Updated: 4th September 2020
Should I purchase the Drake Cutlass Black or Misc Freelancer?
Perhaps you're deciding between the Cutlass Black and the Freelancer game package or maybe you’re looking to upgrade your starting ship. Whatever your interests, this article provides a comprehensive look at the pros and cons of both the Cutlass Black from Drake Interplanetary and the MISC Freelancer.
Both the MISC Freelancer and the Drake Cutlass Black offer great starting options for players in small teams or who wish to also operate solo in larger ships than the single player options. Chances are, if you’re comparing between these two ships then you already know the role you plan on starting and are trying to decide whether the Cutlass or Freelancer is better for you.
Both the Cutlass and the Freelancer come in various standard configurations known as variants. Here are some of their roles:
Also known as the base Freelancer, this version is best suited for cargo running. This ship should easily be soloable. Bring one friend along for a less lonely cargo journey!
Freelancer DUR (Exploration)
Described as, “Sacrificing 25% cargo capacity of the standard Freelancer for an enhanced jump drive, a more advanced scanner, and an expanded fuel tank may seem like a bad call to some, but those who value discovery over profit will find it to be their ship of choice.” The Freelancer DUR is the goto exploration ship for the $150 price range. This ship is not for sale with a starter package so interested players will probably need to cross chassis upgrade their game package ship to this ship.
Freelancer MAX (Transport)
The Freelancer MAX sacrifices combat ability for even more cargo. A pure cargo runner aimed at flying in safe space.
Freelancer MIS (Militia)
This 3 max crew variant of the Freelancer is a missile boat.
Cutlass Black (Militia / Patrol)
Heavily armed and cheap to operate, the Cutlass Black represents the ideal ship for starting pirates who want to deal damage while still being able to haul away their cargo.
However, the equipment configuration options mean this ship can probably be used for many roles including, exploration, trading, combat, rescue and more. The Cutlass Black is our favourite for this category due to its versatility.
Cutlass Red (Search & Rescue)
The ambulance of the verse, this ship comes with well-equipped medical facilities as well as an Autodoc. “This starbound ambulance features the Nav-E7 Echo Transponder, a long range scanner, and a Secure Plus Docking Collar, making it ideal for search and rescue. This model also features a unique Red Crossbones skin.” - Source
Cutlass Red Update
As of Alpha 3.8.1 the Drake Cutlass Red is flight ready and includes two functioning medical beds. These medical beds can not only be used to heal players but players can also set them as their ICU respawn location. Should a player die withing range (a few million KM) of the Cutlass Red, they will respawn on the ship. This marks the very beginnings of the planned medical gameplay.
Cutlass Blue (Police)
The Cutlass Blue features bigger engines meaning it will be better at chasing down foes. Additionally, it comes with Durasteel holding cells to transport prisoners.
The Cutlass Blue also has a quantum dampener that prevents ships from engaging quantum travel to escape.
Additional missiles and firepower give the Cutlass Blue the heftier price tag.
Cutlass Vs Freelancer - Best By Roles
Professions in Star Citizen will have different ships that are better suited for the roles. The Freelancer and Cutlass both have some overlap in roles and we will recommend ships in this article based on some of the roles players will be interested in.
Trading and Cargo - Freelancer, Freelancer MAX and Cutlass Black
Both the Freelancer and the Cutlass Black have good cargo space for their size. The Cutlass Black has been shown by CIG to be able to fit two Dragonfly bikes as seen by the green markings in the image below.
Expect the Cutlass Black to be better in combat but the Freelancer to haul more goods.
The Freelancer MAX is the true winner of when it comes to non-combat cargo and trading but the Cutlass Black is the best defended. For safe space trading, the Freelancer Max is the best option. However, in safe space the Hull series (also by MISC) is probably a more profitable ship and should strongly be considered.
Between the base Freelancer and the Cutlass black, we would recommend the base Freelancer for trading. If planning on going into more dangerous space then the Cutlass Black would be the better choice to protect the goods you haul and to scare potential foes away.
Exploration - Freelancer vs Cutlass
The Freelancer DUR is the exploration variant of the Freelancer and is currently priced about $50 more that he Cutlass Black. While the Cutlass Black might be able to mount exploration equipment it might be expensive in game or perhaps not even possible to outfit the Cutlass Black to be a competitive explorer.
For exploration enthusiasts the Freelancer DUR is the go to small crew (2 to 4) ship for Exploration.
Combat - Freelancers vs Cutlasses?
The Cutlass Black has a reputation as a popular pirate ship and therefore we think the Cutlass Black will ultimately hold the combat edge vs Freelancer models. However, it is worth pointing out that the Freelancer MIS is capable of carrying many missiles and is sure to pack a powerful, albeit expensive, punch in combat.
Those looking for a fighter that can scare Constellation sized ships into submission should look no further than the Cutlass Black. The Cutlass black also holds enough cargo so that you can make it home with your “newly acquired” goods.
Bounty Hunting - Cutlass Blue?
The Cutlass Blue is labelled as Police ship. It even comes with cells for which to put away captives, criminal or otherwise.
For small bounty hunting multi crew teams the Cutlass Blue might offer a similar experience to the bounty hunter ship seen at the start of the Chronicles of Riddick film.
Salvage - Cutlass Black
The Cutlass Black comes equipped with a tractor beam while none of the other Cutlass variants or Freelancers have this option. This makes the Cutlass Black be able to perform basic salvage operations.
Search & Rescue - Cutlass Red vs Freelancer?
For those seeking to carry out Search & Rescue operations the Cutlass Red is the ambulance of the ‘verse. The Freelancer could, possibly, be equipped with medical equipment, however, we feel those looking for the ideal starting ship for Search & Rescue or small medical operations need to look no further than the Cutlass Red.
From CIG: “The Cutlass Red converts the standard cargo hold into a well-equipped medical facility including an Autodoc. This starbound ambulance features the Nav-E7 Echo Transponder, a long range scanner, and a Secure Plus Docking Collar, making it ideal for search and rescue.”
Starting Hangars and why you should care
Ships come with hangars and there are currently four hangars available (3 of which are purchasable as upgrades).
The starting hangars in order of value are:
The following list was temporarily removed with the disappearance of the Voyager Direct store from the RSI website. It has since reappeared.
- Self Land Hangar (comes with some ships)
- Aeroview Hangar (upgrade from self land for $20)
- Revel & York Hangar (upgrade from self land for $40)
- VFG Industrial Hangar (upgrade from self land for $50)
The Freelancer comes with the Aeroview hangar which is the 2nd smallest while the Cutlass comes with the VFG Industrial hangar. Given the current price of the Cutlass Black with the Freelancer being more expensive and coming with a hangar of less value, coupled with the fact that the new Cutlass Rework has made the ship bigger in size, we recommend the Cutlass Black if you’re looking for the best possible hangar with your ship.
This information is extremely speculative until hangars reappear usable and purchasable in the PU.
The Freelancer comes listed as including a "Digital Engineering Manual" while the Cutlass Black does not have this listed.
Cutlass Black Vs Freelancer (Mercantile) Basic Buyer Info Comparison
|Carry a Dragonfly||Yes (x2)||Yes (x2)|
|Starting Hangar||VFG (||Aeroview (
|Standalone Ship Price||$100*||$110*|
|Ship Package Price (SC)||$115*||$125*|
*Prices quoted are in USD (without VAT). RSI ship prices and taxes vary by location so please check. The point of presenting the price is to show the relative difference in price between the two ship strictly for comparison purposes.
Cutlass vs Freelancer - Max Crew Size 3 vs 4
The Freelancer variants are listed as having a minimum crew of 2 and a maximum crew of 4 while the Cutlass variants have a minimum and a maximum crew of 3.
While both ships can have more players inside the ship and doing things than the max crew number, the Max Crew represents how many crew can actually be involved with the ship and have actual posts to sit at that have controls.
The Cutlass Black has 3 seats that control the ship. The pilot seat, copilot seat and the manned turret.
The Freelancer series, on the other hand, offer 4 seats from which players can control stations. This gives the Freelancer a greater value due to the various things tasks players will be able to carry out from the stations. For example, a Freelancer crew could be seated as follows: 1 pilot, 2 manned turrets controlled from the 2 rear cockpit seats and one copilot controlling shield, weapon and power distribution. We estimate, therefore, that a fully crewed Freelancer could be a very effective ship.
Freelancer or Cutlass Which Should I Buy?
We recommend the Cutlass Black for the following reasons:
- The Cutlass Black comes with the more expensive hangar
- The Cutlass Black has just received a size increase with the latest rework (From Reddit)
- The Cutlass Black is currently slightly cheaper which means that for an extra $10 you can upgrade to the Freelancer (but not the other way around)
- Lower maintenance costs in game (Drake is supposed to be cheaper to operate)
- The Cutlass Black comes with a tractor beam
Note: Although the Cutlass is more versatile and has a lot of extras listed, the MISC Freelancer is a tougher ship capable of carrying out advanced roles. For those looking for a specific role the Freelancer could be more efficient.
Important for New Players -> Make sure to use the Referral Code when buying the game. It gives an important additional amount of credits (+5000 UEC) when starting the game. Given the Cutlass and Freelancer are more expensive starting ships it is extremely important to get the additional credits.