Hello Everyone! What would you classify as a gamechanger in Star Citizen? Would it be a powerful corvette with some crazy new weaponry? Or maybe an underwater exploration craft? How about a ship that can build whole settlements and create towns on newly discovered planets? That is something I would call a gamechanger, and it's exactly what Pioneer is for. Before I go into a proper explanation why I'm so excited about this ship and the gameplay mechanics that come with it, please take a moment to watch this video:
Let's start with the design - Pioneer is an engineering marvel with a very monolithic appearance but an extremely complex and interesting internal design. Original data states that the ship is 200m long and 125m wide but taking into consideration John Crewe's statement about the landing pad size which is supposed to be 40mx40m - Pioneer is likely to be much larger (248m, click here to learn more) than that and exceed even the mighty Idris.
As you can see in the picture above, Pioneer has a very blocky and flat design - this way, when not working, the internal machinery and components are protected, while the crew on the bridge has an unobstructed view of the front of the ship and the landing zone.
The real magic starts when the ship lands and unfolds.
What makes Pioneer so special? You only find out when you settle it down in some beautiful field among the mountains or near the sea and unfold the huge manufacturing part of the ship.
This is where you realize how much more this ship has, other than just sheer size. The whole front section of the ship opens up to reveal an intricate factory that allows you to create and assemble whole outpost buildings!
Everything that is needed for the creation of the outpost will be taken from the cargo hold, then assembled into a specific outpost module (like habitation, medbay, storage, hydroponics, etc.) and then moved and placed in the correct position. It's basically a huge 3D printer for your in-game base! You will also be able to walk around this part as it has plenty of walkways for you to use and observe the construction :)
Every construction requires a lot of materials which is why the Pioneer has plenty of cargo space and a special pad for resupply ships to land and bring more materials or components for your Pioneer.
According to the official presentation during CitizenCon 2017, the landing pad is 40mx40m which is substantial and allows ships like Cutlass or Freelancer MAX to land and deliver the goods directly to the cargo hold (which is directly under the landing pad). The fun part of that is that the landing pad slides to cover or reveal the cargo space underneath - it will be quite cool to see that in action once the ship is in-game.
Every capital ship requires a proper command center, and I must say that the Pioneer bridge concept is my favorite our of all the bridges I've seen so far.
As you can see from the picture above, the bridge is huge and long with great visibility over the manufacturing plant. It's filled to the brim with stations that include stations for captain, pilot, and co-pilot, gunners, and architect. The last one is the most interesting one as it will allow you to plan and assemble intricate projects for your Pioneer to build.
Other than that, as you can see from the concept image, the bridge will be a very bright and open but industrial space that will definitely help you get immersed in a space architect fantasy. I cannot wait to overlook the construction of my first outpost, especially that you will be able to see all of the work done by the machinery below once the ship unfolds.
Every large ship that requires lots of crew, needs space for that crew to live in. Habitation area of the Pioneer is exactly that but you should not expect luxurious rooms and fancy decorations.
According to CIG, this space will be detailed but industrial, clean, and practical.
From the concept art, we likely can expect A LOT of orange accents (like in the rest of the ship) and plenty of windows for the crew to overlook the construction around them.
Protection and power
Pioneer not only allows you to create outposts but also defend them while you work. The ship has 2 manned and 2 unmanned turrets as well as 6 x S4 distortion cannons placed around the hull. The distortion cannons are especially useful because they allow you to disable enemy ships or vehicles which in the atmosphere, is especially deadly. Pioneer also has a special foldable arm which, when extended, creates an additional perimeter fence to protect already created settlement. You can see it in the picture below:
Other than the weaponry, Pioneer is protected by 6 Large shield generators which will likely be more than enough to stop any small to medium enemy force long enough for your org or security forces to retaliate. It's not a military or warship but it has enough defenses to give you plenty of time to find a solution in case of an attack.
Pioneer also has an amazing engine/reactor room (at least according to the concept art) where I will definitely spend a lot of my time tinkering with the components to keep my Pioneer at top-notch performance.
Profession details and official information.
I don't want to make articles too long so I will explain the details about the outpost construction mechanics in a future post, but in case you cannot wait, please watch this video, it explains it all:
Here is also an official Q&A post contents where CIG answered more questions about Pioneer: How large can an outpost be?
An outpost will have around the same footprint we have currently shown in the game, which is 48x x 48d x 5h (meters). We view this as starting a small location for colonization, very similar to constructing a small research facility in Antarctica.
Can the Pioneer build hangars to store ships in our bases?
Currently, we are looking at the player’s building basic landing pads for ships. At this point in time, it’s probably way too early to be expecting your outposts to work anything like Port Olisar or a Revel & York or Self-Land facility. While you can land and leave a ship on an outpost landing pad, the broader question of persistent “ship storage” is a nuanced and complex technical affair, as you have already seen from everything that’s already involved in requesting, replacing, spawning, despawning, and landing ships in places like Port Olisar. Doing even any subset of these things at a player outpost location, where available layout, structures, and systems are up to the player instead of a design team, would be very tricky, to say the least. Should we come up with a good way to handle it someday, we’ll let you know.
Can we use the Pioneer to build outposts on asteroids?
We are not opposed to the idea. However, it will depend on a few different factors that still need to be decided: the size of the asteroid, what we do with the voxel tech, and if the surface area of the asteroid is smooth enough to build.
Can placed outposts be moved by the Pioneer?
Yes, however, they need to be disassembled and then rebuilt in the new location rather than being picked up and moved whole. The Pioneer can manage this process (though collecting additional resources may be necessary.)
Can the Pioneer build space stations?
No, this ship was built with the purpose of colonizing planets. Terrestrial construction and terrestrial structures have different needs from space stations.
What size is the Pioneer claim license included in the package?
It will depend on the texel density of our resource map, we want to make sure the claim is at least 1×1 pixel on that map. The initial educated guess is somewhere between 4×4km to 8×8km. A pretty large chunk of land that will give players multiple construction sites. The land claim system will be important beyond Pioneer construction. Land claims will prevent other players from building in your territory and will offer different options relevant to gameplay (such as giving you surface rights, for pure construction, versus mineral rights that would include mining.) We know that there are concerns that land claims could theoretically be abused (situations such as buying up the area outside a major city or using outposts to block important areas); rest assured that the claim system is being developed to prevent these situations from being possible.
Will we need to move the Pioneer each time we want to put a new module?
When the manufacturing process is complete the ship moves the outpost forward and places it in the specified location. If that location can’t have any other items placed there safely, then the pilot will need to move the Pioneer’s position.
Can the Pioneer build anti-air structures that have weapons such as missiles to defend our bases?
The Pioneer performs fully contained modular outpost construction on-site. It creates modular structures, foundation, things like that. As Silas Koerner points out, this is pretty revolutionary as far as ship capabilities go. The Pioneer isn’t a weapons manufacturing plant, repair shop, or furniture store, however – External improvements like static defenses are among the concepts we are developing for outpost add-ons. Any external add-on structures will be bought at a store rather like a ship or personal equipment and then can be placed when you put down the outpost or added on later.
Can Pioneer build structures larger than its internal space?
The most obvious example of this right now is the landing pads. We have yet to decide exactly how we will allow the player to build the landing pads, but it will probably be in sections. If a player wants to build an outpost and use it only for storage, that is their choice but it will not be bigger than the structure’s footprint stated above.
What happens to outposts built with the Pioneer when the player who created them is logged out of the game?
Let’s just say this direct and upfront for those of you who worry about these things: Yes, the outpost and their contents are persistent, so they can be attacked and looted. Offline security will have a lot to do with your “neighborhood”, just as you would depend on local authorities to varying degrees to protect your house, apartment, trailer, etc. in real life when you are not home. Among other things, that means that while other actors in the game universe, including local law enforcement, militia, UEE, or whoever else is tasked with general security in that region, will react to attacks on privately-held outposts, it will depend on AI location and travel time to the outpost. Sometimes there will be a quick response and other times it will be delayed, so the players are highly encouraged to protect their outpost/investment by placing defenses and hiring personal security. The less hospitable an area in which you set up your outpost, the more responsibility you will have for your own safety.
Can the Pioneer use the refined material made by the Orion (or any other ship)?
Yes, as long as what you are building uses that particular resource. Remember that there are different types of ores, metals, and other substances used in construction.
Will the Pioneer have any other functionality/career options besides outpost manufacturing?
No, this will be updated to list as Heavy Construction to reflect the actual role of the Pioneer.
Can the Pioneer make the ‘add ons’ like solar panels, landing pads, generators, and the like, or do they have to be purchased separately?
These would be purchased already fabricated and added to the outpost. See also our answer regarding static defenses above.
Is it possible for Pioneer to build outposts on rough terrain like slopes or does the ground have to be flat?
The ground will need to be flat enough to land the ship safely, it doesn’t need to be perfectly flat but you will not be able to place an outpost on particularly rough terrain.
Will the Pioneer be able to build tall buildings or stackable modules?
There are no plans for double-decker outposts. That said, we’re drawing up enough options for the modular outposts and various add-ons that we think you’ll have a lot of fun with them even without crazy module stacking.
How much time does it take to deploy an outpost?
No specific time estimate right now, but we do view it as a major time investment. You’re setting up a persistent, maintainable installation that can be as big or bigger than most ships. The amount of time will scale with the size of the outpost.
Will we be able to spawn ships at our outpost?
There are no plans for this right now; ships available at an outpost must be brought there first. See also our answer regarding ship storage above.
The Pioneer contains 3 utility slots. Can it serve any other purpose than building planetary bases? If yes, what can it do?
These were listed in error. The Pioneer is not equipped with utility slots, instead of being focused solely on the very dedicated task of outpost construction.
As always, please let me know what do you think about CNOU Pioneer in the comments below.