This one starts addressing some longstanding requests related to champion balance and answers the most recent "worst unit" poll where the game's least impactful units get shamed into some kind of improvement.
#1 in the poll were the AI's normal guard posts. The core ones that protect the AI homeworlds (and particularly the "brutal-pick" posts) are plenty nasty enough, but their normal brethren... well, most of them really didn't matter much. Now they'll at least be getting more kills. (Note from testing: when driving a spire starship, do not park next to a MkIV Arachnid post.)
Tied for first was the decoy drone, which had a very small cap for the human player and an antiquated health value. Now if you have a decoy fabricator it's much easier to field enough decoys (and durable-enough decoys) that they'll survive at least the opening phase of a battle.
Third place was the Spire starship. Not all that long ago the Spire and Zenith starships were redone as separate starship lines and largely re-imagined. Well, people missed the high-mark versions and in general didn't find the new ones very compelling. So they've been "promoted" up one tech level and condensed into stronger individual units. There's also some straight-up buffs, and the Spire's beam now cycles over 3x faster (with correspondingly lower damage, but easier to get a higher % of optimium damage now). The Zenith starship was included in this because it was just 1 vote below the Spire in the poll and their fates are kind of intertwined.
On the champions: feedback's been coming in for a while that paints kind of a strange picture. For some, champions made the game extremely easy even with the 20%-of-a-normal-player boost to many forms of AI threat (and lower boosts to stuff like exos, etc). For others, those same threat increases made champions simply nonviable, and in some cases downright lethal (to the wrong side). Also, the "nemesis" mechanic that built up the AI HW defenses if you advanced to a really powerful champion while still in low AIP didn't have any offensive component, so it was still fairly cheesable.
So now the "nemesis" mechanic has a couple offensive manifestations and thus when you fly champions you'll be facing AI champions here and there (hopefully, exactly where you wish you weren't facing them). These are just frigate-sized champions, though, enemy versions of the bigger hulls are still only found through the Heroic AI type (which is still taking applicants for the next human to crush, by the way). Accordingly, human champions no longer boost other threats. We may have gone a little easy on the balance of these new counterbalances, but the pain can be cranked up as needed.
A few other fixes and changes round out the update. Notably, you can nuke carriers again. Have fun with that.
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.