I picked up a _”Hunt Pirates”_1 mission last night in an attempt to test my combat prowess… or lack thereof. My issue seems to be that I just can’t land enough hits, especially when fighting Sidewinders which are small and nimble. I’ve tried tweaking fire groups, fiddled with my joystick maps and sensitivities and I keep getting my backside handed to me. It would appear that I’m not as good a combat pilot as I might have hoped…
The solution is gimballed weapons. I’ve changed the two C4 Pulse Lasers for two G3 Multi-Cannons. The Multi-Cannons don’t generate heat, leaving more pips free for Engines and Systems, but they do use ammo. While the per hit damage is much less than the Pulse Lasers the fact I can get many more hits on target means I do far more damage with them, resulting in me finally racking up some kills.
I still suck at combat (1v1 with Cobras is not a pretty sight and usually sees me boosting out of the fight before engaging Super Cruise as fast as I can), but hopefully that will come with practice. I also place to replace the two C2 Burst Lasers with gimballed weapons when I find some.
During this mission I discovered a could of small glitches with the Beta. It seems killing a ship by ramming doesn’t credit you with a bounty. Nor does it count towards your pirate count if you’re on a mission. This was a little upsetting as I didn’t leave that engagement unscathed and it cost me a fair amount to repair my ship.
Another glitch manifested after a crash to desktop. I returned to the game with a bounty and wanted status, and no idea how I got them. After doing a silent run into the station I couldn’t clear the bounty or pay any outstanding fines. A restart of the game cleared the wanted status for me.
I need to do some more investigation, but I also think the game loses track of how many pirates you kill if you restart (or crash out) midway through the mission. This could also be related to the fact that I cashed in the bounties on the two kills I had, so it may be that to complete the mission you need 4 bounties on file. This could also explain why a kill by collision didn’t seem to count towards the mission as it also didn’t generate a bounty on file.
Depressingly, the only ship I managed to kill with my foresight weapons was a stationary derelict. I’d dropped out of Super Cruise to find a bunch of Toxic Waste canisters, and a powered down ship. While I couldn’t target the ship, I could just shoot blindly at it – something that earned me a Wanted status and bounty. Unsurprisingly the unshielded ship blew up under my withering barrage. Go me!
Up until now I’d not tried picking up cargo. Dropped cargo is marked as stolen and getting scanned with stolen goods on board is probably not a good idea if you can’t fight. Given I was already Wanted I figured there was nothing to lose.
Using the cargo scoop is nice and easy, although be warned: Toxic Waste causes damage to your ship while it’s in the hold. I then had to work out how to dock while being Wanted. Either you need to limit heat generation by turning off all unnecessary systems, then boost towards the station, dropping into Silent Running as late as you dare so as to avoid being scanned whilst not building up too much heat before docking; or you don’t, in which case I performed a high risk, high stress docking manoeuvre for no reason. I think I may swap back into a Sidewinder before experimenting with that more given the harsh response if you get caught.
In terms of net expenditure it wasn’t exactly a good play session. Even with the gimballed weapons I still got trounced if I was fighting anything more than a single Sidewinder so I spent quite a bit on repairs. Despite managing to kill 4 or 5 bad guys during the duration of the mission the glitches, and lack of credit for deaths when ramming, meant I failed the mission and generated no income from it2. That said, it was a useful learning experience.
For now I’m going to go back to trading. With practice, and upgrades3, I think the Cobra could be a capable ship, but for now I want to play with the Type 6, Type 9, and then get enough credits together to go fly some combat ships and get better at actually killing things.
1 The mission was to kill 4 pirates in one of two systems in a given time limit
2 Not that it would have covered my repair bill for the night
3 Many of which aren’t available yet, and those that are may get completely rebalanced