You have two main choices here: either jump straight into the universe, or learn the game in a special tutorial galaxy. There are advantages and disadvantages to both. The universe is a large and dangerous place, and if you start there you will face the daunting task of making your own way ~ however, there are missions (see later) only available to very low levels and the chances of meeting a friendly high level are increased. The tutorial galaxy, on the other hand, is very safe and contains a ready made trade route with which you can make easy credits - enough to set you up with a better ship than you start. However, you will miss out on the early missions. Its your choice ~ but plan to leave the tutorial galaxy by level 3 or 4 if you take that option. The tutorial galaxy also has many quick missions that can provide you some quick cash and experience!
Star Sonata has a level dependent mission system meaning that missions have both minimum and maximum levels able to be offered the mission. These are found at AI bases, and are a very good way of picking up good xp, credits and unique items early on in the game. The unique items are usually better versions of normal equipment, but there are some augmenters (see later) that will sell for up to 2 or more billion credits! If you are level 0 a very good place to get missions is the system Shadow which will direct you to hunt some rats. If you do this immediately and solely that, you will receive another rat hunting mission that most do not see! Other systems with good low level missions are Proxima Centauri, Sol, Crevice and Panopoly. You can accept a mission at any time, and they never run out - however the reward system is also level / time dependent, meaning that the longer you take to complete it, and the more levels you have gained in the meantime, the less XP you will receive for it. Also be aware that missions work in 'chains' - thus its is best to complete the low level missions in case there are higher level ones with better rewards, and to check back every so often to see if the next mission in a chain is available. A good case of this is Plank- there is a level 0 mission there that seemingly leads no-where, but if you get it, and then level once or twice and visit Crevice, the mission chain will continue...
Trade and Slaves
Trading early on is time consuming, and you will receive only modest rewards from traveling from AI station to AI station (there are notable exceptions to this, but they require luck / exploration). Player bases, on the other hand, often have very cheap commodities that can be sold to AI stations. Slaves are automated AI owned by players. IMPORTANT All slaves have the name S123(random number) PlayerName. They will be identified by their team name, and often their flag. Be aware that attacking them is considered a high crime, and will get you marked as an enemy, allowing that team to kill you or their automated defenses to kill you. Owning a running slaves takes the Skills Remote Control (RC) and Programming ~ whilst it looks appealing, its probably better to leave these skills until level 20-30.
Hunting & XP
Apart from rats, the universe can seem oddly free of things to level up on. This isn't the case ~ however, you have to pick your targets. Missions will often have a set number of AI you have kill to finish them, and this is a good guide to what you should be hunting. You should look for AI that is slightly above your level and has no team in its info tab (above the system map). XP is done on a gradiated system, meaning that although you need the same amount of XP / level, you need to kill AI that is above your level. Even rats, at level 4, will give you no XP! Once you have gained levels, you need to train your skills in the neuro training section of an AI base. At an early level, the core skills are very important (piloting, weapons, shields, energy) ~ it is best to leave the more specialised skills and secondary ones until much later. Be aware that there are AI teams (see later) as well - which means that if you attack one, the entire team will be hostile to you! Thus, at first, it is best to pick off the teamless AI.
Each ship can fit a certain number of augmenters - the Pilot skill of the ship determines what level of augmenters it can use. These are extremely useful, and can transform an ordinary ship into a deadly fighter. Traveling around, these are the green boxes you will see floating around. It is best to start off putting augmenters that boost your shields and energy (the hestia augmenter is a good choice) or your shield / electric regeneration on your ship to allow you to survive longer. Many augmenters sell for a lot of credits to other players, and there are later missions that use them - it is sensible to buy a storage vessel (perhaps a phunka.dll) at a station, and keep them in there. IMPORTANT: augmenters can never be taken off a ship once put on, so make sure you choose well!
There are many teams within Star Sonata, ranging from the briefest of hunting parties to the most powerful ones (currently in no particular order, The Capitalists, Pantalones and Olympus are examples of some of the largest teams). Joining a team can be very useful as it offers some protection and benefits. However, there are things to watch out for:
- Team funds - all teams have a safe storage system for credits. However, only the Director and Counselors can freely access this. When joining a team, be aware of this, and be careful of new teams that ask you to donate all your credits into the team funds!
- Tithe - a team can set a tithe, which is a percentage of all money you make on AI trades that is automatically given to the team. This, of course, helps a team fund bases, equipment and the like. However, be wary of any team with excessive tithe. Anything over 5% should make you worried. A lot of teams have 0%.
- Flags - the more experienced teams will have their own personal flag. Look out for them! The flags are placed on everything the team owns.
My advice is to leave joining a team until you have gained some skills, your own equipment and so on ~ at very low levels, they are often more trouble than they are worth ... especially if your teammates are untrustworthy or attack higher level players!
Player versus Player combat & Death
The universe is a dangerous place, and Star Sonata is fully pvp, with some limits. Which means that you can, and will, fight other players and their bases. The most general rules I can give is that there is a level protection system, that prevents higher levels from targeting you for no reason. However, this can be broken in a number of ways: you attacking them, their slaves or their bases; being close to their level in a high danger factor system allows them to fight you. There are others - a good tip from me is to avoid carrying large sums of credits (either invest it, place it in team funds of a trustworthy team... or find other ways) and to avoid PvP until you have some skills under your belt. IMPORTANT You start off without an escape pod. You should buy one immediately. If you are killed without an escape pod, you will lose some of your money and incur a DEATH DEBT (of 999) that is an XP penalty that needs to be worked off before you can level again. AI will never attack escape pods, so you can die without penalty (however, you WILL drop items - there is an equipment called 'Gear Glue' that prevents this, although it is expensive). However, Players are free to kill your escape pod, or 'pod' you - be careful of such players, and try to escape if you can to an AI station. Overall, it is best to retain a low profile in your starting levels - many of those other 'low level' players are high level players on a f2p alt with amazing equipment for their level- avoid these idiots if you can.
To enable PvP combat, first, fly to an unprotected galaxy (these are distinguished with the lack of a capital "P" on the galaxy map). Then, wait for a player with a same or similar level as you to arrive in your sight. Third, if he or she is on a team, look around if there are any drones, armed bases, or other players that are on the same team nearby. If not, turn off your safety lock and start shooting them. And DO NOT FIGHT FAIR! If the battle seems to be going the wrong way, jump to another, protected galaxy and loot his or her dropped items (if the other player is stupid enough to attack you in a protected galaxy). Be sure to target their escape pods for more loot. Fight dirty. Kill them multiple times if you can. Life, even in space, is unfair.
Talking to other players
There are four tabs at the bottom of your screen: events, ALL, team and Galaxy. The Events tab will show you game information - what that debris was you just scooped up, who owns the galaxy and so on. It also shows what has been killed in the system - be aware, there's not a mass battle going on, all AI kills are reported here. The ALL tab is universe wide communications - usually full of non-game related chatter. However, if you wish to chat / ask questions / advertise trade, do it here. The team tab is for team chat and the Galaxy chat is limited to the system you are in. In addition, there are chat commands you can use. /ignore /list and /help are three of them. "list" tells you who you have "ignored" and /help tells you all about the commands.