Patch 0.2.5.0 introduced new weapons systems and features, and some of it might require some functional explanations, so here we go.
Until then, we had one weapon ( the old “gun” effect ) which damaged shields then armor / hull. The amounts of damage on shields and armor was identical; shields were basically just a secondary health bar, slowly recharging over time. This weapon consumed energy and that’s it.
For the full patch notes, see this post:
The first major difference with the old version was the introduction of a more advanced damage model. Weapons damage fall in two categories:
- Kinetic damage
- Energetic damage
Energetic damage is more efficient on shields, while kinetic damage is more efficient on armor. In other words, attacking shields with kinetic weapons does minimal damage to the shield, and attacking armor with an energetic weapon does minimal damage to the armor.
At the moment, that efficiency reduction is set ( for both types ) to 25%. If a machine gun shot does 60 points of kinetic damage, but hits a shield, it’ll reduce shield points by 15.
Bullets in orange/yellow and plasma shots in blue/purple
Weapons and hardpoints
We currently have 3 types of weapons, some of which have different variations based on the size/type of hardpoint it is mounted on. Hardpoints start at LMK1 and double in size. “LMKs” are for small ships ( up to corvette ) and “MKs” are typically for capital ships ( destroyer and above ).
- Machine guns ( kinetic ): Mg-f LMK1, Mg-g LMK1, Mg LMK2, Mg MK1, Mg MK2
- Blasters ( energetic ): Blaster LMK1, Blaster LMK2, Blaster MK1
- Missiles and torpedoes ( kinetic ): LMK1
We’re testing various hardpoints size / locations on all the ships, which is why they look pretty goofy at the moment. Once we reach beta, we’ll finalize the geometry and hardpoint locations and move on to the texturing phase. So until beta, hardpoint locations can be tweaked.
Small machine guns come in two variants: Mg-f and Mg-g. The first one denotes a “fixed” forward gun which can only fire in the fixed direction it is pointed at ( the front axis of the ship ). The second one denotes a gimbal weapon wtih a few degrees of freedom. It still requires to point the ship into the correct direction though. LMK2 and above are all automatically aiming turrets ( corvette and above ).
Available weapon groups on a cruiser
Also note that we’ve introduced random spread to all weapons; the rule of thumb is that the smaller a weapon is, the lower spread it has ( very high accuracy ). The worst being for large capital ship weapons which have a higher spread and make it hard to hit small targets that are far away.
Energetic weapons all consume a certain amount of points from the energy pool. We’re unsure yet if we should split the energy into two pools, one for weapons and one for turbo boost. Feedback welcome.
Kinetic weapons consume different types of ammo; we currently have 4:
- 56mm ammo ( LMK1, LMK2, MK1 )
- 96mm ammo ( MK2 )
- light missiles
The amount of ammo consumed per shot is a variable depending on the weapon type.
In terms of design, we realize it’s a bit goofy that machine guns of different sizes / power consume the same type of ammo, yet yield a different amount of damage / different parameters. Ideally we’d probably have different ammo types per weapon type AND size, but this would lead to a high number of ammo types. Need feedback: does that sound like a problem to you, or is reusing ammo types for weapons of the same type but different size a non-issue ?
Another major change is the introduction of weapon groups, mostly as a mean of control for the player ( instead of managing every single individual weapon ).
Small anecdote: in an earlier version, when we didn’t have weapon groups yet, the HUD was showing every single individual weapon. Needless to say, for a cruiser, the entire screen was covered with weapons
Weapons of the same type ( and location, especially for capital ships ) get assigned to a weapon group. That group also belongs to a category: primary, secondary or special - which is in turn bound to player input.
By default, on all ships, guns are bound to the primary weapon groups ( left mouse button ) and blasters to the secondary weapon groups ( right mouse button ). Missiles can be launched with the special weapon key ( right-control ). There will be a key for counter-measures in a future patch too.
It is possible to assign multiple groups to the same category; for example, on a destroyer, small machine guns and large machine guns are both assigned to the primary group. Of course, depending on your target, you might not want to fire your small guns at all ( waste of ammo, too little damage against another capital ship ), or vice-versa, not fire your large guns ( if the target is a nimble interceptor, the chance to hit is too small, waste of ammo too ). This is the reason why weapon groups can be toggled on / off.
On small ships, some weapon groups are mutually exclusive. For example, on a bomber, you can switch between the missile and torpedo weapon groups, but you can’t fire both at the same time.
Here’s an example of weapons and groups on the interceptor:
- primary group: left machine gun and right machine gun
- secondary group: left blaster and right blaster
- special group: missile launcher
Some weapons require a target lock before they can be activated. At the moment, this feature is only used for missiles, but in the future it might be extended to new weapon types.
Should gimbal weapons ( such as the bomber’s machine guns ) require a lock before they can shoot ?
Missiles locking is done automatically by keeping the selected target at the screen center for 5 seconds. There’s currently no visual hint that a lock is happening, but there is a sound clue ( you can’t miss it, it gets annoying pretty quickly ). It probably shouldn’t try to acquire a lock when the weapon is out of ammo, too
Of course, it is possible to disable the missile group to avoid locking at all.
Question: should the locking be manual, ie. require to hit the special fire key ( currently right-control ) to start locking, then a second time to fire the missile ? There’s one issue with this: the bomber has 6 missile launchers, which means that it can launch a volley of 6 missiles at a time. The cooldown on the missile launchers is set to 10 seconds. The bomber has 18 missiles total, 3 per missile launcher. If locking is manual, the bomber would no longer be able to launch volleys of missiles at a target, making it less threatening…
There is also a safety-lock mechanism which can be toggled off in the weapons radial menu. It allows to fire missiles even if a target isn’t locked. In this case, the missile travels in a straight line until it hits something. While it’s not especially useful on moving targets, it might be occasionally useful on static targets.
Missiles and torpedos
Missiles have a lifetime of 60 seconds, and can do damage on a direct hit ( maximum damage ) or detonate on proximity ( for splash damage - in average case it’ll be around half damage ).
It switches from direct hit mode to proximity mode after 75% of the lifetime ( so, 45 seconds ) for some more reliable damage.
If the missile exceeds its life time, it explodes, doing no damage to anybody.
Incoming missile: the AI can fire missiles at you too
Missiles damage is currently balanced so that they heavily damage an interceptor in 1 direct hit, leaving it an easy target to finish off.
Missiles can be shot down, however due to their physical size ( 2 meters ), they’re almost impossible to hit, unless accidentely. I’ve occasionally seen a missile die when crossing a barrage of fire from a capital ship, so I know it’s possible, but I don’t really think this can be done on purpose by a player.
Torpedoes deal a lot of damage, but currently fly in a straight line and have no acceleration. They currently feel a bit useless due to their low speed ( 200 m/s relatively to the parent ship ), so you need to be super close ( < 1 Km ) to an enemy capital ship in order to hit it.
Both missiles and torpedoes deal kinetic damage - meaning they’re good against armor and bad against shields. There’s currently no missile good against shields, but we might add other missile types later on ( an EMP missile ? ).
The introduction of multiple weapon types / groups has lead to a problem: multiple aim-at reticles.
Since multiple weapon groups can be enabled at a time ( at least primary and secondary, like guns and blasters on an interceptor ), and since weapon shots physically travel at different speeds, it means you can’t have a single lead reticle on the HUD; you need one per weapon group, since they’ll anticipate a different location on screen.
This is why in the current implementation you’ll see two reticles: white for the primary group and yellow for the secondary group. They currently share the same icon, but we’ll iterate on the HUD in another patch.
We need feedback on this multiple reticles system, and whether that makes the game too messy ( especially during action ). Unfortunately, the natural alternative is to only allow one weapon group at a time ( which would only need one reticle ), meaning that you’d need to actively switch between weapons all the time. Considering the damage model requires you to shoot either energetic or kinetic shots, being forced to switch all the time might be more than a bother.
If you have any ideas that would allow multiple weapon groups at once, but no need for multiple reticles, please let us know. I know Star Citizen utilizes a similar system, but unfortunately I only have a basic Aurora on my account, which doesn’t have multiple types of weapons, so I can’t see how they implemented it If anybody is more knowledgable about SC, please let me know if they have multiple reticles too, or an active weapon systems switch.
Weapon groups are displayed on the top-left side of the screen. For each weapon group, from left to right, you can find:
- an icon representing the category ( P = primary, S = secondary, M = missile or torpedo )
- two numbers: A / B, where A is the number of weapons in the group having a lock, and B being the total number of weapons in that group
- an icon representing the weapon type
- an icon and a number representing the ammo type and count
Weapon groups (top-left) for the interceptor and radial menu
Weapon groups are also displayed in the weapons menu ( default: X ). Groups can be switched or toggled, depending on their exclusivity state.
Note that on some ships, not all weapon groups are enabled by default. So you might want to toggle weapon groups to adapt on your target ( ex.: if you’re flying a destroyer, targetting another destroyer, no need to use these LMK1 guns… ).
Not implemented yet
As this is the first iteration over the weapon systems, there is currently no way to repair armor ( although shields do repair automatically after 30 seconds if unhit ) and there is no way to resupply ammo to a ship.
In the next patch, we’ll probably add support to resupplying by coming to a certain range of an allied corvette. It’ll have its own internal resupply ammo pool to provide to allies. Undecided yet is whether the corvette will automatically resupply from its own internal ammo pool if it runs out of weapons ammo, or if it’ll be a manual option, or if it’ll be available at all ( feedback welcome ).
Counter-measures / chaffs are not implemented yet. We’ replanning on having chaffs for small ships, lasers as a mean of destroying incoming missiles on capital ships, and nuclear warheads as space-to-ground orbital bombardment.