Quick rundown on Science’s more esoteric, poorly explained mechanics.
This is a guide purpose-built for explaining how to be a competent scientist quick and dirty. The tutorial will teach you the absolute basics; this guide will teach you how to take those basics and turn them into actual, functional gameplay. Each section is listed chronologically, e.g. the order in which you will generally be doing them in a fight.
One mechanic included here is the Shield Modulation, which does not fall neatly into any one category: Shield Frequency.
Found in your Status tab, you can switch your shields to Modulate, or Static. The bar above the buttons will shift left or right to tell you how much of each damage type you are taking in the current fight.
Modulate will decrease Energy damage taken, but decreases your sensor effectiveness.
Static will decrease Physical damage taken, but increases your own signature radius.
1. Sensor Screen
You will start each engagement, hostile or nonhostile, with the basic screen. The first step is to check what, exactly, is on sensors; there might be a ship, or a planet.
If there is a planet, there will be NO ships, and no other contacts on radar. You can click on the planet’s tab on the sensors to see if you will require an environment suit or not.
If there is a ship, click on their tab to see what kind of ship they are. If they belong to the same faction as you, they are friendly. If they belong to an enemy faction, they will immediately be hostile and begin attacking you.
Once you have gone through all the basic information-gathering steps, you can either teleport to the planet, or otherwise, enter the Sensor Dish.
2. Sensor Dish
Upon spotting an object or a hostile ship, you should enter the Sensor Dish.
The sensor dish has two firemodes: leftclick, which fires a scanning probe, and rightclick, which locks on to an enemy target or picks up scrap.
If there is no enemy contact, look for scrap and pick it up with rightclick; if you cannot pick it up for any reason, the pilot can physically touch the scrap with the ship to pick it up. If the bar fills up but you dont pick up the scrap, check if your cargo is full.
Additionally, check nearby objects to see if they have research nodes on them. Research, when located, can be picked up by firing a sensor probe at it.
If there is a hostile contact, things get complicated. Listen to your captain to identify the target which you should be engaging; lock on to this target by holding rightclick. Locking on to a target significantly raises their signature radius, which leads into your next abilities. You can also fire a sensor probe at the target to temporarily and significantly raise its signature radius.
Once you have completed these steps, you can move on to exploits.
This part is the shortest, and also the most poorly explained ingame.
Upon locking on to a target with the sensor dish, you can exit the dish and open the target’s radar contact to access exploits. Exploits are notably different from viruses; They are free to use, but require a certain amount of signature radius on the target. There are six exploits, only one of which can be active at a time:
1. For 30 seconds, all damage to the ship will additionally directly damage the enemy’s Engineering subsystem. If destroyed, the enemy’s thrusters will be disabled until repaired, and their warp drive will no longer charge.
2. For 30 seconds, all damage to the ship will additionally directly damage the enemy’s Weapons subsystem. If destroyed, the enemy’s weapons will no longer recharge until repaired. Notably, however, they can still fire until charge is depleted.
3. For 30 seconds, all damage to the ship will additionally directly damage the enemy’s Science subsystem. If destroyed, the enemy’s shields will no longer recharge, and their sensors will no longer function, disabling their own Exploits.
4. Target ship is 40% more susceptible to Viruses for 60 seconds.
5. Negates target’s shield modulation setting for 60 seconds, e.g. all weapons will do full damage.
6. Enemy’s reactor will output 20% more heat for 60 seconds.
1 is mostly useless unless you are trying to prevent a target from warping away as part of a quest, or if you rely heavily on maneuvering to survive.
2. is generally useful, but not as useful as 3. Disabling enemy weapons sounds good in theory, but it only disables their charge, not their actual usage.
3. is the most useful of the 3, as it effectively disables their health regeneration for a period.
4. is generally useless; viruses either work or they don’t, and regardless if they do or not, you are still getting shot at.
5. Generically useful; removes any damage resistances the target may have, allowing you to deal full damage.
6. Completely useless. Enemy ships are not nearly as limited by dwindling resources as you are, and will happily waste all their coolant on fighting you and only you.
4. Programs and Viruses
Once an exploit has been chosen and activated, one should switch to the Programs tab to begin cyber-warfare. There are far too many viruses and programs to detail here, but all of them have a full in-game explanation on their function.
Programs are buffs that affect your ship; they are not limited by sensor radius, and will always function at full capacity.
Viruses are debuffs that affect the enemy ship; they are limited by their sensor radius, and the enemy’s cyber-defense stat.
Viruses, both incoming and outgoing, are found on the Viruses page; ones labeled in green are your viruses attacking the enemy, ones labeled in red are currently infecting you.
Below each program and virus is a number of dots; this is the “charge cost” of each program. Depending on your warp drive, each fuel canister spent either jumping or used to manually charge programs will fill up a certain amount of dots, from left to right and top to bottom, with one exception of an exotic warp drive that, instead, charges 1 pip of each program.
Each jump will use 1 fuel and fill up that many charges; if additional charges are required, Engineering can load a fuel canister and flip a switch to manually charge programs on request.
To remove viruses from yourself, you can either use an Antivirus program, or completely shutdown and restart your ship from Engineering. Note that doing the latter will also disable your thrust, weapons, and shields, and should only be done when safe.
A NOTABLE CAVEAT to viruses is that they can only be used on actively hostile, aggressive ships. If the enemy does not know you’re there for whatever reason, or if you are not currently hostile with the target, your viruses will not work, with the exception of Block Long Range Comms which is actually a program that affects all enemies in the sector, rather than a virus.
Between fights, the scientist, and captain, are additionally in charge of Research. Research unlocks new abilities to put points into; they are not free and they are not passive. skill points must be spent to activate them once researched.
Next to the research screen is an atomizer; anything put in this will be permanently destroyed, functioning both as a trash can, and a way to break down physical science items into science points. Breaking down normal items will not grant science; they will simply be permanently destroyed.
Research ticks by 1 turn every jump, and, as a result, a new research cannot be picked mid-jump.