Yesterday I was reading updates in the Nova Intergalactic Discord for Star Citizen and I saw that there’s an upcoming organized operation during which where several members would be manning the new Ballista mobile missile platforms while a single Hammerhead would try and take them out. The goal is to see how formidable the Ballista are, and roughly how many are needed to take out one of the baddest-ass ships in the alpha right now.

I haven’t been able to participate in any Nova operations because the org is mostly EU/UDT-focused, but this op is happening on Saturday at 4 PM EDT, so I might be able to make it, assuming I can convince my wife that I have to be at home for a specific time to play a video game. The other issue is that I didn’t have a Ballista.

I didn’t have a Ballista.

One of the, eh, fun things about Star Citizen is that pledges are “mobile”. I believe I have mentioned before that currently, pledges made towards Star Citizen can be “melted”, or traded in for store credit. A lot of people take advantage of the amount of money they have pledged in this way, melting entire fleets so they can pick up a new fleet of different ships. I had pledged for an Origin 315p a few weeks back but wasn’t feeling it so I converted it to credits. I used those credits to pick up an Aurora variant, but again I wasn’t really happy with it. I sat on store credit for a while until I read about Nova’s operation, and checked in on my account. I had a Tumbril Ranger RC in there — a motorcycle which has yet to be released — and an RSI Ursa — think the troop transport from Aliens — which is fun but doesn’t get a lot of use at this stage of the project. By melting the Ursa and combining it with the cash I had in escrow, I only needed a few dollars more to pick up a Ballista. Rather than “melting” the Ranger, though, as it has LTI or “lifetime insurance”, I did what’s called a CCU — cross-chassis upgrade. This allows us to move from one pledge ship to another without having to melt it, with the added bonus of being able to transfer perks (like the LTI) from the original to the upgrade. With this plan, I was able to pick up a Ballista with LTI without having to spend any additional money. The benefit to melting a pledge is that if the pledge that was melted was a special sale that is no longer available, I will have the option to “buy back” that ship at any time (with some caveats). If I use the CCU option, however, that’s a one-way street; I won’t be able to pick up a Ranger again if it’s removed from sale unless it comes back during the annual end-of-year extravaganza.

I took the Ballista out at the Shubin Mining Facility on the planet Daymar and drove it around a bit. It handles well for what is basically a stubby tractor-trailer, although the windshield is a bit restrictive. The driver is there to get the vehicle into position and little else; it would be nice to be able to see the ground more because, in places like Daymar, which is desert, there’s a lot of rocks around that can impede movement. The missiles are handled from the rear of the vehicle. Activating the panel allows for the “remote turret” to be operated, and that provides a camera-eye-view from the missile rack, although there’s no HUD present. It uses the same shortcuts to target ships as one would use if they were in space, but there are no indicators aside from the missile lock-on placed on the distant target. I parked the vehicle on a ridge outside of the facility’s armistice zone and tried to target my own ship, but couldn’t (what happens if someone steals my ship and takes off? I want to be able to splash that jerk across the landscape). Luckily there was another player in the area who was landing, so I targeted him just to see if I could. I didn’t fire because I didn’t want to get the crime stats, and Nova has a “non-aggression” policy that I wanted to live up to. In the end, I parked the vehicle outside of the spawning bay and flew back to Olisar, in case someone wanted to take the car for a spin.

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