Hardspace: Shipbreaker – Basic Guide (Controls, Tools and Other)

Guide to Basics

Controls and Tools


  • WASD+Mouse is your bread and butter, as is standard, with QE to roll. Space ascends and C descends. Ctrl will initiate a break. It’s important to note that the breaking force is higher than manual thruster control. Z and X are used to hold onto an object to brace yourself. In the event of decompression, etc. It also increases the transfer of sound, sometimes letting you hear what’s going on within components.
  • 1 selects your Grapple.
  • LMB with the grapple grabs hold of an object. It will try to retain the rough distance from you it had when you grabbed it, and follow your cursor. F can be used to ‘shove’ the held object, or whatever your cursor is pointing at, otherwise. An upgrade allows this to be charged by holding F.
  • While holding LMB, you can hold RMB to ‘reel in’ the grapple. This will move the held object towards you, or you towards it, depending on relative mass. This can be sued to get around quickly, but take note that you can build up extreme speeds. Remember to use your CTRL break, and avoid going too fast directly at any solid objects.
  • RMB by itself is used to deploy tethers. Hold to deploy the first, release to deploy the second. Tethers draw the tethered objects together with a great deal of force. They are requisite for manipulating the heaviest components.
  • A raytrace will actually be fired between the points you select to establish the tether. So take care of any loose debris between your targets that may be struck by accident and tethered too.
  • 2 Selects your cutter. It also switches between the heads.
  • In needle mode, hold LMB on an object to vaporize it. Only works on certain surfaces. Easy enough. The needle beam will never penetrate or strike an object other than the one it is currently melting.
  • In bonesaw mode, RMB toggles between cut orientations.
  • The HUD will draw a line showing your cut. Take note this can often be longer than intended or desired depending on what is, or could, be targeted. Cuts that penetrate multiple layers of objects may strike valuable salvage or things that might explode.
  • Toggles your Flashlight.
  • T will bring up your scanner view. In Free Play or once upgraded, mousewheel will change the modes of this. The scanner allows you to check the composition and contents of the ship in an X-ray view. More on this to come.
  • TAB will toggle a panel with your current work orders. These are optional objectives that reward you tokens used to buy upgrades.
  • is used to interact with controls, consoles, or to pick up data logs or consumable items.
  • ESC does what you’d expect.

Around the Bay

When we first exit the hab, take note of the console to your left. This is where you’ll return to purchase fuel, oxygen, tethers and the like. In the early going, it’s best that you start thinking about returning for air when you get down to 100 seconds or just above. Leave yourself plenty of time for early mistakes. You’ll learn how close you can cut it as you go.

Next, take note of the areas around the bay. Below you in green is the Barge. This is a transport unit sent to collect all intact components. Computers, chairs, fuel tanks. Manufactured objects that can be re-used.

Each side of the bay has both a blue and red space. The blue space is the Processor. Which is used for collecting intact pieces of high-value material. The Red space is the furnace. Soft metals and garbage go here.

With that squared, approach your target ship and use the grapple to remove any old antennae from it. Note that just above your O2 meter at the bottom of the HUD, it now has a green lamp that says BARGE. As well, if we look at the barge, there will now be a graphic saying to place the held item there. Whenever you hold and often when you point your cursor at any material, that lamp will display. It will show:

  • Barge in Green.
  • Processor in Blue.
  • Furnace in Red.

Conveniently color-coded to the areas themselves. If you’re still uncertain, remember as well that while holding an object with the grapple, a HUD indicator will also flash around the correct deposit point.

Before we move on, a note. Objects that normally go in the Barge or Processor, if sufficiently damaged or mangled by impacts and cutting, will change status to be placed in the Furnace instead. Their value has been ruined and they’re only good for bulk scrap now.

Note the hedgehog-like objects positioned around the bay as well. These have no mechanical function. They’re merely anchors for you to pull yourself around or tether components to if you need to drag them in a certain direction.

Lastly, be sure to turn around and have a look at your starting position, the Hab, and recall where it is. In the event you need to return to it in a hurry, it’s good to have your bearings to it.

Rapid Planned Disassembly: General Hazards

The biggest risks to your person and progress are pipes and the things at the other end of them, and anything electrical.

Electrical Components such as computer consoles, power cells, junction boxes, and likely a few other components will cause mild to massive arcing when removed from their mountings. It is good to do so from a safe distance. The easiest way to deal with these is to hold Ctrl to brake, pick them up from a distance, then carefully tap RMB to reel them in to where they can be punted to the barge with F. True of many things, but initial distance to these is important.

Arcing can cause follow on detonations. Do not remove electrical components in the presence of explosives. Remove the flammable objects first.

Red Pipes contain fuel. At one end of these there will be red fuel tanks. Above the tank there is typically a flush valve. Pulling this lever will flush all fuel from the connected pipe, rendering them inert. It does not flush the fuel from the connected tank. Fuel tanks remain explosive no matter what.

Blue pipes contain coolant. This is less destructive but still dangerous to your person if exposed. It can also trigger arcing from nearby electrical components that are exposed. Which can trigger explosions from flammables in return. Treat with care. On one end of the piping will be a large device called an ECU. The pipes are flushed by removing the front panel of the unit, then dismounting the three small canisters from inside of it.

Black Pipes contain reactor plasma. Currently the only safe way to flush these is to find a set of utility keys and use the engineering console with the big exclamation mark on it. If you have no keys, no console, or the console has been disconnected or damaged, you will have to clear these the Hard Way™.

To manually flush the black pipes, the first step is thus: Dismantle as much of the ship as possible and remove the reactor and as many explosive objects as possible from the vicinity of the main engines. Once this is done, each of the main engine mounting brackets has a small emergency release valve. One at a time, pull these and then run. There is an about 50/50 chance these will release reactor plasma flares after a second or two. If the flares don’t intersect something explosive, they’re relatively harmless. If they do, you are hopefully far enough away to enjoy the fireworks. Once all the thrusters have been cleared, the pipe sections will be inert.

Other Risks include the tiny collectible oxygen and fuel bottles. Yes these can explode. Take care not to clip them with your cutter or expose them to excessive arcing.

The possibly most underestimated miscellaneous hazard is fast moving objects. Including but not limited to large sections of ship in the process of being swung by a tether, small components being reeled towards you, and yourself. A few small impacts from fast-moving chairs or such will be pricey to fix but ultimately more of an annoyance. Smashing into a solid object you’re reeling yourself towards can be considerably more dangerous.

It’s not likely ship chunks in motion will kill you outright from an impact, but given their shape it’s possible if you’re not careful to be caught by them and catapulted along with them into the furnace or processor. Don’t let the calming blue glow fool you on the latter. A phased molecular disassembler array kills you just as dead as fire.

Rapid Planned Disassembly: Mackerel

All Mackerels have a near-identical layout. Most of the major differences are fairly cosmetic. These are loose guidelines note. As you play you’ll build your own workflow. You may find the order you do these things in works better changed around for you. As well, I largely won’t address minor details like tearing off airlock controls, antennae and the like. When and how to do these is circumstantial, and it’s largely up to you when they fit least disruptively into your workflow.

Our first objective is going to be to get access to the left and right crawlspaces. To facilitate this we’re going to go inside and depressurize the craft. The airlock can be anywhere along either side, but the main atmosphere controls will always be just above the interior airlock door in the main cabin.

Once the atmosphere is removed, immediately open the airlock again to depressurize it as well. Forgetting to do this could lead to Fun™ later. The cockpit should depressurize along with the main cabin.

Next up, we’re going to move up to the cockpit and cut the four cut-points around the door. This will release the front segment of the ship entirely. Now that that’s off, we’ll ignore it for awhile and go look at the reactor.

On transport-types, there will be a door in the way with no controls. This can be removed just by yanking it off.

Check if the reactor has a black pipe connecting it to the thrust. If it doesn’t, good. If it does, we’ll have to get a little creative. In either case, the floor panel below the reactor is held on with two cut points. Remove them. If the reactor has a pipe, remove the cut points for the panel the reactor is mounted too as well. Push the panel off the ship, tether it into the processor, and if the reactor has no pipe, remove it and place it in the barge.

If the reactor does have a pipe, the easiest way to deal with this is to step outside. On the ventral hull, tether the panel the reactor is mounted too somewhere. As long as you’re confident it will be pulled away once released. This done, come back around once again. Ensure you have definitely cut that plate loose. Then dismount the reactor with your grapple. This will remove it from both the black pipe and the panel. The panel should now leave via your tether. The reactor can then be finangled down into the barge. It may be best to take this up and out and around in case it decides to arc. Keep your distance in any case.

With the reactor secured, we’ll move on to the side segments. To gain access to them, we’re going to pull the nose off. Tether the very front of the craft to your Hab module. Since we’ve cut it loose, it will slowly be pulled a little ways off. As an aside option: You can place this tether before you start at all if you’re confident you can depressure the ship and cut the forward brackets before the tether expires, and save a little time.

With the front of the main hull exposed, we can now get down into the crawlspaces on either side. Start with the one without the airlock, ideally. Move down the crawlspace cutting all the latch points on the floor. If there’s a red pipe in here, be cautious around it. At the end of the craft there will be a fuel tank with a lever. Pull the lever to vent the pipes. Pull the fuel canister off its mounting but leave it here for now.

As you move back out, pause to check for the Nacelle mountings. Each has two cut-points holding it in, and possibly a pipe connection. Cut all of these. Once back outside, you may use your tethers to pull the nacelle into the barge, and all the loose hull panels into the processor.

Repeat this process on the side with the airlock. It’s a tight squeeze, but you can get over the top of the lock. Do not attempt to tether the hull-panel containing the airlock itself. It’s attached rather more doggedly to the central hull. Clear the nacelle and other panels and bin the fuel canisters.

Take special care of the pipe on the airlock side if it runs past the airlock. It may be a good idea to cut this thing and get rid of it because its movements may impart outsized physics impulses on the rest of the craft while it’s stuck through the airlock segment.

As you clear these side areas out, you’ll find a powercell in one, possibly. If so, take care around it, and remove it at the end, or when you feel it’s necessary.

The airlock segment can be cut off by entering the lock and taking your bonesaw in a complete pattern around the inside near to the inner hull. I still find the ideal spot to make this cut elusive. Once it’s clear, send that panel away.

Next we’ll start cutting off the dorsal and ventral plating we’ve so far missed. Take care not to cut up the titanium walkway panels on the dorsal ones. Send the lot into the processor. With them gone, it’s now Very Easy to remove the cargo, seating, and other contents of the interior. But if those are in the way prior, or you’re worried about damaging them (or them damaging you if explosive cargo spawned) you can always remove them sooner.

With everything else cleared, we’re down to dealing with the back hull segment and main thruster. This is held on with four attachment points. Now’s a good time to cut them. If you had a black pipe, you’ll need to work the little handle next to the thruster to release it from its moorings. Do so and move away quickly, it may shoot reactor plasma about as it does so. Either way, while you wait, remove the thruster plate from the absolute rearmost of the ship. It usually has two cut points. Throw it in the processor and begin extracting the engine itself.

Once the engine is out, we can drag the rear segment to the processor, and the entire cleaned inner hull to the furnace (Or you can do that first, whatever works).

Now we’re just left with the forward hull. If you want the cryogenic canisters (If they’re present). Cut the brackets on the side segments and drag item off. Dismount and barge the canisters. Then we’ll sit behind the door, hold CTRL, and tear the chairs, computers, bins and any other valuables out of here and drag them in with RMB. Throw them in the barge, then processor the entire cockpit.

You may or may not find it easier to cut the door frame off before you start yanking the consoles, etc. The cockpit glass is actually worth some $600 per kilo, so it may be worth cutting loose if you have the time left at this point.

There should, at this point, be no spaceship left to work on.

Some closing notes

It’s not, imho, usually worth the effort to work on a mackerel for more than one shift. So how you want to prioritize these tasks is, as stated in the segment intro, very up to you. What’s efficient for me might not be for you, so don’t be afraid to experiment with order and execution. The absolute worst that happens is you lose a little time and go a few percentage points further into debt.

Volodymyr Azimoff
About Volodymyr Azimoff 13512 Articles
I love games and I live games. Video games are my passion, my hobby and my job. My experience with games started back in 1994 with the Metal Mutant game on ZX Spectrum computer. And since then, I’ve been playing on anything from consoles, to mobile devices. My first official job in the game industry started back in 2005, and I'm still doing what I love to do.

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