After locating a Frigate, players will need to travel close enough to it to open communications. Use the intercomm to talk to the Captain and then opt to hire them. Players can also dismiss a previously hired Frigate by removing them from the Manage Fleet window (middle mouse button on PC). There are five types of Frigates available to hire.
- Exploration Specialist - Increased Exploration capabilities. when you board the ship it tells you to scan a planet for a few ancient relics
- Combat Specialist - Increased Combat capabilities. The Frigate is capable of deploying Sentinal ships to aid the player in combat.
- Industrial Specialist - Increased Industrial capabilities. Gives player Magnetised Ferrite when boarded.
- Trade Specialist - Increased Trade capabilities. Boarding awards Chromatic Metal to the player.
- Support Specialist - Balanced stats that are altered depending on the class rating. Having this ship during an expedition will reduce fuel costs. Boarding the Frigate awards the player with Condensed Carbon.
An expedition is a mission that the player can send up to five Frigates on at a time. Expeditions can take from under an hour to five or six hours to complete. This occurs even if the player is offline. Expeditions are rated in a difficulty of 0 to 5 stars (five being the hardest) and are available in four (or more) basic roles. The Frigate ships are also rated using the five star system. When sending ships on an expedition, players will need to make sure the rating of the Frigates are equal to or higher than that of the expedition. This will reduce the chance of failure and damage.
The roles are:
- Exploration - The crew explores space and planets and return with discovered items and earned units.
- Combat - The Frigate engages in combat and returns with loot recovered from the enemies they defeated. They can also salvage items and return with resources.
- Trade - The crew will return with items gained in trades
- Balanced - A balanced expedition will have a randomly generation combination of the prior four roles.
- Industrial - unconfirmed
In addition to falling into one of the five Frigate types, the ships are also assigned Frigate Traits, also referred to as 'attributes'. Each Frigate will randomly be given five traits out of a possible sixty-four at the beginning of an expedition. Check the Manage Fleet screen to view them. Traits can alter the efficiency of the Frigate, fuel costs, crew attitudes and abilities, the amount of returns gained, and more.
While the Expedition is in progress, players can check the status of the mission from the Fleet Control Room terminal located on the Freighter. Players will gain updated information regarding encounters, loot, and if they need further assistance in a battle. Expeditions take place in real-time, so if a Frigate is in need of support, players can fly to their location and directly assist.
If a player is on a team with another player, they will see the status of the other player's current expedition as well.
Players should automatically acquire a blueprint for Frigate Fuel after building the Control Room. The Navigator on the bridge should have the bluepring as well if needed. Craft the fuel and store it in the Freighter's inventory. Use the screen located on the bridge of the Freighter to view fuel consumption which is measured in X tonnes per Y lightyears. It takes Di-Hydrogen x7 to create 50 Tonnes of Frigate Fuel. Fuel can also be crafted in blocks of 25 and 100 Tonnes. The amount of fuel needed will depend on the distance of the expedition and the number of ships being sent. Adding a Support Frigate to the missions will help reduce fuel consumption.
If a Frigate is damaged during a mission, the Captain will contact the player. Have the Frigate return to the Freighter for repairs. The Frigate will now be marked in red. Players can use the Manage Fleet screen on the Freighter view the fleet and see which Frigates need repairs. The status screen will show the player which part needs repair. Optionally players can fly over and land on the Frigate landing pad to open communication with the Captain who will explain the repairs needed.
To repair a Frigate, fly over to and board the Frigate, then use the on-board terminals to locate and make repairs.