What is Star Conflict?
Star Conflict is described as a ?Dynamic Action MMO? by the developer, although personally I see it more as a lobby-based MOG (Multiplayer Online Game). While the game is online only on a persistent server, actual gameplay is in much more of a First Person Shooter sized bite, generally in 8v8 conflicts. The game is very twitch based and is heavily objective driven gameplay, requiring both personal skill and team strategy.
The game itself seems to draw inspiration heavily from two major titles: World of Tanks (WoT), and EVE Online. While the combat itself is far more like WoT, the inspiration of multiple damage types, resistances, ship ?roles?, multiple armor layers, and the hundreds of modules, weapons, and ammo types give the game a ton of depth and allowing the player to heavily customize their ships.
If you are looking for a fast paced action game that is both fun to play and provides a very serious layer of strategy, consider installing Star Conflict. As it is a free to play game, you have very little to lose in giving it a shot!
The First 10 Minutes of ?WTF Do I Do??
So you just installed and made your account, what do you do next? Well the game gives you a starting choice of a race to play: Empire, Federation, or Jerico. While the illusion of three faction warfare is there, as of right now your starting faction is little more than a basis for your starting bonuses and ship. You can unlock ships from all three factions and switch between them freely later on. So pick what sounds good and get going into the tutorial.
As far as the tutorial is concerned, the game seems pretty complicated at first. There are a lot of keys that can be used to switch and use modules, ammo type, missile type, targeting etc. However the tutorial doesn?t explain that several keys are only applicable to Tier 2 and beyond. Take the time in the tutorial to fly around for a bit and get used to the many ways you can manipulate your ship. For quick reference, here is a list of the important keys you should know:
W ? Increase your movement speed
S ? Slow down, or move backwards (continue to hold S when your ship comes to a stop to go in reverse)
A ?Yaw left (as if turning a car, your ship will float leftward, not?roll left)
D ?Yaw right
Q ?Roll Left (literally turn your ship on from horizontal to vertical, used for turning faster)
E ?Roll Right
Shift ? Boost (uses Energy to move faster than your normal maximum)
Space- Move upward (not quite a pitch as the ship remains in same position, you just move upward in relation to the ship)
Alt ? Move downward
Left Mouse Button ? Fire main weapon (unlimited ammo, guns can overheat if fired too consistently)
Right Mouse Button ? Fire missiles (limited ammo, spike damage, can be avoided or outrun)
F ? Use your ships special module. This varies from ship to ship so be sure you read what each one does!
Middle Mouse ? Lock-on Target (can also be accomplished with R key or simply shooting at a target when you are not already locked-on)
Tab ? Brings up the map, useful if you lose track of where you are in space, finding where your team is, or finding objectives relative to your current location.
1~4 ? Module keys, these will be selectable and vary based on how you assemble your ship.
Sadly, the tutorial is very short at the moment (beta is beta) and doesn?t really explain much besides movement, targeting, shooting, and capturing a point. After this you are immediately thrown into the game to kind of piece together the rest. Thankfully, I got you covered.
The Main Menu
This is what you will be staring when you are not in a match, so familiarize yourself with it! In the upper left there are many buttons that allow you to do everything from buying ships, adding or adjusting your skills (similar to a talent tree) buying and equipping your ships, and much more. Several of these will be explained later on.
In the Upper right corner you have your player name along with corporation (if you are in one) you can also add a boost to your ships (these are small bonuses for several battles) and extend your pilot license. While it cost real money to extend your license, you do gain quite a boost to reputation, money made, and experience. All new accounts start with a free 7 day license.
On the Left side is your current ship selection. These are the ships you will be bringing into combat when you go into a game and how they are set up is locked in when you join a game. While on the main menu you can freely switch out your roster to better suit your play style for specific game types and switch all the modules attached to the ship.
The bottom right corner includes some useful tools and information. Here you can find your friends list, how much money you have, and if you so choose you may buy galactic credits for real money (used specifically for premium ships, premium modules, and extending your pilot license) It is worth noting that real money ships and modules hold little to no advantage over the Mark II equivalent and thus are only for convenience. You can play this game completely free and be on equal ground in any fight? you just have to work for it.
At the bottom middle is how you launch into a game. The dropdown menu allows you to select your game type while the fight button begins the search to place you into a game. While we are told more game types will be available in the future, the current game modes (worth noting anyway) are as follows.
The Game Modes
Arcade? This game mode is much more action based. Ship limit is generally unlimited (with a 30 second respawn) and you can be randomly put into one of 3 game types:
Detonation? A plant the bomb style map, here each team has 3 beacons and the objective is to grab the bomb and destroy the opponents? beacons. In this game 1 bomb will appear in the middle, requiring a short duration to pick it up (you must float near it until the capture bar is full) When you have the bomb you need to run to one of your enemies beacons and float near it for a set amount of time to plant the bomb (a planting status bar will show so you know how long until the bomb is planted). If a bomb is held for a long enough period of time (around 30 seconds) a second bomb will appear in the middle. If the game ends in a draw (same number of beacons remain on each team) the winner is decided based on which team picked up the most bombs (not by kill count!)
Domination- A three-point capture game. Both teams start with 100 points and must whittle down their opponents score to 0. This can be done in two ways: Every kill will drop the opponent?s points by one; however the more efficient way is by capturing and holding two or more beacons. When a team holds two beacons the opposing team will slowly lose points, however if a team can capture all three the opposing team will rapidly lose points. There are two versions of this map, one with a middle beacon along with a beacon closer to each teams respawn area. The other is three evenly spaced beacons around the middle giving no team an advantage toward any beacon.
Recon (aka Commander)? One player on each team is selected as commander; this player is always visible to both teams. While your commander is alive you are free to respawn, when he dies you lose the ability to respawn. The goal is to kill the commander than destroy the remaining ships. It is important to note that a commander can see all of the opposing teams ships, thus he can give out vital information to his team.
Regular? Interesting choice of name as this is neither the mode it auto selects nor is it the more common game type people play. Regardless Regular is a very strict game mode. Players are limited on the number of ships they can use (can only use each ship once, if all your ships blow up you are out) and strategy is quite different than in arcade mode. For Regular you only have 1 game type:
Capture the Beacon- Each team has three beacons with 4 guard drones; the goal is to eliminate the drones to capture your opponents? beacons. Alternatively you can destroy all the enemy teams? ships to win. ?In this mode long range support fire becomes far more useful, allowing a team to eliminate the extra firepower of the drones from a safe distance, and generally eliminating a few pilots on the enemy team as well.
Scenario? The only PvE game mode currently, Scenarios play far differently than the other two game modes. In scenario you are placed on a team of 4 which must play through multiple rounds and waves of enemies to win. The catch is you can only use 1 ship per round and if everyone on your team is destroyed, you lose. Each round plays slightly different:
Round 1? 3 waves of small ships will try to attack your team and take your beacons. This is generally pretty easy as 80% of the ships can be destroyed in a few shots, just locate where they are approaching from each wave and unload your guns.
Round 2? go on the offensive and attack the 3 navigation stations of your opponent. You will have to deal with some stationary guns and a bunch of small fighters at the same time. Win the round by blowing up all 3 nav stations.
Round 3- The AI leader attempts to attack your base and take your beacons. This ship has a ton of armor and shields and can very easily destroy a player within a few shots, so be careful and stay close to cover! As your team whittles down his armor, backup will arrive to help the boss out. These ships aren?t entirely strong but they give you something else to worry about. Blow up the boss and all the reinforcements to win.
The major draw to scenario mode is that if you win, you are guaranteed a module to drop for each player. The money payout is similar to arcade and regular modes as well so there really isn?t a disadvantage to playing scenarios over PvP modes as of right now.
Important Things to Know
There are a few things the game doesn?t really explain well that require a bit of experimentation, thankfully I went through all this pain so you don?t have to!
Contracts? After your first game(s) you will be notified about contracts. A contract allows you to gain reputation with one of the six sub-factions in the game. Gaining reputation has a few rewards tied to it. First it allows you to take contracts with the faction, these are tasks that, when completed, give you some extra cash and more reputation with the sub-faction. More contracts unlock as you rank up and they can become more difficult or require very specific tasks to be accomplished. The harder it is, the better the reward (generally speaking). As you rank up with a faction you also gain the ability to buy mark III modules from that faction. This is where ranking up all factions comes into play as Mark III modules are some of the best available (even better than many ?Premium? modules) thus giving you a slight advantage in combat. Finally your subfaction is a part of one of the main three factions, and thus you gain reputation for that faction as well. This is important for unlocking ships.
Switching Factions / Contracts? At any time you can switch your contract to another and build up reputation with another faction / sub-faction. This is how you unlock ships for all three factions. While you never lose the current standing with any faction by switching, be aware that for each rank of your current contract, you will pay an additional 20k credits to sign a different contract. So if you are currently Rank 5 with Jericho Raid and wish to start working on Empire Legion, you will need 100k credits.
Skills? Your skill tree is much like a talent tree in an MMO, it just works slightly different. As you rank up in one of the three main factions you will have access to new implants from that faction. However you can only have 1 implanted skill for each rank. So for instance if you have each faction to rank 4, you may choose to implant one skill from each rank. So you can have the jericho rank 1 and 2 skill, federation rank 3, and empire rank 4. You cannot however have jericho and federation rank 1 and 2 for your 4 skill points. To re-implant there is a button on the lower left side of the skill tree window that will cost you a small amount to re-implant skills.
Special Modules- A special module is a unique ability for a ship. These abilities vary greatly from faction to faction and even ship to ship. It is important to read each special module before buying a ship as the different variations of a ship work slightly differently. For instance: A Lynx Mk. II and a Lynx-M both have a stealth special module. While the stealth for a Lynx-M lasts longer, the Lynx Mk. II cannot be unstealthed when it takes damage. These two ships would actually be useful in very different scenarios. The Lynx-M you may want to use for Recon mode to get into range of the commander easier without being detected, where as the Lynx Mk. II would be better fit to get out of a bad situation safely.
Synergy? As you use a ship more often you will gain synergy with that specific ship. As your synergy level increases, certain parameters of the ship will increase; generally giving you stronger hull/shields and may boost other stats as well.
Read Everything!? When hovering your mouse over a ship you can hold Shift to get a more detailed report of the ship? And trust me there is a ton of stats to every ship. This may be overwhelming for new players, but it is an important aspect to the game and it helps you better plan out what to use on a ship. Every ship will gain special bonuses such as capture speed bonus, module bonuses, damage bonuses, etc. This will help you know what the ship is built to do best so you have an idea on how and what to use. There is also plenty of information about a ships resistance and if it has a stronger hull or shield. This is quite important as you do not want to put a hull repair on a ship that has 4000 hull and 10000 shield. You can also hold shift on modules and weapons to get exact numbers on their effective range, energy costs, duration and more. Remember that knowledge is half the battle!
Congratulations! You now should have more knowledge and understanding about Star Conflict than most players who just downloaded the game off Steam. Hopefully this guide helped you out as it took quite some time to figure it all out on my own. Hopefully this will alleviate a good majority ?of questions you may have had and make your experience better than most new players to the game. If this game continues to draw a crowd (and hopefully be inspired to become more competitive) I am considering writing more guides. If you would like to see more on this game, or have any questions, let me know!