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Elite Dangerous Impressions, #2 - Finding A Fight

Accidental art thief

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Continuing a short series in which I get to grips with the newly-released Elite: Dangerous and document my thoughts about the game as I do.

I’d made this pledge to myself – that I’d learn this game without help. It has not been at all easy. Elite Dangerous only wants to impart a bare minimum of information to me, and while a large part of me digs working it out for myself, often I’m hitting brick walls. For instance:

– landing in my assigned bay when docking requires me to face in the right direction. It took some time before I worked out the visual cues which informed me that I was indeed facing in the right direction. Prior to that I kept performing this hugely embarrassing 180 degree turns while essentially parked, replete with terrifying scraping and banging noises.

– When deciding to investigate an exciting-sounding signal of unknown origin, I fetched near some space debris. Amongst it was some rare art. This sounded like it would make me some money – something I am desperately in need of – so I tried to collect it. I worked out that I would need to deploy my cargo scoop in order to do this, but it took several slow-motion collisions with the artwork (floating in big metal cannisters) before realising that a new, second targeting reticule display popped up for the cargo scoop.

I was pretty damn proud of myself for figuring this out eventually, and made a beeline for the nearest space station to sell my cultural spoils. I could find no facility to sell it, which was disappointing enough, but it got worse when I clocked that I’d been slapped with an 11,000 credit fine for carrying stolen goods. What. All I did was collect some floating junk. Space fascists!

I’d happily return the art, but I haven’t been able to find out who it belongs to. In fact, I couldn’t find a single damn thing to do with the art except dump it in space. This did not relieve me of my fine, which seems to be increasing as time wears on. I need a job in order to pay it off…

– …but the only jobs I can find seem to involve finding a specific type of cargo from somewhere – which I a) probably can’t afford and b) can’t work out where has it in stock – or liberating and dropping off some slaves. I do not know where to find slaves. I figure maybe if I can find some pirates or other baddies, maybe they’ll have some in the hold, but…

– …I have no idea where to find pirates or other baddies. Each station offers a list of the highest bounties, which entails going to a target’s last known location, which is a whole system, which seems to mean floating around aimlessly in the hope I’ll run into them. I’m kind of worried they’re going to be in far, far better ships than I am, too. All I want is to practice combat with some random little goons, but…

– I have no idea where or how to find random little goons. I spent some time randomly hopping about systems, poking around in asteroid belts and trying to drop out of hypercruise if I passed someone at a hundred million miles per hour but never winding up anywhere near them, and frankly it was all becoming fairly frustrating.

Then, joy of joys, I was tooling around Eravate when an intercom message popped up from someone calling themselves Strangely Brown. He was demanding my cargo. Never mind that I didn’t have any cargo, I was delighted. There were two reasons for this: 1) Strangely was deemed ‘Competent’ and was piloting an Adder, a far superior ship to my useless baby of a craft. 2) He was labelled ‘Wanted.’ I was pretty confident this meant there was a bounty on his head.

I.e., fight, and not a piffling one.

There are no more exciting words in the galaxy than ‘enemy shield depleted.’ I heard this fairly soon on in the fight, and what they meant was that Strangely Brown was not going to be able to instantly destroy me. While this cast serious doubt on his alleged competency, it thrilled me. I could do this.

And I did. It took a while, because my Sidewinder can only fire about five shots before needing a rest, but its tight turning meant Strangely never so much as scored my hull. I won, and a nearly 5000 credit bounty was mine. I’m almost halfway towards paying off my unfair fine. By God it had taken a while, but I’d found a fight, I’d won, and as a result my blood is up: I don’t want to live a life of long-distance trading after all. Most of all, I’m chuffed to bits that I figured a whole bunch of stuff out without having to refer to third parties. Though I’m well aware that I’ve barely scratched the surface still.

But, er, where do I go next?

There’ll be more Elite impressions after Christmas.

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Alec Meer

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Co-founder of RPS. Dungeon Keeper & X-COM 4 Life.

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