Exploration – The action of exploring an unfamiliar area.

Recon (reconnaissance) – Military observation of a region to locate an enemy or ascertain strategic features.

English Oxford Dictionary

I am sure the subject of exploration and so-called recon is on and off part of the discussion about what to do and how to earn money in the world of Star Citizen. This is of course when one day the game will be in condition and developed enough to grant us, the players more to do than only cargo and bounty hunting missions (don’t kill me. I know there is more and I am completely aware of my simplification here).

The fact is that currently talking about exploration or recon is entirely theoretical and speculative. I can only imagine where is it going based on the things I ca read around or assume observing how the niche of space games is evolving in this particular subject.

So I did start from the Oxford Dictionary definition to sort of put the ground level of my thoughts around the subject. And I do not think there are easy answers to what, how and who at this point. That is because the question marks are much more apparent than the answers.

What I think is that at this point we do have a couple of ships which are advertised as explorers/ pathfinders, but we do not have as many ships which are directly called or suggested to be designed to be used for the recon duty.

You can explore for yourself, but recon always for others.

One of the assumptions I will make right now to be sure I can break the subject into the smaller chunks:

Exploration can be done for the gain of just the person who is exploring. People can explore just to go further and see more, but then also can collect data, rare minerals, map the Galaxy or explore anything else worth selling. The money from selling fruits of the exploration can fuel other missions, buying bigger and better-equipped ships. Mainly to go further and explore more.

Exploration is often a choice for the lone wolf characters, who can spend weeks or months going through vast space and are not so keen to be back too often.

But it can also be a group exercise where people are going together forming an expedition and then sharing the experience and potential income.

The Recon is dramatically different.

Recon on the other side requires constant contact and coordination with the fleet/ base/ commander – anybody (thing) coordinating the effort. It suggests that it is about making others safe, checking strategic options or finding the best ways of going forward.

Recon for yourself seems to be completely useless. Also, it seems to me that recon is not so much about earning direct income from the task. it is rather being part of the bigger entity, such as the fleet. The fleet will be able to operate safe thanks to the recon, so the recon pilots will have cut in the fleet income. Unless the recon is obtained in the form of the mercenary or another way of contracting.

The Ships

 

Without going in too many details let me just throw a couple of thought around which ship seems to be a good choice for exploration and which is completely useless. I’ll do the same with what I would consider as good recon unit.

Forget about reading it further if you are expecting the usual list of the exploration ships designed by CIG. 

I’ve spent thousands of hours playing exploration in other space sandbox games and I can only tell you that some of the exploration options in Star Citizen will probably not work as intended or will be completely marginal in use by the pilots.

I think that firstly some of them are repetitive. Mustang Delta for example has no sense if people can use 315p. Both of them are single pilot ships designed for low profile exploration. And I do not care about small differences in characteristic. 

315p is simply more practical, doing exactly what the Mustang can do and then more. Due to more reasonable space, better engines etc. I don’t think Beta will be very popular amongst explorers. But let me come back to small Mustang when I will tackle recon ideas.

Staying with the exploration choices, there is also Freelancer DUR from MISC and of course Constellation Andromeda. Perhaps I am completely crazy com[paring those two ships as Connie is significantly bigger and have better cargo space fitting Ursa Rover, which means additional means on ground exploration. Certainly Freelance cannot fit Ursa rover but I would say this is not the end of the world.

So let me be very straight in my preferences and way of thinking about exploration at this point. 

I would choose Freelancer DUR considering team exploration and to make sure that I can do it also on the ground I would probably try to squeeze Tumblir Cyclone on board or perhaps just bike-like Dragonfly or Nox. 

Yes, Ursa looks like exploration rover, can take more screw etc. etc. But bike-like hoovers will do the same job nicely. On top of it Freelancer being reasonable smaller can us smaller jump gates. this would suggest reaching to the areas of the Verse where Connies will not be able to fly.

It is of course just an assumption based on endless Discord discussions, observations of development and also lucky guessing 😉

But imagine that this is actually the case: big ships, medium ships and potentially small ships (if those will not have limitations in jump distance etc.) will go to the same places quickly. The easiest to discover and map – then quicker to be discovered and mapped. 

It looks that the exploration competition will move to less obvious and more difficult to reach places. I think this will benefit explorers with the smaller ships. Single pilots with 315p or Mustang Beta, or those flying in groups in smaller ships, able to use smaller gates. this would be Freelancer DUR. No doubts.

Or…

It could be Cutlass Black. 

Yes, I know, this is not exploration ship and does not have quantum drive engines as good as dedicated ships. I am not sure if this is really stopping factor.

What we know by now, there are mechanics to swap modules in the ships. power sources, shields, cooling systems can be changed. The same way engines can be exchangeable. In this case, Cutlass could become very interesting option for many pilots. It is jack of all trades right now and without discussion, she flies as an exploration ship. Easy to imagine that she could be 1 to 2 pilot short distance exploration ship with the ability to protect herself from the pirates and collecting samples due to reasonable cargo which, what is not as easy with Freelancer, will fit Tumblir Cyclone quite easy.

I am just saying. And I will certainly keep Cutlass Black in my hangar.

I did not forget about the Carrack and 600i. But I will come back to those two in separate articles, when I will be going through all the ships reviews.

 

The problem of the Recon (still ships)

Star Citizen does not have dedicated ships which could be seen as the recon ships. 

In general people think that ships which are branded as stealth will be perfect for the recon duties. More packed with weapons as well – than better.

This is a very wrong way of thinking about the recon. I do not think the main role for the recon ships should be to engage in any sort of fight. The task of the recon is to gather the intelligence and pass it back to the base, main fleet or anywhere else. Data should be used by those who are deciding about strategic movements within the fleet.

At least two ships in the game are given by many as the examples of the recons ships: Hornets Ghost and Tracer. The Ghost to to the stealth abilities could be certainly an option but the Tracer plays exactly an opposite role. She is equipped to counteract potential stealth recon against own fleet.

Then, as I mentioned – all sort of stealth ships are jumping as the answers to the question about good recon ships: Eclipse – she, in fact, the stealth bomber, not recon ship. And Sabre – also stealth, this time fighter.

People even more often would say that actually Terrapin will be perfect for the recon. But actually, except very good look, Terrapin is for me the ship with no perspective or the role. She should be dedicated exploration/ scanning ship but in fact can be operated only within the range of the other, bigger unit. This is for the simple reason: there is no features on board of the Terrapin to accommodate the crew during the ships which would require sleeping or even going to the toilet. Coming back to the recon, Terrapin seems to be good due to the advertised capabilities. But due to above described limitation cannot be used for long range recon.

This is exactly where the Mustang Beta fits: practically stealth (at least low profile), with the ability to jump between the systems and stay in the vicinity of the enemy for a long time due to onboard accommodation features for the pilot.

I know there is no scanner in factory set up but I like to believe that with the development of the game, ships could be easier to upgrade or to fit new modules. Even if this is not going to be the case, flying abilities and an extremely low price would make Beta the perfect option for any Corporation recon ship.

Before I will wrap it up completely for today, I want also throw int the consideration the Herald – due to the ability of collecting data and overall low-profile, non-suspicious design. I could also suggest any small ship which could, without creating suspicious attention fly around enemy ship. 

I am expecting that there will be plenty of Citizens who will be able to challenge me on parameters of particular ships and call an idiot due to my negative opinion about Terrapin. The time, I guess will verify who was right and who was wrong 🙂


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