I have done something that I have (almost) never done before in my history of MMO playing: I have looked up stats and configurations for build options.
Last night around 9 PM EDT I fired up Star Citizen because it’s the one game I can actually maintain an interest in these days, it seems. It was too late for me to start a delivery circuit (I obviously had work the next day), so I figured the one thing I don’t do enough of is ship-to-ship combat. I picked up a bounty mission and spawned my Aegis Sabre to see if I could figure out how this bounty system worked.
Seeing as how this isn’t my normal mission style I still have no idea how to find the object of the bounty, but I knew that NPCs tend to spawn around comm satellites that are placed around the planet. I figured maybe if I head out there, my named guy might spawn — assuming the target is in a ship and not in a bunker on some planet somewhere in this system, which I think is totally possible.
Sadly, my mark wasn’t at the comm array, but there were five other orange NPCs (criminals) and one green NPC (friendly) duking it out around the satellite. I debated my options here: I have finished a complete set of waves in Arena Commander, the ship-combat-only mode available in Star Citizen, with the Sabre, so I knew it was a capable ship, but my skills were rusty and not super effective in the first place. As I was musing over the course of action, it was decided for me: The NPCs had seen me and were firing wildly in my direction (although still outside of their effective range).
This is not a blow-by-blow recap, but suffice to say that I suck at dogfighting. I’m still stuck in the old “jousting” mode of attack, where two fighters just go nose-to-nose and then hopefully veer off at the last second. More often than not I ended up colliding with my target and spinning out of control and this resulted in more damage to my ship than actual gunfire did. The good news is that as the enemies were pretty benign so I had enough time to carefully consider strategies for how to use the “new flight model” to my advantage, with drift, afterburners, and strafing. Mine is not a perfect strategy, mind you, but I found that I was able to severely minimize collisions and get in more shots at closer range with these tactics. The fight took way longer than I think it should have, personally, and ended with one enemy NPC refusing to die. I wish I had a video clip of it because the ship had literally lost it’s 2 engines, tail, and both wings. All that was left was a stub-of-a-pencil shaped craft that was spinning wildly on its nosecone…but which still refused to die despite the amount of firepower that the friendly NPC and I put into it until eventually, I think the server just gave up and said “yeah, OK, for chrissakes” and vaporized the target.
This leads me to research Sabre builds.
Right now, outfitting a ship is kind of limited. As Star Citizen is a simulation, you don’t just sidle up to a kiosk wherever you are and pick your gear from an inexhaustible list of items that are replicated at every terminal, everywhere. Goods are purchased at shops like Dumper’s Depot, and each shop at each port of call has different inventory. You can not only buy new weapons (ballistics, lasers, missiles) but also new components like engines, shields, coolers, and quantum drives. If you have more than one ship, you can mix and match parts between them, as long as the class of hardpoint can accept the classes of weapons you have available. If you’re a subscriber (like me) you get a monthly stipend of a virtual currency called REC which is used to “rent” ships and gear primarily for use in the arcade-mode Arena Commander, but which also allow you to rent weapons in the persistent universe (PU). This was my goal because I don’t have enough aUEC — the “alpha” in-game currency of the PU itself — to buy gear right now and my aUEC reserves will get wiped when 3.6 is released anyway. First, though, I need to know what options I have available.
This is a stock Sabre and the one I took into combat. It does OK. It has 2 independent fixed mounts with 2 laser cannons each. It also has a few missiles. During the fight, I never overheated the guns, but I did quickly run out of missiles and while the ship did well overall, I just wondered if it couldn’t have done better.
Better is subjective, I suppose, despite what a lot of folks will insist. For example, if I were to replace two of those Panther laser repeaters with shorter range “shotgun” Dominance-3s, my DPS would skyrocket:
The problem is that the D-3s are only effective at 1,286m while the Panthers are effective at 2,108m. A lot of folks on Reddit were saying that they were adding Omnisky IX, but I’m not seeing how that’s an improvement over the stock Panthers:
Still, folks were also saying that out of the box, the Saber is actually pretty good, and I guess I can’t argue with that. Were I to replace one weapon system with D-3s, I’d get a DPS boost but it would only be effective during the “last mile” so to speak, so all my work would need to be up close and personal because the 2 remaining Panthers wouldn’t be enough to really make a significant dent at their optimal range. I could also swap the laser systems for ballistic or distortion varients in the same general classes, but then we’re talking about ammo reserves for ballistics or conditional damage (shields and disabling) with distortion.
I have enough REC to rent these weapons and give them a try. In 3.6 we’ll be getting “modification insurance” which means that once we fit new gear to the ship, we aren’t forced to re-buy it if we blow up (or have our ship put back into storage by an overzealous deck crew). I’m not sure if aUEC wipes are being removed between patches with 3.6 or not, but that would also go a long way towards allowing others and me the opportunity to really start trying new loadouts for our ships.
Just because I like the look of all of these little numbers, here’s a stock Sabre as viewed through Hardpoint.io: