Once again: just to clarify, this is the eagle, the origin for the slightly more imperialistic "Imperial Eagle." I've never flown an Imp Eagle… and to be completely honest, I don't really plan to.
The Eagle was the very first ship I ever purchased. Ever. I was short on funds, decided I needed an upgrade from the Sidewinder, and thought that the Eagle would be an attractive option. So, I flew to another system (i don't remember where), bought an eagle, played around with some outfitting, and took it for a spin.
24 hours later, I flew it back to that same station, sold it, and went back to my Sidewinder. I would use this Sidewinder for another 2 weeks, then sell it to get a Viper Mk IV – a ship I used for almost 3 months.
Why was my experience such a negative one? What was it about the Eagle that left such a sour taste in my mouth? I didn't rightly remember, to be honest: this was over 8 months ago, back when I first started playing Elite. Was I just using it wrong? Did it need to be engineered? Just for this review, I bought a brand-new eagle, outfitted the bejesus out of it, and took it again for a spin – and, somewhat ironically, I did the exact same thing I did 8 months ago. I flew it for a day, then went back, sold it, and flew my Viper IV again afterwards.
What went wrong? Let's talk about it.
As always, this is purely an opinion thread. It is not meant to quash anyone's preferences or provide any meaningful information on a ship or its capabilities. These are all based around personal – key word personal – experiences. If you have any other stories or ideas, feel free to post them below. With that out of the way, let's begin.
TL;DR: The Eagle is the only ship where I struggled to find any silver linings, even in early game. Even with the Cobra III – my least favorite ship – at least I could claim that the Cobra had some fantastic freighting capabilities when compared to other ships. One could argue that the Eagle is a direct step up from the Sidewinder – but as far as I see it, that's all it will ever be, and it's not a very big step up either. All I found was a confusing, frustrating ship to fly with no practical utility outside of serving as another tutorial ship – where it fails, even there.
Let me start with the first and most immediate issue I noticed with the Eagle, and I am fully aware that this is down to preference, and therefore is a bit of a nitpick: the Eagle is, somewhat counter-intuitively, really hard to fly. My issue with the Type-9 was that its handling was awful, and really stiff for a ship of its caliber. With the Eagle, I had the opposite problem: it was too responsive. Every time I so much as nudged the joystick, it would roll far too much, making it very difficult to actually get where I wanted to go. It was always fighting me and putting me in the wrong direction. Engineering made the yaw and pitch speeds better, which helped, but the roll speed was only made faster – and therefore worse.
This is a bit ironic for me. I love better agility – so why was this an issue? Well, as it turns out, there's a golden rating for me, when it comes to agility: 3 and 4. All of my favorite ships fell into this category of agility, and while I could go above and below, generally it wasn't as fun.*
*There are exceptions to this, notably the Vulture, the Type-7, the Orca, and the Sidewinder.
Next is probably my single biggest issue with the Eagle: survivability. You are an extremely fragile ship, and I experienced this from both sides: a single bonk from my shielded ASPX would kill an Eagle, instantly. Conversely, if a ship so much as sneezes on your armor, you're dead. Your shields, while better than a Sidewinder, are mediocre, and a MASSIVE chore to keep powered. Your armor is even worse, with a hardness of 28 and – as far as I know – the lowest base armor rating in the game.
Now this is where I would say "so don't let your shields collapse, easy peasy." There's an issue here too: you have both power AND heat management issues. You have a higher class engine, power distributor, maximum shield generator, FSD, sensors, and another hardpoint: a Class 2 generator simply isn't enough. This is something that, as far as I know, was addressed in the Imperial Eagle.
Your hardpoints, while better than a sidewinder, are still only small hardpoints, even if you have 1 more. This means that against a large ship, you will do 33% of your theoretical DPS – unless you're using railguns, which you can't keep powered! The Eagle is cripplingly specialized to fight only small ships, and I don't appreciate that. Even if you can evade the Big 3's firing arks, you still can't do near enough damage to pose a substantial threat.
Furthermore, even if you mitigate the power issues, you have exactly one utility mount. This is borderline useless, and one of the most frustrating parts about this ship. Even the Sidewinder has 2 utilities! Core Dynamics couldn't be bothered to put another utility under the ship? Or perhaps this too stems from the almost crippling power management issues?
In terms of carrying capacity, yes, the eagle gets better numbers than a Sidey – but only by 4 tons. If trade is your aim, you will have much MUCH more success in a Hauler – to start with, until you can afford an Adder or a Cobra.
I don't have much to say on the jump distance. It's pretty average. Not suitable for long term exploration, or even short term, but it'll get you from one system to another.
Aesthetically, the Eagle is… OK. I kind of like the shape: it's reminiscent of a sort of fighter jet style, but looks are secondary to performance. The pilot's seat feels even more cramped than the Diamondbacks, and those felt tight.
All in all I was very disappointed with the Eagle. From a game design perspective, it's supposed to be one's first ship, similar to the Hauler and Adder, and yet, where the Hauler and Adder have their niche, the Eagle fails to make any sort of impact – even in combat, for which it was specialized. Rather than improving on the Sidewinder's flaws, it creates new issues, and in some cases, merely exacerbates the flaws of the Sidewinder. It's too small of a step up to warrant any kind of praise, and has so many issues for a tutorial ship that I can't recommend it for that either. It's just a bad ship. If you absolutely must choose from any of the "three starting ships," I would strongly recommend the Adder – a superior ship in every single regard, and I didn't even like it that much!
But, just like the Adder, I'm sure there are those among us who enjoy the Eagle in ways I will never be able to. The Eagle just isn't my ship. In retrospect, swapping from an Eagle to a Sidewinder to a Viper IV was the very, very correct choice for my playstyle, and not a single day goes by where I don't appreciate my decision. Rather than advancing ASAP, I instead just saved up and bided my time – for which I was greatly rewarded.
In any case, thank you once again for sticking around for another of my mindless rants about how much I like or dislike a ship. If any of this struck a nerve with you, I apologize, and look forward to hearing your opinion in the comments. Next time: the Hauler, a ship with which I have a rather strange relationship!
Stay Safe, and Fly Dangerous. o7
Note: before someone asks about my complaint in regards to the handling, perhaps it would help to note that I am a PS4 player. Not that it really changes anything, but microscopic, precise movements of the sticks aren't really my forte either…