My reply to a complaint/query about why “jousting” combat doesn’t really work in Pioneer, unlike Frontier.
Jousting won’t work - its deliberately designed that way.
If two identical ships with identical loadouts (because mass matters) go up against each other, then its pretty much down to piloting skill. The AI is slightly crippled (it would hit you perfectly every time if it wasn’t), but you still need to know how to fly, which means all six thrust axes plus orientation (the AI will try to present the smallest cross-section possible).
When the ships are unbalanced is where it becomes interesting. If you’re a small zippy fighter up against a hulking cargo ship, then he’ll be easier to hit and easier to avoid. The tradeoff is that he probably has shields and can survive a buzzing mosquito, and probably has a bigger laser so if he does land a hit, you’re dead.
Don’t forget that you have missiles as well. Use them, they’re highly recommended. But mostly, don’t enter a fight you don’t think you win. There’s no shame in running away.
We’ve also got some new features coming down the pipes to make things interesting. There will be convoy that can launch defense fighters, and also there will be wingmen & formation flying. One-on-one fights aren’t going to be all that common, at least in smaller ships.
We’re also working on crew, but unlike Frontier’s crew these will actually have skills and be able to do stuff. You’ll be able to hire an ace pilot and get him to fight for you, which will probably improve your chances of winning unless you yourself are an ace pilot. Of course, you have to be able to afford him.
Oh, and larger ships will have turrets too, which also can be crewed. If you hire a gunner then you’ll be firing a lot more shots per second, which improves your chances.
Of course we still have to finish and balance all this stuff. Its all in progress - these aren’t just ideas.
All of this stuff is to make combat a small part of a wider game. It won’t just be picking off targets one at a time. It will be as you’d expect - incredibly risky, but hopefully with rich rewards.