Elite: Dangerous Review and Captain’s Log

I’ve been playing Elite: Dangerous, one of the most incredible space-oriented games that I’ve ever seen. The universe is incredibly huge, there are a bunch of different types of ships to fly, and quite a few different mission types and careers to choose from. This document will serve as a log of my ongoing experiences in the Elite: Dangerous game.

Review

In this major section, I’d like to discuss some of the aspects of the game Elite: Dangerous, and what my thoughts on them are. I’ll break it down into smaller categories, some of which are specific to this game. However, we’ll also review common concerns around any game, including controls, graphics, and gameplay mechanics.

Before getting deep into the details, I’ll take this opportunity to point out that Frontier Games does not take shortcuts. Elite: Dangerous is the real deal. The universe is to-scale. You might travel through supercruise for an hour before reaching your destination. That’s just how the game is, and it’s awesome.

Elite Universe

The universe in Elite: Dangerous is absolutely massive. You simply will not be able to wrap your head around it’s size. I can’t, you can’t, no one can. It’s YUUUUUUGE. The Galaxy Map is your best way to explore the currently known universe. The “System Map” is how you explore star systems, which are the next unit size smaller than the Galaxy Map.

  • Galaxy Map
  • Plotting routes
  • System map
  • Station overview (brief)

Superpowers and Factions

  • Permit access to systems
  • Status prerequisite to purchase ships

Missions

When taking on missions, you can easily take on several at a time, but make sure you don’t overdo it. For example, if you take on some delivery missions, which are quite common, make sure they’re all in the same area, perhaps less than 50 light-years apart. Factions regularly operate in nearby star systems, so you can raise your reputation with them more quickly by staying somewhat local, and then taking on new missions from the same faction, but a different contact residing at a different starport or base. I’ve generally found it safe to take on about 4-5 short missions at a time.

Strike

Salvage

Salvage missions will typically have you visit a destination, pick up a special object (or several of them), and then return them to the originating station. These missions are pretty straightforward, and often yield decent rewards.

Delivery

Donations

One of the easiest ways to raise your reputation with a faction and/or superpower is by taking on a donation mission. These are pretty straightforward. You simply accept the mission, and then donate the specified amount of money. Since your capital is precious, and almost certainly hard-earned, you’ll want to be cautious with the donation missions that you take on. If you’re specifically trying to raise your reputation with a faction or superpower, then it might make sense to take on a donation mission, but before you do, make sure you look at the cost. I’ve generally taken on donation missions that range from 25,000 to 100,000 credits, but I probably wouldn’t be willing to pay much more than that. Some donations reach into the multiple hundreds of thousands of credits, which simply seems unnecessary to me. I’m glad they exist, to at least offer you the option, but it probably isn’t the best use of your capital.

Mining

While you might gain some additional income, you don’t actually need a formalized mission to go mining. At any point in time, you can simply outfit your ship with the appropriate equipment, and go start mining an asteroid field. Before you ship out, there are a few things you’ll want to know about mining, in order to make the most of your precious time.

Community Goals

User Interface

  • Fluidity
  • Ease of use

Graphics

  • Texture quality
  • Level of detail in static meshes (stations, ships, planets, objects)
  • Performance

Frame Rate Monitor

You can simply hit the CTRL + F keyboard shortcut to toggle a frames per second monitor. It’s very basic, and doesn’t offer any advanced charting, but it gets the job done. One thing I’ve noticed is that, after playing the game for a long time (eg. 10+ consecutive hours), the game’s frame rate will slow down dramatically. You might need to even restart your computer in order to get performance back to being top-notch. This isn’t a huge problem for me, since I normally only play for a few hours at a time, but on one long mission, I definitely noticed this problem. Hopefully this gets fixed over time, but it certainly isn’t a huge priority.

Debugging Camera

If you’re interested in getting some really cool screenshots from Elite: Dangerous, you can activate the debugging camera by using the built-in LEFT CTRL + LEFT ALT + SPACE keyboard shortcut. Each time that you activate this camera mode, you’ll be presented with a warning, which basically tells you that you lose control of your ship. While this is true, as long as you’re careful in this camera mode, there isn’t a problem. It switches off all of the UI elements and gives you a raw view of the exterior of your beautiful ship. You can use the typical flight controls to position the camera in a unique angle, and then hit F10 to take a screenshot.

Sound

  • Ship sound effects
  • Music
  • Ambiance while docked at stations

Controls

  • Custom mappings (eg. Supercruise, Galaxy Map, System Map, etc.)

Combat

One of the great things about Elite: Dangerous is how much flexibility it gives you. The game defines a solid framework of ships, missions, factions, and planets, but what you do with that is up to you. You can take on combat-related missions, but you can also find “wanted” ships in various star systems and simply destroy them for a nice bounty.

  • Radar
  • Targeting and subtargeting

Planetary Landing

Ships

Ships in Elite: Dangerous are very inexpensive to start out with. The basic ship that you start the game with is a sidewinder. If you’re new to the game, you might balk (as I did) at the incredible cost of some of the higher class ships. When I first started playing Elite: Dangerous, some of these ships seemed to be in a class that I would never be able to reach. However, just as in the real world, if you work hard and are committed to improving your skills, you can easily attain a higher ship class.

As you increase your capital over time, the ships you gain access to will give you increased cargo capacity, more firepower via larger weapon hardpoints (slots), and support for higher class components.

  • Discuss crew on your ship
  • Fuel management (scoop, tanks)
  • Mass-locking to stations and planets
  • Heat management
  • Module management
  • Refinery, passenger cabin, cargo management
  • Transferring ships

Flying

  • Supercruise, hyperspace jumps
  • Allocation of system power (engines, system, weapons)
  • Cargo scoop

Engineers

Stations

There are several different types of stations that you’ll encounter in Elite: Dangerous, and I have little doubt that more will be added over time. Stations can be found in space as well as on planet surfaces. Some station types require you to dock using a dedicate entrance, while others simply allow you to dock at them without any access controls.

  • Services: shipyard, commodity market, black market, refueling, etc. etc.
  • Ocellus Starport: Large ball at one end for ship docking,

Multiplayer

  • Join wings
  • Voice chat

Game Resources

Here are some useful resources for Elite: Dangerous.

  • Online HUD Editor – a useful tool to customize the colors of your ship’s user interface

Captain’s Log

2017-01-08

I’m on a passenger mission, heading 5,000+ light-years away to a “Black Treasure” tourist site in the Traikoa FL-P E5-4 system. The mission gave me a couple weeks to complete it, but I’m hoping to get it done in the next day or two. I’m flying a Type-6 transporter with a 5E passenger compartment installed in it. My maximum jump distance is approximately 25 light-years, so it’s going to take about 250 jumps to get to my destination, and another 250 to get back. My ship has a good fuel scoop on it, with a maximum scooping speed of 294 fuel units/sec. I’ve kept my shield generator installed, but shut it off to reduce heat emissions; this helps avoid accidental overheating, leading to module damage, whenever I scoop fuel from stars.

I found out that you’re limited to plotting 1,000 light-year routes in the Galaxy Map, so I had to be creative in determining a target location to jump to. Because my individual jump distance is limited to about 25 light-years, each group of jumps (totaling 1,000 light-years) comes out to just under 50. The passenger mission is worth 12.5 million credits though, so even though it’ll take me a few hours to make all these painfully long jumps, it will be worth it.

  • Discovered the primary star at PRU EUQ YW-W B56-1.
  • Discovered the primary star at PRU EUQ FJ-T B58-O A.
  • Discovered a secondary star at IC 1287 SECTOR ZF-N B7-6 B.
  • Discovered the primary star at BLEAE THUA CJ-I B23-6.

Apparently there’s a base at Lagoon Sector NI-S B4-10.

I finally reached my destination, after several hours of making hyperspace jumps. The destination turned out to be a really unique black hole.

2017-01-14

I came across the station named Virts City (a Coriolis Starport) in the Iota Piscium star system, which offers the Orca, Python, Beluga Liner, Federal Dropship, and Federal Assault Ship for sale. This station also sells Reactive Armour. The Reactive Armour was needed for a Community Goal to deliver resources to the Parun star system for a civil war breakout. Virts City also has a black market, in case you need to unload some illegal goods. The station is controlled by the faction named: Revolutionary Party of Iota Piscium.

One of the missions I accepted at Virts City required me to deliver some goods over to the Adamson Arsenal planetary outpost in the ZZ Piscium star system. It’s located on the ZZ Piscium 2 A moon of ZZ Piscium 2. Thankfully this station also offered Reactive Armour, as it’s a military commodity market, for below-market prices. I’m about 80% friendly with the Federation Superpower, after completing this mission. The controlling faction at Adamson Arsenal is ZZ Piscium Free. They’re offering a couple of decent missions, as they’re currently in a boom state, however this particular faction doesn’t currently offer any passenger missions. Other factions at this outpost are offering passenger missions, however. There’s no shipyard at Adamson Arsenal, but there is a Black Market.

One of the delivery missions I took from Adamson Arsenal took me over to the Shaw Arsenal planetary outpost in the LP 462-19 star system. Shaw Arsenal is a short 1,500 light-seconds from the primary star in LP 462-19. The outpost is controlled by the faction named: LP 462-19 Free, who is aligned with the Federation Superpower. There’s no shipyard available at Shaw Arsenal, but there is Outfitting services. As you can probably imagine from the name, Shaw Arsenal does offer a military commodities market, however their market was pretty dried up, only offering Hydrogen Fuel and Scrap. Lame. Either way, it’s a rather large base and looks pretty cool from orbit.

Now I’ve got a couple of data delivery missions to take care of, and then I’m heading back to the Parun star system to drop off the Reactive Armour I purchased back in ZZ PisciumKanwar Station is about 2,700 light-seconds from the primary star in the LHS 6427 star system. Gotta make a quick run there, and then I’m heading off to FT Piscium for a similar mission. The LHS 6427 star system only has a population of 12 million, but it has two stars, each of which has quite a few planets. If you’re willing to travel a bit, you can land on quite a few of the planets. There are also two Metal Rich asteroid belts, with Common Reserves, in LHS 6427, meaning there’s plenty of half-decent mining to do there. While at Kanwar Station, I was able to grab a second mission with a destination of FT Piscium, so I can kill two birds with one hyperspace jump.

I’ve just arrived in FT Piscium and have a short 180 light-seconds to travel over to the Ivins Horizons planetary outpost, for my first stop. This station is part of the FT Piscium Vision Network faction, and is located on the FT Piscium A 1 planet. A 1 is a rather large planet, with some massive rings surrounding it. It’s a pretty incredible sight. While here, I picked up another simple delivery mission for the FT Piscium Vision Network faction, and a couple other missions, primarily for reputation gain purposes. If you stop at this base, check out their passenger missions; I found some pretty interesting deals there, and I might actually head back to take some of those. I should’ve transferred my passenger ship, a Type-6 Transporter, before leaving, but I forgot. Oh well, I’m sure I’ll be back.

There’s a couple of asteroid belts in FT Piscium, but they’re currently in the Low Reserves state, so they’re probably not great places to go mining. One belt is Metallic, and the other is Metal Rich.

Now I also have to travel a bit further, 850 light-seconds to Feynman City (Ocellus Starport), which is still in FT Piscium, for my second mission in this star system. I’m accepting too many missions. Now I’ve got five missions to go take care of, haha. I need to stop taking missions, and go down to Parun.

Of the five, I’m heading out to Weitz Orbital in the LHS 112 star system first. It was only 7.76 light-years away from FT Piscium, so pretty convenient. The one nice thing about heading out to these little orbital stations, is that they’re much easier to dock at than the starports. You don’t have to worry about navigating through the restricted entrance area. That being said, the orbital stations generally don’t offer as valuable missions, or have as many station services available.

Next up is the So-Yeon Terminal, another small, orbital station located in the LHS 1050 system. Deja vu! I was just in LHS 1050 earlier today. Thankfully So-Yeon Terminal is only ~500 light-seconds away from the primary star, so it’s a short trip. I’m itching to do more lucrative missions, either passenger, or get back into some combat! Oh, well this is interesting. So-Yeon Terminal is actually a military outpost, and has a rather flat structure, compared to other types of orbital stations. This station is controlled by the LHS 1050 Holdings faction. Yay, my reputation just went up with the FT Piscium Values Party faction, after completing this mission! FYI there is no commodities market at So-Yeon Terminal. Something rather interesting that I noticed about So-Yeon Terminal is that the window for dropping out of supercruise is much larger than most other stations. It was something like 4.46 mega-meters. I don’t know what influences this supercruise drop-out window.

I’m tempted to take more missions, but I need to finish what I have.  Now I’m heading to 54 Piscium for the next delivery mission. Looks like I’m headed out to Rushd Terminal, about 2,500 light-seconds from the primary star in 54 Piscium. Not terrible. Rushd Terminal is controlled by the faction United 54 Piscium Future, offers Outfitting services, and an Industrial commodities market.

Next up is a trip to the LP 245-10 star system. This time I got it easy, because Galton Gateway, a Coriolis Starport, is only 9 light-seconds away from the primary star! I love it when stations are close.

Now I’ve gotta head over to McCandless Colony located 75,000 light-seconds away from the primary star in the Groombridge 34 star system. Keep that in mind, folks. It’s not a short trip, but it’s not the worst I’ve done either. Once your ship gets up to speed in supercruise, it only takes a few minutes, but a few minutes of mere cruising can seem like a long time in a game. Either way, I’m happy to do it, since the game accurately reflects the massive size of space. This will be my last data delivery mission for the time being. After this, I’m heading back over to LFT 1748, where my Type-6 Transporter is stored, so I can do some passenger missions and actually make some credits.

During the cruise out to McCandless Colony, I got attacked by a non-player character, flying a Diamondback Explorer, and had a Competent combat level. I was able to take him out pretty easily, and he didn’t even disable my shields at all. Thanks to the 5C Bi-Weave Shield Generator I outfitted my Asp Explorer with, I’m able to recharge my shields more quickly than I’d be able to with a traditional shield. During combat, I tend to alternate my power bias between Systems and Weapons, depending on whether or not I’ve got a small break in combat.

Oops, I forgot that I need to head down to Parun first, so I’m going to do that before I swap out for my transport ship. The community goals going on right now include delivery of Reactive Armour, Personal Weapons, and Explosives, as well as a separate goal for killing wanted ships from the faction: Laksmii Jet Power Industries.

On the way down to Parun, I got attacked by a Federal Assault Ship. It would’ve been easy enough for me to avoid the interdiction, and in fact, I almost did accidentally, but instead I submitted to it. My Asp Explorer took a decent beating, but the system authority vessels responded quickly enough to keep my hull at 32% and finish him off. It’s a good thing they responded, because my power system was malfunctioning very badly. I wouldn’t have had time to reboot my systems and live.

2017-01-21

I found the Python ship available for purchase at Schweickart Orbital in the Kab star system.

Now I’m docked at Felice Dock in the Meene System, because I’m working on the Community Goal where you scan ancient ruins. You have to dock at Felice Dock first, and you’ll automatically get a message from a non-player character (NPC) named Ram Tah, titled Decoding The Ancient Ruins, that indicates he’s uploaded some decoding software to your ship. Apparently I have to travel to the Synuefe XR-H d11-102 star system to search around for Ancient Ruins. I equipped the 1C Advanced Discovery Scanner on my Type-6 Transporter, just in case I need it.

There’s a Metal Rich asteroid belt, with pristine reserves, in the HIP 17999 star system.

2017-01-25

The Anaconda ship is available for purchase at Noguchi Arsenal planetary outpost in the G 99-49 star system.

2017-01-27

You can purchase the Python ship at the Zholobov Gateway station in the Rana star system.

The Federal Assault ShipFederal Corvette, Python, and Fer-De-Lance ships are available for purchase at the Melnick Ring station in the LP 715-52 star system.

The Federal Assault Ship can be purchased from the Buchli City station in the Meldeptu star system.

2017-02-26

The WISE 0855-0714 star system has a bunch of Conflict Zones (CZ) and Resource Extraction Sites (RES)! They range from low intensity all the way up to hazardous, so be careful! I docked at Yamazaki Landing, a small star port, to complete a mission.

Right now, I’m doing missions to raise my reputation with the minor factions, who are Federation-aligned, in the Sol system. I’m hoping to get some more lucrative missions as I raise my reputation.

Now I’m headed off to Mastracchio Enterprise, a star port in the LHS 380 star system. The star port is located about 80,000 light-seconds from the primary star, which is not terrible, but it will take a few minutes to get there in supercruise. There’s no shipyard or outfitting available at this station.

I found lots of Low and High Conflict Zones in the Hang Po star system!

The Federal Corvette is available for purchase at the London Relay station’s Shipyard for 187,969,451 credits. Yikes! I’m nowhere near being able to afford that ship yet, but it looks pretty sweet! The Federal Corvette also requires that you have Rear Admiral status with the Federation superpower.

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