I know that right now there isn't that much shuttle content in the game (as of this post). However, I've noticed that people are having a hard time with the few missions that we do have. Nearly every match I run, at least one person blows up over and over and over and over again. They eventually get frustrated enough and leave the match. Sometimes I get matches where my entire team spends most of the fight blowing up and respawning. Finishing a match with a full team is rare these days.
So I've decided to write up a quick guide to hopefully help out those who still struggle with the shuttle content. I know that most of this is going to be common sense to most of the older vets, but I've seen enough people struggling with this to warrant a write up. I'm going to start at the very beginning.
-What is a shuttle and how are they used in game?
A shuttle is a small craft that is used in mission content where a full sized starship is unnecessary or unable to be used. These small craft typically have 1-2 Bridge Officer stations and only two forward weapon slots. Although they aren't as heavily armed as a starship, they are very fast and maneuverable. The game also features a handful of fighter craft. These fighters differ from shuttles in that they are even more maneuverable and have the ability to equip dual cannons.
-How do I get a shuttle or fighter?
Once you progress to a certain part in the story line (applicable for all factions) you will receive a free shuttle craft along with a free ship slot in order to use it. However, I do not recommend using the freebie shuttle as they have no Bridge Officer slots at all. Instead, you can buy a better runabout type for Energy Credits. They don't cost a whole lot so it shouldn't be a problem to afford one of these. You can buy these at the shipyard of your chosen faction.
You can also buy shuttles and fighters from the C-Store for 500 Zen. These may have special equipment on them that you cannot find elsewhere.
A handful of shuttles can also be obtained in the Lobi store for 300 Lobi crystals. These can be bought and sold on the exchange, so you may be able to find one there. However, they may be quite expensive.
Several can be found in bundled packs or on a larger ship. The Tal'Kyr support craft, for example, can only be obtained when you buy the D'Kyr science vessel. The Type-10 shuttle craft can only be obtained in the DS9 bundle.
Finally, you get a free unique shuttle craft as a Veteran Reward for having a Life Time Subscription or from accumulated time with a standard subscription (applicable for all factions).
The type of craft that you use will depend on your individual playstyle. For a list of all the small craft available in game, their stats, and how to obtain them, see the link below:
-Alright, I've decided on the shuttle I want to fly and am ready to go! Now what?
You aren't ready just yet. There's some prep we have to do before you can jump into the PVE queues. First let's start with equipment. The stock equipment that comes on your shuttle or fighter is junk. It may be good enough to handle to single player missions such as The Vault or Operation Gamma, but it most certainly is not good enough to handle 5 man queue missions such as Atmosphere Assault. Shuttles are capable of equipping gear that can be used on full sized starships. Ditch the shuttle gear and use that gear instead.
The first thing on the list is weapons. The 360 degree beams that come stock on the shuttles are tempting to use, but the truth is you don't really need them. Shuttles are very maneuverable so you can use a standard beam array with a 250 degree firing arc with no problems. You will get far more bang for your buck by using those. Likewise for fighters, ditch the shuttle cannons that they come with and get some big boy cannons.
The big thing to keep in mind when buying new weapons for your shuttle is the modifiers on the weapons. You're going to be fighting a lot of small, very fast enemies during shuttle missions. Because of this, I highly recommend using weapons with the [ACC] mod on them. Personally, the beams that I use on my shuttles have no less than [ACC]x2 on them. When it comes to shuttle content, all the damage and critical spikes in the world aren't going to help you if you can?t hit anything.
Should you opt to use a torpedo in your secondary weapon slot, there are many great choices available. All of the standard torpedo types can be used on your shuttle craft. During shuttle missions, you will face off against some larger enemies in addition to small craft. Using some of the harder hitting torpedoes to deal with these guys isn't a bad idea. I've seen players use specialty torpedoes such as the Omega Torpedo, Romulan Hyper-Plasma Torpedo, and Breen Cluster Torpedo. The type of torpedo you use (if you want one at all) will ultimately depend on your own playstyle. Maybe you want a faster firing torpedo to help deal with smaller enemies, or maybe you want the big guns for dealing with the larger enemies. Whatever you decide on, just keep in mind that you can use the big bad heavy hitting ones on your shuttle. You aren't limited to just the standard Photons that come stock.
-Shields, deflectors, and engines
For these, I highly recommend using a set that comes with a 3 piece set bonus. Examples would be the Jem'Hadar set, the Breen Subzero set, or the Aegis set. You can use any of the rep sets as well if you have the reputation and resources for it. First, you get some nice passives that help on your already limited shuttle craft. Second, if you use the full 3 piece set, you often get a nice skill that can be used. Aside from your own Captain skills, small craft only come with maybe 2 other Bridge Officer slots, so the amount of skills you get to use are quite limited. By using a 3 piece set, you basically get a free power to use with some passives to boot. Although the 3 piece set powers often come with longer cooldowns, using them with proper timing can be a great boon in shuttle combat.
If you're on a budget, then I recommend the Jem?Hadar or Breen set as listed above. These can be obtained simply by rerunning the episodes attached to them. In other words, it?s free gear to beef up your shuttle or fighter.
Now some shuttles come with specialized equipment on them that you might not want to replace. For example, the Yellowstone Runabout comes with a Tetryon-Plasma impulse engine. That engine on its own gives you a skill to eject tetryon warp plasma. This can be very nice when being swarmed with small fighters. The Timeship shuttles come with a Subatomic Deflector Array that allows you to use a sort of death ray skill. This is great for dealing with larger enemies, such as Elachi Walkers. There are several other small craft that come with special pieces of gear as well. Whether or not you use these pieces is up to you, however you can still use some of the sets listed above for the 2 piece passive bonus. Either way you still get some nice passives and an active skill to use.
Just because you won't be traveling around at warp speeds doesn't mean you should neglect your warp or singularity core. Cores have some really great stat bonuses on them and can boost your power levels in specific categories. Since there are so many different types of these with all kinds of different modifiers on them, all I'm going to say here is to find one that suits your needs and roll with it. I recommend at least a MK XI Blue core. With the introduction of Fleet Cores, the cost for these on the exchange has dropped significantly. You should be able to find one that suits you at an affordable price. My main point here is "Don't ignore your core." Upgrade that bad boy.
Shuttles come with limited console slots. Some may even have no consoles at all in a category. Shuttles aren?t very durable craft on their own, so it's not a bad idea to put some resist consoles or shield capacity consoles here. For the tactical slot I always put an energy specific console there to boost damage. After all, with only one or two energy weapons on the shuttle total, you're going to need some power behind them despite having accuracy mods on your weapons. Just as all the damage in the world won't help you if you can't hit them, all the accuracy in the world won?t help you if you don't have the punch behind your weapons to destroy the things you can hit. It's a sort of balance here.
However, don?t dismiss universal consoles in the engineering or science slots here. Some of them are very nice and fun to use. Some examples are the Point Defense console and the Isometric Charge console. Although both of these have a long cooldown, using them at the right time can quickly annihilate a wing of enemy fighters. For a good passive console you can use the Nukara Particle Converter console. It has some nice stats on it and adds 10% accuracy to beam weapons. This can compliment the [ACC] weapons you got earlier if you?re using beams. There are many other great universal consoles you can use here though, so again this is a matter of playstyle and how you want to build your shuttle.
That should do it for the equipment and gear section. Now let's take a look at the Bridge Officer slots and decide what skills to use here.
-Bridge Officer Skills
Most shuttles come with 1 universal ensign slot. Some of the C-Store or Lobi store shuttles and fighters come with 2 slots. Even with 2 slots, the skills you get to use here are limited compared to a full sized starship. Choosing the right skill or skills to go here can make all the difference in battle.
Before you start choosing skills however, keep in mind that many of the shuttles come with innate skills that can be used. For example the Danube and Yellowstone runabouts all come with Tractor Beam built in. The Federation and Klingon Veteran shuttles both come with Emergency Power to Shields. This means that those skills can be completely ignored for your Bridge Officer slot if the craft you are flying has that skill built in. Not that I would ever recommend using Tractor Beam in a slot, but you're going to get it for free anyway if you fly a Danube or Yellowstone. Do note though that these skills have the standard cooldowns. Emergency Power to Shields, for example, will have a 2 minute cooldown since it does not have any Bridge Officer expertise points attached to it.
Once you have determined the skill that your shuttle or fighter comes with (if it comes with any at all) then you can start looking at what you want to fill out your Officer slots with. For a more attack oriented craft, I recommend Beam Fire at Will if you're using beams. This can be great for clearing out or severely damaging many enemy fighter craft in an area. It has a decent cooldown on it, so it can be used regularly throughout any match. If you want a more defensive skill, Hazard Emitters is a great one. It keeps your shuttle all nice and fixed up and greatly prolongs the fight so you aren?t blowing up quite as often. If hull healing isn?t a problem for you, Emergency Power to Shields is always a good fallback.
All shuttles with two slots have a dedicated Science slot. So if you have a shuttle with two slots, then you can split both offensive and defensive. On my Rozhenko for example, I use Beam Fire at Will and Hazard Emitters. It's quite a little beast with both of those. You could double up on defensive skills to make a sturdier shuttle if that's more your style, but since skills are limited on shuttles I do recommend branching out a bit with a different skill.
The Voth Heavy Fighter is the exception. It has 1 Ensign Engineering and 1 Ensign Universal slot.
-Alright! I've chosen my shuttle, geared it up, and chosen the skills I want to use. Am I ready now?
Almost! We have one last thing to do here before jumping in. We need to do a "final flight check" so to speak. You see, the game treats all shuttles and fighters the same as a brand new full sized starship. This means that your power levels and hotbars are probably not set how you want them to be.
In order to fix these up before you jump into a mission, first head to the shipyard of your chosen faction. Find the Ship Selector NPC and open up the selection menu. On the bottom left hand side, you will see a small portion that says "Set Active" with two options. One being "Starship" and the other being "Small Craft." Click on the option "Small Craft" and then beam out to space. You will now be in your shuttle or fighter instead of your starship. You can now take your time fixing up your hotbars and power levels. Maybe even fly around a little bit to get a feel for your new small craft.
When finished, go back to the Ship Selector in the shipyard and set your starship back to active. The game will automatically put you in your shuttle when you enter a shuttle map, so there's no need to manually swap back and forth between your starship and your shuttles.
-Okay. I've chosen my shuttle, geared it up, chosen the skills I want, and have completed my final flight check. Anything else?
You are now all ready to jump into the shuttle missions! I can't guarantee that you will never blow up (because let?s face it, stuff happens), but this should at least keep you from seeing the respawn button too often.
Once upon a time, I too tried to run shuttle missions without properly preparing for them. I had stock gear and didn't really consider the skills I was using. The end result was that I was just as frustrated with shuttle stuff as many of the players I see today are. By following my own advice (and the advice of others that I have seen around), my own enjoyment of shuttle content has greatly improved. My hope is that this can help out those of you who still struggle with this and that maybe you too can enjoy shuttle content.