Salvage is the first of the industry professions I backed that's now in the game, along with the ships I purchased. Refuel is here as a precursor to Pyro but is an unnecessary function at this time since game services can more easily refuel your ship. Also, I backed to do it with the Vulcan, not the Starfarer. CIG's implementation of mining left me confident that all the professions would be done well. Yes, we've had hiccups along the way in balancing them - the variety of profitable cargo has significantly diminished, and mining is too focused on one commodity at present, but the mechanics themselves are nicely done. Tier 0 salvage is no different, and it's damn lovely out of the gate.
I also have a Reclaimer, but the PTU is too unstable for me to get any concentrated salvaging done in a group. As much as we all hoped we'd have Wave 3 PTU available across the holiday, CIG couldn't achieve all access stability in time. Wave 1 is awful sometimes and wouldn't be helped by having more players in the mix. I feel bad for those who were expecting to play over the holiday. Here's hoping CIG can make enough progress to open up the PTU to others shortly after they return from vacation.
The Drake Vulture is a small Salvager designed for one to two players. You can have a dedicated pilot and salvager while the other player remains in the cargo bay to move boxes off the conveyer belt as they're ejected. With one person, you'll have to get up every other box to manage cargo, as the processor will eject one from the collector and keep one in the chamber. It's viable to do this solo, similar to solo mining the Mole. The ship is small and about the same distance as pilots using the Mole alone travel from the pilot seat down to the center mining laser. In the Vulture, you exit the pilot seat, run to the back and take the steps down to the cargo bay.
As a ship, the Vulture has the amenities you need for a single player to live aboard the vessel while pursuing salvage as a trade profession. Similar to the Prospector, it's tight quarters but functional. I'm hoping to see other manufacturers offer a similar-sized salvage vessel. Drake is my least favorite manufacturer. While I like the exterior design of the Vulture, I find the dark army-green interior drab and depressing. I hope we eventually see versions from RSI or Argo. Argo, in particular, does industrial with a more pleasant motif in the living spaces.
The Tier 0 implementation of salvage focuses on hull scraping. Using two different laser modes, the salvage operator removes the top layer of a ship's hull to produce scrap. The scrap is placed into a 1 SCU-sized cargo box that is ejected when complete. Another box of the hull can be scraped, but the conveyer belt needs to clear for the box to be ejected, hence the need for someone to move them out of the way and onto the cargo grid. The grid is two by six stacked two high, making the expected load twelve containers. You can experiment with shoving a few more in if you dare, but the physics grid can get wonky and evaporate a box or shoot it out into space.
You can find salvage wrecks near the Lagrange points and at various crash sites planetside. Red Monster Gaming extended his Asteroid Field Spawn Matrix to include the types of salvage currently found at the Lagrange points. I spent some time checking the densest parts of the Aaron Halo asteroid belt, and so far, I haven't found any wrecks, but I'm hoping we'll find crash sites there as well.
The act of salvaging is simple at this point. There are two lasers used to swipe across the ship's hull to gather the scrap. The HUD will let you know if you're hovering over material that can be salvaged by hull scraping. You can control the distance between the two laser beams. You can also choose between a more precise mode and, therefore, efficient or one that scrapes faster. Eventually, we'll want to finesse the art of moving across the hull so that you're working effectively. What's the best way to do it with the smallest amount of maneuvering or retracing your steps while not leaving material behind? That will be the art of a good salvager versus an apprentice.
When you're done salvaging, you transport your cargo to a capital city and sell it at the Trade & Development Division building. During Wave 1 PTU, each box sells for approximately 7.8K. The bonus of the cargo refactor features also being added as part of 3.18 is that you can work with others to move the boxes from a Vulture to a ship with a larger cargo hold allowing the salvager to continue working. At the same time, someone can transport the goods for sale.
What we have now is only the tip of the iceberg for salvage which makes me even more excited for what's to come. The industry professions are in excellent hands.