Carriers have recently undergone a number of nerfs due to their incredible success at ratting. It was going to cause serious issues with the eve economy, so their combat ability was nerfed. This in turn led to a dramatic loss in their popularity for PvP, with dreads essentially replacing them. Unlike carriers, dreads can’t receive reps while putting out a reasonable amount of DPS, so this has also had a negative impact on FAXs as well. This is not to say that FAXs aren’t used, it’s just to say that with no capital smaller than a supercarrier available to rep, their use has narrowed considerably and has shifted outside of their original, intended purpose. In short, I would like to see carriers viable again without ruining the eve economy, and I think there is a way to get there.
1. Force carriers to stay on field when they shoot things. One of the biggest reasons why carriers don’t die while ratting is because they can run entire sites aligned to a citadel that they can tether to. They could (and still can) run sites at a considerably lower risk than a battleship, or even a cruiser like a VNI or Ishtar. A Venture mining a rock is easier to catch than a ratting carrier. A carrier can escape in a single server tick. Give them an “open fighter bay” button, which takes 15 seconds to cycle, inhibits warp and microwarp drives (to prevent MWD mass-coasting), and sets their ship speed to 0. This way, if they want to launch or recover fighters, they have to commit to staying on the field for a bit.
2. Adjust cyno mechanics considerably. The other reason why carriers do so well is collective carrier defense. When a carrier gets attacked, it lights a cyno and every other carrier in the coalition that’s ratting drops on it, and wins against anything smaller than a full-scale dreadbomb. There are plenty of ideas on how to change this. You could do cyno warm-up timers, various forms of more effective cyno inhibitors, cyno mass limits etc. It’s a problem that is causing an entire class of ships (and one of the most interesting from a gameplay mechanic standpoint in my opinion) to be nerfed to the point of irrelevance.
If those two things are done, I think carriers will find themselves back in a good place balance-wise when it comes to ratting, allowing combat balance to be focused where it should be: PvP.