Much like everyone else's favorite vehicular man(tank) slaughter game, the ships in Star Conflict come in distinct classes. The lightest of which, and in my humble opinion the most fun to fly, are the Interceptors. Much like in EVE, these ships are designed to dart in and out of combat to exploit the sluggishness of their enemies, soften them up for the big guns, and even pick off and disrupt enemies on their own. However, due to the arena-style combat of Star Conflict (read: no warping out), veteran EVE Interceptor pilots must find new ways to survive while harassing their foes.
Before we get to that however, let's go over the basics. Each of the three races bring their own special ability to the Interceptor class, as well as two sub-faction ship variants. That sounds like a bit of a mouthful, but all you need to do is refer to the ingame tech trees to see what I mean. You will first unlock the vanilla faction Interceptor (Empire, Federation or Jericho), and then after another reputation level or two you can choose to unlock one of the sub-faction variants. For example, Empire pilots may choose from the Legion or Warden versions.
Choosing And Building Your 'Ceptor
The Federation 'ceptors bring a plasma web to the fight. Unlike in EVE, these webs simply deal damage, the amount of which scales with the primary weapon of your ship. Armada webs cut the hull and shield repair rate of a target by 50% during the duration, whereas Vanguard webs simply deal more damage over a longer duration. In my opinion, an Interceptor isn't really on the field as a damage platform, so the basic web isn't much to write home about. However, the Armada's ability to cut the repair rate in half certainly comes in handy from time to time.
Jericho's Interceptors all have the Tachyon Cocoon ability. This ability makes the target ship invulnerable for 6 seconds, but also unable to move or activate any of its weapons or modules. Once the cocoon ends the ship emits a pulse that disables nearby ships for 3 seconds. Interceptors usually find themselves in the thick of things, so this ability is very useful. People love to focus all their fire on anything with low health, often drawing close like a moth to the flame. Drawing 6 seconds worth of fire can be a huge help in a larger fight, and the AOE disable can shut down a larger ship or two if they don't move away. Raid Interceptors have a larger disable radius, and Tech variants have a longer disable duration. They seem equally viable to me, although with some practice and good piloting I think the longer duration disable could be more useful.
Finally, my personal favorite: the Empire. Their Interceptors have the Microwarp Engine ability. Functioning much like EVE's microjump drives, your ship will spool up for 2.5 seconds and then hurtle across the battlefield at ludicrous speeds. Unlike EVE, however, you don't actually teleport: You can and will collide with things. You can actually receive a medal for smashing into a rock and dying, but I'll leave the specifics for you to find out on your own. The Warden Microwarp Engine emits a target jamming pulse in a small radius upon landing, and the Legion variation simply cuts the spool up time to ~1.3 seconds. In my opinion, the Legion Microwarp Engine is the best ability for an Interceptor bar none. With it, you can zip across the battlefield to capture a point, secure the bomb, hunt down a pesky sniper frigate, or even just get the hell out of a fight. The Legion's reduced spool up time also means you will actually have a chance at getting away from a determined adversary, whereas I have died many times waiting for my standard Interceptor to finish spooling. Plus, in my experience, the Warden version usually gets me killed by trying to land on bad guys near rocks.
Beyond their special abilities, the Interceptors are all fairly similar. They may equip whatever weapons or missiles are allowed for the match. I usually choose lasers, as they have decent damage, good range, and most importantly, no travel time. This makes hitting your target while in close quarters a much simpler, although I know many pilots swear by plasma cannons. Once you get to the higher tiers, you can choose from short, medium and long range variants of each weapon class as well. This really comes down to how you want to fight and fly, though I tend to stick with the medium range lasers for the aforementioned lack of travel time. The short ranged pulse lasers have a noticable spread, as well as firing in bursts, which can draw attention and be disadvantageous at short ranges. However, if you are focusing specifically on hunting larger prey, the close range plasma cannons do excellent damage once you're in range.
The active modules are what make Interceptors unique as a class. Like the Electronic Attack Ships of EVE, many Interceptors focus on being fast and agile electronic warfare platforms. A variety of options open up as you reach the higher tiers of gameplay, but my favorites include the Ionic Beam, which disables enemy weapons, and the Parasitic Remodulator, which steals enemy shields to repair your own. These tend to have relatively long cooldowns however, so you must choose your targets wisely. Once you figure out what sort of modules you prefer, you can select your next Interceptor hull based on the bonuses they provide to your chosen modules.
How To Fly Your 'Ceptor
Tactics employed by Interceptor pilots change drastically with the game type. If you need to secure a point or plant the bomb, no other class can hope to match the raw speed of an Interceptor. The Empire ships are especially notable in this regard, as you can be capturing a point within seconds thanks to the microjump engine. Just be sure you don't steer too close to the capture beacon. There's nothing more embarassing than splattering yourself on a large, blinking, stationary object in front of your entire team. Trust me. It is worth noting though that activating a microjump engine while carrying an EMP bomb will cause you to drop the bomb so be aware.
In combat, whether hunting down the enemy captain or shooting a target of your own, the trick is to stick close and keep moving. Much like in EVE, larger ships turn slower. While tracking is only affected by the mouse speeds, the orientation of the ship does affect how many guns they can bring to bear on you. I don't know about you, but when I'm facing down a six-gun frigate, I would rather only deal with one gun instead of the full broadside. It is usually possible to sneak up on a sniper by waiting till the very last minute to lock on. Should you manage this, try to get underneath or behind them before you start shooting. This is the most disorienting, and you can often take out a large chunk of their shields before they even realize what's going on. At higher tiers, some ships will replace their large missiles with mines that deploy in a cloud around them. If you are too close, this functions like a massive explosive shotgun blast that has the potential to kill you instantly. On the upside, these mines do not recharge until the next battle, so if you do get killed this way, you can at least learn from it and avoid it next time.
When moving around the battlefield, look for alternate routes of approaching your enemies. With your superior speed, you can use your afterburners to get above or below your enemies. Then, when your fighters and frigates close with the enemy, you can come streaking down from above and join the fray. It's important that you are constantly moving, and try to avoid straight lines whenever someone has locked onto you. Sniper frigates can kill you in as few as 2 shots if you're not careful, so stay on your toes. Remember to use your agility and speed to your advantage. Weave around asteroids and look for holes in the terrain that you can dart through. With a little practice, you can elude enemies or even get them killed by walls.
Overall, flying an Interceptor in Star Conflict is incredibly entertaining, and with some practice they can be as lethal to your enemies as any other ship class. My best advice is to pick a ship and stick with it; the Synergy bonuses can make an enormous difference. That said, I would recommend flying another class on occasion too. Sometimes it's nice to be the one swatting flies instead of being the fly getting swatted.
Plus, I have yet to die to rocks as a bigger ship.