The primary game mode of Fractured Space is Conquest mode. Here, two opposing fleets strategically engage in a winner-takes-all battle over several sectors of space.
The two teams do battle across two sectors of space, Alpha and Beta, to capture mining stations. Each team has a forward base in each sector, and once this is captured a jump can be made to the home base – which must be captured to win the game.
To capture objectives, including mining stations and forward bases, one or more ships fly into the capture sphere surrounding the structure. If the combined capture power of this team is greater than any defenders present, then the capture meter will begin to fill in that team’s color. When this is filled, the point is taken. These can be recaptured, up until the end of the game. All captured objectives grant the team precious resources, which are used for levelling up during the course of the match.
Conquest mode sees enemy warships meet in the field of battle frequently. As such, the role of combat is an important one to consider. When destroyed, a player must wait for a set amount of time before respawning. The respawn counter extends as the game goes on. At the beginning of the game, this is set at a speedy 10 seconds, before expanding up to one minute in the late stages of an encounter. Staying alive is often more important than taking down an enemy, so choose your battles carefully. Some resource points are granted for the successful destruction of an enemy, but this is far less rewarding than a capture.
A third sector, Gamma, becomes available periodically – counted down to by the timer at the top centre of the screen. When this is online, the team which captures it gains significant stat increases – Gamma battles are vital to success.
Map control is perhaps the single most vital element of a successful strategy. Taking mining stations to grow the team’s resource level (more on that shortly) and holding forward stations to keep a jump route open to the enemy base are far more important in the long run than chasing takedowns. Destroying ships may be the most glamorous way to contribute to the battle, but do not lose sight of the bigger picture.
A huge part of this is communication. The in-game chat window is an important resource, not to be forgotten. The tactical map also has a ‘ping’ feature, whereby captains can mark out important points on the map, sending a message to their fleet to push or defend a certain location or ship. The more effective your team’s communication, the more likely they are to succeed.
Jumping effectively is the difference between winning and losing, so be sure to arrange the best possible lane split from your fleet of five. Ideally, you don’t want anybody to be isolated, so a 2/3 split is almost always the best way to go. Pairing a heavy and a healer for the team of 2 is a tried and tested method, while the 3 can be made up of a wide variety of compositions.
After that initial jump, you should always have one eye on the readiness of your jump core. Get to know its cooldown time, in order to be able to respond to threats quickly. Remember, you’ve got an emergency Jump Home, albeit with a massive cooldown. One tip which can be invaluable is to activate this, then immediately use the normal jump ability when arriving in your home base in order to switch lanes rapidly. Of course, the Jump Home ability limits how often this can be used. In short, don’t be caught with your jump core on cooldown when the enemy are at the gates.
As you gather resources from captured stations, your team gains levels, granting stat increases to the whole fleet. To activate these, simply fly into the sphere of any friendly forward or home station.
At levels 3, 6, and 9, options are presented to upgrade down specific paths – Attack, Defense, or Utility. Each of these grant a larger boost than usual to the stats in that group. Generally speaking, it’s a legitimate tactic to delay upgrading for regular levels if an objective is in sight, but these more significant ones should be considered carefully.
Forward Stations are the ultimate prize within the main sectors of Conquest mode, Alpha and Beta. When taken, these confer extra resources to the team, as well as opening up a jump route to the enemy base.
Of course, this is essential for ending the game, but even in the early stages of a battle when an all-out assault would be foolhardy, capturing a forward base is a powerful coup. The pressure this puts on defenders is intense, as they must rush to close the jump route before the enemy becomes too powerful. In terms of map control, this is huge. Occupying an enemy forward station gives the team access to the home sector for as long as it is held, as well as providing an extra upgrade location, which is simultaneously denied to the enemy.
Once Gamma sector comes online, if a forward station is held then a team faces a real dilemma, as they must decide whether the emergency defensive work can be forgone for the offensive bonus of the Gamma capture.
Gamma sector comes online every few minutes. When this is available for capture, it is generally a major conflict point, as it confers powerful combat buffs to the whole team. These buffs get gradually more significant, from Gamma I all the way through to the game-changing Gamma IV, which removes all jump restrictions for the whole team, enabling an instant invasion of the enemy base.
It’s almost always advantageous to attack Gamma, though some do support sacrificing Gamma I for early game map control. These are the sort of decisions which make up high-level play in Fractured Space.
In any competitive game, knowing when to attack and when to defend is vital. Once a forward station is taken in Conquest Mode, the enemy base can be jumped into.
Once in the enemy base, the team will encounter defensive turrets dotted around the station itself. These don’t deal huge amounts of damage, but should be taken down as soon as possible in order to create the chance to win the game. It’s almost always better to target defending ships first though, as they are far more dangerous than the base turrets.
The single most important piece of advice for a team looking to close out the game is to co-ordinate the final strike. Jumping in together and striking as one is the key to success – if the defenders prevail, particularly in the late game, then you may find yourself with a team on cooldown, vulnerable to the counter-attack. Many a match has ended this way, so beware.
Of course, a match of Conquest is far more complex than this, with each individual encounter having its own unique story and flow. This is, however, the basic thrust of a match. Keeping an eye on the mini map early on will give you some idea of how the game is going, and you’ll soon be reacting strategically to threats as quickly as they appear.