Things that go zap in the night

Weapons and equipment

Good morning, commanders. It’s another early start and more than a few of you look like you’re suffering from some strange type of Pilot’s fatigue now. I’ve had a few messages from testers wanting to know more about equipment and weapons and how they work.

From the top.

Each ship has a number of hardpoints available. These are locations where you can fit and equip weapons. If you’re in a sidewinder, you can head out into the galaxy with a pistol at each hip. If you’re in an Eagle, you have one strapped over your shoulder. A Viper and you’ve got a pair of shoulder holsters.

A hauler? Hardpoints? There isn’t much point. You might as well wear a fluffy bunny suit and hope they laugh themselves to death.

The Cobra has the hip holsters, but the shoulder ones don’t quite fit right and you’ll have a hard time getting your hands on them when you want to defend yourself.

Lakon 6? It’s a truck. It can carry guns, but it’s more like some military auxiliary.

The Anaconda makes you look like you’re entering a war zone. Single handed. With war paint on your face and camo underpants.

When you go to the outfitting screens, you’ll see a plethora of available shooty options. They’re effectively broken into two types of weapon – energy weapons that hit what ever you’re pointing at and projectile weapons that take time to reach their destination.

Whether you’re carrying a Magnum or a popgun will depend on which one you choose. In essence, the more expensive it is, the more righteous destruction you can inflict upon the denizens of the wild slightly purple yonder.


 

Weapon mounts

You have three choices – you can go for fixed weapons, to cause destruction in front of wherever you are looking. These are the most powerful bang for bang. You can go for gimballed weapons that track your target. These aren’t quite as powerful as the fixed ones, but you’ll get more shots on target if you’re a bit hungover from the night before and can’t see straight. Under 1000m and they’re great. Ships flying around like they’re on speed and twisting like a snake trying to coil round a greasy ping pong ball and they’re great.

Then there are turrets. At the moment, they create a lazy disco lightshow in space, strobing all over the place. You can set them to fire ahead – why would you want to as you might as well go for fixed? You can set them to fire at your target – they’ll spread destruction in the general area of your target and lastly, you can set them to fire at will. This is the best way to upset everyone within 2km of your ship and make them take out their frustration at the scratches in their paintwork on you. All of these options are reached through your right hand panel.


 

Power and recharging
Your weapons all have their own power loadout. This is a giant battery that needs to be on recharge to keep it topped up. Energy weapons burn power faster than a refinery turning ores into shiny metals. On your HUD you will see the colourful pips drop to the bottom. Fast. When they’re empty, they won’t fire.

Projectile weapons use less power. They still use some, but it is far less. They do, however, need topping up with ammunition. If you don’t follow instructions and top them up when you’re in station, you’ll end up facing a pirate and shouting BANG at him, hoping his ship will blow up all on its own.

To keep them topped up, you need “pips” from your power distribution in weapons. More pips, faster recharge. Faster recharge, more shootiness.


 

Energy consumption

When you deploy weapons, it puts strain on your ship’s main power grid. If you have too many powerful weapons (which, foolishly, you’re allowed to fit without warning), you’ll see that bounty rich target ahead of you, open your gun ports and then your ship will power down.

It’s embarrassing. Your target will laugh in your face and either a) Fly away or b) Take advantage and separate you from your tinfoil cheese wedge.


 

Weapon Types

Missiles

Point them. Get lock. Fire them. Your credit balance goes down almost as fast as your target’s shield. The ultimate “jigger off, I’m not in the mood” button.

Railguns

Sneezecannons. Power up then ZAP. Your heat goes up and their shields go down

Cannon

Hull killing lumps of metal fired into space. Thud guns.

Multicannon

Giant projectile filled miniguns. High speed leaden death filled hull killers. Gives people a headache as they make such a racket against the hull. Less powerful per hit than the cannon, but you can weave projectile filled death around your target and something’s bound to hit.

Beam, Pulse and Burst lasers

Do what they say on the tin. They fire beams, bursts or pulses of laser fire.

Plasma accelerator

Like a cannon on steroids.


Hull upgrades

To help you survive out there, you can take the tinfoil that you’re wrapped in and change it for something tougher. Two specialised types exist at the moment, on top of reinforced and military options – one is shiny and bounces energy weapons off. The other is reactive and helps repel projectiles hurled at you. Both are pants at defending against the other type.


 

Support equipment

K-Warrant Scanner

So – you’re a bounty hunter. You are tooling around a Nav Beacon looking for likely targets. You’ve found someone wanted in this sector, but you’re SURE that if they’ve been naughty here, they’ve been naughty elsewhere. This is what a K-Warrant scanner is for.

Get to within 1k of your target without getting attacked, blown up or rammed. Activate the weapon and hold down your trigger. An arc will start moving across your HUD. When it gets to the end and the tone changes, your computer will have identified the ship, contacted central control, looked them up and returned the information to you as to whether they have the death sentence in twelve systems. They will be worth more bounty if so. The tickets might come from other jurisdictions, but it will be worth it.

It’s worth noting that you can scan ships that aren’t wanted in the current system. It will identify any outstanding black marks against them in other systems but won’t magically mark them as wanted where you are if they aren’t. If you see what I mean. Which means you’ll get a bounty on you for hurting them and a bigger one for killing them. Here’s a hint – if their bounty in other areas is less than the cost of the bounty you’ll get on your head for killing them, it’s a foolish idea.

OK – you’re a pirate. Yarr. Eyepatches and hook hands all round. All that jazz.

Cargo Scanning

A cargo scanner helps you determine if they’re worth raiding or not. Use it like the K-Warrant scanner. On your left panels it will show you what they’re carrying (at the moment, smugglers can’t hide what they’ve got on board, but it won’t be long). If it’s personal weaponry, battle weaponry, gold and palladium, unleash the fury. If it’s waste and hydrogen fuel, I really wouldn’t bother.

If what they’re carrying is illegal at your current location, you might luck out and their status will change to “wanted” in the local system. At that point, they’re fair game.

It is worth noting that scans are hostile. It’s a bit like grabbing at the trousers of a “lady” you met in the bar to check whether that Adam’s apple is the product of her genes, or an attempt to disguise the fact that she is indeed a he and of alternative lifestyle persuasion. It’s rude, it’s offensive and it’s likely to get you punched in the face. Some will turn and run – I’d suspect that they’re guilty of something. Some will scan you back – be warned, you’d better finish up quick before they tattoo their name into your hull with burst lasers. Some will, quite simply, ignore you. They might be utterly innocent and therefore don’t care. They might be a double hard iron backsided tough guy (gal?) and preparing to unleash fifteen different kinds of hurt on you for being so insolent.

Whilst we’re at it – everyone else out there has scanners as well. Including the feds. If you’re carrying something you shouldn’t, if you’re wanted across the galaxy for being a muppet whilst docking, the above rules apply to you too. If it happens as you’re docking, fire control at the docking bay entrance will rub their hands together with glee and unleash the fires of whatever private hell they dream of at you. You will die and lose your cargo.

Chaff

Luckily – there is a solution – Chaff. It obfusticates scanners. It confuses people. It’s a firework display. They can’t scan you when you look like a Brazilian carnival. It might even confuse gimballed weapons.

Heat sinks

Imagine you’ve been to one of those self improvement seminars on anger management you’ve seen around the station. Imagine you take a little ball of all that hate and anger and throw it away from yourself. That’s a heat sink. When you get hot, fire one. You’ll cool down. It’s aircon. It’s opening the window on a hot day.

When you boost lots. When you fire lots. When you supercruise and hyperspace. You’ll light up thermal imaging cameras like a volcano. If you look at your signature on the right hand side of your screen, you’ll see how much heat you’re generating. The heat sink takes some of that, bundles it up and throws it out into space. It makes a nice target for missiles. It temporarily makes you cool. Like a good aftershave or a haircut, it fades over time.

If you’re trying out silent running, heatsinks are essential. You button up your ship like doing up a sleeping bag over your head and your heat will build up. Pop a heatsink, will keep you buttoned up and invisible to the main scanner on enemies.

Point defence

A missile is fired at you. Point at it and go “oooh!”. Then it goes away. This pointy thing points itself.

Docking computer

Don’t. For many reasons, don’t. Zelda the crazy docking lady who changes pads on you and won’t let you land. That’s one reason. Eejits in the letterbox – that’s another. The fact that you can actually FEEL the wrinkles and grey hairs appearing as you wait for it – there’s another one. There is only one good reason for the docking computer and that’s the music.

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