This section applies to all ships, as every ship has at least some kind of weapon to use against the enemy. Whether the damage an engineering ship is capable of doing to an enemy can compare to the damage an Assault-class Dreadnought can do is another story.
Getting in Range and Targetting
All weapons have two characteristics: a firing arc and a maximum range. No weapon will fire at a target outside its range, and if a target leaves its range after being fired upon, a projectile weapon will explode after traveling its maximum distance. In step with this, a laser weapon will stretch beyond its range, but cease to do damage beyond that point. If a weapon or other device is mounted to the front of a vessel, it will only be able to fire if its target is somewhere in the front of the vessel. In addition, some weapons (primarily missiles and bombs) have a minimum time to arm; you will not be able to fire these weapons if the target is too close to your ship.
When a target is selected (you can fire on anything), all the devices that are in range will become active, meaning the system buttons on your screen will glow green. You can examine any weapon's arcs and range by right-clicking on the system. Range and arcs will show up as an area of space around your ship shaded in a crimson red.
As a more advanced tactic, you can target an area in space and fire upon it by using your mouse to CTRL+Click. If you hold down control, a target indicator will appear over your cursor in the tactical window (this also works in the navigation window). Simply click when you are pointing at the desired area and the target will be selected. This will allow you to target a specific point in space and fire upon it.
Any weapon in DarkSpace can be fired simply by right-clicking on the device if it is green (active). Different types of weapon do different types of damage.
- Heat Damage - Chemical Lasers employed by the human factions do more and more damage the closer you are to the enemy vessel.
- Focused Damage - Cannons and K'Luth Disruptors impact a particular spot and do not differ in damage depending on distance.
- Splash Damage - Torpedoes and Missiles are capable of damaging ships even if they do not accomplish a direct hit.
It is also possible to fire in groups. All weapon types have a default numbering, which is viewable on the device in your systems display. Pressing that number on your keyboard will fire that group. You can also create your own grouped device by left-clicking on the device and pressing any number from 1 to 9, 0 will un-group that device. The number on the device will change to indicate its new assignment.
Finally, it is also possible to fire an alpha strike, which salvos all available weapons toward your target. This is a powerful means of attack, but be conscious of the effect that using so many systems at once will have on your ship's power supply. Repeated alpha strikes in a heavily armed vessel without proper consideration to speed and energy will quickly result in a power drain, rendering your weapons useless until your energy can flow uninterrupted.
All laser weapons can be set to automatically fire on incoming missiles, nearby bombs, and other weapons that are targetable while moving toward their objectives. You can do this by shift+clicking on any laser. The letters "PD" will appear on the laser, indicating that it is set to point defense. Keep the consequences of this setting in mind when you are in combat, as PD Lasers will fire whether you tell them to or not.
To activate or deactivate all applicable lasers for Point Defense at once, press CTRL+B. Heavy Chemical Lasers and Assault Disruptors cannot be used for point defense.
Ammunition and Reloading
As previously stated, not all weapons are infinite in their firepower. Weapons such as torpedoes and especially missiles can run out of ammo, rendering them inactive until they are reloaded. The ammo count is noted by a number on the device, which is not to be confused with the device's group number. Group numbers are on the left of the device, while the ammo count will always appear in the bottom right corner, if there is one.
Reloading occurs when you are being repaired by any supply drones from a supply ship or depot, or more slowly when you are in orbit of a planet. There will be more information on reloading and resupplying to come.
Armor, Shields, and Auto-Repair
All vessels are equipped with some degree of armor plating or shields that will prevent direct damage to the vessel's hull for a period of time. Like weapons, armor and shields have directional mounts, as they too are systems. Some armor system slots will be full mounts, while some armor will only cover one side of the vessel while additional layers coat the rest of the ship.
The fundamental difference between shields and armor is that shields recharge more quickly than armor auto-repairs itself. Also, shields can be re-routed using the indicated keys on the devices to transfer shield power to a particular quadrant/arc. Once a layer of shields or armor on one quadrant has been completely drained, the hull and ship systems are open to any damage the enemy's weapons can inflict. Shields can be toggled between their normal operation mode, an overcharged Defense mode, which recharges the shields faster at the cost of a much higher energy drain, or simply turned off. Pressing CTRL+S will cycle between these modes.
In addition to Armor, K'Luth ships and all stations are equipped with special auto-repair devices that automatically repair a ship's hull over time, yet do so slowly.
In addition to being displayed on your ship's Systems bar, the status of your Armor and/or Shields is displayed as a series of rings around your ship. Armor is rendered in green rings, shields in cyan. As your armor or shields take damage, the number of rings around your ship will decrease, and the color will change as well. Armor will fade to yellow and then red, shields will fade to dark blue and then purple. If your ship has shields which are operating in Defense mode, an additional white ring will be displayed around your ship, though this is a purely cosmetic effect.
Hull and System Damage
Once shields are down, weapons that manage to impact the surface of the vessel will begin directly damaging the hull of the vessel. Flux and EMP weapons even have the capability to do damage to systems once there is a hole in a ship's protective shielding. System damage will also occur when a ship begins reaching critical hull levels, as devices will begin to fail when their sections of the hull are crippled (i.e., full arc systems are strongly susceptible to system damage as they can be hit from anywhere).
When your vessel reaches 0% hull, it will explode and you will have to select a new ship. Destroyed ships may leave behind resources that can be picked up and returned to a planet's starport or dealt with as the gatherer wishes.
Your vessel's jump drive, if intact, can be an invaluable asset to removing you from a battle quickly. If you've realized that your bout is over and that you would rather come back and fight another day than go down in flames, press Shift+J to initiate an Emergency Jump. This will activate a short, automatic jump in the direction your ship is facing.
As such, it is important that you check your course before you use this technique. More than one pilot has been known to barely escape with their lives intact, only to crater into a star or planet mere seconds after E-jumping away from combat.
The Cry of Distress! Signalling and Aiding Your Allies
There are a few buttons on the lower half of the tactical screen that allow you to send quick and easy distress signals to your allies. These can also be activated using a few simple hotkeys.
-Attack Distress: Use CTRL+H to send the signal "DISTRESS: I am under attack!". This will broadcast as a chat message to all members of your team.
-Supply Distress: Use SHIFT+H to send the signal "DISTRESS: I need resupply!"
-Press H to target the last distress signal you received, so that you can quickly and easily get in on the action!
Boarding and Capturing Vessels
DarkSpace allows for the possibility of infantry being sent across space from ship-to-ship. If you have infantry on board your vessel (which can be automatic from the jumpgate or loaded from a planet), you can press "U" or click on their cargo buttons individually when you are in range of a targeted enemy vessel. Be careful when doing this, because infantry are slow-moving and may not be able to keep up with the enemy forces. Their pods can also be shot down by point defense and splash damage from torpedoes.
Any infantry that successfully board your vessel will first have to fight any infantry that you have in your cargo bay. If the fight goes their way, most of the time the infantry will do some systems damage to your vessel before being eliminated by the vessel's automatic internal defenses. However, there is a small chance (depending on the type of ship you're piloting and the skill of the enemy troops on board) that you will be captured by the enemy troops. You will have a resources lost penalty added to your profile and will have to select a new ship.
The captured ship will fight until the area is clear, then it will leave the battlefield and head for the nearest shipyard or Home Gate.