Upgrades improve a ship's combat, mining and movement capabilities and are purchased in order to help reach the next tier quicker or make one better at combat or mining. Once the minimum requirement for a upgrade has been reached, the upgrade bar will appear.
Upgrades apply to all ships of the current level (except Level 1, which applies only for the current ship). When you upgrade your ship, you start with an un-upgraded ship of the next level. For example, if you fully upgrade Level 1 and upgrade to Level 2, the ship is un-upgraded Level 2. If you partially upgrade it and upgrade to Level 3, you will have an un-upgraded Level 3 ship, which you can upgrade again. If you lose all of your Level 3 ships, you go back to the partially-upgraded Level 2 ship. If you lose all Level 2 ships again, you go back to a fully-upgraded Level 1 ship. But if you lose your Level 1 ship, you go back to an un-upgraded Level 1 ship.
Each ship tier of level L has a different upgrade cost:
- Tier 1: 5 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased once (40 crystals or ECP to fully upgrade).
- Tier 2: 10 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased twice (160 to fully upgrade).
- Tier 3: 15 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased three times (360 to fully upgrade).
- Tier 4: 20 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased four times (640 to fully upgrade).
- Tier 5: 25 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased five times (1000 to fully upgrade).
- Tier 6: 30 crystals per upgrade, each upgrade can be purchased six times (1440 to fully upgrade).
- Tier 7: Tier 7 ships do not have any upgrades.
For Tier 1-6, 8 categories can each be upgraded L times for 5L gems. It takes 40L² gems to fully upgrade, which is two full cargo loads.
The cargo capacity is 20L², and when full, an extra life can be purchased (up to a limit, usually 5 for Tier 1-6 and 0 for Tier 7) or a ship from the next tier can be purchased (if available):
- Tier 1: 20 crystals per upgrade to Tier 2 or extra life.
- Tier 2: 80 crystals per upgrade to Tier 3 or extra life.
- Tier 3: 180 crystals per upgrade to Tier 4 or extra life.
- Tier 4: 320 crystals per upgrade to Tier 5 or extra life.
- Tier 5: 500 crystals per upgrade to Tier 6 or extra life.
- Tier 6: 720 crystals per upgrade to Tier 7 or extra life.
- Tier 7: Tier 7 ships cannot be upgraded to Tier 8, and extra Tier 7 lives are only in custom mods/matches (980 crystals).
List of upgrades
There are 8 different upgrades that are bought with crystals.
- Upgrade 1: Shield Capacity
- Upgrading this allows your ship to have a stronger shield.
- Upgrade 2: Shield Regeneration
- Upgrading this increases the rate at which your shield is restored.
- Upgrade 3: Energy Capacity
- Upgrading this allows your ship to store more energy used to fire the weapons. In some ships this is necessary for upgrading damage, as the main cannon needs more energy than can be stored.
- Upgrade 4: Energy Regeneration
- Upgrading this increases the rate at which energy generates.
- Upgrade 5: Laser Damage
- Upgrading this increases the amount of damage your cannons do.
- IMPORTANT Upgrading this also increases the cost to fire your lasers, so this does not increase total firepower.
- Upgrade 6: Weapon Speed
- Upgrading this increases the speed at which the pulses fired by your ship move.
- IMPORTANT Upgrading this will NOT increase the number of shots your ship can do in a short period of time, nor does it change the cost to fire the weapons. One exception, the Barracuda and any ship with the Barracuda's dash.
- Upgrade 7: Ship Speed
- Upgrading this increases the ship's maximum Speed. Moving faster increases possible crash damage.
- Upgrade 8: Ship Agility
- Upgrading stats in a certain order can achieve different purposes. A common example is upgrading energy regen and shield regen before everything else so that one can mine asteroids more quickly.
- Prepare a strategy for upgrading before playing. For example, for the Trident, energy regen should be upgraded exactly once if you're mining yourself to Tier 3, and zero times if a teammate is giving you gems to upgrade you.
- Leaving stats without upgrades is also a viable strategy in some scenarios, such as not upgrading laser speed while piloting a Furystar if you believe the shots are fast enough already, or agility if you feel it is already agile enough.
- Upgrading some stats is a waste in some cases, such as energy for Cuttlefish and Catfish.
- Leaving stats without upgrades is absolutely necessary in some cases. For example, energy should not be upgraded for some ships, like the U-Spread, U-Center, and U-Octa if you want to use them for attacking. Damage should not be upgraded for the U-Siege, as that would reduce recoil.
- If you are interested in only getting to the next tier, then it is best to ignore some upgrades such as weapon speed or energy/shield capacity, which do not help much with mining.
- Typically (depending on the mod), ship upgrades are very steep and are even more steep at higher levels.
- Early game, don't underestimate level 2 ships, as a level 2 ship can max quickly and kill you to prevent you from upgrading your level 3 ship.
- Unupgraded level 6 ships are evenly matched with maxed level 2 ships. Therefore, maxed level 2 ships easily beat unupgraded level 3-5 ships, and maxed level 3+ ships easily beat unupgraded level 6 ships.
- A maxed U-Quad (tier 2) can one-shot an unupgraded tier 6 (U-Monitor, U-10 Thunder, and U-Afterburn), similar to how a maxed Pulse-Fighter (tier 3) can easily kill unupgraded tier 6 ships in vanilla, but faster. As another example, the Scorpion and Condor shield upgrades from 225 to 400 (about 1.8x), and the U-Center shield upgrades from 400 to 700 (also around 1.8x).
- Usually, all stats being maxed is the way to go, but it is always interesting to see what changes you can make to upgrade a ship better. Although upgrading the damage of your shots will pretty much nerf your ammo regen time.
- Upgrading a ship differs from mode to mode. In team mode, an upgrade might be very helpful, but if you use the same upgrade in Invasion, you would fail hard! For example, you would upgrade energy regen first for A-Speedster in Team Mode, whereas in Invasion you would upgrade speed first, so thinking about upgrades is very important.