Advancement (progression) through the game is incredibly simple and is actually somewhat unorthodox in comparison to other games. You as a mercenary pilot rank yourself up simply buy buying the next best ship in a faction. Your rank is dictated by the highest tier ship you own from 1 to 15. Each of the 3 factions have a different hierarchy of vessels to choose from. Each tier will become increasingly harder to get both in Synergy costs and in credits. You gain ranks by indirect experience known as Synergy. Apart from this kind of main advancement, you can better your ships of choice via upgrades to components. Essentially; upgrade your ship to the next one in a tree while at the same time, having the highest ranked equipment.
Each new player in the game is given each faction's tier 1 vessel. From then on, the player can choose which hierarchy to follow or all of them and better themselves. Recognition is obtained from each faction after you progress to a new rank.
The First Steps
Newcomers to the game will be faced against bots (otherwise known as Co-Op Mode) and is given the option to fight alongside a more experienced player in an effort to learn more about the game's mechanics. At this time, the player is a "recruit" and will remain so until they reach rank 4 and mentor status is over. After that, the placer is put up against other players (PvP Mode) instead of AI. Rank 5 will unlock the player's Workshop. The Workshop is where the player can manufacture ship components, materials, and modules. Rank 7 will unlock the Undock option, allowing the player to engage Open Space.
- Even though it is written "PvP", the mode will still be Co-Op until the player is ready, after which, the player unlocks true PvP mode and Co-Op is only available in it's designated mode.
- Once the essentials are complete and all of the main modes of play are unlocked, the player can progress in the game to unlock further modes.
- Ship trees were designed not to let the player directly follow a specific branch. Before ranking up, the player must fit a set of requirements which are shown on the vessel to be unlocked.
- Crew settings and implants are unlocked with each new rank given in a faction. There are 4 crews, the first one will not be completely unlocked until rank 15 in a certain faction, upon that unlock, an extra crew will be given from that faction. The other 2 crews can be unlocked by reaching rank 15 with the remaining factions.
- Implants are only usable on a correlating vessel's rank. Rank 8 ships cannot use a rank 9 implant; only rank 8 implants and lower. This applies to all ships in the game.
- Only rank 15 implants work on all ship ranks.
- Crews can be assigned to all ship slots of a player's choosing.
- Apon reaching rank 12, crews, implants, of any given faction, the player will unlock the 4th ship slot; enabling them to utilize one more ship in battle.
- The tasks assignments will change based on the player's progress in the game.
- Maps in the game are unlocked as the player progresses.
- Open Space sectors are rank locked at 1, 7, and 10. Owning a ship of the corresponding ranks will unlock the ability to travel to these sectors.
- Star Conflict Leagues are unlocked at rank 11 along with the full range of Special Ops. missions.
- Tournament mode is available to players rank 7-9, and Sector Conquest is available to tiers in these sets: 7-9, 10-12, and 13-15.
- After unlocking everything, the player may notice some game mechanics become more important, the crews and ship builds become incredibly important.
- After reaching rank 14 in a faction, that faction's Special Project ship's become accessible. These vessels are meant to suit the player's every possible need.
Rank is gained with factions by buying their ships. Your rank with each faction is simply the highest rank ship you own in a faction. The higher your rank with a faction, the more contracts their subfactions will offer you. Gaining ranks also unlocks new implants.
There are several currencies in the game that can be used to purchase ships and equipment including: Credits, Galactic Standards, Loyalty Vouchers and Artifacts.
Credits are the main in-game currency, and are earned through combat and completing missions. PvP will give some credits, and PvE will give much more. Credits are used to buy non-Premium ships and to manufacture various materials in the Workshop. Credits can also be purchased with Galactic Standards through the Exchange.
Galactic Standards (GS) are the premium currency in the game and is purchased with real life money. They are used to buy Premium ships and upgrade equipment to Mk. III. A small number of Galactic Standards can be obtained by completing in-game polls and special events; earning achievements will also award the player with 10GS.
Loyalty vouchers are earned by completing contracts for your chosen subfaction. Loyalty vouchers are used to upgrade equipment to the next Mk., but the vouchers must be of the right subfaction for the piece of equipment.
Artifacts are earned by looting. When you find a purple upgrade kit, you can choose to salvage it for artifacts (you receive a small number if you salvage it yourself, or more if you pay GS). You can also sometimes find artifacts themselves as loot. Artifacts are used to: A)upgrade equipment to the most powerful level - Mk. IV or B)donate to your Corporation to be refined into Iridium.
Ships and Synergy
The main type of advancement through the game is buying and upgrading ships. Non-Premium ships (or "Credit ships") are bought with Credits and are upgraded via Synergy. Before you can buy a ship you must earn enough synergy with one of its prerequisite ships to unlock it. Premium ships are bought with Galactic Standards and do not require a specific prerequisite, though you can only buy Premium ships up to 3 ranks higher than the highest rank ship you currently own. Premium Ships also come with maxed-out Synergy, meaning that when you fly the ship you gain +20% free synergy for all ships to use.
Once you own a ship, you can upgrade it by earning Synergy. Synergy is a measure of your proficiency in a particular ship. By flying a ship you will earn synergy points for that ship. When you gain enough synergy points, you can spend it in the ship fitting screen to level up that ship. In addition to synergy with a particular ship you will also earn a small amount of "free" synergy, that can be used to level up any ship.
The higher your level in a ship, the better it will perform, gaining a small increase in statistics across the board and some bonuses. Once you gain maximum synergy level in a ship the spare synergy can be transferred to another ship by paying Galactic Standards. Gaining maximum synergy with a ship will also add one to your "Fleet Strength", which will increase all future synergy gain by 1%.
Special Project ships are vessels that become available once the player reaches rank 14 with a faction. They are meant to be able to fill various different roles all in one ship, conforming to a player's needs. Destroyers are similar to these ships except they are more for group play versus individual. These too must be manufactured. On the other hand, the player can purchase Premium Ships which are vessels that have bonus stats and special modules. Premium Ships also are already Synergy maxed, giving +20% free synergy when used in battle. Components for Premium Ships can be obtained in battle from playing in PvP and PvE modes.
Equipment are materials and components used on ships that can be upgrade for better stats. Each piece of equipment is rank as a "Mark (Mk)" and in order to upgrade it to the next Mk, the player requires loyalty vouchers. All Mk upgrades for equipment require vouchers (Iridium is no longer used to upgrade certain equipment). If the player has not already, some equipment will need to be researched before the upgrade can be purchased. To research, the player must select the component to be research and confirm the decision and play through some battles in order to progress the research.
Modules are ship systems that can be upgraded. Modules share the same game mechanic of progression as each module requires a specific voucher type to be upgraded. Mk. IV modules can only be upgraded to Mk. V after the upgrade is manufactured in the Workshop.