The important thing between the variants is the modification of their hardpoints. For example, the Origin Jumpworks 300 series variants differ not only in their hulls but also in terms of hardpoints, in terms of weapon quantity, size, and number of thrusters. When we speak of changes in geometry, the “skin” or the paint does not constitute a physical change.
A Variant is a ship that has a modified hull from its parent ship, with either physical geometry differences and/or hardpoint changes.
A module is an item attached to a ship, generally containing an entire room that can be swapped in and out. The modular item itself can contain additional or alternative hardpoints.
A ship carrying an exchangeable module does not deserve to be called a variant, unless it is also eligible for the criteria for a variant as defined above. Although the modules contain different hardpoints, this is not a variation on the main ship. For example, Aegis’s Retaliator, has two modules and previously existed as Base and Bombardier options. The Basic option simply does not have anything equipped on the points of transport of its modules and can be flown as is, although naturally it has no functionality other than being flyable and having five turrets. The Bombardier version comes pre-equipped with two Torpedo Compartment Modules which offer the possibility of storing and firing up to six size 9 torpedoes.
A Battlefield Upgrade Kit (BUK) is designed to make it easy to change between ship versions.
- For each BUK you own, you will receive in exchange a combo pack of the appropriate Module (which goes in the central room) and the items accordingly (nose, turrets etc.)
Any ship packs that offer purely item swaps and skin or paint changes are now listed as “Special Edition” and do not represent ship variants.
To summarize :
- Difference in physical geometry or hardpoints = Variant
- Completely interchangeable section = Module
- Visual difference / alternative items = Special Edition
- robertsspaceindustries.com "The Shipyard - Variants and Modules - A Guide to the New Ship Matrix". Retrieved July 16, 2021.