There is a lot to parse in mission details. After picking a mission and reading the objective and clause, you should read further so that you are never surprised by what Heat Signature throws at you.
Other Heat Signature Guides:
- 100% Achievement Guide (How to Unlock All).
- How to Beat Every Single Difficult Assassination Mission.
- How to Kill Armour / Shield Guards with Starter Gear.
- Stations and Mission Selection.
The overall sum of how difficult the mission is. Difficulty determines your reward upon mission completion; the more difficult the mission, the better the payout and the more it contributes to liberation.
The harder the mission, the larger the ship. Larger ships have more sections, which means more keycard doors to open.
- Easy: Few guards, no time limits, no clauses. Training wheels missions.
- Medium: Slightly harder than Easy. Good for the first mission or two on a character to get some starter funds.
- Hard: Your bread and butter mission. Usually has at least one attribute which needs to be accounted for.
- Audacious: Difficult, but doable, missions. You will need to specifically prepare for these missions, but you still have a little leeway for making mistakes.
- Mistake: Lots of difficult mission attributes. Short time limits, lots of turrets, difficult guard loadouts, and tough clauses, all at once. Suicidally dangerous and usually requires specialized equipment to handle shielded or armored enemies.
There are four factions in Heat Signature. Each faction's ship archetype is shaped differently, prefers specific room layouts, and even trends towards different guard equipment.
- Glitcher: Has a scavenger motif. Shaped like bricks connected via walkways. Sections are separated by significant distances. Doesn't favor armor or shields.
- Sovereign: Has a futuristic war machine motif. Shaped like small squares connected at the corners. Often has large rooms with no cover. Favors shields.
- Foundry: Has an industrial motif. Shaped like long rectangles. Lots of rows or columns of rooms, with little in the way of winding corridors. Rooms often have barriers you can use to block line of sight. Favors armor.
- Security: Has a pristine utopia motif. Shaped like stealth bombers or airplanes. Lots of winding corridors, few large rooms. Guards and turrets exclusively use non-lethal weapons. Favors shields.
When selecting a mission, there may be a time limit. While the three kinds of time limit are functionally different from each other, each one occupies the "time limit" attribute for a mission.
Many harder missions have strict time limits. To complete missions with restrictive time limits, you will need support items such as key-cloners, visitors, subverters, crashbeams, and so on. There's no specific right way to beat a mission as quickly as possible.
- No Alarm Response: No time limit, alarm or otherwise. This ship will never fly to a station, and you are welcome to attempt it as many times as you like, assuming you don't die.
- Alarm Time: How long until the ship reaches a station if the pilot sounds the alarm. Many harder missions have extremely short alarm times - less than twenty seconds sometimes - so having the equipment and experience to speedrun to the pilot is essential.
- Time Limit: How long until the ship reaches a station, but starts the moment you accept the mission instead of when the alarm goes off. An alarm triggered on a Time Limit mission will cut the limit in half. Taking out the pilot removes the time limit.
How many guards there are. Some ships have skeleton crews, which means they have three guards or less per group, while others have many guards, which means there are at least four guards per group.
Essential information when combined with guard loadouts. More guards means more time picking off enemies, more uses of support items, a higher chance of being spotted, and more drastic consequences when an alarm is sounded. Every difficult mission will have lots of guards.
If the ship has turrets. Self-explanatory. Turrets can be disabled (crashbeam, explosion, or manual) or turned against the guards (subverter).
These are attributes which don't really belong anywhere else, but which significantly change how you approach a mission.
- Note From Fiasco: This mission has a terminal that, when used, reduces the cost of your personal mission by 40. You don't have to complete the mission either; you can show up, interact with the terminal, fail the mission, and still get the cost reduction. Since Personal Missions are usually quite difficult, rewarding, and fun, you should seek out these missions if just for the intel.
- Warzone: The ship will come under attack during the mission. Suicidally dangerous; the game even tells you it's a terrible idea. However, there is an achievement for completing a hijack mission with the Warzone attribute, and the payout is always huge. Just don't accept capture or rescue missions in a warzone unless you are laden with teleporters; you'll never reach the target in time.
- Serious Guard Kit: Guards are explosive, armored, or have shields. Explosive guards require non-lethal weapons, armored guards require armor-piercing weapons, and shielded guards require crashbeams or subverters to disable the shields. While you can work around these limitations without the requisite items, it's a massive pain and generally ill-advised. So when you see this attribute, make sure to read the guard loadouts.