Taking to the Stars

One thing which hasn't been featured much in this blog is PvP. Wednesday Warzones will rectify this to a great extent for the ordinary PvP, of course, but this still leaves Galactic Starfighter hanging out to dry.

Maybe I should do Saturday Starfighter...



Galactic Starfighter was originally teased as being this big "Super Secret Space Project", and eventually came out properly in 2014. There have so far been only two game modes, with five maps split between them; there's Domination, where players have to take control of two out of three satellites to earn points (basically Civil War in space), and then there's Deathmatch, where players have to decorate their ships as best they can and earn points by making them as pretty as possible!

Yeah, Deathmatch is obviously just killing other players. It couldn't be anything else.

The two modes have two maps which share an overall aesthetic, which are the Kuat Mesa and the Lost Shipyard, whilst Domination has a third map, the Denon Exosphere. Kuat Mesa takes place in around a mountainous mesa which would make the citizens of Makeb proud, the Lost Shipyards takes place near an asteroid field, and Denon Exosphere takes place near the aftermath of a major fleet battle with debris everywhere.

Participating characters have four differing classes of ship to choose from; Bomber, Gunship, Scout, and Strike Fighter. The Bomber flies around dropping mines, drones, and probes to aid its allies and provide obstacles for enemy ships, the Gunship sits away from the action and snipe at opponents' ships, the Scout is a manoeuvrable dogfighter, and the Strike is a mixture of defence and offence.

There was actually going to be a fifth class, the Stealth ship, which sadly never made it into the game due to balance issues. You can still see that it was clearly a prospective addition, as several Scout abilities can reveal ships from stealth.

Each of these classes has several different ships which can do different things. For example, there's a Bomber which can deposit a temporary spawn point behind itself, and another which can actually fire torpedoes as well as dropping mines. The differing components can be bought with either Ship Requisition - a currency only earned by that one ship - or Fleet Requisition - a currency earned which any ship can use.

This also presents the only pay-to-win aspect in the entirety of SWtOR: you are able to convert Ship Requisition into Fleet Requisition using Cartel Coins. Bearing in mind that a prolific player would be earning a ton of Ship Requisition on ships they aren't even playing with just by turning in the Daily and Weekly missions, this is potentially a lot of Requisition which could be acquired.

Upon choosing your ship and its respective components, you'd then be able to pick a team of specialists to help with certain areas. The specialists are four unique characters specifically designed for Starfighter and the Companions from your faction. Whilst you'd get your class's Companions for free upon unlocking them - although they will be taken away if you start Fallen Empire - you'd be able to buy any other Companion using Fleet Requisition.

Each specialist has two passives and one 'active' ability. The passive abilities would apply for each specialist, but the active ability would only apply for one; the co-pilot. This co-pilot would also provide a whole string of encouraging, fearful, or aggressive comments as you fight. As it's implied that they're with you in the cockpit this entire time, this has led to the running joke that if you have M1-4X as your co-pilot you've just got his head plugged in to a computer terminal.

I have always been a big fan of the Strike Fighter, particularly the FT-6 Pike. Using a certain set of components, I used to be able to provide a rather strong bulwark in Domination mode due to occasionally being able to have roughly 95% damage reduction once every minute or so, as well as self-heals - again, once every minute - due to my choice of co-pilot. Since transferring to The Red Eclipse, it seems that this strategy has met its match, but this could also be due to my own loss of experience using it.


Galactic Starfighter was yet another game system given the early access treatment, which meant that for some such as myself it come out shortly after the Dread Operations in December of 2013 but for others it wasn't out until February of 2014. As I'll hopefully go on to demonstrate, this could easily have been a significant problem for the system.

Unlike the more traditional game modes of ground-based PvP and PvE, Galactic Starfighter is entirely self-contained; only a character who actually played Starfighter would be able to purchase ship components. Heck, even the PvE Space Missions have greater leeway than this, as other characters could purchase or even craft the required components!

As mentioned in my "Looking Back" post for the Dark vs. Light Event last Thursday, Starfighter is an incredibly difficult game-mode to get into for newer or first-time characters because of this inability to get components for other characters, and you often see prolific players only using one or two characters at most. Indeed, even if a new character/player does decide to commit fully to Starfighter, they'd have to compete with players whose ships are all upgraded and will suffer until they're able to drag themselves up to the required standards.

Putting this into context with several months' worth of early access, it's really not difficult to see why this game-mode is not as popular as its fellows. Imagine a player booting up Patch 2.6 in February 2014, ready and willing to give Galactic Starfighter a good go, and in their first match they're the only one to not have a fully-upgraded ship and are torn to smithereens by players who have had more opportunity to practice.

I don't think Starfighter ever should have seen this early access period, simply because of how it heavily-favours players whose ships are upgraded. This then can be seen to have a knock-on effect: newer players are turned away because they can't advance, whilst veterans get bored of coming up against the same people again and again and eventually stop playing.

Thankfully, some servers still do have an active community, so it's not exactly been doom-and-gloom, but it definitely hasn't been as popular as it should have been.

Even so, it is worth noting that Starfighter provides by far the easiest means of knowing whether or not your team is doomed from the start. Whilst PvP Arenas give a decent indication of this, knowing which roles are participating is nothing compared to something like this...

This is just not fair at all!


It's a shame that Starfighter is undoubtedly one of the most niche interests in the game. It's by far one of the most unique systems the game has to offer, but this ultimately leads to it suffering due to the inability to use one character to help another on the opposite faction prepare, something which makes ground-based PvP incredibly accessible nowadays.

I still enjoy dabbling in it every now and again, even if deep down I know that it will likely never receive a significant update again.


  1. Funnily, despite of everything you said, I actually play more GSF on lowly alts than on Shin. I did play some on her originally, but after maxing out even the ships I never used, I felt that I had nothing left to gain. Actually getting better at flying? Don't make me laugh! :D

    But on lowbies I enjoy the easy XP boost from doing the intro mission, as well as having an alternate way of bolstering my conquest point gains if needed. For some reason I don't mind too much whether I win or lose.

    That screenshot is typical though...

    1. I guess from my perspective I don't much like being limited to only having one character who is 'able' to partake in an activity. It's much like how I venture into PvP on my Sage and Sorc primarily but will use my Gunslinger and Sniper if I feel so inclined.

      Having only one character with GSF ships is far too limiting for my tastes as I would otherwise be doing it a lot more often, but it's just getting past that initial brick wall all over again which puts me off getting Calph her own set or even making headway on the Imperial side; I haven't even begun to look at which Companions offer what boons over there.