The earliest signs of Spring are in the air here at Space Tomato Gaming, and like most Star Citizen fans, we’re waiting with bated breath for Cloud Imperium Games to release patch 3.17 into the wild. With a considerable bounty of features both big and small coming our way, we can’t help but get a bit wound up about one long-awaited feature that is finally bringing a purpose to one of the oldest ships in the game.
Friends, refueling is about to make the Starfarer relevant and usher in a whole new gameplay mechanic in one fell swoop.
There has been some grumbling, however, that refueling doesn’t bring much to a game that only features one solitary solar system, one where running out of fuel is more a matter of forgetfulness than a logistical shortcoming. With that in mind, we thought we would look at how refueling benefits Star Citizen, even with only the Stanton system to explore.
Organizations in Star Citizen will undoubtedly benefit more than most when refueling gameplay comes online. Anyone who has participated in an Org event knows that a fleet travels on its fuel tank, and having a secure way to keep support craft and escort ships in the air will go a long way towards keeping an objective locked down.
During the latter days of Jumptown 2.0, the Garden Interstellar Initiative sent a strike team to lock down one of the drug facilities and bring some much-needed law and order to the region. Our fighter screens kept our ground crews secure from threats while they processed the contraband in the facility while allowing some friendly citizens through to repossess some narcotics with assistance from our Industry crews.
The biggest flaw in this operation came from holes that would appear in our fighter screen whenever a ship needed to leave to refuel. We had enough overlap to keep the area secure, but a dedicated fueling ship being on hand to keep those fighters fueled up and ready to lay down some pain would have been a boon for the op.
Orgs working together during large Dynamic Events like XenoThreat will also benefit greatly by the addition of refueling, as the Org could leave a Starfarer just out of the risk of getting attacked but close enough that fighters could refuel and get back into action without leaving their compatriots vulnerable for too long.
Wait– we already know what you’re about to say… “you don’t need a refueling ship for mining since you already have to go back to a station to refine”. While this is technically true, there is a huge reason why a refueling ship could make every difference in a mining operation’s success, and that reason is time.
Anyone who has made that white-knuckle Quantum jump from Lyria to ARC-L1 knows there’s a pretty decent chance that someone is out there somewhere along the route waiting to add a ransom request to your mining experience. The longer a mining vessel is running the route between the mining location and the refinery station, the more likely they are going to be waylaid along the way, even with a fighter escort.
Even when a mining ship is parked at a refinery station it is still at risk. Every moment a miner spends on a landing pad is a moment that a pirate scout can notify their friends that a fresh payday might be headed their way. It’s in a miner’s best interest to get off that pad and back to the mining site with as little delay as possible.
A Starfarer stationed at a mining site takes one of those moments of the risk out of the equation for miners. They can hit the Lagrange station, place their refinery order, then bounce back to the Starfarer to top off their Quantum and Hydrogen without sitting on an open landing pad and risking detection by potential hostiles.
Planetary-based mining operations risk an altogether familiar danger of not just pirates but burning through Hydrogen fuel while scouting for and recovering minable assets. Just about anyone who has crawled over the surface of Lyria hunting for Quantanium has experienced that heart-dropping feeling of running low on fuel only to find a large payday waiting for extraction. With a dedicated Starfarer working into planetside mining operations, this won’t be an issue!
Adding a refueling ship to a mining operation will also add more logistical gameplay options for Orgs when they run mining operations as well!
This one’s a little out there because there are a whole lot of different types of racing vehicles, and the Starfarer is only going to be able to refuel those that aren’t bound to the ground. But for folks who have that need for speed, a friend with a Starfarer is going to be a friend indeed.
Races can be limited by the actual range a racing vehicle can reach on a tank of hydrogen, but with the introduction of refueling, you can now plan longer, more elaborate races with greater distances traveled. Plus, those Starfarers could act as mobile pit stops, a great staging area for relief crews to help their racers get fueled up and back in the race.
And with the extraordinary size of the Starfarer’s cargo hold, they make fantastic transports for racing rigs and backup vehicles as well. We expect to see a lot of these old ships seeing some action on the racing circuits!
The Starfarer will not be the best support ship for bounty hunting operations, but when refueling goes live in 3.17 it will be the first vehicle suited for keeping the Stanton system’s Civil Defense Force fueled up and ready to send pirates packing back to GrimHex.
Currently, bounty hunters who hunt the asteroid belt surrounding Yela can only harry the pirates for so long before heading back to Port Olisar to restock munitions and refuel. Throw a Starfarer in with a hunter pack and those trips back to PO could be limited to loading up on ballistic ammunition or topping off the missile racks.
Fighter crews with purely energy weapon-based load-outs could stay in the fight even longer, only heading back to PO for repairs, which could make the most profitable game loop in Star Citizen even more so.
In the future, vehicles like the Aegis Vulcan will be even better-equipped support craft for bounty hunting crews, since they’ll be able to not only refuel but rearm and even perform limited repairs, keeping those fighters in the fight even longer!
Cargo haulers face the same dilemma as miners– the longer they stay in any one place, the more likely a pirate spotter or bored PVP enthusiast is going to notice them. Getting off of an outpost’s landing pads and back into the black as fast as possible is the best way to ensure your cargo gets to its destination without the hauler suffering any losses.
A Starfarer captain will earn their keep quickly in a trade-based org since they can be centrally stationed to allow easy access for their Org mates to top off the fuel tanks on their haulers without risky time parked on a landing pad.
Another way a Starfarer can help is by giving an unknown Quantum jump point for haulers to jump to– savvy privateers can often figure out where a hauler is jumping to just based on where the cargo ship is pointed when it jumps, but if that ship isn’t pointing towards a known destination, figuring out where to interdict that ship becomes close to impossible.
We’re very excited about the addition of refueling to Star Citizen. While it may not seem that this feature adds too much to the game at this time, we’re predicting that the impact on the game will be bigger than most people think. Like medical gameplay before it, refueling adds a new layer of complexity, potential gameplay loops, and a new way to make a credit in the ‘Verse.
These are our top ways that a Starfarer can help support ships in Star Citizen, even with only one system in play at the moment! We’re sure there’s even more– if there is a support role refuelers can fill that we didn’t cover, let us know in the comments!