Hyperspace Beacon: Getting started with SWTOR Galactic Starfighter

Hyperspace Beacon: Getting started with SWTOR Galactic Starfighter
For about a month now, I have been playing the new expansion for Star Wars: The Old Republic, Galactic Starfighter. Granted, I haven't logged as many hours as some of those crazy people who have extensive guides on what each component does and how it compares to other similar components, but I have spent about 20 or so hours trying out different builds and testing my skills against other players. I certainly don't consider myself the best, but if I have the right equipment, I can hold my own.

I've realized that not everyone jumping into SWTOR's new expansion will know what to do when getting started. I don't think I have to go over the basics like how to hop into your first match, but there are some things a person of average intelligence should know before tackling his first dog-fight. He should also set some goals for his first upgrades. I intend to help you out with that.

The ships
At the launch of Galactic Starfighter, we will have access to three different types of ships, with a fourth ship type coming to us early next year. The Scout is your quintessential point ship. It can move from place to place extraordinarily fast but doesn't carry a whole lot in armory. The Strike Fighter is the backbone of a good squadron. This ship carries a decent amount of armory and can move rather quickly. The Strike Fighter is the jack-of-all trades. The Gunship is just that: a ship of guns. The Gunship is the sniper of the air. With the longest range of any of the other ships, the Gunship charges its weapons to kill targets at 15,000 meters.

I know some people who took to the Scout ship right away. It's a fast ship. It can jump in and out of fire-fights taking very little damage. But I didn't find it very effective. I found myself running away more in my Scout than actually sticking around to fight. I believe the Scout is wonderful for support. If you need a ship to jump in to cause a bit initial damage or maybe a ship to play clean-up, then a Scout can work. It's possible that I am still not completely used to maneuvering in this game, but I personally didn't see anything that the Scout can do that the Strike Fighter can't do more effectively.

I knew the Strike Fighter was for me as soon as I hopped into the cockpit. The biggest benefit to flying a Strike Fighter is the locking missiles. The very first Strike Fighter unlock comes equipped with two different gun batteries and one type of missile bay. Although the Strike Fighter isn't as maneuverable as the Scout, it can still duck and weave quite effectively. If this is the first time you're taking to a dog-fighting simulator, then pick up the Strike Fighter. Even in under-experienced hands, this ship will play its part in the skirmish well.

Unfortunately, I did not get a chance to test out the Gunship, but I've experienced playing against it, and I've watched plenty of people play it. The best way to describe the gameplay of the Gunship is by calling it a sniper. The ship has the standard gunnery array; there's also a giant railgun sitting just above the cockpit. This gun has a 15,000 meter range and can dispatch an enemy in just a couple of shots. Thankfully for the would-be victim, these railguns take several seconds to warm up, and the ship itself has to be stationary to fire, making it vulnerable to attacking crafts.

the components
Reading a guide like the one on Dulfy can be a bit overwhelming, but as you advance, a guide like that will be extraordinarily helpful. But you're just starting in this shindig. What are you looking for, and what should you upgrade first? Hopefully, I can help you out a little bit. First know that some of it will depend on your particular playstyle.

If you're starting out with a Strike Fighter, which is my recommendation, then you will like want to concentrate on missiles first. The missile array sets this class apart from the other ships, so it makes sense to upgrade that first. When you first launch into battle, you have only one type of missile: concussion. But as you gain requisition comms, you can purchase upgrades to concussion missiles or purchase different types of missiles. With cluster missiles, you sacrifice damage for lock-on speed; proton torpedos take four seconds to lock on but have 100% shield penetration. Personally, I'd recommend waiting to purchase proton torpedos with your first upgrade because shield penetration is a huge boon in a fight, but that also requires that you out-maneuver your foe quite a bit so that you can get the missile lock.

My next recommendation for upgrades is thruster or magazine, depending on which you feel would be most beneficial for you. If you find yourself running out of missiles a lot, then you'll want to upgrade the magazine. If you find that you're having a hard time locking on to targets because they outmaneuver you, then perhaps upgrading to turning thrusters is what you need. Even if you feel you aren't having issues in either of those areas, I'd still recommend you upgrade those areas first, then work on bettering the components you have. If the match-making system works the way I believe it does, then expanding your components evenly will likely be the best way to do it.

I will cover other items like the crew next week, but I want to stress that if this is your first time playing a game like this, you should play defensively. Choose a crew member like Writch Hurley, who will give you an extra defensive cooldown when he's the co-pilot.

The Hyperspace Beacon by Larry Everett is your weekly guide to the vast galaxy of Star Wars: The Old Republic, currently in production by BioWare. If you have comments or suggestions for the column, send a transmission to larry@massively.com. Now strap yourself in, kid -- we gotta make the jump to hyperspace!

This article was originally published on Massively.