Most video games follow a general structure: There is a single, primary focus of the game, and all other in-game activities are designed to support it. Commonly, this feature is the only skill-based challenge requiring focused effort. A great example of this design philosophy is EVE Online, where the ‘primary focus’ is combat. Yes, there are many ‘jobs’ that you can do in the game, but the primary skill-based challenge of those jobs is to survive while performing them. Of particular notoriety is the Mining mechanic, which is performed by starting your mining lasers, then wandering off to get some food. Nearly every MMO-style game on the market restricts itself to combat as the one and only challenge.
This is not the case in Star Citizen. Star Citizen identifies itself as a “First Person Universe,” with the goal of providing an immersive and challenging gameplay experience, regardless of what career you pursue. Your chosen profession will not be a series of mindless tasks, occasionally made more ‘interesting’ by random attacks on your ship. Instead, every career will be dynamic and challenging entirely on its own. A great example of the complexity provided in careers can be seen in the Mining Career post found here.
There are a large number of diverse careers available in Star Citizen, and while some are combat-focused, others center on non-combat operations. If you like the fight, you might choose to be a Mercenary, Bounty Hunter, or Pirate. But if you prefer a more peaceful existence, you can become a Trader, Miner, Explorer, Information Specialist, Salvager, or Search and Rescue operative. As with all things in Star Citizen, eligibility for these careers is based entirely on player skill and equipment, rather than being restricted by any ‘class selection.’ If you have the skills and gear, you can swap between jobs at will.
The Mercenary is a combat role wherein you hire out your ship and guns for money. This is the closest job to the traditional ‘MMO’ experience, as you seek out jobs (quests) and do violence for cash. Mercenary operations can range from escorting a player convoy to being hired by NPCs for a strike against an NPC pirate base.
- Bounty Hunter
Like Mercenaries, Bounty Hunters are specialized professionals. Their strong suit is tracking down specific individuals (whether Player or NPC), striking at ideal moments, and either eliminating or capturing their targets. Walking a tight line with the law is a must in this profession, as your license to accept Bounties may be revoked by the UEE if you start performing criminal acts.
This ‘career’ needs little explanation—you are a criminal with a spacecraft, attacking other players and NPCs for the loot they carry or stealing their ships. Be aware that this is not meant to be an easy career to follow. You are unlikely to be able to accept ‘missions’ to carry out your piracy, so you will be entirely reliant on your own initiative to make enough money to keep flying. Furthermore, you have to watch your back at all times, lest a Bounty Hunter drop in to take you down.
Traders form the backbone of the Star Citizen economy, focused on generating profit by moving goods from one place to another. There are two primary ways that a Trader can operate: Freelance Hauler, or Speculative Trader. The Freelance Hauler is someone who is hired to take a shipment of goods from one place to another in exchange for a flat fee. This player relies on his reputation with companies in order to be trusted with more sensitive or valuable cargo, and can count on a regular, dependable income. A Speculative Trader follows the mantra that the greatest risk has the greatest reward. This person creates their own business by looking at the market, spending their own money to buy up a quantity of goods, then flying to another location to sell them. Speculation has the potential for immense profits, but on the other hand, a mistake can be costly.
The Mining career is the non-combat profession that we know the most about, thanks to a major article released by CIG. The focus of this career is to locate asteroid fields containing valuable materials, and then extract them for re-sale. In most games, this would be a painfully boring process, but in Star Citizen there is no magic ‘mining laser.’ Instead, you have to use a cutting laser to carve up chunks of the asteroid, making sure not to destroy the valuable materials, then tractor the useful materials in to be processed…all while making sure you don’t get smashed by flying asteroid chunks.
Space is vast and, despite the best efforts of civilization, most of it is off the edges of the maps. Explorers take advantage of this fact to seek out new, undiscovered locations and sell the information for a profit. This can include locating a new asteroid cluster that is rich in mining materials, locating and mapping a new Jump Point, or finding a whole new star system.
- Information Specialist
Knowledge is Power, and no one is more aware of this than an Information Specialist. Some of them operate legitimately, transporting confidential information much like a Trader moves goods. Others take a more proactive and…less legal approach. They sneak up to transmission satellites, hack in, and start intercepting information. If they run across something valuable, they can happily sell it off to the highest bidder.
It is a simple fact that stuff gets broken. And, in space, people tend to not find broken things for a long time. This is where the Salvager steps in; they locate abandoned or derelict material in space, board it to strip off anything that is intact and useful, and then shred the rest for salvage. Alternately, a Salvager may work in tandem with a combat team to harvest the remains of a battle.
- Search and Rescue
People get hurt, ships get disabled, and they need help. Enter Search and Rescue, a profession focused on swooping in to the rescue of stranded players, disabled ships, or injured soldiers. Whether providing medical evacuation, emergency transportation, remote hospital service, or on-site ship repair, S&R steps in to save the day.
While this is a serviceable overview of the numerous and varied careers available to pilots in the Star Citizen Universe, it is far from exhaustive. Every profession promises to have the satisfying complexity and immersive experience that characterize Star Citizen game play, and we will keep you updated as more information is revealed–stay tuned for future articles that will explore each of these careers in more detail.