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Hardspace: Shipbreaker - Wreck and Rule in Zero G! (Don't Even think about Unionizing)


Hardspace: Shipbreaker is a "simulation" game that went into Early Access in June of 2020 and had been on my watch-list since then. The game was finally released this May. In the game you're a blue collar worker living in a hyper-capitalistic dystopia in which you've basically indentured yourself to a corporation that owns your body, as well as your brain data, as well as any clones they make of you. You've got to pay of this enormous debt (we're talking billions of dollars) by stripping spaceships down to their constituent parts. I've just started and its easy so far but I have a feeling things are going to ramp up quickly, the game is already started to charge me for air/fuel and imposed a time limit on my breakdowns. Mind you, this is in zero-g with semi realistic physics that you've got to take into consideration when pushing/pulling giant slabs of ships around.

So, what I'm trying to figure out now is how to quickly cut away the most valuable parts of the ship and get them processed without killing myself, or damaging other parts of the ship.

The story so far is basically, Earth sucks and everything seems to be a Corporatocracy. With people enslaved by their debts to these Corporations. You take a job with Lynx who gets you off of Earth but basically owns your body and your consciousness. And will continue to work you even if you die. There has been some heavy-handed anti-union stuff so I'm guessing we'll see some of that come up. At least I hope so.

I think there has to be some people on the boards who would enjoy this game.

Exposition Owl

Owl of the not-so-wild
I’ve put a few dozen hours into this game recently, and I thought about starting this thread myself. Thanks for getting the ball rolling, Flawgic!

So, yeah, I’ve been really enjoying it. It’s a little like doing a jigsaw puzzle in reverse, and I’ve found it kind of relaxing. There’s some interesting ludonarrative consonance here, in that the frame narrative tells you to get things done as fast as you can, but it’s actually in your best interest both as a player and an in-universe worker to take things slowly and carefully.

The game has a lot of little touches that really reinforce the overall corporate dystopia vibe. For instance, the company gives out stickers that you can use to decorate your tools when you meet certain requirements. Most of the requirements are related to meeting work goals, but getting some of them requires you to do reckless or even self-destructive things. You get stickers for dying and being resurrected by the company’s body-copying system, for instance, and for moving at speeds greater than 20 meters per second (which under no circumstances helps you do your job, and may well get you injured or killed). So, the company is subtly encouraging you to get hurt or die, which gets you deeper in debt to them, and the only reward you get in return is in effect an achievement system with purely cosmetic effects. It’s worth noting that the game’s actual achievements on Steam do not reference the stickers in any way: it’s entirely possible to 100 percent the game without doing any of the more reckless things you can get stickers for (though you’re very likely to end up moving at 20m/s or more purely by accident lots of times).

My only quibble about the game is that lots of things seem to catch fire even in the absence of oxygen, but the fire hazards probably make the game more fun, so even a pedant like me can’t complain too much. A word to the wise, though: when you’re using your cutting laser, if the emitter heats up too much it can end up burning flammable stuff nearby, even if the actual beam doesn’t touch anything but your target. So, be especially careful when you’re cutting close to fuel tanks, fuel lines, anything made of fabric, and ESPECIALLY hydroponics modules. Those things are full of pressurized oxygen, and each and every one of them yearns to become a rapidly expanding ball of flame.

I’ll be interested to see what other people think. Falselogic, I think you in particular are in for a real treat here.

ETA: I do wish the devs would patch in an option that would let you listen to your own music rather than just the same loop of Firefly-esque Americana all the time. There are some helpful audio cues that can alert you to danger, not to mention the really good voice performances from your coworkers, so I don’t want to be plugged into my phone and have the game audio silenced.
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Same as I ever was
I bought it in early access over a year ago, played a bit, enjoyed it, and got distracted by something. Horizon, maybe. I should get back to it!


Been playing some more of it. And the game certainly is pushing me to take risks. I look at the clock and I look at some of these ships and think I can get to the reactor in time. I can pop these thrusters in time. Or how much time will causing an uncontrolled decompression save me? How much salvage will I lose if I take the short cut of just cutting through this ship instead of slowly breaking it down? I like the risk/reward it is giving me.

What I don't like is how it is not always apparent which parts of a ship you can pop off just by focusing your gravity beam on them. The first time I dealt with hualer thrusters I ended up just throwing two of them entirely into the processor because I couldn't figure out how to open them. I only realized it accidently on the third one and then it blew up on me because I didn't realize what it was asking of me. (cut the points, sprint to the back and turn off the fuel, which will then 'crack' the whole thing.)

Had my first death too, thought I had decompressed an entire ship and ended up cutting into a pressurized cabin. Splat.

Exposition Owl

Owl of the not-so-wild
The first time I dealt with hualer thrusters I ended up just throwing two of them entirely into the processor because I couldn't figure out how to open them. I only realized it accidently on the third one and then it blew up on me because I didn't realize what it was asking of me. (cut the points, sprint to the back and turn off the fuel, which will then 'crack' the whole thing.)

So, you know how there are often little canisters of coolant under the access panels for the thruster nozzle cut points on those kinds of ships? One thing to try is to detach those with your grapple, but rather than picking them up for the salvage, set them floating next the cut points where the fuel pipes connect to the thruster engine. When you cut one of those points, immediately afterward pop the coolant canister with your laser. If you do it right, that should put out the fire, so there’ll be less damage to that pipe (and to your body as you’re passing by) when you go to shut off the fuel.


Oh! That's a good tip!

The most recent thing I realized, after the third time one exploded on me, is that I need to safely extract Class II Reactor is that I have to do it first. Otherwise power gets cut and I can't eject the thruster and pretty much making it possible to extract the reactor without it blowing up. And when that does happen you pretty much lose 1/3 to a half of the value of the ship depending on the type.

Expensive lesson to learn. I did just get permission to deal with radiation. I haven't had the training yet. But it looks, not fun.

Mr Bean

Chief Detective
I dig this game. I got it off a steam sale in early access after watching a let’s play if the first few ships and then binged it to completion after it hit 1.0.

I love the environmental story telling going on here. For instance, if you actually read your contract, the corporate hellscape turns out to be even worse than advertised and foreshadows some of the conflict that happens later in the game.

Here’s a cutting trick I figured out that the game never tells you - you can use your point laser to vaporize small beams and chunks of hull to take large panels off without your saw cutter. A lot of panels are held in with strips of hull marked with yellow lines but they aren’t cut points. If you use the point laser you can usually free the larger panel getting easier access to the rest of the ship or freeing stuck components that go to the barge. Similarly, you can vaporize the thin connective beams on a hull to break the superstructure apart cleanly without having to make multiple saw cuts.