By David Lins
So you’ve (mentally) rolled up a character. You’ve given it some thought, and you know what type of footprint you’d like to leave on the universe. It’s time to choose your first spaceship. It’s important to remember that ships in Star Citizen aren’t just pretty; each is designed with specific roles in mind. Each ship can be fitted with hundreds of components, and they all behave realistically—if there isn’t room for your missile pod to fold into your ship, then it isn’t going to fold into your ship.
And yes, every ship is modular. Even once you select a model, there are tons of possible combinations from there. Of course, mods are…a bit advanced. We’ll stick with the basics for now, if you don’t mind.
Now, there are several dozen ships in Star Citizen. Six in-game manufacturers design and sell these ships, each with their own specialty. We’re not going to cover all of them; instead, we’ll look at character roles and determine which manufacturer is best-suited to them. From there, we’ll look at whichever ship seems to be the most reasonable, followed by a list of possible upgrades.
Note: some of the ships mentioned do not have prices listed yet. Also note that most ships have some form of weaponry attached to them. The universe is a dangerous place, you know.
The “Undecided” Role – Roberts Space Industries (RSI)
“But wait,” you say, “don’t begin yet! I have no idea what kind of role I want to play!” Well, don’t worry—there are plenty of “Happy Middle” ships. RSI is the best manufacturer to start with, because their ships are versatile. You won’t get any maximum potential out of their ships, but if you’d like to toy around with multiple play styles (or if you want to spend more time pushing papers than piloting a ship) then look no further.
I’d recommend starting with The Aurora, or as I like to call it, “Baby’s First Starship.” It’s small and not incredibly stylish, but it can be modded in various ways. It’s also the cheapest ship in the game, so you won’t have to worry about wasting cash. Of course, I’d recommend jumping ship (see what I did there) once you have the credits and getting something with a bit more oomph.
For a bit extra, you could also start with the modded Aurora LN, a slightly stronger version of the original ship with some extra firepower.
Possible Upgrades: Anything. Like I said, the Aurora is a starting point—take a look at the rest of this list to see what else might suit your needs. If you want to stick with RSI, consider The Constellation—an iconic, versatile ship that is in every way a step up from the Aurora, although it still doesn’t specialize much in anything. You could also consider stepping up to something from MISC (see “The Transport/Industrial Role” below).
The Combat Role – Anvil Aerospace, Aegis Dynamics
The simple life isn’t for you. Why do something boring like explore when you could blow stuff up, and get paid to do it? You want to join the navy, or maybe you want to be a Space Cop and hunt down pirates and the like. You’ll need a ship that can dish out some pain as well as take it, and Anvil Aerospace has you covered with The Hornet.
The Hornet is a tough little monster designed for quick skirmishes. It isn’t military-grade, but it’s rugged and reliable. The base model is pretty handy in a fight, but several modded versions are also available. The Hornet Ghost, for example, is perfect for more stealthy operations. The Hornet Tracker is the opposite, designed to locate hidden targets; perfect for bounty hunters.
If you’re looking for something a little more basic, try Aegis Dynamics’ Avenger, an ex-police cruiser that is fully customizable and comes stocked with a simple, manned turret. Perfect for the aspiring security officer or even the skilled bounty hunter.
For something lightweight, consider Origin’s 325a Fighter, a standard fighter ship with pre-installed missile launchers and a Mass Driver Cannon. It’s lightweight and easy to destroy, but it’s quick and deadly.
For something more classic, try the Gladiator, an extremely modular space-to-ground bomber. Also a great choice for anyone who hates their neighbors enough to want to blow up their house.
Really, any ship can be made into a combat ship, if enough force is applied. Stick with one of the few listed above to start, though, since you likely can’t afford that force right away.
Possible Upgrades: From here, you should consider getting some friends and manning a larger warship like the Idris Corvette or the Retaliator. The Corvette is a fast, sleek ship designed for quick skirmishes and boarding the enemy ship. The Retaliator is all about making things it doesn’t like go boom. The choice is yours, space cadet.
The Transport/Industrial Role – Musashi Industrial & Starflight Concern (MISC)
Even in the future, delivery trucks are a must. One way to see space and get some extra scratch is to haul cargo for major companies, and the most popular ship available for that is MISC’s Freelancer, a solid middle-of-the-road ship with a ton of cargo space. It’s also designed with Xi’An tech, meaning you can tell your friends you drive an alien vessel—how cool is that?
The Freelancer is a versatile ship. While it is commonly used as a cargo ship, it can just as easily fit the Explorer role. It’s efficient and powerful, though doesn’t have much in terms of defense. You might consider hiring security.
Another option is MISC’s Starfarer, a ship that doubles as a refueling station. It’s a cargo ship designed for carrying fuel and dispensing it, making it a vital part of any company.
Possible Upgrades: Honestly? Just stick with either ship mentioned above. No need to step up from there—just upgrade your current ship and keep building up those space bucks.
The Pirate/Criminal Role – Drake Interplanetary
If you’re looking for something shady, then Drake Interplanetary is your best option. Your first ship here should be the Caterpillar, a modular spacecraft with a large cargo hold (for loot), thick armor for its class (for pesky security ships), and room for five crewmembers (for boarding missions). It lacks firepower, however, so make sure you have a fighter escort or two before carrying out such missions.
Of course, any ship can be made into a pirate ship. Take a look at any of the other ships on this list and feel free to add/remove certain details to taste. You won’t get the cargo space of the Caterpillar, but providing a support role with a war-class ship wouldn’t hurt.
Possible Upgrades: Sadly, the only other Drake ship currently revealed is the Cutlass. It is still a considerable upgrade, however. A single Cutlass can overpower a mid-sized transport, and a group of them can take on much larger prey. When you’ve made a name for yourself in the criminal world and want to group up with some other ne’er-do-wells, grab one of these without delay.
The Explorer Role – Origin Jumpworks, GmbH
Of course, not everyone wants in on the action. Some of us just want to explore the vast emptiness of space and see what secrets it hides. For that, Origin’s 315p Exploreris the perfect starter ship. It comes with some standard weaponry, but it’s a light ship with long-rage engines and a pre-installed tractor beam. With this ship you can explore strange worlds and even examine random stuff in space.
For something a little cheaper, consider Origin’s 300i, the base model for the 315p. It lacks the engines and tractor beam, but it’s still a fast ship that can handle itself a little better in a fight. Decide if speed or firepower is more important, and go from there.
Possible Upgrades: If you’re really serious about exploring, then Origin’s M50 is the best ship there is. With supercharged engines, it’s ridiculously fast, but it has minimal weaponry. You could even enter this ship in some races if you’re getting bored with exploration. In combat, you’ll be favoring speed over power, so make sure you brush up on your piloting skills.
Remember: your ship is precious. Treat it as your computer or your car. It can always be upgraded and improved. It can also be mistreated or, worse, destroyed. Take the proper precautions and choose the ship that best suits your needs, and you should be fine.
Of course, the base models only go so far. Weapons, engines, and tons of other components and upgrades exist in Star Citizen’s universe. We won’t really get a chance to delve into them as much as I’d like to, but we can at least take a look at what types of upgrades there are and which you should focus on. That’ll be for next time, though.
If you feel like I didn’t mention the right ships or have other suggestions, please fire off in the comments and let me know! I’m planning to edit this article as more details and ships are announced, so don’t be shy.
Be sure to catch every Star Citizen 101 lesson, this is not a game you want to be unprepared for!
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/david.jpg” ]David Lins is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania that has loved video games since he was old enough to hold a controller. He enjoys all sorts of games, but prefers difficult or terrifying ones. Currently, he plays too many roguelikes. When not writing about his favorite hobby, he loves to drink beer, write fiction, play tabletop RPGs or board games, and hang out with his friends and family. He also has a passion for technology and loves tinkering with his phone, computer, and other devices. Follow David on Twitter for “hilarious” or “insightful” tweets about nothing in particular. [/author]