Shield technology is a key part of a lot of classic sci-fi franchises. Although some more recent settings have moved away from shields, and players can opt not to use shield technology in Lord of Rigel, shields still play a key role in giving Lord of Rigel a strong 90s sci-fi feel.
In Lord of Rigel, shields are often the first line of defense. Shields behave similarly to armorin that there are four facings that absorb a set amount of damage. Rather than having a single hit point value, shield hit points scale with ship class. They are capable of absorbing partial damage or outright blocking a volley if the damage of the weapon is lower than the hit points the shield can block. Unlike armor, shields regenerate over time. This means that some end-game shield technologies block most if not all damage from early game weapons. That being said, a laser from the beginning of the game still has uses as a point defense weapon or a backup weapon once larger guns have taken down a shield facing even against end game technologies. Rear shield facings are also weaker than the front and sides on most ships. This, in conjunction with weaker rear armor, rewards the player for using advanced tactics such as flanking and positioning themselves to the rear of a ship to damage larger vessel with smaller ships.
Shield technologies are researched in larger increments (Class I, II, III, V, etc.) so that each advance is meaningful for the player. Certain ship special devices can greatly increase shield strength, regeneration, and how much damage is absorbed. One technology, the shield focuser, lets the player alter the strength of shield facings by re-directing shield strength. This does increase the risk of being outflanked and the enemy firing on an exposed facing. Standard shields also don’t function in nebulas, which is an issue that players facing a superior shielded enemy can take advantage of. Additionally players can use shield technology like Hardened Shields to maintain their shields inside a nebula to gain the upper hand.
Visually, each species has its own shield effect. Human shields are a blue tint while Katraxishields tend to be more red. From a game play side the Elder species also have some unique shielding technologies. For instance the Rigelans have a fortress shield technology where a central ship projects a shield that covers multiple vessels.