The first order of business in a new game of Interstellar Rift is to choose a faction. As with a lot of games out there, factions have rep which can be earned by taking missions offered by or for that faction. In turn, there might be some kind of shopping discount or some other perk when dealing with outposts owned and operated by that faction.

Each faction has a specialty, a starting system, and an initial rep rating. Players can see what they’ll get out of the gate from each faction, including cash, some starting resources, and tools. The first three factions make a starter ship available for purchase, but the last faction, the Drifters, does not, meaning players will need to locate an affordable ship. Consider the first three factions make a starting ship available for purchase and the fourth does not, I’m not entirely sure how the fourth faction plays — I’m not comfortable enough with the game to try it right now.

We’ll start this game with the Hurles Company. That means 750,000 credits, ample Hydrogen to fuel our engines, enough Oxygen to power the life support, some Nanobots for armor repair, some ammo for the lasers, and a ship repair tool with 2 units of charges. We’ll be able to purchase a mining vessel, and will start in the Vectron Syx system.

Our First Steps

We begin inside the teleporter of a station, the HSC Industrial Complex, which is more of a description and less of a name.

Every player is given a G.R.I.P. Omni-Tool, which stands for something I don’t know.

This device can be raised using the TAB key, and serves as a mobile UI for several functions centered on status and management of day-to-day operations. It also include an Encyclopedia which lists crafting recipes for some of the more advanced materials. If at any time we find ourselves stranded in space without fuel or too damaged to move, we can use the Services button to call for a tow or a Hydrogen refill. The Menu button at the bottom opens the main game menu, and when no other interactions are present, hitting the ESC key will bring up the G.R.I.P. and send us directly to the main game menu.

Stations come in different flavors and with different services. The starting station will (probably) guarantee access to all necessary starting amenities.

Vend-O-Tron

Despite sounding like a 1950’s vision of how we’ll shop in the future, the Vend-O-Tron only sells us ships. It has two screens, one to list inventory available with the price of sale, and the other with important information on the currently selected item. Normally the game is 100% mouse-view mode, but that can be stepped out of by holding down the left ALT key to release the cursor for finer selections. Either mode allows us to press buttons and make choices.

As I can only afford the HSC Excavator Mk I, that’s what I bought. It’s designed for industry, so it features equipment like an extractor and a Hydrogen generator (which means we shouldn’t get stranded when we run out of gas).

Store-O-Tron

Sticking with the antiquated nominclature, the Store-O-Tron allows us to manage our ship or ships.

Players can own multiple ships in IR, which is handy after having a different ship for every occasion. All ships owned except for the active ship can be bunked through this terminal, and this terminal also allows for NPC repairs to be purchased.

The Vault

The Vault is basically a player’s bank. Items in inventory can be stored here, and are accessible anywhere a Vault outlet can be found. If a group of players forms a Crew, then there’s a shared vault, and a group of Crew — a.k.a. a Fleet — also have shared storage. The Options button allows for the use of filters if there’s just too many items to scroll through, and apparently items can be transferred to personal inventory or to a ship’s cargo hold (I couldn’t get anything other than Personal Inventory to work).

About Inventory

There are two personal inventories: One is for “cargo” and the other is for tools.

Any resources a player picks up will be placed into the cargo inventory. This can be scrolled through using the mouse wheel, a la Minecraft. The selected item is shown held in the avatar’s outstretched hand. Each cargo-able item has a unique icon that will help differentiate it from other items — once you commit them all to memory.

The second inventory is the tools inventory. This is where usable objects are stored, like the repair gun, or any firearms we might be carrying. Inventories can be swapped using the Q key.

At the right side of the inventory listing at the top of the screen we have our current cash (in white) and our current debt (in red), should we decide we need to take a loan for purchases.

Mission Board

Some stations offer mission boards. These terminals offer a handful of jobs for the player to take either within or outside of the current system. Based on what I’ve seen so far, there are combat missions, courier missions, industry mission, and source-and-deliver missions.

Combat missions are as advertised: go here, blow up enemies, get paid. Courier missions require that the player take provided materials (which are placed on the ship at time of acceptance) and deliver them somewhere else (requiring teleporting or carrying the goods off the ship to the destination). Industry missions ask the player to take some raw goods and refine them into something usable, and then deliver them to a location. Finally, source-and-deliver missions require the player to seek out a source of the item in question on their own time with their own money or effort, and to deliver it to the proscribed destination.

In exchange, players will receive cash, some resources of their own, and rep with the offering faction.

Galactic Trade

Hub stations will offer a Galactic Trade desk. At these terminals, players can buy and sell commodities, either for their own use or to ferry to other stations for sale. Commodities can either be sent to a player’s personal cargo inventory, or can be teleported directly to a cargo pad on the player’s selected ship.

Cargo Teleporters

Industrial teleporters are one of the most important parts of the game, and every ship must have them in order to effectively participate in free-trading and most mission-running. There are four pads on the teleporter allowing for four cargo boxes to be placed. Using the terminal, the player can select a nearby destination (the source and destination must be in proximity) to send the cargo to. If the player is attempting to fulfill a mission, then an additional terminal allows the player to select the mission and the step before choosing the mission-appropriate location to send the goods to.

If sending cargo from one ship to another, or from a station to a ship (or vice versa) where multiple cargo pads are available, all cargo pads will be listed along with their current and maximum capacity. Each pad can hold 8 cargo boxes.

Refinery

Materials such as iron or carbon can be refined to more useable materials. Other materials need to be combined with one another to create advanced materials. This is all done at a Refinery.

Input is on the left. Players will insert materials into the hopper from their inventory. Using the terminals in the center, the player will need to select all of the materials in the hopper they wish to use in the refinement process, the material they are attempting to refine the raw items into, and the number of “runs” they wish to activate. Then, the finished goods are delivered via the conveyor belt on the right.

Extractors

Extractors are either provided as options on board a ship, or in industrial stations. Rather than ask players to fly to asteroids in space, these stations will teleport nearby rocks into the chamber where a robotic arm will extract materials and deliver them on the unit’s conveyor belt for pickup. Anyone can use these stations, and everyone must use these stations as they are the primary source for raw materials like iron and carbon.

Disposal

If a player finds him or herself in possession of materials they simply cannot use or sell, then those materials can be trashed using the Disposal.

Stations

Last but not least, the stations themselves. Each station might be different in appearance, layout, and services offered. The amenities can generally be discerned through the name of the station; for example the HSC Industrial Complex we started in offers extractors, refiners, and cargo teleporters. Trading hubs may not offer these, but might offer other services.

Each habitable space in Interstellar Rift is built on a “box” mentality. The smallest “room” is just a hollow cube, and these cubes, when placed next to one another, join into a larger hollow cube. Once the design has been finalized, details, props, and lights are added. This allows for a massive amount of variation, although stations might propagate from only a handful of hand-crafted floor-plans. Some of these stations are extremely well designed, offering different sections across different floors dedicated to logical divisions like shopping, administration, and production. It would be easy to see a group of players working in these environments, using extractors and refiners, and teleporting materials to their ships via the cargo teleporters.

In the next post we’ll look at our starter ship and how to operate it.

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