Thursday, 9 February 2012

Space Combat Guide

One thing I quite like in Star Wars The Old Republic is Space Combat. I've seen a load of video guides, so here is a text guide to Space Combat in Star Wars The Old Republic.

What is Space Combat?
Space Combat is best described as a rail shooter, in space. Where no one can hear you scream at that asteroid you just collided with.

The game camera follows a set route through the action, ducking and diving around asteroids, capital ships and clusters of fighters. Your ship is on screen and can move around the screen, you get a reticle to target your missiles and blaster fire, and must both target enemies and move your ship to dodge oncoming fire and objects. Like those annoying asteroids.

A mission has a timer which is typically of the order of 5 minutes, and you have objectives, such as shoot X missile launchers, or kill some named ship. When your time is up, the mission ends and you get your reward if you completed the objectives.

Rewards are space commendations, to spend on ship upgrades, and some ship upgrades are actually handed out at the end of the mission.

You take damage during the mission, so it can also end if your hull explodes.

How Do I Play?
When you get your class ship, you can use the captains chair to access the galaxy map. Some destinations on the map are planets, some are Space Combat missions.

Fly to a Space Combat mission and Bob's your Jedi Uncle - you enter the mission.

Left click on the mouse to fire lasers, hold it down to continuously fire. Right click fires missiles - you can target an enemy, right click and release, and the missile will seek the target. Alternatively, you can hold right mouse and move the cursor over multiple mobs, up to 4, to "paint" the targets. Releasing the button will fire all the missiles at once.

The character movement keys will move the ship around the screen somewhat, this should be used to avoid lots of laser fire, enabling you to target enemies with the reticle.

Space bar will do a barrel roll, which avoids lasers.

When Do I Get My Class Ship?
You get this upon completing your class quests on the second planet you hit, the planet after the starter planet. For Republic this is Coruscant, for Sith Drummond Khaas.

Note you just need to complete your class quest, not all quests on the planet. Thus if you have a high level friend, you can secure your ship at level 12-13. If you do the quests normally, you may get your ship at level 14-15.

How Do I Know What Difficulty Mission Is?
Space Combat missions have a description which tells you what level if upgrades are needed for the mission. They are also colour coded: grey, blue, red in increasing order of difficulty.

How Do I Upgrade My Ship?
Your ship will appear on the Character panel, in a Ship tab. It has slots which can have items put into them, similar to character armour. Upgrades come from various sources: Cybertech can craft ship parts, you get them from completing missions, and they can be bought from the Ship Equipment vendor in the Fleet. This vendor hangs out near the Galactic Trade Market terminals.

What Upgrades Are Available?
You can get a variety of items for each slot: energy shield, beam charger, beam generator, missile magazine, energy shield generator and ship armor.

Upgrades come in various levels, and are restricted by character level. This means until you are level 17 you cannot kit your ship out with level 1 starship upgrades. This design limits which encounters you can complete, sone are too hard until you have a certain level of upgrades.

A shield is recommended, there are few missions you can do without one. Without a shield your hull takes damage and when it is empty, the ship explodes. A shield will take damage and when you are not firing blasters, will recharge.

There are also slots for which you buy items with currency, which then unlock different gameplay. By which I mean abilities will appear on keys 1-6 during space combat and on the small action bar.

Shield modulator - this lets you either put power to shields, weapons or a mix. Full power to shields (captain) makes them regenerate quicker, but blaster power is rubbish so you won't kill much. Full power to bladders means slow shield regen but hard-hitting blasters. This is only available for commendations.

Proton Torpedo Tube - can be used to kill hard targets, by holding down the right mouse button while keeping the target under the reticule for 5 seconds.

EMP Generator - An AOE damage ability.

Electronic Warfare Pod - Means you can become untargetable by jamming your enemies. Useful for moments in missions where there is loads of fire heading your way.

The Imperial fleet, with Starship vendor area highlighted
Where Do I Get The Upgrades?
From the fleet, in the ring below the Galactic Trade Network is the Starship vendor, who sells items for credits. Also there is the commendations vendor, who sells items for space commendations, and moddable pilot style clothes.

Cybertech crafters can make parts as well, provided they have the schematics, which come from Slicing missions. Cybertech can make level 2 and 4 items, many of which are better than the tier above. There are also prototype (purple) items which only Cybertechs can make. So check the GTN.

The schematics for the tier 2 and 4 items come from Slicing missions, sometimes as well as a lock box you will receive some tasty ship schematic.

On your ship, from behind your captains chair, is a comms unit on the wall. This gives you your initial role play about space combat and also hands out daily quests to do certain encounters.

Completing a daily will award many more commendations, like 4 or 5. So they are well worth doing, until you buy everything from the commendations vendor.

Progression seems to be limited by your character level. The ship has no level, and is bare and only upgraded by items, the ultimate level-less MMO going on here. You need to level your toon to be able to equip the better items, which then makes your ship good enough to tackle the harder Space Combat missions.

At endgame, being level 50, you can equip everything and get doing those hard missions. To really succeed I suspect you need to grind credits to buy the purple ship items.

What Else Can I Spend Commendations On?
For 100 commendation tokens you can buy an Ancient Prototype Storage Box which contains a random Blue item. For the end game, you can spend 375 commendations on an Ancient Artifact Storage Box, which contains a random purple item. This can be armour or a mod and is reported as being level 47-49, thus is for end game. The items look like being BOE as well, so you can always sell them on the GTN for credits.

Given a day's worth of Space Combat missions will net around 100 commendations, this is a fun but risky way to grab some extra gear at level 50. It is likely easier to concentrate on the ground dailies, but if you have many spare commendations, why not spend them on purples?

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