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Reviewed by: Bryan Pizzuti [03.18.03]
Developer: Egosoft
Publisher: TBA

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HCW: Can you tell us a bit more about the variety of ships, and how the player can customize them?  For instance, will there be any way of having a "carrier" ship?

Egosoft: Oh yes! We have some rather large capital ships available this time. The largest is over two kilometers long (about a mile). You can own them all, at the same time if you have the credits and good enough reputation to go and buy them from the different races in the game.

You can also steal ships by attacking them and “convincing” the pilot to bail. This may be possible with smaller ships, if you have the offensive capability and reputation. But I don’t expect the Captain of a battleship is likely to jump ship, although you can try.

(HCW: Well, what if you’re flying TWO battleships? ;) Egosoft: *g*, that’s an interesting idea. I haven’t tried that, but I guess for the sake of realism, getting a single pilot to pull the escape chord is one thing, getting a battleship’s whole crew to man the lifeboats is quite another. It would look good though! )

There are classes of ships and each race has their own designs and characteristics. This totals over 70 unique ships to own and you can own as many as you can afford. You can then assign orders to your fleet and they will follow your commands, leaving you to join them or go off seeking adventure elsewhere.

This is good, because it allows you to establish trading convoys with armed protection and leave them to carry on their own.

In order of size, biggest to smallest, we have Carriers, Factory Transports (for moving factories around), Battleships/Cruisers, Corvettes, Cargo vessels and three levels of fighters from heavy to small. Then there are passenger transports, tugs and shuttles.

The Carriers and Factory transports have large internal flight decks, so you can carry ships with you. The Carriers, being military also have point defenses and missiles.

The Corvette is an interesting newcomer. It is larger than a heavy fighter, comparable in size to some of the large cargo ships, with turret defenses and the ability to carry a small fighter class attached to its outer hull. It’s not perfect, we intentionally shy away from making any one ship perfect at every job, but it’s probably the traders and bounty hunters ship of choice and every such pilot will strive to obtain one.

There are then a variety of equipment choices from navigational aids, trading add-ons and the offensive and defensive systems. Plus speed upgrades, steering and so on. There are limitations to what ships can hold what upgrades, for example a small fighter cannot fit the large Capital ship weapons and the large ships have a very slow turning ratio.

Some shipyards also sell “special deals”, where you can purchase a ship already fitted with a collection of suitable equipment. This saves you tracking down the upgrades yourself.

HCW: Wow, that’s a very interesting variety of spacecraft.  Do the flight models adjust to each craft, so that a battleship doesn’t seem to maneuver the same as a fighter?

Egosoft Yes, generally the smaller the ship, the more maneuverable and faster it is. Every ship can have their speed and steering upgraded to levels unique for that ship. The ship you buy at the shipyard comes without such enhancements. The large cargo ships, while being able to maintain a fair speed in a straight line, handle very slowly. The large capital ships can take tens of seconds to turn around, while a fighter could spin on its axis in an instant.
HCW: Is it possible to switch between different craft while in flight, or can that only occur in situations where you’re flying a capital ship that carries a fighter that the player could go and board?

Egosoft: There are various places you can swap ships. Yes, you can move from one to the other when aboard a ship that transports others, like a Carrier or when you are docked at any station and your other ship(s) are docked with you. You can also go for a space walk in your environment suit and move from vessel to vessel.

There is also the ability to open up multiple views (we call them mini-monitors) on your screen and see the view from other cockpits as well as the turrets on your ship. You can then jump into the seat of that ship instantly. You have to acquire the right technology to enable this though. You don’t need to physically be in a ship to control it.

HCW: How flexible is the commands system for the other ships you own?  Can the player script out custom missions for AI ships under the player’s control?  What about mid-mission orders to wingmen?

Egosoft: Well you can change the orders of your wingmen anytime. Commands such as “Protect me” and “Attack my target” are good all-round ones. But they are sorted into groups for navigation, trade, combat, pirating and so on. It is really straightforward (simply select a menu option) to send a ship on a trade mission and then assign an armed escort.

Custom AI scripts can be written and assigned to any ship or station you own, but that’s currently a hidden, advanced feature for those people that want it.

HCW: Can the player to use his own factories to supply himself and his fleet with munitions and equipment?

Egosoft: Absolutely. If you want to have missile and laser factories, shield producing stations and so forth, then just do it. You can tell a factory to not sell its produce if you like. So you can send your ships there to equip themselves.

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