills to use it. The original creator is gone so someone else is updating it.
EVEHQ: EveHQ is an open source application designed to be an all-in-one management tool for use with EVE Online. Pilot information, skill training, market prices, Requisitions (shopping lists), a full suite of asset and market tools, fitting tools, and wormhole tools are included. Plus its updated often.
Pyfa: Pyfa is similar to EFT, but it has a more modern interface. It does everything that EFT can do, but a little bit more.
Osmium: Another eve fitting too, this time online based.
EVE Droid: EVE Droid is a character monitor program just like EVEMon, but it's intended for use on Android devices. This program is very useful for monitoring your skill queue (and even reading EVE Mails!) outside of EVE when you're on-the-go.
zKillboard: zKillboard is a killboard where people can post their kills and losses. and where people can look up the kills and losses of other characters, systems and items [such as types of ships].
EVEMarketer: [EVEMarketer contains the market data from all regions of eve to help you find the best prices across all of New Eden.
EVE IPH Industry Calculator: EVE IPH Calculator takes information from your characters API, eve-central, datadump to determine the best isk per hour from Blueprints, Reactions, Datacores & Mining.