The Elitist, Part Two: The Exploratory Romp

Brendan continues on his journey through space in this series on Elite: Dangerous. This week, he sets out to discover strange new worlds, in search of profit and prestige.

Well, here we are. The rickety, unsanctioned outposts of the Gamma Serpentis system, where dismantled shipwrecks lie opposite a huge skull mural painted, somehow, in Zero G. I’m sitting on landing pad number 1 of the Tepper Relay outpost, brimming with fury. Not because I have been blown up in some ridiculous crash, or because I’ve been mugged by an intergalactic pirate king, but because I have gone all across the starways in search of glory and this — this! — is all I have to show for it. A measly, pathetic, laughable 459 credits and a parking spot in the interstellar equivalent of South Armagh.

Sigh. Sorry, I’m getting ahead of myself. It is possible to do that in the space-age era. (No, I mean you can literally get ahead of yourself, something to do with faster-than-light travel). Let me start from the beginning.

Last week I tried to do a little exploring, partly to make myself feel like more of a frontiersman charting the great unknown but mostly to earn some dollar. It didn’t go as planned. This week, I have a brand new Sidewinder and the correct shiny scanner required to explore properly. That was the plan. Get exploring, get the moolah.

I looked around the Aulin Enterprise, that high-tech hive of bourgeois spacejerks, and I looked at my ship. What a hateful piece of machinery. Luckily, I have seen videos that explain how to convert this rookie junkpile for exploring. You see, the more mass you remove from you ship, the further it will be able to travel in light years. I went into the outfitting depot and immediately stripped the Sidewinder down. Cargo hold? Don’t need that. Pulse lasers? Tear them out. Heat sink? Pfft. When I was through with it, the Sidewinder was a lean sheet of metal, perfect for exploring. Now, there was just one more thing I needed. A Detailed Surface Scanner.

I had picked up one of these devices from Aulin before, but there was no sign of one for sale now. I was going to have to check elsewhere. You see, one scanner is not enough. I want both the Basic Discovery Scanner (which I already had) and the Detailed Surface Scanner. If I use both, theoretically, the data I get will be worth more. I prepped for launch and took off. That’s when I saw her. The Asp Explorer!

She glided through the docking bay like a beautiful whale. The echoey London Underground voice of the station lady spewed out her rules and regulations.

“Avoid unnecessary destruction. Do not block the access corridor.”

I ignored the voice and spun around, manoeuvring carefully toward the Asp’s landing pad. It lowered itself toward the glowing mark and I watched as the blue flame of her little thrusters made my heart flutter. She’s so shapely, I thought. So curvaceous. I need her in my life.

Suddenly, the Asp jerked wide. I didn’t know if it was lag or a glitch or WHAT but she was now trapped between the girders of the station’s interior hull. Her shields began to take damage. No! This can’t be happening. The computer owner of the Asp yelled out in a final moment of terror. “My ship!” he cried, as her shields ran out and she exploded.

I frowned and contemplated the floating bits of metal as they curled past my windshield inside the station. Perhaps I should have a moments silence for the brave commander, I thought. The victim of this terrible tragedy.

“Loitering is a crime punishable by death.”

Ah, yes. I quickly fired up my thrusters and headed toward the door. There was no need to hang around. I set a course for the Stone Enterprise in the next system and took a look around. But curse my cotton socks if there wasn’t a single Scanner to be found. I left the docking bay, my impatience was cooled by the wonderful view.

It looked like I was going to have to hop across some unknown systems to continue my search for the super-scanner. It was not ideal, but it seemed like a good opportunity to try out the basic scanner I had on board while I was waiting for the extra component. I dropped into the memorably named LP 271-25 system and discovered a sun.

It is odd, how Frontier are doing this. Technically, a bunch of players have been to this same sun. It was not really ‘undiscovered’, only undiscovered by me. Internally, I ache for a game that has systems which are truly undiscovered, truly uninhabited — places where nobody in the online world has even been. I hope that Elite’s ambition to be a 1:1 scale model of the Milky Way is fulfilled, but I want it fulfilled in a meaningful way, you know? It is possible, in this Beta, to visit a grey ‘unexplored’ system, collect the data about the planets within, and sell this data to the outposts already there, as if the scientists, traders and pirate scum of such outposts did not know which planet they currently orbited.

So, as I scanned the sun and received the results, it seemed a little phony, knowing dozens (who am I kidding? Hundreds!) of pilots had probably already done the same thing. But I was soon distracted from such worries. According to the system view of my map there was another object in this system. A gas giant, it looked like. I curled my ship around looking for signs of this mysterious planet. In the middle distance (does space have a middle distance?) I saw something bright. That can’t be a gas giant, I thought. It’s too… shiny.

I closed in and the object got larger and larger and I realised that this was not a gas giant at all. It was something else. A Brown Dwarf!

Brown Dwarves are “on the borderline between what might be considered a very large gas giant planet and a star,” revealed my galaxy map. They are also known as ‘Methane Dwarfs’ due to the high amount of methane in their composition. Gas giant. Brown Dwarf. Methane. I cannot say any more, because scientists are still studying the theoretical fart jokes which could be created from these disparate facts.

It’s time to head on, deeper into ‘unknown’ space. There’s a cluster of grey stars around this sector and if I hit them all, maybe I will make some money. The next system houses the star Ross 52-B. For a moment I wonder why the line tracing its orbit is so wonky. We don’t generally consider stars to even have orbits. But it seems Ross 52-B is in a binary system, which explains the weirdness. I zoom out to a bright point on the … I don’t know, the horizon? I zoom out, anyway, and discover the star’s partner. Can you guess its name?

It’s Ross 52-A.

I jest. I love that these things exist in Elite — and that the game is so dry about them. The hundreds of star systems are based on actual stars and players are already building spreadsheets and galactic maps to chart the starpaths we pilots use. I can’t wait for the day when the galaxy expands and I can chart a course for Sol, carrying whatever cargo and doing whatever mercenary things I need to do to get there.

For the time being, I decide to stop in Federation space. I pulled up to CE Bootis and landed in one of the system’s stations called Moseley Park. I immediately brought up the menu for Universal Cartographics — the people who buy and sell mapping data. That’s when I discovered the horrifying truth. The data I had collected on the Brown Dwarf and the Ross brothers was worth practically nothing. I was selling a ball of twine and some corkboard pins to a multistellar company that already knew everything. The data was worth 512 credits in total. I would have got more money hauling biowaste from one system to another.

I swallowed my distaste and went shopping. Moseley Park might have been cheap on the mapping data, but they at least had a Detailed Surface Scanner. This was bound to increase the payout rate. Right? I looked at my Sidewinder again as she sat in the docking bay.

8.02 light years to the jump. I wonder…

I stripped off the shields. The readout leaped. 8.50 light years! This was the key, I thought. If I can get further out, I can get rarer data and come back to known space with a haul of Good Shit. And with this super-scanner, the stuff I’ll be getting is bound to be more delicious to those post-grad brats in Universal Cartographics. Before I left Moseley Park, I made a mental note of the station’s shipyard. They sold Asps there.

I didn’t leave the system straight away. First, I scanned the planet CE Bootis A2, and my super-scanner told me it was high in metal content, which surprised me. Because looking at it, the planet of CE Bootis A2 looked like nothing but a giant cappuccino. No, really. It was beautiful.

Likewise, when I got to my next destination, Veren’s Stop, I was overjoyed to find a solar system housing these beautiful twin planets, orbiting each other while they travelled around their parent star, like a couple of ballet-dancing ice cubes sliding around a drinks tray.

According to all the space station rumours (internet forums), what I really wanted were some undiscovered Earth-like worlds. These net you more dosh than any other planet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any of these on my exploratory romps through Veren’s Stop. Just eleven ice planets, orbiting a dying star that didn’t give a Brown Dwarf what I thought about anything. I swooped back up the arm of stars I had visited and rested my scrappy, unshielded Sidewinder in one of the docks of the iffy Gamma Serpentis system. Let’s see what my brave exploration of the ice worlds has earned me.

459 credits.

I sit. I breathe. I seathe. Either I was doing this exploration lark all wrong or there was simply no money to be made. I thought about that beautiful Asp that blew itself up in the Aulin Enterprise. What a waste! And me, will I ever be able to afford one of those beautiful machines at this rate?

So here I am, sitting in the South Armagh of space. The Gamma Serpentis system is so unprofitable it makes me feel sick. I sulk and flick through the station’s menus. Absentmindedly I check the Bulletin Board. This is where you get courier missions — basic fetch quests that tell you to fly one or two systems for a modest fee. These are always propaganda runs: you take a message from Federation space to Independent space, or Alliance space, or Who-Fucking-Cares space and drop it off for all the plebs to digest. Folks take these missions because it doesn’t take up hold space and it earns them some cash just for getting a message across the border and ‘freeing minds’. Me? I wasn’t convinced. The payments on the Bulletin Board always look good, but they send you to so many different places that —

Wait.

I look closely. Five of these missions are going to the same place. And all of them pay out 2000+ a turn. And in five minutes the bulletin board is going to refresh, so… The dusty abacus in my mind clicks wildly. I accept all the missions I can and wait. When the board refreshes, I fill up on a second round of missions and take off into the black.

It takes me two trips to earn 81,000 credits.

From pan-handler to propagandist. That Asp is as good as mine.

Next week: mercenary wetwork.

77 Comments

  1. BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

    Can anyone here tell me what the difficulty level of Elite: Dangerous would be like for someone like me? I’m often not too good with simulators which have a million different controls for whatever you’re using and, the last time I can recall struggling to both fly and shoot was with Battlefield 3 (is it even harder than that?). I only ask because from what I’ve seen of Elite it looks so, so delectably good, but I don’t want to buy a game which I pick up and instantly has me say ‘fuck that’ only to never touch it again. Is it reasonably easy to get a grip on as someone who doesn’t play a lot of flight games, or does it require a million hours of dedication to get remotely good at it?

    • schurem says:

      I would rate the difficulty of getting to grips with Elite : Dangerous’ controls as slightly more complicated than a battlefield 3 helicopter. You have slightly more systems to deal with. However, the game is in space, so there’s no planet constantly waiting to wtfbbqpwn you with its gravity nonsense and flying is what the game is all about so it being slightly complicated is actually a Good Thing ™ because if it were too simple, it would go stale quite rapidly.
      It’s nowhere nearly as complicated as Real Men’s Flight Sims such as DCS or the like. Basicly you point the ship, put the pedal to the medal and off you go!

      On another note, I have fallen deeply, madly head-over-heels in love with this game and am quite happy to see it featured on my favourite blagh like this. Next week E:D is going to shed its skin once more and evolve from its warty beta2 skin into the glorious butterfly that is beta3. The excitement! The anticipation!

      • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

        Complexity is a weird beast, sometimes it’s hard to really understand the implications.

        As a random example, while i can easily agree that there’s more depth in ED ships rather than BF4 helicopters, somehow in Elite i still can do advanced docking maneuvers while in BF4 i istantly crash in any random spot.

        So yeah, all hope might not be lost, the OP might just be like me!

    • Scurra says:

      Same here. As a fully paid up member of Crap Gamers Anonymous (motto: “We don’t finish games because, um, the ending is always predictable, yes, that’s right”), I am looking forward to this with dread.

    • Phantasma says:

      After jumping into my Sidewinder for the first time, i was almost paralysed by the dread of possibly having wasted 60€ for a game, in which i couldn’t even get the basic movement right.
      And what about dogfights or the infamous docking sequences? Forget it Naaargh!

      But after tweaking the over-abundant controls for a good hour (or two), a lot of practising, everything slooowly fell into place and so far this could become my game of 2014 (if Frontier is still serious with the Q4 release schedule.)

      You probably won’t fly breathtaking combat manoeuvres from the get go, but the learning curve generally is very steady, thanks to the relaxed pace of the game.
      Starting to haul a few goods from here to there is a perfect opportunity to get into ship-handling until you are ready to try more perilous activities.

      So i wouldn’t call the game difficult per se, but patience and the motivation to tinker with the controls, until they really suit you, are definitely necessary.

      And mind you, at first i did this all with mouse and keyboard controls (which many people on the fora deemed horribly difficult to get accustomed to.)
      I’ve been told that a flighstick would make everything much easier.
      I’m sure that’s true, but with a good deal of persistency i found M&Kb handling sufficiently comfortable.
      Since then i got a gamepad which was a palpable improvement (the two analogue sticks were heaven-sent), but by no means a must.

      So, long story short, no i wouldn’t say the game is unduly harsh or difficult, but it won’t reward someone with quick progress and instant gratification.
      But it’s really, really worth it.

      • Artist says:

        Tried Elite with mouse first too. It was so painful and somehow didnt work out! Is it me – is it the game controls?
        After switching to my flight stick it suddenly felt like playing in a completely different galaxy! Far, far away from the odd mouse-galaxy, ofc!
        Lesson learnt: This game is designed to be played with a stick! Dont use mousekey for this, or youre in for some nasty surprise! Good luck, pilot!

        • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

          Gamepad is also surprisingly good, mostly due to the dual stick configuration, which is a perfect fit for 6DoF movement. It’s something to consider for those not willing to splurge the bucks.

          • Katar says:

            A quick look at Amazon puts the Thrustmaster T-Flight Hotas X Joystick at £35 which is the same price as an Xbox One controller. I guess someone really strapped for cash could pick up the older 360 controller for £20.

            If I pick up Elite I’ll likely get the Thrustmaster as I don’t have a working controller and I guess my old (15 years +) joystick isn’t going to work on a modern PC, it uses a serial port.

          • TacticalNuclearPenguin says:

            That’s perfectly true, the reason why it’s hard for me to suggest a stick is that i automatically think about what i’d personally get, and knowing my fixation on hardware and “good things”, it wouldn’t be cheap.

            Actually, that’s the reason why i’m still on the fence. Oh, and yes, i’m perfectly aware that you don’t need a Warthog.

            Eitherway, a gamepad has it’s own merits as i mentioned above ( other than being helpful with a lot of other titles ). I think the real reason i’m not going all out on flight sticks yet is because i’m waiting for some space sim optimized one with dual sticks.

          • Katar says:

            It would probably make more sense for me to get a new gamepad rather then a joystick, but so far I don’t have any games where keyboard and mouse are so bad that I need a gamepad. I got through all the Batman games without any real problems, beyond my own general lack of skill and poor reactions, but I’m not sure how something like Shadow of Mordor plays with KB+M which is probably the only game I’m currently considering that might need a gamepad.

            It’s all moot at the moment as I’ve got a couple of expensive months (multiple birthdays, christmas, and car service/MOT/tax/insurance) coming up, after that I might build a new PC before I can think about a new gamepad or joystick.

        • Phantasma says:

          As i said, can’t comment on the flight-stick but even with a pad it certainly was an improvement.
          I was able to do things that would have been very awkward with mouse and keyboard, not impossible, just more uncomfortable.
          Especially handling the directional controls and the correctional thrusters at the same time, only with keyboard inputs, was the sole reason i was looking for another input method.

          But i’m not sure if i’m ready for a dedicated stick just yet.
          Bought one in the nineties (i think it was for X-Wing VS. Tie-Fighter) but it just gathered dust afterwards and i already got enough clutter on my desk, so personally a gamepad was the right compromise for me.

          • Artist says:

            In case you will consider buying one in the future: I was surprised that Isinona is doing his Flight assist off tricks with a Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS X, which is at cheap 44 Euros here. Especially because the next jump is a X52 at 106. If Elite will yield more gameplay at launch besides the current dull universe I will consider to buy one.

      • NukeWithG says:

        I find this weird to read, as I, someone who hasn’t really played any flight sims, only took about 15-30 minutes to get used to the controls. The only real tweak I made was one I read about online before buying the game; change mouse X axis from roll to yaw, and everything seems sunnier all of a sudden.

        • Phantasma says:

          To be precise, my two hour estimate encompassed more than just general flight controls.

          Assigning some of the overrides while in docking range (which really helped with the first landing attempts), customising the throttle range, different sensitivities among other things.

          As for me, taking the roll away from the mouse axis sounded nice on paper but ulitmately didn’t feel right, so two roll buttons needed to find a place as well.

          But that’s the beauty of a highly adaptable control system, everyone can find a personal sweet spot after a bit of button juggling.

          So i didn’t want to give the impression of an absolute need for that amount of time in order to do *anything* and not feeling completely useless, but more that it took me so long before i felt confident enough steering my ship in more than one singular circumstance.

    • steves says:

      “tell me what the difficulty level of Elite: Dangerous would be like for someone like me”

      As someone not like you (I spent happy hours tweaking all the knobs & buttons on a ludicrous HOTAS + headtracker setup to play this), I probably can’t, but I can tell you that if you’re into the idea of Elite as a slow-paced explore-em-up, with staggeringly beautiful spacescapes to gawp at, then you don’t need to worry too much about the controls – as schurem says, it’s point & fly for the most part, and pretty good at stopping you crashing into planets and stars, though dicking about in planetary rings at high speed might mess things up!

      Combat can get hectic, especially against other players, but just bumbling around space looking at stuff doesn’t require any ‘twitch’ skills, and whilst docking might be a bit hairy, you’ll get the hang of it.

      • BLACKOUT-MK2 says:

        Thanks for all the replies guys! From what I can deduct I’ll probably wait for a sale, but I’ll keep an eye on it (I made the mistake of buying Rome 2 on day one to play with a friend… as a guy who’d never properly dabbled in a strategy game I couldn’t even get past the tutorial levels). Since I’ve got internet stuff I like to keep an eye on I usually play for an hour or two, which I’m hoping’ll be long enough for improvements to gradually show, but since I still feel it’s a little risky at least if I wait for a sale I won’t feel bad for knowing I paid full price. As for controls I luckily have a PS3 controller so I’m hoping that’ll help (I also did use a flightstick on one of the old Microsoft flight sims years and years ago but god knows where that is).

    • fredc says:

      Elite is easy to control – just pick up a used Saitek AV8R for £15 or whatever. This has three axes on the stick (pitch, roll and yaw), analog throttle and a hat switch which you can assign to the thrusters.

      For some reason people are being encouraged to buy full HOTAS setups for this (Frontier have a discount deal with Saitek they are pushing), which to me only makes sense if you’re (i) using the Oculus and (ii) are loaded).

      • iainl says:

        Thanks – that’s hugely reassuring. I don’t mind the idea that I might want to buy a flight stick rather than use my 360 pad, but I’m left-handed, so a HOTAS setup strikes me as a bit of a risky investment; I might not get on with using a stick in my right hand at all.

    • ollieclark says:

      It is difficult, there’s no denying that. It’s not a game you pick up and start playing straight away. You have to invest some time and effort.

      Some people pick up basic flight manoeuvres quite quickly, for some it takes a few hours or so. Getting good at combat takes a lot of practice. Becoming Elite can be a lifetime’s work.

      Having said that, as soon as you can do basic flight and dock there’s plenty to do that doesn’t need highly developed flight skills. Trading, exploring, scavenging, courier missions at the moment but more coming soon. I reckon most people would be doing some trade runs within a couple of hours.

  2. SharedProphet says:

    Presumably in order to actually make reasonable money exploring, you have to buy all the Universal Cartographics maps so you can avoid the already-explored areas?

    • TheJimTimMan says:

      That would help, but even then the data available might not represent the extent of what’s been discovered by either players or NPC exploration parties. Even so, word is there’s currently a bug with the way exploration data is priced: letting your ship do scans of unknown bodies actually reduces the amount of money you get instead of increasing it (except in the case of earthlike worlds, which are worth loads on their own).
      Pure speculation here, but I’m guessing this is because there’s a set bounty for unknown stellar bodies that gets replaced by the “scanned” bounty for a given world instead of being added onto, which is what I’m hoping the intended behavior is.

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      That’s how they get you.

  3. Fox89 says:

    “I can’t wait for the day when the galaxy expands and I can chart a course for Sol”

    I love how in games like these, with 400 billion stars to explore, the first instinct is always to come home. ;)

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      DelrueOfDetroit says:

      I just played Mass Effect not too long ago and the most exciting part was the one side-mission on the moon.

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        phuzz says:

        I always liked that mission too, being able to look up at the Earth in the distance.
        If you play the sequels there’s a little link back to that particular mission with EDI.

    • SuicideKing says:

      I guess it’s always thing one can relate to the most, and to see how the game makes our solar system (and particularly earth) feel.

      In the FreeSpace games it’s even more of a draw, since you’re cut off thanks to the Sol-Delta Serpentis jump node collapse.

    • Haplo says:

      Peace, brother. <3

      There's always something comforting and alluring about looking at Earth in space games (where it's present/still exists/etc). In games like GalCiv 2 I get a good kick out of spending a few minutes just watching it turn.

      There's a near nostalgic fondness at the familiarity of it, as weird as it might sound. If you've ever been part of a pen and paper RPG set in or passing through a place you've actually lived, the feeling is much the same.

      Heck, I'm pretty sure that's half the fun of the Civ 4 vanilla opening.

    • Artist says:

      Lave is the true home, mate! ;)

  4. Phantasma says:

    To be honest, i stopped exploring for now.
    Beside a few bugs, that are said to decrease the scanning payouts instead of increasing them under certain circumstances, the system is quite intransparent and almost feels like a placeholder.
    And as mentioned in the article, faffing about for hours only to be rewarded with peanuts, that won’t even cover the fuel costs, is not very motivational to put it mildly.

    It’s a nice concept to reward people to be first at something.
    But if everyone else gets the notion, that it’s not even worth trying after the pioneers had their go, i consider this uneven design.

    I’m generally very impressed with the game so far, but i can’t hold off a little chuckle when i think, that Beta 2 was supposed to be the big test for the exploration system but at the same time this felt like the most undercooked and patch-worthy mechanic to date.

    I really hope that mining in Beta 3 will be a little more comprehensive from the get-go.

    Having said that, can’t wait for next week.

    • fredc says:

      Yeah, it’s very tough to make any money exploring, albeit I haven’t found the discovery scanner. Once you’re in a Cobra, fuel costs to do a max-range jump or two are over 1,000 credits. Scanning an entire uncharted (to you) system with assorted gas giants and moons doesn’t get you that much with the basic scanner.

      You can perhaps make some money if you go all in – get the advanced scanner, put it in a completely stripped Hauler (cheap on fuel) and just keep jumping out to obscure, unpopulated hick systems 50 light years from any profitable trade route. Anyone actually managed this?

      I tried venturing out toward the other end of the cigar-shaped envelope that’s currently available, with the idea of doing some exploring, and profitable trade or even “courier” routes start to fall right off. Also lots of systems with no nav beacons or traffic. So it was basically impossible with just the basic scanner not to lose money.

      That said, I don’t have any great objection to the actual mechanics of exploring. I think exploring will also become more interesting when they start doing more to populate the galaxy. So, you might actually find some strange and unusual shit going down (other than strangely named or amusingly configured astronomical objects). And of course they eventually want to be able to do atmospheric simulation as with Frontier, so you will presumably be able to check out your strange new worlds up close.

      • Phantasma says:

        Yeah, sitting in a Cobra probably didn’t really help with making a profit.
        I don’t say the act of scanning or hunting down small moons isn’t fun for a while.
        With an intermediate scanner it became quite convenient even, but the paltry results continue to sting.

        When one haul from Theta Draconis to … the other Draco system :-) nets you more than grazing through a fistful of uncharted territories (and yes i tried in the far side of the pill), then my interest waned fast.

        But beside the arbitrary payment and the alleged bugs, maybe it also was my inner immersion whore speaking… i guess some kind of neat but useless “data-gathering” animation would have made it a bit jucier for me.

  5. Synesthesia says:

    Fuckkk i think i might actually fork up the extra 15 and start playing this now. Is it worth it? When will the release for preorders be? The wait is too much!

    • Artist says:

      Release is end of Nov. I recommend to save the bucks and wait. Theres really not so much beef besides the hype.

      • razgon says:

        Release is not at the end of november – thats just the premiere party where they announce when the game is released.

        • Artist says:

          Ughs, youre right! No clue how I messed that up from the latest newsletter…

          • razgon says:

            They admitted on the forums that they laid it out ambiguously to get people talking so its no wonder :-)

        • Synesthesia says:

          GODDAMMIT

      • fredc says:

        I disagree – Beta 1, once you’d gone “oooh” at Elite in a modern graphics engine, didn’t have a lot of complexity to it and I stopped playing shortly after getting into my Cobra. There is more to do in Beta 2 and more places to go. With beta 3 in a week or so, we’ll get mining and possibly other goodies (more planet textures?). For me, the game has been completely stable.

        So if it’s only a question of 15 quid, I would pick it up now.

    • ollieclark says:

      Only you can decide whether it’s worth it. For me, I bought into the Alpha during the Kickstarter and haven’t regretted a penny. Then again, I have been playing Elite in some form almost constantly since 1984 (BBC version, Archimedes version, Elite – The New Kind, Oolite and now Elite:Dangerous).

  6. Koshinator says:

    There’s actually a bug with the detailed surface scanners at the moment – instead of adding value to the basic discovery scan information, it’s subtracting from it. The way to make money from it at the moment is go to a system, do a basic scan (uncovering the unknown astronomical objects), go back, sell this info and then return to do a detailed individual scan. Beta is beta…

  7. GiantPotato says:

    So if someone is completely disinterested in this online world and metagame component, is it still any fun?

    • UncleLou says:

      Online is mostly irrelevant. You can either play it completely solo, or just enjoy that other ships you see can be other players rather than AI. It’s not like it’s a real MMO with their typical party/clan mechanics.

      Which metagame component, though? The exploration is very much an in-game component, or do you mean anything else?

      As for fun, it’s arguably the best game in this genre yet since, well, ever.

      • Artist says:

        Hes right. Online is kind of irrelevant but offline is a dull, boring universe. Theres a lot to do to make it exciting. Dont let the folks that like the AI-clay-pidgeon-shooting misguide you. Way less beef than the hype suggests.

        • Lanessar says:

          What beef or hype are you talking about? I found out about this game randomly reading news on a website, but it certainly wasn’t hype-worthy.

        • UncleLou says:

          Any “beef” or “hype” I’ve seen regarding E:D is actually coming from gamers playing the thing, so I am not sure I agree with your wording.

          But anyway, I don’t find the universe boring, not at all. May I ask what you are missing? That’s a genuine question. Mount & Blade-like AI faction wars?

          • Cinek says:

            Yea, and these players are shoving E:D through my throat wherever I go and mention anything about space games. The level of fanboyism in that community is astounding. Even Star Citizen players know when to keep their mouth shut.

          • UncleLou says:

            Shame that you only respond with general nonsense instead of replying to my actual question, but nevermind.

          • Cinek says:

            It wasn’t a question to me, so why would I respond to a questions directed at some other guy?
            I just wanted to point out that “beef” or “hype” from fans can be worse than the one from advert agencies.

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        neffo says:

        I wasn’t too keen on the online parts of the game for the most part, but then I joined the Australian group. It makes a huge difference. They’ve got a mumble server set up, and everyone is just chatting away about game mechanics and more importantly where to find bits and pieces, or noting significant events they’ve seen on their travels.

        It’s a bit like truckers on a two-way I guess. Sharing the road, but filling the endless void with chatter.

        Oh, and how fun it is for a bunch of you to team up and take down an Anaconda amongst an asteroid field.

    • fredc says:

      No, I have been playing almost exclusively in two modes (i) solo and (ii) private group with a bunch of people from an internet forum, and it’s good. In the latter, you get NPC ships plus anyone in your group who happens to be in-system will obviously be able to interact with you.

      In either case, there is a unified economic and galaxy model – so what the totality of all players are doing to the economy and to stuff like interstellar conflicts will be tracked and affect “your” galaxy, so you can drop the interaction with the general public or anyone at all to suit your tastes, without losing anything from the game.

      IMO, as an MMO hater, I wouldn’t think of playing in pure online mode. Like every other MMO, it will be swarmed by basement-dwelling 12 year olds with severe behavioural problems and headsets “griefing” anyone just trying to fly spaceships.

      • Cinek says:

        12yo kids griefing never were a problem in MMOs. It’s the 100+ members groups that were.

        • fredc says:

          Fair enough – I guess I’m thinking of watching friends playing CoD and stuff like that.

          But the beta forums seem to suggest there are lots of people basically finding ways to mug and harass other players. I like that you can opt out of that, for those of us who don’t want to be either the mugger or the muggee.

  8. Rich says:

    What hardware does one need to play this comfortably? In particular, what graphics card?

    • Artist says:

      My small one is an i3 with a gf 660 and can run everything at max.

    • fredc says:

      It’s actually quite graphics-friendly.

      I started playing in Beta 1 with an “ancient” Radeon 5800 series card that you can probably buy used for £10 now. The game looked great and had zero frame rate or other problems. The rest of my system is average to mediocre by gaming standads (3 year old quad core AMD, 4gb then 8gb now).

      I now have an R9 270X and it hasn’t noticeably changed/improved the experience.

  9. SuicideKing says:

    Brenden, head to Gamma Draconis, an ancient subspace portal you shall find.

    EDIT: If the jump to Sol is from Delta Serpentis, Frontier would have made my year.

    (do jumps even work that way in Elite, though?)

    • Premium User Badge

      Harlander says:

      Not really – you can jump to any star within range.

      No ancient stargates built by long-destroyed civilisations either (yet!)

      • SuicideKing says:

        Ah damn. While it’s obviously more logical to do it the Elite way, the FreeSpace system had a certain charm of journeying to it (and also allowed for strategy as far as story lines were concerned).

        • aldo_14 says:

          On the plus side, you can visit Capella. I wonder if they have the Wolf nebula.

          • Premium User Badge

            Harlander says:

            After looking it up, I’m a bit disappointed that the biggest star in the Capella system isn’t called “α Capella”. Now where am I gonna put the headquarters of the Interplanetary Barbershop Society?

          • aldo_14 says:

            How about Polaris, home of the (Barber’s) Pole Star?

            I’ll get my coat.

  10. Richard Burton says:

    *insert grumbling noises of frustration, tension and stress* must.. stop.. reading.. these.. articles…… can’t.. staand.. thehhh.. WAIT!!!! NOOOOOO!!!! AAARRGHHHAHAHAHAHAAAA!!!! please… hurry up, get this baby born (gold release) and stop torturing us… I’m sure I’m not the only one here who’s thinking this, heh.

  11. Richard Burton says:

    I like the sound of gamepad controls, sounds good. Although I have full HOTAS (flightstick, pedals, throttle) it’s a bit of a hassle having to put it all away and set it all up every time I want to use it. Laziness! But, rather more importantly though, and here is my main point: The gamepad would surely be THE control-method of choice when used in conjunction with Oculus Rift. As in, not having to look at a keyboard or throttle switches or buttons or anything. Just control by touch only. Although I expect you would get used to some HOTAS setups over time as well.

    • Love Albatross says:

      Gamepad is supposed to be fine for Elite, but I really don’t think it’s ideal for use in conjunction with OR. It’ll work, but there aren’t quite enough buttons compared a throttle and stick combo. Every OR setup I’ve seen for Elite has included a HOTAS.

    • ollieclark says:

      You definitely do get used to a full HOTAS. I’d had a Saitek X52 pro for a few weeks before I got to have a go on an Occulus Rift. Didn’t have any problems at all using the HOTAS without being able to see it.

  12. unangbangkay says:

    Can anyone recommend a flightstick for use with this (and possibly other future space games like Star Citizen et al)?

    I used to have an old sidewinder, but my current setup is too space-poor to handle a true HOTAS, so ideally a lightweight, single-peripheral solution would be ideal.

    • derbefrier says:

      I haven’t tried it myself but the Thrustmaster t16000 is one I see reccommended a lot. Its fairly cheap and peole in The star citizen forums seem to love it for the price. I am actually planning on getting one to move to a dual stick setup as I believe its also one of the few sticks that left handed people can confortably use from what I have read about it.

    • pauleyc says:

      I can recommend the Thrustmaster T.16000M. Not too big yet solid, precise thanks to magnetic sensors and mapping yaw to the twist function in Elite works perfectly. A minus is the slider throttle (and the base button quality) but overall I’m very happy with it. The ideal addition would be a CH Throttle Pro but they are very hard to find – for a reasonable price at least.

      • Love Albatross says:

        Can confirm the Pro Throttle is an ideal partner to any stick, I far prefer it to the throttle controls of other HOTAS units (and I’ve tried several).

        They are available on Ebay shipped from the US, and since Ebay now has a system where you pay import fees up front there’ll be no nasty surprises when it arrives.

    • Cinek says:

      What’s your budget?
      That’s the essential question.

    • ollieclark says:

      I’ve got a Saitek X52 pro which I love. So much easier than keyboard and mouse which I was using for 6 months. If you’re budget doesn’t quite stretch to the X52 then the T16000 is much better than its price would suggest.

      The cockpit in game has something very similar to an X52 in it so I guess that tells you what Frontier recommend. Plus they’re selling them in their shop now.

    • fredc says:

      Saitek AV8R.

      Cheap used and does everything you need on a single stick.

      The utility of a HOTAS is basically only when you are using the Rift and can’t see your keyboard. All normal flight and combat functions can be mapped onto the AV8R or any similar full-function single stick.

      • unangbangkay says:

        That looks useful. Anyone have an opinion on the Saitek RAT5 or RAT9? Between them and the Thrustmaster recommended above they seem about right for what I’m looking for.

  13. Lone Gunman says:

    ” Gas giant. Brown Dwarf. Methane. I cannot say any more, because scientists are still studying the theoretical fart jokes which could be created from these disparate facts.”

    My final year project was related to this :)

  14. Morcane says:

    This game is simply breathtakingly beautiful. Not only in graphics, but the sheer size and scope is incredible.

    You would think it would become boring, since the processes remain the same, but it’s just the drug for all space sim addicts. Just one more system, just one more trade, just one more bounty. The engine sounds when you jump into a system, near its sun, never get old.

    It’s what I imagined and hoped Elite to look like in the future, when I was a kid playing the original on my C64.

  15. nubbuka says:

    I haven’t had the chance to play Beta2 yet (Played like 2 months ago).
    I was trying to buy myself an Anaconda with trading, who ever is as well into trading this site will be your best friend:
    link to elitetradingtool.co.uk

    I found the most profitable route (1 jump from station to station and back will give me about 140k each time of a profit), started grinding it and bought the 200-300k type 6 i think? I right now have about a mil or two but it is indeed tedious work and I was doing it only to fly test the anaconda.
    I stopped playing for a wee bit due to vacation and when I came back my online friends disappeared on me xD
    When I started reading this post I thought maybe reaching the Anaconda and using its massive 19 light years jump to use for exploration would be awesome but then the point of it not being profitable scared me away like a free candy proposal from a flying turtle (It would be still interesting flying around but I’m not sure if the outcome will be worth it, kinda way).

    Anyway I hope that the trades of you guys have fun with the link I gave you, you can also help him (the manager of the site) to complete his pokedex of the universe and add that as an EXPLORING TRADER job; for role playing purposes if you’re into that kind of stuff :3

  16. Richard Burton says:

    Thanks for the replies guys. That’s it then, I can’t stand the wait, buying beta now. Only Braben could get me to break my “no pre-order” rule at never buying anything before official release again (after Rome II). :)