History has always been written by the victor and great treasures await those willing to take them by force. Whether it is defending player owned traders from marauding pirates or galactic conquest there will always be plenty of reasons to be armed and dangerous. Some fights end in destruction, others lead to capturing ships or conquering sectors.
Ships armed with frontal weapons, turrets and Defense Drones can attack other ships to deal damage to them. Shields will absorb damage taken until they are depleted, but will start to recharge after not having taken damage for a period of time. Some shields protect ship hulls, whilst others can protect nearby ship systems on larger ships.
Individual surface elements on Large and Extra Large ships can be targeted to disable them, however these may also have their own independent shielding. Once shields are depleted the ship or surface element will start taking hull damage from landed hits. If the hull 'hitpoints' of a surface element reaches 0 it is disabled until repaired; if the ship's hull HP reaches 0 it will blow up, destroying the ship (and if the player was on-board it will result in a Game Over).
The player is free to customise the turret loadouts of all ships, and the main weapons of Small and Medium Ships (see the Weapon Configuration part of the Ship Interactions Menu). This allows the player to tailor the roles of ships, or sub-sections of ships, for specific roles (e.g. high damage and long range, or accurate short range weapons). Most ships have blind spots from which they can not attack making ideal spots for their enemies to manoeuvre into. Although an individual ship can be good at duelling opponents, superior numbers are another way to win battles.
Weapons fall into 5 general categories:
Main weapons are controlled by the player when captaining their ship, and Defence Drones will deploy automatically to protect their mothership if piloted by an NPC.
The game settings contain an option called player-assist 'target target' mode (enabled by default). When enabled, player-controlled primary guns will automatically fire at a leading point to intercept the position the target is flying towards. The same approach is taken automatically by ship-controlled gun turrets. When 'target target' mode is not enabled, or when manually aiming, main guns will fire at the cursor's position.
Player-controlled (forward-facing), secondary launchers equipped with dumbfire missiles will fire at the cursor's position. When equipped with homing missiles, secondary launchers use a missile lock HUD marker to automatically try and lock on to the playership's target. Secondary launchers are fired with the "L" key.
Under Ship Information, "Weapon Configuration", Weapon (i.e. S Pulse Laser Mk1), there are 2 sets of 4 boxes. These are labeled Primary and Secondary (see above).
Those four boxes are where you can setup the main weapon's Primary and Secondary Firegroups. You can put a weapon into all 8 firegroups if you wish.
The firegroups are toggled using Hotkeys:
When primary guns are fired they generate heat, which the ship must dissipate in order maintain combat efficiency. When multiple weapons are fitted and used simultaneously, larger amounts of heat are accumulated and it takes the ship longer to dissipate it. The impact of firing multiple guns is visualised by the heat bar to the right of each weapon icon on the HUD (see images below).
When shooting for short periods of time, heat build-up usually isn't an issue, and primary guns DPS is the "Burst Weapon Output" listed in the ship purchase/upgrade menus. When fired for longer, especially when several are fired together, heat can force primary guns to shutdown temporarily. When firing over long periods leading to overheating (and weapon shutdowns), primary guns DPS is reduced to the "Sustained Weapon Output" (please note that at this time, the ship purchase/upgrade menus lists incorrect sustained MW values).
Minor heat buildup (bar the on right is short)
Heavy Heat buildup (bar is long, and orange)
Overheated (bar is red, and weapons have shutdown)
Depending on ship model, there may be 2-4 turrets
These small craft can be equipped to, and operated by, ships with Small Docks (Frigates, Large and XL Ships).
Summary of capabilities:
It is possible to order ships on the Playership's Wing to attack specific modules. For example, Storage, Defence or Administrate modules.
Process for doing this:
Hacking or destroying ships and station storage modules will cause them to drop a proportion of their cargo for other ships to collect. Collecting wares dropped from a station is considered theft, so the station may turn hostile with any ships that do. NPC ships also have a chance to drop wares for the player inventory dependent on the type and faction of ship killed.
Ships can form hierarchical groups. A leader followed by several "wingmen", often referred to as a squad(ron), but also multiple levels deep as soon as a leader of one group itself follows instructions of another leader.
Setting up such a fleet can be done the easiest by selecting one or multiple ships which are supposed to be the followers on the map, then right clicking on the new leader. The context menu will now show ASSIGNMENT options such as the new behaviour to DEFEND this leader. Selecting this option will move all these ships into the hierarchy of this leader. A plus + symbol now appear in front of the leader ship in the OBJECT LIST as well as the PROPERTY OWNED menus at the side of the map.
Ships which are in such a squad or fleet can still receive and execute explicit player orders. These orders would overwrite their current behaviour to follow their "boss" for their duration. This way a player can use any ship for a trade run or overwrite their targets during a battle.
When ships are in a squad or fleet, they can also fly in formations. The command order menu of the leader, does allow selection of the currently used formation.