For all of the time I have been playing in the Star Citizen Alpha, actual space-based dogfighting has been one of the top three activities I have been avoiding (the other two being general FPS and, of course, random PvP, when I could help it). My system is “good enough” to play the game in its current unoptimized state — i7 7700K with a 1070TI and 32GB or RAM having the game installed on an SSD — but there’s always that networking and server-side “last mile” to consider which results in desynchronization between what the server is doing and what my client thinks the server is doing, before it catches up to the authoritative answer. As time goes on, however, these issues get addressed and somewhat recently I found myself looking for a new way to play Star Citizen…so I took up NPC bounty hunting.

Getting Certified

The latest 3.13 patch introduced the Delphi reputation tracker, a new MOBIGlass widget that keeps track of how the various organizations and personalities in the ‘Verse view you as an employable individual.

The quickest way to get on the board is to accept the initial missions that one receives automatically for “certification”. These are going to be very simple, relatively easy ways to get one’s foot in the door. Once the certification process is complete, the offers will start rolling in. The more missions accepted and completed, the higher the rank. The higher the rank, the more difficult the offered missions become. Like normal missions, where one is in the Stanton system determines the authority who is offering the mission, meaning that there are at two potential ladders to climb (right now): Crusader and Hurston. There’s also the general Bounty Hunter’s Guild which I guess is a system-wide organization that is where most of the missions source from. Each organization offers their own missions, so the ladders will progress based on which missions are completed.

There seem to be three types of bounty hunting contracts: take down NPC ships, take down NPCs on the ground, and take down players. Each mission is presented with a narrative flair, but the objective is more or less spelled out so you know which one you’re getting into — except for the versus player mission. The only thing I could see that tipped me off that the bounty was for a player what that the mission stated the player’s name. Knowing that NPCs have normal sounding names, and players have stupid names like “WatDatPPDo” (real name I saw last night), I was able to ensure that I stayed well within the realm of NPC missions.

Beyond that, there are several categories of mission which are unlocked as the rep with the Bounty Hunter’s Guild increases. It starts with VLRT, or very low-risk targets and builds towards ERT, or extreme-risk targets. Each level pays differently as one might expect, with VLRT starting at 4000 aUEC, and ERT paying out 25,000 aUEC.

What makes a target ERT as opposed to VLRT? Generally VLRT missions consist of a single, low-level ship like and Aurora, while ERT missions can represent a small fleet with a sub-capital ship.

Payday

My life as a bounty hunter started with a loaner Drake Buccaneer. I have no idea why I have this, since all of the ships in my hangar are flyable but I’m glad I have it because it’s an absolute beast for taking on missions up to and including MRT (moderate-risk targets). With two Panther laser repeaters, two Yellowjacket GT210 ballistic gatlings, and a door-kicking size 4 Revenant ballistic gatling, it’s rare that anything below a MRT gets within visual range. I also took out another mystery loaner, the Anvil Arrow, which sports two Bulldog laser repeaters and dual Scorpion GT215 ballistic gatlings, and it performed very well, although it took longer to take down a target in the Arrow than it did with the Bucc.

Progression to MRT didn’t take long, and once I got that level I was earning 7500 aUEC per mission. Since the mission locations are centralized based on the region where I was at, I rarely had to take cross-system trips, meaning that I could take mission after mission with the only downtime being the occasional sanity check refuel and rearm layovers at the nearest station. Both the Bucc and the Arrow’s ballistic weapons have a good amount of onboard ammo, and I have never run close to dry, although missiles have been problematic. Generally, I’ve found missiles to be problematic because they only arm at about 3000m, and by the time I’m within 3000m of a target, I’m at 1000m because these ships move fast, and at that range the missiles will not acquire a lock on the target.

Last night Mindstrike and I took a ground mission. We had to take down a named NPC who was hiding in a cave along with several support NPCs. I wish I had images or video to show you, but…I suck at these things and completely missed the opportunity. Star Citizen’s cave system is procedural, and difficult to navigate, and to make matters worse, the armor helmet I had on didn’t have a flashlight so I had to rely on Mindstrike’s light to figure out where I was. There were about 8-10 NPCs to take down before we found the target, and then we had to find our way out of the caves and back to the ship.

I’ve been having a lot of fun with bounty hunting recently, although with the Buccaneer the lower-level targets aren’t much of a challenge, even when there are several of them at once. I am, however, a little hesitant to bump up to the next certification level, since it would put me up against multicrew ships which means not only larger ships, but ships with more weapons aimed my way. I’ll need to either get friends to man turrets of a larger ship of my own, or bring friends who are flying their own ships so one person is the single target focus. I’m also not completely ready to take on the cave missions alone, even though we did well enough last night that it wasn’t as bad as I had expected. A few more runs through a few more FPS missions and I should feel more comfortable with the experience.

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