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The comforts of the high age of civilization are but a memory.
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Starsector is an independent role-playing/sandbox/strategy/trading/exploration/space combat game by Fractal Softworks.

The Domain of Man's latest expansion effort into the Persean Sector has been halted by the sudden and catastrophic collapse of the interstellar Gate network that connected the burgeoning empire to its colonies. The Persean Sector, struck in the middle of the colonization process by the Collapse, was severely crippled by the sudden destabilization of the colonial supply effort. Partially terraformed worlds were left unfinished and largely uninhabitable, some of them lightly populated by the now decivilized colonists who were unable to leave. The Black Box devices used to build ships and construct colonial industries became priceless and irreplaceable overnight, as the colonists lost the knowledge necessary to construct or even repair them. Desperate factions, from the militaristic Hegemony to the ferociously economic megacorporation Tri-Tachyon, fight over the few remaining habitable worlds, while sending scavengers out into the untouched for centuries border systems to scavenge for long lost blueprints to technology they no longer possess. And many of them don't return, lost either to roving bands of pirates, fundamentalist terrorist cells dedicated to the destruction of industrial society, or the unforgiving and hazardous star systems of the Sector. It has been centuries since the Gate network collapsed, and the Sector is on the decline as more and more technology is irretrievably lost in the conflict for survival. And all the while, something stirs deep in the far reaches of the Sector, something that predates even the Collapse.

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You start your captaining career with nothing to your name but a few thousand credits, a small crew, and a few combat-capable ships (of various types, start depending) and a support vessel or two, perhaps. Through blood and sweat you will gradually build a fleet, amassing control of fighters, bombers, interceptors, small carriers to repair them in, various frigates, supply transports, fire support ships, destroyers, cruisers, and all the way up to massive capital ships like battleships and fleet carriers. And almost every single one of these ships can be further customized to fit your needs. In time, you may even be able to start your own personal colonies and faction. With sheer firepower, clever tactics, and no small amount of luck, you will eventually grow in power such that you will have the capacity to decide the fate of the factions, be that unifying them or destroying them outright.

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Combat is hectic and extremely detailed, feeling like the love child of Star Control and MechWarrior. You have direct control over your flagship, and use a tactical map to set objectives and standing orders for the rest of your fleet. Your AI officers will then assign available ships to complete those objectives, leaving your flagship to support the fleet however you feel is best. You have a limited amount of command points to set objectives with, target specific enemy ships, and to position your friendly ships, which regenerate slowly as the battle progresses. While this sounds like a Scrappy Mechanic, it actually works well due to some rather good AI.

Larger battles have an element of Capture the Flag to them, with various types of control points appearing on the map that give bonuses when captured. Taking them grants more command points, extra fleet points to call in reinforcements from your main army, and even direct boosts to your fleet such as maneuvering bonuses and radar extension. Capturing these early (and preventing your enemy from doing the same) helps to turn the tide of battle in your favor immensely.

The game is still in development, with new versions usually released once every six to twelve monthsnote . Don't be scared away by the fact that it's still, technically, in alpha; the game is unbelievably feature-rich, and many aspects, like the combat, are already more rich and rewarding than most finished, full-retail games. As you read this, the game is still less than full price to pre-order, which gives full access to the current build.


Starsector provides examples of:

  • Absent Aliens: Humanity is the only known sapient organic species and the only suggestion that this even might not be the case is a bit of in-universe speculation in the Onslaught's codex entry suggesting that some people believe the Onslaught was created to defeat some now-forgotten alien threat.
  • After the End: While the full, extended version of the backstory is only available on the website at the moment, this is the current state of things. The sector of space where the game takes place was in the process of being colonized by the Domain of Mannote  when every capital-G Gate, the best way of conducting interstellar travel, shut down simultaneously. They could not simply go back the long way through hyperspace, because it was an ambitious project to cross the void between galactic arms to start colonization of the Perseus arm - there is simply not enough technological prowess or resources to launch an exodus back to the Orion arm. Most of those living in the sector were simple colonists, completely reliant on technology yet lacking any understanding of the mechanics of the most advanced and nigh-magical aspects of it. Many planets were only partially terraformed, and the collapse of the gate network left them borderline unlivablenote . Everything quickly went From Bad to Worse, much worse. It's now been 206 years since the Collapse, and ever-increasing amounts of technology have been lost due to the constant conflict. Later releases buttressed this a little by showing there are still places with significant amounts of functioning technology - Chicomoztoc, Kazeron and Eochu Bres top among them - but all of them have the sword of Damocles hanging over their head in the form of a potential Third AI War which could wipe out humanity in the Sector for good.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot:
    • Almost every faction - except the Independents and Pirates - has banned the sale of AI cores and established a bounty system for turning them in, rewarding credits and reputation. Installing cores in your colonies brings significant bonuses - but also confrontations with both Hegemony and the Luddic Path. This measure is the result of TriTachyon's AI fleet, which became sentient and Turned Against Their Masters, devastating civilization in the sector. The AI Remnants - the surviving AI vessels and cores from First AI War - can be found in systems marked with warning beacons and often send out distress signals to lure unsuspecting ships to their doom. Astute players might also notice that, while TriTach bans the open sale of cores on their markets, their colony overview screens paint a slightly different picture...
    • Actually having an AI Core installed to run a colony of yours works very well in itself, and they can provide a number of benefits even if not installed as governors. The main problem comes from keeping the Hegemony and Luddic Path from turning hostile because of that. And if you afterwards do decide to remove a very high-end AI core from governorship, it will have a perfectly rational self-preservation response...
  • All Planets Are Earth-Like: Heavily averted, and indeed a significant point in-universe. There are precious few planets in the sector that are even in the ballpark of habitable, and fewer still that can truly be considered comfortable to humans. The Collapse stunted the sector's nascent terraforming efforts to the point that 200 years later, the combined population of all human settlements is still an order of magnitude smaller than Earth's todaynote .
  • All There in the Manual: There's an in-game Codex that gives a good level of detail on (almost) every ship, class, and variant in the game, down to individual weapon systems, ship stats, and even the in-universe history of that particular ship or weapon. It's missing a few entries in the current version that the campaign fleet overview shows, but nothing major. Just about the only combat-relevant information it doesn't tell you are the firing arcs of a ship's weapons. Those you learn from experience. Painful, painful experience.
    • Notably, much Spoiler material is also hidden from the Codex (for obvious reasons).
  • Anti-Armor: High-explosive weapons specialize in ablating away armor plate and do double damage to it. A special case is the Breach Missile, which is a moderately powerful high-explosive missile that also does a flat 200 points of damage to armor regardless of the strength of the armor in addition to its regular damage, allowing a salvo to rip through even the heaviest armor.
  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: You can have a maximum of 30 ships in your fleet of any size without editing config files or installing mods to change the limit. There is also a limit on the total deployment points worth of ships you can deploy simultaneously, which is normally half the battle size chosen in the settings menu, with some variation based on objectives captured and officers present skewing it as far as 60/40 in the favor of the side with more officers (in theory, by taking objectives, a battle can have up to 120% of its nominal maximum deployment points fielded).
  • Arbitrary Maximum Range: Sometimes the range of a ship's weapons will be barely more than the length of the ship itself.
    • The Tachyon Lance justifies this by saying that, despite the weapon's theoretically unlimited maximum range, the projectile is 'hardcoded' to disintegrate and become harmless beyond a certain distance in order to reduce the chances of severe collateral damage. Several projectiles remain dangerous beyond their listed range — missiles in particular can still damage anything they collide with even after they run out of fuel. Although they may just bounce off anything they hit.
  • Armor-Piercing Attack: As a general rule, EMP weapons will send arcs through shields if the target ship's flux level is high enough.
  • Artificial Brilliance: The space combat has been the focus of development so far, and it really, really shows. Enemies flank, micromanage flux and shields, viciously take advantage of any momentary weaknesses, and otherwise perform well in combat. You can also set your own ship to autopilot and reap the benefits of flawless precision - it's actually recommended for large scale fights. However...
  • Artificial Stupidity: ...while the AI is very precise and gifted with nearly superpowered reflexes, it's also prone to extreme incompetence which will often make you slap your forehead in frustration. Among most common offences are reckless overextending with total disregard for ship's own safety, chasing faster ships that they have no chance of catching to the edge of the battlefield, blocking friendly ships' line of fire, completely ignoring and running into friendly phase mines, wasting limited ammunition for inappropriate targets (like firing torpedoes at fighters or wasting their entire supply of anti-shield Squall missiles at a lone Hound, which is a small frigate with no shields and way too agile to be hit by those missiles). You will be constantly reminded how painful it is to lose a ship when one of your flimsy carriers suicidally and needlessly rushes into firing range of enemy battlecruisers, or when your phase cruiser decides, for no particular reason, to uncloak in the middle of enemy armada and in front of their hot cannons, only to be torn to shreds within two seconds.
  • Asteroid Thicket: Battlefields contain asteroids in surprising quantities. Unusually, they do next to nothing to your ships, so you can simply ram them and continue on your merry way, although they can deal significant damage if struck during the initial "burn" phase. (Collision damage is based on relative mass, and the largest asteroids are only about the size of the smallest frigates, and they also do kinetic damage which is greatly reduced against armor.) Asteroid belts are even downright useful for smugglers, as they'll interfere with your ship's transponders and make it more difficult for patrols to notice and try to stop you for inspections of illegal cargo.
  • Attack! Attack! Attack!: Officers with the "Reckless" personality type will always try to push the attack and close the distance, regardless of the danger to themselves or their ship.
  • Attack Drone: There are some automated fighters, such as the Tempest's Terminator Drones. There are also the Remnant and derelict drones. They range in sizes from fighters to even battleships.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • Antimatter blasters have terrifying firepower and only use a small energy mount, but they're very short-ranged, use more OP than any other small weapon, and unusually for non-missile weapons, have non-regenerating ammo, and unlike missiles, antimatter blasters generate a lot of flux.
    • Reaper torpedoes, particularly in small mounts. Reaper torpedoes do spectacular high-explosive damage that can shred armor, but they're slow, unguided, have a low fire rate, and have small ammunition capacities. The small missile mount version only holds a single torpedo, so that one shot had best be made count.
  • Balance Buff: Patch 0.95.1 made a major buff to the utility of the Burn Drive system common on low-tech and midline ships - it can now be terminated mid-burn, allowing for much finer control of aggression and flexibility when applying pressure against high-tech fleets.
  • The Battlestar: A given, as the gameplay intentionally resembles modern naval combat in space. The Legion and the Odyssey in particular combine flight decks with massive levels of firepower. (The Astral also has some firepower, but isn't that good a stand-up combatant against anything bigger than a destroyer.) Some ships like the Legion call themselves "battlecarriers", pretty much stating that they're intended to be the battlestar. The XIV version of the Legion is probably the greatest example of the type, as it has 1750 armor baseline, and can easily reach upwards of 2500 with the correct hull mods and build, all while still deploying four fighter wings, heavy missiles and potentially a very heavy gun battery (which is reversed from the normal Legion's big guns and medium missiles).
  • Black Box: A core conceit of the Crapsack World setting is that pretty much everything is functionally one of these and impossible to replicate or reverse-engineer, from a whole array of Lost Technology terraforming equipment to the blueprint packages that make heavy industry function. Without a blueprint you can't construct new ships, and blueprints are both impossible to copy and very jealously guarded by those who have them. There have been attempts to modify existing ships to new standards in-universe, often by outlaw factions, and these are shown to generally be... questionably safe to use. Later lore has walked this back a little bit (as among other things it's been pointed out that people would be able to figure out how to make and maintain at least industrial levels of technology without that much difficulty, assuming they had any education and reference material on physics, chemistry et al.) and that even starships can be slapped together without the use of "nano-forging", but the end products are decidedly substandard and the player has to discover Lost Technology on the frontier if they want their enterprises to really compete with established Sector powers (who have some of this technology, still).
  • Black Market: There are three markets on which it's possible to trade, the open market, the military market, and the black market. The former is the "legal" method, but comes at the cost of a hefty 30% tariff that can cut into profit margins quickly. Military markets can only be accessed if the owning faction likes you enough and still has tariffs, but will buy anything no-questions-asked as part of a "buyback program". The latter has no such tariffs and opens access to various "illegal" items such as narcotics, harvested organs, and AI cores, but running said market runs the risk of raising suspicion with the factions and increased patrols that, if they find contraband, will destroy it and tank faction relationship. The game encourages relying on loopholes to avoid suspicion while using the black market to make a profit.
  • Body Armor As Hitpoints: Combined with Damage Reduction - Armor acts as a second set of hitpoints that provides damage reduction based on how much armor remains, which means that as the armor takes damage, it also provides less damage resistance. In a manner similar to BattleTech, armor acts not as one ship-wide secondary set of hitpoints, but as several localized pools of hitpoints. Unlike BattleTech however, Starsector considers armor to be evenly distributed, and the hull under the armor is one pool of hitpoints instead of being several localized pools like a 'Mech's internal structure.
  • Boring, but Practical
    • Energy weapons. They bypass the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors used by other damage types entirely, dealing flat 100% damage to shields, armor, and hull alike. They tend to have decent range, and there are multiple cheap hull mods to boost this further. The only real downside is that they tend to be less flux efficient than ballistic weapons.
    • Fragmentation damage weapons: Like weapons that do energy damage, they do equal damage to shields and armor, though it's instead a quarter of what they do to unarmored, unshielded hulls, but under that poor modifier, most fragmentation weapons have very good flux efficiency and can badly punish lightly-armored targets. Especially against frigates in the early game, they're a boring, yet practical alternative to more dedicated high explosive and kinetic weapons.
    • The Harpoon MRM is a fairly generic missile with a HE warhead that works reasonably well against most unshielded targets. It does however really come into its own when fired from multiple pod launchers at once for a swarm of twelve or more missiles that will kill any non-capital ship caught with a high flux bar and no flak.
    • Ox tugs - they're as useless as can be in a fight and can't meaningfully haul crew, fuel, or cargo, but each one in your fleet increases its maximum burn by one point.
    • Civilian ships in a military fleet. They're not going to hold up well in a fight beyond maybe screening some missiles, but most military ships have pretty short legs on their own. Otherwise, mostly-defenseless civilian ships give your fleet the fuel and cargo capacity it needs to do long patrols, as well as the crew space to colonize new worlds or invade existing ones.
  • Casual Interplanetary Travel: Fuel is required to travel between star systems, but navigation within a star system consumes no fuel and costs nothing other than the supply upkeep for the time taken.
  • Character Customization:
    • You can refit your ships with a wide variety of weapons, depending on what type of mounts they have (using a slot system reminiscent of MechWarrior 4). If you have leftover build points, you can use them to upgrade ship subsystems or flux capacity/venting speed.
    • Additionally, you can customize your character's name (which has smart detection for picking up surnames), portrait (with portraits being one of the easiest things to mod in to the game), and a full array of skills that determine your captain's specialty.
  • Character Level:
    • Characters can gain a wide range of skills that allow them to run larger, more powerful fleets, greatly increase the combat capabilities of the piloted ship, or gain new and improved skills that impact Sector actions such as salvaging and hyperspace travel. Individual ships (other than the player's flagship) can also have officers, who can learn a subset of the player's combat skills.
    • AI Cores have fixed levels aside from gaining an additional level when integrated into a ship. Unlike human officers, their skills and level of aggression can be adjusted as the player sees fit.
    • The ship's crew used to level up as you fight (Green - Regular - Veteran - Elite), becoming more accurate in combat, speeding up repairs, and even increasing the efficiency of ship subsystems (represented by a slight boost to ship stats). This mechanic was removed in later updates to streamline the personnel system: all crewmembers work at the same level of expertise, meaning you only need to worry about having enough men to crew a ship. Any further boosts come from PC or officer skills. As of version 0.95.1, marines still use a variant of the old crew experience system.
  • Charged Attack: "Interdiction Pulse" campaign skill has your fleet stop for a few seconds while charging an engine-disrupting shockwave. Downplayed somewhat in that it doesn't actually do any damage - it merely stops and prevents the usage of movement-based skills by affected fleets for some time. Especially small fleets may be unable to interdict larger fleets too.
  • Clarke's Third Law: A lot of the proper high technology of the Domain comes across like this, and gives a little context to the "apocalypse" the Sector is suffering. In truth, a lot of folks in the Sector are still, currently, able to maintain at least something a bit like a 21st-century lifestyle, from what you see in the main quest and various side quests. But some of the colony items you can recover and whatnot paint a picture of wonder: for example, if you recover Soil Nanites and an Alpha Core, and somehow manage to find a planet with other favorable conditions just like the Domain could create at its height, you end up with a planet inhabited by seven digits of people who can feed *a hundred trillion human beings*. A Pristine Nanoforge, too, allows you to build ships at incredible speeds (we're talking a month to build an entire heavy cruiser from scratch, potentially) and effortlessly meet the supply and weapons needs of every single colony you control. This is what people in-universe are desperate to return to; a life unburdened by any want, and practically at Star Trek TNG levels of material post-scarcity.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience:
    • Various weapons are colored according to their damage type. High explosive rounds are yellow or orange. Kinetic weapons are white. Energy weapons are visually distinct enough to not need color coding. You can identify missiles by size, color, and how bright the exhaust is.
    • A ship's tech level is distinguished by color scheme and exhaust color: red/orange for low-tech, yellow for mid-tech, and blue/grey for high-tech.
    • The factions are associated with their own colors, which also shows on ships that certain factions have specifically modified to suit their purposes:
      • The Hegemony is orange.
      • The Persean League is yellow.
      • The Sindrian Diktat is purple.
      • The Tri-Tachyon Corporation is blue.
      • The Luddic Church and Luddic Path are different shades of green.
      • The Independents are grey.
      • The Pirates are red.
      • The Player's created faction is teal.
  • Controllable Helplessness: This is the main effect of a flux overload, where the only that can be done is move the ship, which assumes the engines also haven't suffered a flameout. Active venting is a deliberate variant, which drains a ship's flux much faster than passive venting, but advised to do so when not in immediate danger.
  • Crapsack World: Constant war, loads of piracy, religious fanatic terrorists, and planets that can't survive without trade (which tends to get disrupted by the previous). Not a fun place to live. Even ignoring the immediate threats, the entire sector is in a downward spiral due to the gradual decline of technology as irreplaceable manufacturing bases are lost or destroyed to deny them to another power, remaining poorly-understood technology breaks down, and new technology is viewed skeptically at best by the largest religion in the Sector.
  • Creative Sterility: Surprisingly averted. While this used to be the case due to the black boxes recent updates have added Galatia Academy along with other signs of people trying to recover lost tech or invent new things. Unlike similar dark futures that could be mentioned the Sector does show signs of technological progress and inventing new things won't get you executed for heresy by anyone aside from the Luddic Path.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Very possible with the customization system due to the limited build points on most ships. Many default ship variants can only perform one role well, and get torn to shreds if they try to do anything else.
    • The game actually encourages creating a fleet with a variety of Cripplingly-Overspecialized ships, each geared towards a different aspect, all working together note . However, this has the downside of never being able to field only some of your ships, as they depend on each other for survival. The result is high expenditure of Supplies in each battle, even against light enemy opposition. Jack-of-All-Stats ships usually take longer to destroy an enemy fleet but are far more flexible and cheaper in the long run.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Any Subsystem Damage apart from armor damage is only temporary, so ships can still perform at peak efficiency in terms of speed and firepower as long as they have even 1 point of hull integrity left. However, a diminished Combat Readiness rating leads to ships generally performing more poorly (including the possibility of equipment malfunctions).
  • Damage Reduction: Combined with Body Armor as Hit Points - Armor acts as a second set of hitpoints that takes less damage the stronger the armor is, reducing incoming damage as much as 85%. Armor is also localized, such that a ship can have its port armor completely destroyed without touching its starboard armor. Also, even fully-depleted armor still contributes 5% of its max value for the purposes of damage reduction.
  • Damage-Sponge Boss: Or at least the closest thing to a boss in this type of game, capital ships. Early on, you can have your entire fleet ganging up on a single capital ship for several minutes before it is destroyed. Special mention must go to the Onslaught, which has 1,750 armor and 20,000 hull integrity. There's a reason they form the backbone of the Hegemony System Defense Fleets.
    • Ships with 360 degree shield coverage are worse, since they're immune to flanking. Have fun trying to take down that Paragon before it wipes out half of your fleet.note 
  • Deflector Shields: Most ships have them, and they come in two types: omni and frontal. Omni can point in any direction and can be rotated towards threats, but tend to have a narrow arc of protection. Frontal only point forwards, but tend to have much wider coverage - sometimes up to 360 degrees. Shields work by transforming damage against them into flux. However, flux added from shield damage does not drain over time like regular fluxnote , meaning ships have to drop their shields eventually or risk overload. Only the skill Field Modulation allows ships to shed hard flux with their shields up, and even then at a significantly reduced rate and only after it's made elite. Additionally, hull modifications allow adding a crude and inefficient jury rigged shield generator to ships that wouldn't normally have one, as well as options to turn omni shields to frontal or frontal shields to omni, make shields 60 degrees wider, spread to their full width faster, take less damage, and become more efficient.
  • Difficult, but Awesome: Missiles, and other limited-ammo weapons in general. A well-timed missile can help turn the tide of the battle. However, for the AI they aren't always great at properly managing their ammo.
  • Easter Egg: In the portraits folder in the game files, there is an image of Godiva, the cat of Fractal Softworks artist David Baumgart.
    • In the texture folder for planets, one of the files is a rectangular scan of bread.
    • A randomly generated system name is Brigador as well as a few pilots being modeled off of Brigadors
  • Easy Logistics: Ammo and missiles are replaced for free after every engagement. A single item type ("supplies") represents all necessary items for keeping a fleet and its crew in working condition. Ship mods and refitting do indirectly cost some supplies in the field (and temporarily reduce performance). Any ship, no matter how damaged, can be (eventually) repaired provided there are enough supplies in your inventory.
    • A recent update added accidents, which occur when you go over capacity in any of the four supply types (fleet size, cargo, fuel, crew capacity), or when you run out of supplies to maintain your ships. Since everything is shared between ships, this means the loss of a capital ship (and its massive storage space) forces you to make some very hard decisions on what to toss out. The effects of accidents range from minor cargo loss to hull breaches and the complete destruction of ships. Fleets may be forced to cannibalize some of their straggling ships for supplies in order for the rest of the fleet to make it home...
    • Even severe, lasting hull damage can be fixed instantly at any starbase if you can afford to spend the credits to fix it.
  • The Empire: The Hegemony, founded by a Domain of Man military task force that coincidentally arrived in the sector just after the Collapse. They tend to use ancient, battle-tested designs, and favor large fleets, heavy armor, and lots of ballistic and missile weapons. The Hegemony control some of the best worlds and have plenty of resources, but it's hinted that the gradual loss of technology is starting to take its toll on them.
    • While the Hegemony is neutral towards the player, the task force that founded the Hegemony was mainly composed of disgraced soldiers being used for a glorified science experiment, and the devs have said that they aren't nearly as nice as they appear. Hence them being listed under this trope instead of The Federation. Also it is called the Hegemony for a reason.
    • The Domain of Man itself was this before the Collapse.
  • Explosive Overclocking:
    • The "Energy Weapon Mastery" skill sort of does this by increasing an energy weapon's damage by up to 30% based on the ship's current flux level how close they are to the target. Of course, handle that flux level poorly and the ship will either get overloaded from trying to tank a shot with their shield or get their weapon's disabled.
    • A common tactic employed by the terrorist Luddic Path faction. All of their ships come with "Safety Overrides" and "Ill-Advised Modifications" hullmods built-in, the first of which immensely boosts their flux dissipation rate and gives them zero flux engine boost regardless of flux level. This makes them drastically faster, capable of absorbing much more damage and significantly boosting their damage output when compared to regular variants of the same class. The major drawbacks of this are heavily reduced range for all weapons and a painful penalty to peak performance time. "Ill-advised modifications" on the other hand has no benefits and only causes all weapons of the ship to have a chance of randomly failing, sometimes permanently. All of this means that Luddic Path ships have drastically boosted combat stats, but quickly start falling apart. "Safety Overrides" by itself can be mounted on player-controlled ships, only at a hefty OP cost and with its range and peak performance time penalties.
  • Expy: The Hound, a converted cargo freighter with two wide-spaced engines, with the main armament being a huge gun bolted to the top of the ship. If it wasn't readily apparent, it's basically an entire class of ''Serenity''s.
  • Fixed Forward-Facing Weapon: Hardpoint mounts. While they usually have some turning to make smaller adjustments, they are always more durable than turret mounts and can handle recoil better, which means they're more accurate as well (at least for weapons that have spread). Additionally, hardpoints are generally more likely to be larger weapons (eg. a medium weapon on a frigate or destroyer or a large weapon on a cruiser) than turrets. Strictly, not all hardpoints are forwards-facing, though most that are fixed at other angles are missile mounts
  • Flash Step: The Phase Skimmer ship system works something like this. While not as powerful as a full phase system, this system stores multiple charges and can allow vessels to quickly disengage when in over their heads and unlike a phase cloak, a ship can have a phase skimmer and shields (though using the phase skimmer drops the shields). There's also a degraded version on the pirate variation of the Wolf-class, which has one less charge thanks to poor maintenance.
  • Flechette Storm: The Needler family of weapons, which fire concentrated bursts of large needles. They excel at dropping shields and overloading targets due to the high burst damage.
  • Game Mod: The game has excellent mod support, especially considering it's still in alpha. Several mods have already been created that add new ships, stations, and even factions to the game. It helps that much of the game's content is stored in easily edited text files and spreadsheets, and there's a mod API allowing you to implement new features into the game.
  • Glass Cannon:
    • The Pirates' Atlas Mk. II Modified Superfreighter has respectable firepower with two forwards large ballistic mounts and two large missile mounts plus the Accelerated Ammo Feeder ship system, which gives lets it briefly double its ballistic DPS with no increase in flux gain, but it also has poor shields and by far the worst armor and hull integrity of all combat capital ships, even far behind the Pathers' Prometheus Mk. II.
    • Among purpose-built capital ships, the Conquest boasts a great deal of firepower across four large ballistic mounts and two large missile mounts, even if only half the ballistic batteries can be brought to bear at any time, but has terrible defensive characteristics, with barely more armor and hull than the Odyssey and a very small and inefficient shield (unlike the Odyssey, which has a large and quite efficient shield), even worse than the Atlas Mk. II's.
    • The Mudskipper Mk. II is an extreme version of this trope, stripping out all normal weaponry and shielding of its Mk. I counterpart to instead mount a single large ballistic hardpoint. The result is a tiny, vulnerable frigate capable of packing enormous firepower in a surprisingly quick frame, but which will immediately explode if anything gets close enough to so much as sneeze at it.
  • Heavily Armored Mook: Ships that lack shielding or have poor shields usually have higher armor and hull ratings to compensate. However, since shields can regenerate and armor plating can't, it will eventually die if focused upon.
  • Hit So Hard, the Calendar Felt It: Due to the Collapse, those who live in the Persean sector consider the year it happened as the new Year Zero and use it to measure the time that's passed since the Gates shut down. By the time the player starts the game, it's been 206 years since the Collapse happened.
    • According to older, possibly no longer canon lore, the current year the game is set in would be 3126 in our dating system, with the Collapse having happened in 2920.
  • Hyperspace Is a Scary Place: If you ignore the fleets of pirate raiders feeding off of merchant ships and other travelers, hyperspace still isn't the safest place in the Sector, with rampant hyperspace storms that damage your ships and accelerate you far off course if you're unlucky. Hit too many, and not only will you waste fuel trying to reorient yourself and supplies from the time travelling (and the repairs), you may lose a ship or two. Recent updates have also added "ghosts" to hyperspace in the form of phantom sensor readings. Some of them wander randomly, leaving slipspace tunnels in their wake, while others follow you aggressively and disrupt your drive systems. They can't be caught, much less killed, but can be chased away with an interdiction pulse. There is no explanation for what these things are much less where they came from.
  • Hyperspace Lanes: Patch 0.95.1 added slipstreams, which allow high-speed mono-directional travel around the Sector on the order of 40 burn speednote . FTL travel is certainly possible without them, but they create new routes that are much safer than "storm surfing" and faster than an otherwise more direct route may be due to potentially doubling your speed. Additionally, using a slipstream cuts fuel use in half, which means it's never more expensive than traveling at a speed of 10 outside of a slipstream as fuel use doesn't increase for speeds over 20.
  • Infinity -1 Sword:
    • The Remnant Radiant-class battleship. It's fast, has a phase skimmer, a huge 270-degree omni shield, three large energy slots and two large synergy (energy/missile) slots, the best innate flux dissipation and flux capacity of any ship (tying the Paragon on flux capacity), and ties the Onslaught for the best hull durability and the Paragon, Prometheus Mk II, and Legion for the second-best armor of any ship. However, it can only be piloted by an AI core unless the incredibly-expensive Neural Integrator hull mod, which eats a staggering 50 ordinance points and cannot be built-in, and it also requires the Automated Warships skill, meaning full use requires two top-level science skills. It is also staggeringly expensive to deploy at 60 deployment points, tied with the Paragon and only behind the Ziggurat at 75 points. It's can also only be obtained from salvage, unlike most ships, so you'll have to beat one and get lucky to obtain one.
    • The Paragon-class high-tech battleship is arguably the most powerful ship that can be purchased or built in an unmodified game. It has four large energy weapon slots, a formidable array of medium and missile turrets, excellent flux characteristics, a exceptionally-efficient 360-degree omni shield that can be reinforced by its Fortress Shield ability, armor second only to the Onslaught and has excellent hull durability under that. Furthermore, it has a built-in targeting core hull mod that's superior to the dedicated targeting core or integrated targeting unit. Like the Radiant, it costs a whopping 60 deployment points and is worth every point. The only drawback is that it is that it is truly, astoundingly slow and has no mobility-enhancing ability to make up for its plodding pace.
    • XIV Battlegroup designs can only be found in extremely rare blueprints and are broadly superior versions of certain low-tech and midline ships (trading a little speed and turn rate for significantly more armor and better flux capacity and dissipation and a small increase in ordinance points), as well as a snazzy coat of black-and-orange paint. Essentially, they take what low-tech ships are already good at and double down on it. A XIV Battlegroup Onslaught is an unparalleled wall of armored fury. But standing out among them is the XIV Battlegroup Legion, which is not included in the blueprint package and has to be found separately either as an extremely rare single blueprint or as a very rare derelict and changes up the Legion's loadout while other XIV Battlegroup designs retain the same weapon mounts as their standard versions. In particular, it swaps the Legion's medium mounts to ballistics and the large mounts to missiles, which in its turreted mounts, make it almost uniquely capable of truly terrifying missile and torpedo attacks in a way the few other ships with twin large missile mounts struggle to match (all other ships with two large missiles have them in hardpoints except the Astral, which very much emphasizes its fighter compliment over direct combat - the Atlas Mk II having one each canted to port and starboard, making them mostly suitable for guided missiles, as they're intended more as a supplement to its massive fighter contingent, and the Conquest has its fixed forwards, but is designed around its powerful ballistic broadsides with the missiles acting more as a supplement). A XIV Battlegroup Legion with a pair of Cyclone Reapers or Hammer Barrages has a truly terrifying finishing blow that not much can really match.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • Project Ziggurat. The only ship of its kind, it has an incredible combination of traits that make it the best (player-obtainable) ship in the game, if not the best, period. It's a capital-class phase ship, letting it move swiftly around the battlefield and avoid fire(and its nature as a capital ship means it has the flux capacity to stay in phase longer, and a unique hullmod that reduces the phase cooldown by a whopping 80%), while it also has excellent weapon slots (most notably, being the only phase ship with large weapon slots). And if that wasn't enough, its ship system is the best thing about it: the Ziggurat gradually produces "motes" over time, and activating the system will send them towards your mouse pointer (or at a ship if you point at that), and each mote deals sizable EMP damage, allowing you to disable any ship with a single good volley - and of course, the system can be activated in phase, too!
    • Omega weapons. While you cannot salvage their ships, you can salvage their weapons, and they are extremely powerful, such as the Cryoblaster, which does 1400 DPS. Even after its fragmentation damage type, that's 350 DPS to shields and armor and it'll melt the hull under them, and it only needs a medium mount.
  • Interface Spoiler: Zig-zagged.
    • In regards to Codex entries: items that are tagged to be hidden in the codex will never be shown in the codex unless overtly selected in the game and viewed from there.
    • Played Straight regarding warning beacons: once you find at least one, on the intel screen you will notice a tab on the bottom labelled "Remnants".
    • The random missions you get can also provide a spoiler - you may get a mission to explore a coronal hypershunt, or alternatively one to analyze the Hamatsu (listed as simply a "derelict ship") or Alpha Site, both listed as being in the "Unknown Location" system and serving as an accidental guide of where it is before it comes up in the main storyline.
  • Kinetic Weapons Are Just Better: Ballistic weapons generally have far superior flux efficiency and/or range compared to energy weapons. The tradeoff is fact that the low-tech ships that mount ballistics are otherwise weaker than the high-tech ships that mount energy weapons, as well as that with the exception of the Mjolnir Cannon, ballistic weapons generally do specialized damage types.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats: Weapons that have the Energy damage type deal the weapon's full damage against shields, armor and hull. Unlike the other three damage types, energy weapons don't have a specific specialization or weakness, though weapons that do have it are either short-ranged or can't deal hard flux. Two notable outliers are the Mjolnir Cannon, a large Ballistic weapon with a range comparable to beam weapons, and the Plasma Cannon, an extremely expensive large Energy Weapon that does very high DPS at good range, but has relatively slow projectiles and uses the most OP of any weapon.
    • Ships are a somewhat more complicated example to due the fact that no optimal balance of hull mounts and overall performance, strictly speaking, exists. With that said, multi-mission hybrids like the Odyssey cater to a wide variety of play styles compared to ships which tend to encourage specific roles in a fleet.
  • Joke Item: The Mudskipper Mk.II. Though it possesses a large weapon mount, it still possesses the poor flux and armor of its original design. Even its own description questions why such a ship exists.
  • Lethal Joke Item: The Dram. It's an ordinary civilian tanker, with little to no armaments. Seems no one in their right mind would make it their main and only flagship, as at first glance, you would think it's a horrible choice for combat and... you would be absolutely right. Except you don't have to fight - in fact, piloting the Dram, you don't have to engage in any fights, as you can easily escape from any combat encounter, suffering nothing but a small penalty in supplies for getting harassed. Being a tanker, it has enough fuel capacity to be able to travel nigh anywhere in the sector. This makes it a perfect choice for early-game exploration missions, which do not require large cargo holds, nor any firepower whatsoever. Picking up multiple exploration missions in the core worlds and doing them all in one go using the Dram is an extremely easy way to amass a fortune early in the game, at almost no cost.
  • Lightning Bruiser:
    • The Aurora cruiser is a highly advanced ship, its Plasma Jets give it fast bursts of speed, it's heavily armed with several front-facing weapon mounts and its shield can be modified to cover the entire ship.
    • The Odyssey battlecruiser is the fastest capital ship and has a Nitro Boost ability that helps it keep its powerful port-side broadside on a target.
  • Lost Technology: As the sector was cut off from the Domain's portal network during its early colonization phase meaning most of the people present when they lost contact with the core were laborers and low level scientists. Average people who knew how to use the technology present but did not understand how it worked in depth or the full principles behind its operation. As a result black boxes full of blueprints that can't be copied due to DRM became invaluable as nobody could replicate them nor understood them enough to crack the security protections. Then the sector was ravaged by the AI Wars and a great deal of knowledge along special equipment was lost due to known black boxes being destroyed. However much of it may yet be rediscovered by adventurous explorers finding remnants of the original colonization effort in the fringes where black boxes, nanoforges, and other equipment are still waiting to be found.
  • Macross Missile Massacre: To a much lesser extent than most examples (as even single missiles can be deadly in this game), but certain squadrons and some of the larger fire support ships can send multiple salvos of missiles your way.
    • The Hurricane MIRV deserves a special mention, as each missile fired splits into nine smaller projectiles. There's also the Annihilator Rocket Pod, which fires two missiles per second. And since the Annihilator's a medium missile, many ships can have several of them mounted.
    • When a ship is in extreme danger, it can go into 'panic fire' mode, where it launches most of its missiles in quick succession. The Buffalo Mk.II, lacking shields, almost always registers as in mortal danger due to how the "Panic" rule works.
    • The Fast Missile Rack subsystem basically eliminates the cooldown between launches, meaning ships with this system can fire almost a dozen salvos in the time a normal ship could fire two.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: The Luddic Church claims that the deactivation of the Gates and The Collapse were caused by God to punish humanity for its sins.
  • Mega-Corp: The Tri-Tachyon Corporation, which predates the Collapse. They have extremely high-tech ships (with matching high prices), and favor fast ships, energy weapons, and powerful shields.
    • Other megacorps are mentioned in the descriptions for some items and ships, largest among them being Fabrique Orbitale.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • True battleships (i.e. any Capital not designated as a battlecruiser or a civilian ship) are functionally this, with the longest peak performance and greatest amount of armor and flux along with the highest amount of weapons to boot, but tend to be significantly slower than everything else. Their purpose is to trickle down any ship of the smaller classes until they're the only ones in the field. A great example of this is from the Forlorn Hope Paragon mission.
    • The Cruiser-sized version of these ships are the Heavy Cruisers, which, as their name implies, put a bigger emphasis on defense and offense, but lack mobility. For example, the Dominator-class Heavy Cruiser has an armor rating of 1500, but a slower-than-average speed of 30 standard units. The other Heavy Cruiser, the Champion-class, is a Downplayed example in comparison, but is much tankier than other Midline cruisers and, unlike the Eagle-class Line Cruiser, has more offensive capabilities due to possessing both a large energy mount and a large missile mount.
    • XIV Battlegroup ships modify the base hulls by leaning further into this trope, trading 7% of their speed and maneuverability for 100 more points of armor and better flux capacity and dissipation. Naturally, The XIV Onslaught Battleship fits this trope to a T, with a whopping 1850 base armor, a pair of integrated Thermal Pulse Cannons, a multitude of mounts including three large ballistic slots... and a plodding maximum speed of 23 standard units.
  • Nitro Boost: Many ships, especially Low Tech ships, have some manner of speed boost ability like Burn Drive. Burn Drive in particular allows Low Tech ships to push an advantage over the otherwise faster High Tech ships, which would otherwise be able to control the terms of engagement.
  • One Nation Under Copyright: Tri-Tachyon Corporation's eventual goal. They're already a de facto state of similar standing to the Hegemony and Persean League.
  • Orbital Bombardment: Fleets can do limited orbital bombardment in support of ground operations or saturation bombardment to wipe out population centers. Neither are done with the ships' actual weapons, but rather by using antimatter fuel.
  • Overclocking Attack: The defining trait of combat in the game. Ships have a stat called 'flux', which raises when they use certain weapons, take shield damage, are hit by ion cannons, use certain subsystems, etc, and drains slowly over time. If the flux hits capacity your ship overloads, leaving you to drift helplessly while very slowly venting flux. At any time you can vent it manually, causing it to drain several times faster than normal but disabling your weapons and shield for the duration. One-on-one combat against shielded enemies usually revolves around dealing kinetic damage to their shields to force them to either drop shields, vent flux, or cause an overload, leaving you free to unload everything you have into the now helpless ship. Venting speed borders on a One Stat to Rule Them All since it affects combat so drastically.
  • Overdrive: If a ship has an empty flux meter and doesn't have their shields raised, they get a hefty bonus to top speed. This makes retreat feasible, as your enemy can't fire at you without losing their own speed bonus. There is also a hull mod that boosts your top speed and map travel speed, but it is extremely impractical as it costs a ridiculous amount of build points and cripples your flux dissipation.
    • The Burn Drive system is this trope taken to an extreme. It disables shields and steering while active, but allows certain glacier-slow low-tech ships to temporarily outrun most ships in the game. You never forget the first time you run into a Hegemony Defense Fleet and see two or three Onslaughts come screaming in.
  • Pint-Sized Powerhouse: The Sindrian Diktat. It controls only a single system, but thanks to its huge market share of fuel and lobster monopoly, can field an army strong enough to go toes to toes with the Hegemony.
  • Point Defenseless: Strongly averted. A good point defense system can usually take out the majority of missiles in a salvo, as well as wreak havoc against fighter squadrons. Most capital ships have several of them. As a consequence, missiles are highly situational and are usually only fired at disabled targets.
    • This is one category where Low Tech ballistics have a distinct advantage. Flak cannons have an area-of-effect, rendering any ship that carries them almost immune to bombs, interceptors, and missile spam. The low-tech Gemini freighter is considered a capable combat carrier solely because it can be fitted with two dual flak cannons.
    • The Integrated Point Defense AI hullmod enables small weapons not tagged as point defense to auto-target missiles, in addition to boosting proper point defense weapons. This includes tactical lasers, where their long-range, high accuracy, and decent damage benefit from this.
  • Ramming Always Works: Ramming can do very significant damage to both ships involved, especially if a capital ship with a Nitro Boost ability slams into another ship. The Odyssey especially excels at surprise ramming attacks due to its very brief, extremely high-speed Plasma Burn ability, which instantly pushes it (or any other ship with the ability) to a staggering 620 speed. An Odyssey with its shields down can easily strip its own frontal armor, and with or without shields, can launch frigates across the map. Properly timed with its missile batteries, an Odyssey ramming attack can be terrifying to even other capital ships. Ships that ram using abilities like Burn Drive and Plasma Burn run a risk of flaming out their own engines as well when ramming ships their own size or larger.
  • Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Shields run off flux, which declines when not being generated, and thus regenerate their durability. Armor does not regenerate at all in battle and hull only regenerates under certain limited circumstances. This means being able to overcome shields is extremely important, since if you can drop your enemy's shields, you can do actual, lasting damage. Of course, this is also somewhat complicated by the fact that shields aren't the only thing that runs off flux - weapons, strikecraft, and certain active abilities also generate flux.
  • Settling the Frontier: The Persean Sector is a large place and the Core Worlds only make up a pretty small part of it. With a thousand crew, 200 supplies, and 100 heavy machinery, you can set up your own colonies on any world that isn't already owned. At first, a colony is likely to be a money pit, but once it gets growing and if its hazard rating isn't too high and its accessibility is high enough, colonies can prove highly profitable, and in time, become major population centers with millions of people. In addition to making raw profit, colonies can be a cheap source of commodities to sell elsewhere, and perhaps even more importantly, once heavy industry is established, they can produce ships and weapons for your use, provided you have found blueprints. The rest of the sector for their part are too busy fighting each other and/or barely scraping by to engage in their own colonizing, though they will tend to take an interest in your colonies once they get going. Especially if you use AI cores, run free ports, or start taking significant market share.
  • Shout-Out:
    • Several to Brigador.
      • A possible name for nebulae, constellations, and stars is "Brigador" and a possible name for planets is "Solo Nobre", the citynote  that Brigador is set on.
      • Mercenary portraits six and seven are based on the playable pilots Modesto Pires and Clotilde Aalto respectively. In addition, there is an unimplemented portrait based on the Man from Volta.
    • The Tarsus-class freighter shares its name with the starting freighter from Wing Commander: Privateer, and Talons also appear in both games as fast, cheap fighters. The appearance of Centurions in both may be coincidental due to a common name origin, as they've shifted from heavy fighters in Wing Commander to escort frigates in Starsector.
    • There are portraits (numbers 25 through 32) that are clearly inspired by the seven faction leaders of Sid Meier’s Alpha Centauri. Main writer David Baumgart has openly expressed his admiration for SMAC at times.
    • A possible system name is "Strangereal", the Fan Nickname for the world of Ace Combat. Most of the planets in said system will be named for countries from Ace Combat, like Belka.
    • A High Tech space station has a suspiciously similar profile to the midsection of Deep Space Nine, in particular the similarly-sized spikes coming off the central hull at the exact same angle.
  • Shows Damage:
    • Ships glow orange where they have taken heavy damage, which means their armor plating has been stripped away in that spot. This basically means you can create your own weak points in this game. While the glow eventually fades, flashes of light can still be seen emanating from the damaged section.
    • Ships with serious near-permanent damage in the form of d-mods also show significant hull-scarring, making pristine ships stand out all the more.
  • Space Fighter: LPCs are what allow ships with a carrier to field these. Fighters have two unique abilities. First, they can fly through (technically over) other objects, including your shields. Second, they can revive and rearm the entire squadron in the middle of battle if any member manages to make it back to a friendly carrier.
  • Space Friction: On the one hand, ships don't slow down if you let go of the 'forward' key. On the other hand, they do have a strictly limited top speed, which is sharply cut if you start firing weapons or raising shields. How exactly that works is anyone's guess.
  • Space Marine: You can hire them by the hundreds, then use them to raid colonies for fun and profit. They're a guaranteed way to get your hands on a Pristine Nanoforge if you can't find one from looting, for instance.
  • Space Pirates: A surprising amount of them. They have fairly outdated tech, though, and are a great way to grind crew experience and loot.
    • Ironically, the pirates are probably the least technologically stagnant of the factions, having several unique ships that are crudely retrofitted combat versions of the cargo haulers they steal from traders.
      • Not only that, they have a special mechanic where if blueprints are sold on the black-market, after a year or two, those designs will start being incorporated into Pirate fleets.
  • Space Sector: The Persean Sector is a region of multiple star systems, now isolated from the rest of humanity.
  • Space Station: Many exist throughout the Persean Sector, from mining stations, to abandoned habs, to major orbital construction and commerce installations. You can build your own once you colonize a planet, which will help protect it from hostile fleets. Pirates and Luddic Path militants will often create their own in border systems from which they will raid/destabilize colonies, respectively.
  • Standard Human Spaceship: Midline ships, especially those that are proper military ships, are generally blocky, relatively wedge-shaped affairs, and generally much more symmetrical than both Low Tech and High Tech ships, and they're painted in tan and varying shades of yellow.
  • Standard Sci-Fi Fleet: Ships are categorized as fighters, frigates, destroyers, cruisers, and capital ships, though there are further subcategories of each. Each tech base generally has at least one gunship and one carrier at each size level above frigate.
  • Starter Equipment: Other than the armaments of the ships you start with, none. You buy ships as empty hulls (many of which have been salvaged after being disabled, and thus come broken out the box), then have to track down the weapons/blueprints separately. If you want the good stuff this often means a trip to the outer systems to salvage blueprints from derelict ships and stations. Or you can just raid a core world and steal blueprints right out of their industrial installations.
  • Stealth in Space: Handled realistically. Stealth is an issue of turning off your transponder (which is generally illegal), and minimizing the energy emissions of your ship.
  • Subsystem Damage: Most weapons can be temporarily disabled if enough damage is done to them. This also works against engines - useful for slowing down fleeing enemies. If a ship has two engines and you disable one set, the ship spins helplessly until the engine comes back online.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors:
    • Ships have up to three layers of defense: hull, armor plating, and shields. Only hull damage affects the ship, so most of a fight is spent breaching the other ship's defenses to get to the vulnerable crew inside. There are four types of weapons to help with this: high explosive, which is excellent against armor but very weak against shields; kinetic, which is the opposite; energy, which is somewhat effective against all types of defense, and fragmentation, which does little damage against any defense, but will tear hulls to shreds once those defenses are gone (and is also good against missiles and squadrons, since they rarely have much defense). There are also EMP weapons, which easily disable ship systems but do minimal damage otherwise.
    • Phase ships trade one layer of defense for the ability to be intangible for as long as their flux capacity can hold. However, prolonged cloaking affects the ship's ability to phase, and has to rely on its armor when outside of p-space.
    • There's also the meta-level of Low-Tech, Midline, and High-Tech ship classes; Low-Tech ships are Mighty Glacier types that focus on armor and ballistic weapons to power through engagements, whilst High-Tech ships focus on speed and shields to hit-and-run. Midline ships tend to be somewhere in between, putting a greater emphasis on versatility. Faction ships are all over the place otherwise, with "P" (Pirate), "LC" (Luddic Church), "LP" (Luddic Path), "TT" (Tri-Tachyon), and other such subtypes floating around which can remix an existing ship's performance in exciting and unpredictable ways - for example, the Atlas Mk.II and Prometheus Mk.II being militarized civilian ships favored by pirates and pathers respectively.
  • Taking You with Me: A ship exploding will damage any other ship close to it, though tend to be negligible for those in the same class. As such, a capital exploding next to an unprotected frigate will probably destroy it as well. The Atlas superfreighter and Prometheus supertanker are probably the most liable to cause this, as they're fairly easy to kill yet detonate very violently.
  • Technology Levels: Ships and weapons generally fall into one of three technology levels. Despite a clear suggestion of technological progression, the tech levels are more lateral than linear.
    • Low Tech: Low Tech ships generally have heavy armor, inefficient shields, low speed and poor maneuverability, and relatively straightforward abilities (especially linear speed boosts like Burn Drive) and loadouts built around efficient but specialized ballistic and missile weapons and few, if any energy weapons. They usually have somewhat worse flux characteristics than Midline and High Tech ships, but their weapons are generally also more flux-efficient. Low Tech ships have a rusty color palette and red exhaust and shields.
    • Midline: Midline ships generally have a balance between armor and shields, as well as between energy and ballistic weapons and middling handling. They mostly also have relatively straightforward abilities. Visually, they're olive drab and usually have a optionally-pronged wedge-shape and yellow exhaust, though their shields are a similar blue to High Tech ships.
    • High Tech: High Tech ships strongly favor shields (and especially omni-type shields) or phase cloaks, speed and maneuverability, and inefficient but versatile energy weapons over armor, hull, and ballistic weapons, as well as more exotic missiles. They tend to have more esoteric abilities like various phase abilities. Visually, they're blue-white, sometimes asymmetrical, and have blue-white exhaust and shields.
    • There are also faction-themed versions of ships from all tech levels with minor tweaks to their characteristics and hardpoints, as well as rather less-minor pirate and Pather overhauls.
  • Too Awesome to Use: Intentionally averted with Story Points, a resource earned as you gain experience for each 25% of a level. These can be used for anything from avoiding dicey engagements to increasing mission payouts to making specific hull mods free so that you can add even more to a ship. A player would be tempted to save them up and only use them only where they make the biggest difference, except that each Story Point spent adds "bonus" experience to the player, doubling EXP earned until the bonus is expended. Small-scale or short-term spending of Story Points earns a lot more bonus experience than long-term uses do, so spending them early and often and reaping the bonus EXP leads to earning even more Story Points that much quicker.
  • Turned Against Their Masters: How the late Domain lost from the Remnant, and, additionally, their Explorarium armada.
  • Upgrade Artifact: Various pieces of Lost Technology can be found while exploring space, and installed in colony-scale industries. The most important of these are Nanoforges, industrial Black Boxes that are essential for the production of quality ships - while corrupted ones are fairly common, a Pristine Nanoforge is one of the rarest things in the game; though stealing one from one of the pre-generated planets is also an option.
  • Vestigial Empire: The Hegemony styled itself as a successor state to the now absent Domain, but for various reasons lacked the power or influence to maintain itself, and is now limited to only about 30% of the core worlds. Nevertheless, its laws and culture form the "default" that other factions model their own around.
  • Walking Spoiler: Nothing can be said about the Omega, their ships, and their weapons without spoiling a surprising part of space exploration. Likewise, Project Ziggurat and Alpha Site cannot be spoken of without spoiling a major part of the main storyline.
  • We Cannot Go On Without You: Averted. You don't even need to send your flagship into an engagement in the first place. Even if your flagship is destroyed, you can transfer command to any other ship. This is accomplished by escaping in a personnel shuttle and flying across the map to dock with them.
  • What a Piece of Junk: The Derelict Contingent skill can turn any ship with an officer into one of these; the more d-mods the ship has the bigger the benefits the ship gets, the biggest being an up to 75% chance for any incoming hit to only deal 10% of its normal damage. It'll still suffer the usual d-mod effects, but those can be worked around.
  • With This Herring: As the intro states, you start out with only a single frigate and a small amount of credits. You have just enough to buy two squadrons of weak interceptors, but it will be quite some time before you can afford a carrier to repair them in.
    • Averted in later updates, which add "Quick Start" versions of pre-existing ones that give you a bit more to work with, though it'll still be quite the upward climb.
  • Zerg Rush: The "Wolfpack Tactics" skill gives frigates and destroyers substantial damage bonuses when fighting cruisers and capital ships, encouraging this trope.

Alternative Title(s): Starfarer

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