I spent a good 30 mins on one mission of the business tutorial – Balancing the Books 4. The mission was straightforward: fly to the given location, take out any pirates (a single ship), then use a Civilian Data Analyzer to get the goodies.
The writeup didn’t say what would happen next. I was expecting the Analyzer to crunch away for a bit, and then result in an item I would “open cargo” on to scoop up whatever was inside.
Instead, I got a little hacking mini-game.
The UI displayed a hex grid which mapped the nodes of the computer system you were attempting to hack. Nodes adjacent to the starting point were the only ones clickable, and clicking would reveal each “encrypted node” as empty, containing defense (a firewall), or the system node (the target of the hack). For the firewall or system node, I just had to click more to wear down the resistance of that node – or fail as I did half the time with the system node. In that case, I’d get the message “system core is too complex for you to get anything of value”. If this happened, I could try again after a few seconds, from a brand new layout.
I can already imagine more advanced modules and skills involved to hack into fancier system with more valuable loot, but this was part of a tutorial so the nodes were easily revealed and the node types were limited.
But I couldn’t figure out how to complete it, even after a successful hack. I was expecting an “open cargo” button to show up, but that didn’t happen. I read the details of the mission over, and it said that on a successful attempt, the data core/chip would be ejected. But I didn’t see that either. I fiddled with my overview, tried a few things but got nowhere.
Finally, I rotated my view a bit, and after another success I noticed some gas clouds – the lower right of the following screenshot.
I noticed a small canister floating away, one that didn’t appear in my overview. I tried to click but it vanished too soon. So I tried again and this time was quicker and able to approach the item before it disappeared. No “open cargo” button so I tried again and just ran into it when it vanished… I checked my cargo and I had 2 of the items, so I guess the previous attempt also worked.
Anyway, I was able to finish the mission, but it left me a bit irritated. First, unlike so many other times in the game, where you loot something by targeting/approaching it and doing an “open cargo” and “loot all”, this apparently involved ramming the item or just getting close enough to grab it without any notification that it happened. Second, the item I was supposed to catch did not appear on my overview, at least with the various default settings including “all”. Third, the item was time sensitive and vanishes in seconds. I think I was too close and facing the wrong way earlier so I missed seeing the container eject and drift away.
Here I have the Data Storage Container targeted (what I used the data analyzer on), and the Data Container itself selected (I clicked “approach” since there wasn’t much else to do with it).
Fortunately, I was able to use what I learned here a few missions later. 🙂 I was sent out to do a similar task, with a Relic Analyzer instead of a Data Analyzer. When I was close to hacking the system core, I zoomed out and watched for an ejected item. When I approached it, my ship’s cargo button (looks like a bolt in the ship control panel) shimmered a few times. This time I collected the item with no issues.
I think this tutorial could be improved. The least I would do is make the container show on the overview (give specific directions on what to check in order to see it – in other missions, the instructions say to be sure “large collideable object” is enabled, so something similar here) and present a more obvious notification (besides the cargo button animation) that the item was captured. Even better would be to make it like everything else a newbie sees up to this point: the “open cargo”/”loot all” method of getting the item. Or, specifically mention picking this item up works differently: it is time sensitive so approach it quickly but you just need to get close and not open/loot it.
After I wrote this and scheduled the post, I saw Sugar Kyle’s post where she gives some great info about exploration. It appears the “scatter canister” not appearing on the overview was the design, to encourage grouping, and that players don’t like it and it will be removed! Interesting… we shall see what changes are coming. For the record, I don’t think it is terrible, I just think that a newbie would be confused and so if it remains as-is, the tutorial should really highlight the mechanics.