Alien artifacts are technological items acquired throughout the galaxy. These strange devices can be analyzed and the utilized for a variety of benefits. The majority of artifacts found so far seem to benefit individual ship or planetary defensive systems. As the galaxy matures, it is believed other types of artifacts will be found. The largest concentration of these seems to be found on planets inhabited by the Vilicus.
Artifacts can be found on any planet, friendly, hostile or neutral by running the Archaeology mission. Artifacts are retrieved by using Salvage Ships. These ships specialize in the handling of hazardous materials and excel at collecting alien artifacts. Due to their special nature, only a maximum of 8 artifacts can be loaded at any one time.
Other than the hazardous handling requirements that require the use of Salvage Ships, artifacts can be handled as regular cargo. Therefore, artifacts can be transferred to and from planets or jump gates using Load Cargo or Unload Cargo missions. Individual artifacts can be selected and loaded using the Planet's Artifact Depot page. The Fleet selection menu item on that page will tell you how many spaces are available for loading artifacts. To increase the number of available spaces, add more empty Salvage Ships to that fleet.
Xenoarchaeology is the study of alien technology and cultures. While Xenoarchaeology is not required to analyze and install artifacts, studies have shown an increased success in both artifact analysis and installation with this technical understanding. Once the artifacts have been retrieved using Archaeology, it is recommended that they be unloaded on a planet with Xenoarchaeology.
Analyzing alien artifacts is a technical gamble. Some will be destroyed during analysis, some will explode, some will remain a mystery, and some will be understood. The higher the planet's Xenoarchaeology, the better the chance of determining what the artifact does, and the technology reduces the chance of the item exploding. Unknown artifacts can be batch analyzed to determine their usefulness through the Planet's Artifact Depot page. Individual artifacts can be selected for analysis, or all can be analyzed at once. However, before performing artifact analysis, a planetary build slot needs to be available, along with the necessary resources. Any previously analyzed, or artifacts that do not have enough analysis resources, will be removed from the list once the Execute Handling button has been selected. The selected artifacts count and analysis message will then appear in one of the planet's build slots. The group will be treated as a batch build item similar to any technology. Canceling the analysis, results in no artifacts being analyzed and only a portion of the resources being returned.
Once an artifact has been analyzed, it is ready for installation. The installation process starts by first selecting the ship or PDB upon which an artifact will be installed. Any ship must be collocated with Planetary Artifact Depot it wants to use. Installation only requires the necessary resources. The planet shipyard also needs to be of significant size to handle the combat asset. Installation buttons can be found on the planet's Fleet and PDB Maintenance pages as well as the Fleet and PDB Details pages. Install buttons can also be found on the Ship and Base Details pages. Once the ship or PDB has been selected, a modified view of the Planet's Artifact Depot page will be shown. Only one alien artifact per technology type can be installed. When a second artifact is installed for the same technology, the old artifact is destroyed and only the new one provides benefits.
At this time, Dark Expanse does not display the stat changes for artifacts on the Fleet Details or PDB Details pages. These are the summary pages for either a planet or fleet. This will be changed in a future enhancement. However, each table has a column showing whether an artifact is or isn't installed. Artifact installation is also shown on the Fleet and PDB Maintenance pages.
If an artifact is installed, the stat change can be seen on the individual Ship or Base Details page. From the fleet or PDB summary page, click the link for the ship/pdb # or the combat asset name. The Ship and Base Details pages show just that combat asset and it's statistics. The statistic increased by the artifact will be displayed as well.