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THE DIFFERENCE BALLISTIC AND LASER WEAPONS

Star Citizen Alpha 2.4’s Item Port System simplifies customizing your ship’s configuration, making it very intuitive to experiment with varying ship loadouts. As mentioned in a previous article, one of the first things I did was change the weapons on my Sabre. That said, how did I decide on the type of weapons I wanted to use? To begin, you need to understand the difference between ballistic and laser weapons.

BALLISTIC WEAPONS

Ballistic weapons fire physical ammunition at a target. As this is a physical object with mass, it’s slowed down by the targeted ship’s shield but is able to penetrate it to do damage to the ship’s hull. The amount of damage that passes through the shield to hit the hull is based on the class of shield being penetrated. For example, an inexpensive civilian class shield may have a 40/60 split. This means 40% of the incoming damage is absorbed by the shield. The other 60% of the damage hits the hull.

Additionally, as a mechanized device, ballistic weapons do not utilize your ship’s energy to fire and generate a minimal amount of heat. If enough energy exists for the weapon itself to be brought online, that’s all that’s required. This allows you to sustain other ship components that require energy better. And ballistic don’t contribute greatly to your ship’s overall heat signature. Here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages for ballistic weapons.

Advantages

  • Hitting the target always delivers some damage to the targeted ship
  • Doesn’t consume energy
  • Emits minimal heat signature
  • Supports longer targeting distance

Disadvantages

  • Requires ammunition – which is a finite amount in the chamber
  • Ammunition costs credits and must be continually replenished
  • Slower rate of fire and velocity, causing increased difficulty in hitting highly agile targets

LASER WEAPONS

Let’s get the part where Star Citizen’s laser weapons are more akin to plasma weapons out of the way up front. I agree with the portion of the player base that prefers calling them energy weapons. A true laser beam travels at the speed of light and is therefore invisible to the naked eye. This is an energy based weapon and as such, it utilizes energy from your ship’s available pool to function. They also generate heat. How much heat tends to be directly proportional to the quality of the laser weapon, speed and damage output.

Unlike ballistic weapons, 100% of a laser weapon’s damage is absorbed by a ship’s shield. This means that before you can start damaging the targeted ship, you must do enough damage to deplete its shield first. Yes, there’s a reason why you can see where your shields are depleted and adjust, as well as see the same information for the targeted ship. Good news is that once the shield is depleted, direct laser weapon damage tends to be higher damage than a ballistic weapon of the same calibre. This is part of the design balancing act between ballistic and laser weapons. Here’s a summary of the advantages and disadvantages for laser weapons.

Advantages

  • Doesn’t require ammunition
  • Faster weapon speed compared to same calibre ballistic weapon
  • Hits harder against exposed target (depleted shield) than same class ballistic weapon

Disadvantages

  • Must deplete the shield before you can damage targeted ship
  • Consumes ship energy from your ship’s available pool
  • Easier to overheat and can’t overheat be used until they cool down
  • Generating heat increases your ship’s overall heat signature

IN SUMMARY

Now that we’ve discussed the basic differences, you can make a more informed decision about which type or combination you want to configure on your ships. Overall time to kill is relatively fast at this stage of the Star Citizen alpha, such that you can go all ballistic or all laser and be fine – for now.

However, as larger ships are introduced and the component system enables upgrading shields, you’ll want to balance your weapons selection against things like:

  • Most likely or planned targets – agility, likely shield strength, etc.
  • Your ship’s role in an engagement – hit fast and fluid vs. less mobile brawler
  • Your ship’s component configuration – ability to regenerate energy, effectiveness of cooling components
  • Your playstyle – how you prefer to size up and dismantle targets

In everyday situations, it may be wise to have a mixture of ballistic and energy weapons. However, if you’re a scout or doing infiltration work, using weapons that increase your overall heat signature is probably counterproductive. These are the types of circumstances we’ll have to consider as larger ships are made flight ready and the game’s mechanics mature.

WHAT’S ALL THIS VOICE ATTACK STUFF?

With the interest in Voice Packs seemingly on the rise, while Cloud Imperium Games is continuing to refine Star Citizen’s control schemes, I thought it would be a good time to discuss Voice Attack in general and why some players have elected to use it.

If you’re like me, a HOTAS user, I simply don’t have enough buttons on my device to support even the minimum set of commands I want at the ready. My current setup also doesn’t support having the keyboard within a reach that’s effective to be used during combat. So I was elated to come across the idea of using a program to carry out a few basic commands.  This article will help you differentiate between VoiceAttack, Profiles and Voice Packs, and where to find additional information if interested.

WHAT IS VOICE ATTACK

As an ability, voice attack is a method of using your voice to initiate keystrokes.  The name is a bit of a misnomer. The capabilities are not tied to attacking / damage. It’s any set of keystrokes. You can launch a game. Establish your starting setup in an application. I use it to start and stop Fraps recordings so I can stay in the thick of combat and capture video using my voice.

VoiceAttack (VA) the program,  is a popular software application used to execute by voice, commands that would normally be a series of keystrokes and/or mouse interactions. Therefore, if you’re interested in playing around with using voice initiated commands, your first step is to acquire the software.  You can purchase VA from here. The object that VA uses to know what to DO when you SAY certain words or phrases is a Profile.

WHAT IS A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE

The Profile is a separate file with a .VAP extension.  The profile itself contains a series of commands you want executed, mapped to what you’ll say, when you want those commands to be carried out. Oftentimes, people want the successful execution of command followed to be up by an auditory confirmation.  This is achieved by using your computer’s operating system to turn text into speech. This allows your PC to say, “Done.” when a task is completed.

Using the Text-to-Speech engine is achieved by using the Say command in a profile, followed by the word or phrase to be spoken. Your operating system’s Text-to-Speech engine interprets the text into an auditory response using its default voice. If you don’t like your computer’s default voice, you can purchase additional ones from companies such as Ivona. However, auditory responses are not required for a Profile to work. And you shouldn’t invest in one until you’ve determined you like using voice attack commands in the first place.

Simply having a profile of commands that match the keybinds in the target game, is all you need, after installing voice attack software. You can download Profiles for free! There are members of the community who have shared their profiles.  Of course, mileage will vary on how well they work or suit your tastes.  Search the official RSI Forums, Star Citizen section on Reddit and the internet in general.

WHAT IS A VOICE PACK

A Voice Pack is a Profile that enhances the execution of commands by adding a significant amount of voice over / audio work. This is often done using professional voice actors or celebrities and may include additional narration that is not directly tied to executing commands, such as role-play conversations. HCS offers multiple Voice Packs for Star Citizen, as well as other games.  Many players enjoy having this more elaborate version of a Profile.  It’s fun and can be more immersive. However, it’s not a required component. You don’t have to own or purchase a Voice Pack in order to use voice attack commands.

CREATING AND EDITING A VOICE ATTACK PROFILE IS EASY

To be perfectly honest, Star Citizen has more keyboard commands and uses modifier keys more than any other game I’ve played. I can barely fly in Star Citizen without using VoiceAttack.  My HOTAS doesn’t have nearly enough buttons to accommodate the bare minimum of what’s needed. Trying to reach over to a keyboard in the middle of combat isn’t something I want to juggle.  Therefore, it’s essential for me to keep my profile updated with changes CIG makes to control schemes, as they’ve done in patch 2.4.  This type of large scale change is another reason why I’ve opted for a small profile during alpha.

The steps for creating and/or editing a Profile is very straight forward. You must have Voice Attack and you must know your current keybind settings in the game, in order to tie them to a voice command.  With those two in hand, you can create a basic profile from scratch or edit one you download for free or may have purchased. I wrote an article last year detailing the steps and they  haven’t changed since that time.

I hope this helps clarify voice attack as an ability vs. VoiceAttack the software vs. Voice Packs. I use VA religiously and own a Voice Pack from HCS. During the SC Alpha however, I’m sticking to a small one I created myself that’s easy to manage and only contains the dozen or so commands I can’t live without during combat.

OTHER ARTICLES YOU MAY ENJOY

Equipped: Arrowhead Energy Rifle

Klaus and Werner Arrowhead Energy Rifle

In this installment of Equipped we have a video to go along with our article!  Today, we are going to dive in on the Klaus and Werner Arrowhead Energy Rifle, Star Citizens first Sniper.  It was recently added to the PTU 2.3, and has been my favorite weapon to play with as it has totally changed the way I play in Crusader right now.  The first thing I am looking to do is find a sniper and take someones head off making their way from their ship to inside Security Post Kareah.

We usually speak about the manufacturer a bit before we dive into weapon stats and the like, but in a previous Equipped Article we gave you the background on Klaus and Werner, which can he found here.

The Energy Rifle, which I will now refer to as “the sniper” has taken the standard close quarters combat that we have been acostomed to since Crusader was implemented, and really changed the game quite a bit.  If you go to Security Post Kareah now, you will see red lasers flying down to the landing pads from the rafters of the station.  It really is giving a Day-Z feel to Crusader right now for me.

The most interesting thing about the gun is the way it functions, there is no gun like it in the game right now.  It does not have your standard fire modes we are used to like, semi-auto or auto, its fire mode is “charge”.  This means you can fire the gun in semi-auto, for base damage, or you can charge the weapon up to do even more damage!

Weapon Stats

Base Stats:

  • Rate of Fire – 2.5 Round/s
  • Damage – 8 Damage/Round
  • DPS – 20
  • Ammo Count – 40
  • Ammo Type – 10mm

Charge Stats:

  • Charge Time – 0.5 Seconds
  • Number of Charges – 4
  • Damage Multiplier- 1.5x
  • Damage with Full Charge -48
  • Rate of Fire (When Full Charged) 0.5 Rounds/Second
  • DPS – 24
  • Rounds/Charge – 1
  • Overheats at 8 Seconds of Charge

Now there is a another whole level to the charge mechanic!  If you hold the charge for 7 seconds, you hit “Overcharge” this applies an even higher damage multiplier, but you have only 1 second to fire the round with the max damage otherwise the weapon overheats and you have to wait 3 seconds to fire the weapon again.

Overcharge Stats:

  • Charge Time – 7 Seconds
  • Damage Multiplier – 3x
  • Damage with Full Charge – 96
  • Rate of Fire (When Overcharged) .12 Rounds/Second
  • DPS – 11.2

The DPS for the charged weapon modes might not look fantastic, but snipers are finesse weapons and with a single, well placed shot, you can kill your opponent from a range where they cant fathom hitting you with a killshot.  Both the charged shots and overcharged shots will kill a player if the shot hits the chest or the head, any other part of the body has zero effect as of PTU 2.3.

Through our testing we believe that a players health in the chest is ~10 and the head ~5.  A player in the standard issue “Light Marine” armor has a damage modifier of .6 (confirmed through the xml files) which bascially means it eats 40% of the damage dealt to it.  So if I fire my sniper without a charge it does 8 damage, with the armor’s modifier it brings my damage dealt to my opponent to 4.8, causing me to have to fire again to get to 9.6 and a final shot for the kill.  And this is why a charged shot anywhere on a player is a one-shot-kill, the base damage of 8 with the a single charge brings us to 12, but that is holding for only 1/2 a second, in most situations we will be holding for at least a second.  A one second hold or 2 charge shot deals 24 damage, with the armor modifier on our opponent we deal a total of 14.4 damage, a kill shot.

How to Obtain:

  1. Load into Crusader.
  2. Call up a ship.
  3. Turn 180° from Crusader to face the “back” end of Port Olisar
  4. Press “B” to bring up possible quantum drive locations and “Q-Drive” to Yela.
  5. Once there, cruise or quantum (make sure you get right in the middle or you will overshoot) to a large cluster of asteriods (they stick out like a sore thumb) and look for a bright green light.  The light should be visible from around 7k meters out so you should have a really large FOV in finding them.
  6. Once you are close enough EVA from your ship to the wreckage and check the open boxes for snipers, if they arent there, go to another cluster and search for more wreckage.
  7. Additionally, the rifle is now awarded in your bedroom in Port Olisar if you can manage to kill a level 5 criminal.

This article took a lot of hard work from myself and Proxus, please like comment and share if you enjoyed it!