As much as I like my little rookie ship, it’s clear that I need to upgrade. I keep running out of things: Cargo capacity, slots to fit weapons and equipment, drone capacity, power grid, CPU, everything. Let’s face it. It’s a tiny little ship. That’s why they give it away for free.
And it’s not the first one, either.
The first one got blown to bits when I warped into a bunch of NPC pirates, engaged them in a fight and had my mind sort of lock up. Granted, my shields and armor were disappearing pretty fast, but I could have warped out of there. For some reason I decided to fight it out. After the shields and the armor were destroyed, I watched the red bleed across the structure meter after I finally did warp out, but it was too late. My little ship splattered across the screen in an explosion a couple of seconds later. At least I got to see the escape pod containing yours truly popping into space and warping to the nearest location, where I was promptly informed by the insurance company — no escape from those guys, even in a virtual universe — that I had been given a new rookie ship. I boarded that ship and got out of Dodge.
I set out to determine which ship would be my future ride. With my current skills, I had a choice of half a dozen or so, all with different capacities of this and that. Some are geared for fighting, some mining, some larger and slower, some smaller but faster. Sometimes when undocking from a station, you get dumped into a congregation of ships coming and going. Pulling back the camera and rotating it around, I got to see just how small the rookie ship really is compared to others. Picture a housefly next to a bald eagle. I finally selected one of the larger frigates — still a pretty small ship — called the Probe.
Now to outfit it.
I figured a general-purpose setup would work, because I didn’t think I was at the point where I should specialize yet. I kept it simple: one gun, one mining laser and a couple of the doodads I had accumulated by killing low-level NPC pirates (a damage control, an afterburner and a white noise generator). The new ship could carry two low-level drones instead of the single one the rookie ship could carry, so I bought a mining drone to try to speed up the money-making process and a scout drone for defense. Both were chosen via a not-too-detailed analysis of items’ characteristics while feeling my way through the process.
Did I mention not getting away from insurance companies? I had forgotten what I had read in the game guide about insurance. I was soon reminded. Some sizable fraction of the cost of the ship was required to insure it for 60 percent of its value. I paid up, but did so grumbling. Who needs something in a game that we’d all like to get rid of in real life? Yeah, yeah, realism and all that…. Surely thousands of years from now there will be something better than insurance companies.
Either that, or they’ll be running the galaxy.
I didn’t have much money left after all that, but I was the proud owner of a cool new ship and was ready to set out and give it a try. Asteroids, here I come.
I have to be careful, though. In my rookie ship, I had a player lock target on me while I was flying near a stargate. I noticed it and got away in time, but if that happens again and I react too slowly, now I could be out some money. Not a lot, but enough that it would be irritating to have to replace it.
So with my new ship, I have a new risk and responsibility.
— Will Collum
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