This one is an enormously, enormously cool release. First off, lots more balance tweaks, and that annoying group-move bug was fixed, among other things. All thanks to Keith, of course.
Next, two existing mechanics have been united under the generalized new banner of "hacking the AI:" knowledge raiding and superterminals. As such their mechanics have been shifted around a bit with the help of player feedback, and the result is a lot more interesting and exciting than what was there before. But it gets better...
A brand-new activity is now in place as the third kind of hacking, and this is one that players have wanted since 2009: the ability to get some choices out of an Advanced Research Station, rather than just being handed a completely random ship type. We never could figure out how to do this in a balanced and interesting way before, and so we never did it.
Well, now you can create a little hacker ship, send him on a mission, and if you're successful then you've just bought yourself the ability to choose between three random ship types from an ARS, rather than just getting one handed to you.
Here's the thing: all of these kinds of hacking get noticed by the AI. Not in an AI-progress-increasing sort of way, but in the sense that every time you hack the AI, they respond to the hack with increasing vigor. So if you're hacking to reduce AIP via the Superterminal, or you're hacking for extra knowledge (what was formerly called knowledge raiding), or you're hacking to get more flexibility in your ship types with ARSes... each time you do so, it gets harder.
Having all three of these mechanics interrelated gives you a lot of interesting new choices, and personally I think it's a brilliant solution to a problem I've been unable to solve for a couple of years now. I had no hand in this one. Hats off to Keith, and also the player community, who made this leap forward possible.
UPDATE: 5.029 pushed to fix a critical data loss bug in 5.028.
This is a standard update that you can download through the
in-game updater itself, if you already have 4.000 or later. When you
launch the game, you'll see the notice of the update having been found
if you're connected to the Internet at the time. If you don't have 4.000 or later, you can download that here.