The new Guardians content is… pretty neat. I made the trek out to the three new Guardian Structures (I’ll order them by distance, since they are lined up pretty neatly away from the Bubble), just to see what’s what, and ended up spending a whole day exploring and figuring stuff out. I like the design of the new bases - very regular, geometric, with lots of symmetry, and very deliberately planned. They make a nice contrast with the messy, biological Thargoid structures and haphazard, utilitarian human architecture. And I really have to applaud the sound design and, surprisingly, the music. Ordinarily Elite’s soundtrack is merely okay (a few great atmospheric tracks aside), but the Guardian Structure soundtrack is something else. It’s tense, but still conveys that sense of awe when you’re creeping around these ruins, and it fluidly merges into a faster but still tense combat track when a Sentinel appears, and it works so amazingly well.
The first and third bases contain the main new mechanic of the new Guardian content, the Pylon activation puzzle. Basically, you drive up to the base’s terminal (they are very easy to spot, since the bases are structured so that everything basically points towards it), see the terminal and the main pylons activate, then shoot the pylons with your SRV’s guns to charge them up. Then drive around the base looking for the other pylons while fending off attacks from the Sentinel drones. The Sentinels aren’t all that difficult, since while their impulse cannons do throw you around they aren’t particularly aggressive, and their weapons take a while to recharge. I think some of their behaviour and attacks might be bugged though, since they don’t always seem able to use them. Once the pylons are charged up, deposit an Ancient Relic (you can find them all over the place) to activate the terminal, and scan it to receive “blueprint fragment” Guardian data (required for Guardian TB items). This triggers a final combat encounter with multiple Sentinels, the number varies depending on the base.
There is other stuff at the bases, too. The Sentinels drop Guardian materials, and panels can be shot off of various structures to acquire Guardian mats as well. There are also obelisks, which this time around don’t require item combinations (thank goodness) and give various bits of data, including stuff you can also get from the main puzzle, occasionally. The second base doesn’t even have the puzzle, just these secondary objectives (and a nasty Sentinel ambush).
So, what can you get from this? Stuff. Galnet mentions delivering stuff to Ram Tah, but either this is bugged or it’s not yet available, because he doesn’t have any options to give him Guardian stuff. The Tech Brokers, however, do have some cool things, a powerplant that does seem a bit underwhelming (it’s just a pre-packaged OC powerplant), a charged plasma weapon that I’ve yet to unlock but that does look quite neat, and the one I did unlock, the Gauss Cannon…
Which is glorious. It’s basically what a C3 railgun would look like, if we had one, but in a C2 slot. Almost twice the damage of a C2 rail, much better armour penetration (140, which is mad), a silly power requirement, and only marginally less silly thermal load (25 per shot, versus a normal C2 rail’s already excessive 20). Oh, and it’s effective against Thargoids, too. So is the plasma charger, but we’re not talking about that here. As for combat performance, it may claim to be a pure thermal weapon, but this thing is born to melt hulls. It’s got high impact damage but low penetration damage, so while it’s not a great module sniper it is great at tearing huge chunks out of anyone stupid enough to be without shields and cover within its range. It does have a pretty big heat penalty to go with that extreme power, but when you have the firepower of two railguns for the price (and slot) of one, that’s really not a bad tradeoff. It does probably suffer against mirrored bulkheads, but even then it’s definitely not to be underestimated. Half of 70 damage per shot every 2 seconds still produces a rather large number, especially when you factor in that ridiculous AP value.
I imagine someone will build a Fer-de-Lance with 4 of these, cry at the heat output and power requirements and then laugh as small ships vanish in a single volley. I might do that, actually.