Attention Rookies: Getting Started In Elite Dangerous

This is our guide for absolute beginners. For more detailed advice on a particular space career, look out for our upcoming Careers and Resource Guides.

It may have its flaws but even as undercooked as it is, Elite: Dangerous [official site] still has enough going on that makes it both interesting and difficult to find your feet in the vast galaxy. Trading, bounty hunting, even learning to pilot your ship takes patience and a bit of experimentation. To make things easier as you scrounge together your first few thousand credits (and in anticipation of the upcoming 1.2 update which will finally add useful multiplayer groups), RPS has recruited me to hand out some tips and tricks to get you on your way. So strap in, Commander, and trust in some advice from a man who has learned it the hard way.

Contents (click to skip forward):

My First Sidey
The Bulletin Board
Navigation
Supercruise
Outfitting
Insurance
Buying A New Ship

My First Sidey

You’ll begin in one of the handful of starter systems with a nippy little ship called a Sidewinder and a few pennies in your pocket (you’ll most likely have 100 credits unless you backed the game on Kickstarter, in which case, you’ve got 1000. It doesn’t matter because neither amount is going to be much use to begin with). In the galactic scale you are likely to be more or less 100 light years from Sol, which is not so far as it sounds.

The first thing you ought to understand is that your Sidey is free to replace. This means that your insurance costs are nil (however, it will always respawn you back at this beginner station – see Insurance). So don’t be afraid to crash or destroy your ship when you are learning to fly, dock and manoeuvre. Just let rip and take her for a spin outside the station. Get to know the screens, the buttons and the layout of your cockpit. Do a lap around the station, tail one of the security ships, do a barrel roll. Whatever, just have a good time learning. The only essential thing you need to know is that your ship is at its most manoeuvrable when your throttle is balanced in the blue zone.

A Note on your Setup

Piloting is going to be a far easier affair if you have a joystick or HOTAS setup, as well as being much more fun. Controllers can handle the basics surprisingly well and mouse and keyboard gives you a good spread of hotkeys. But neither beats the joy of gripping a nice phallic flight stick and doing a loop the loop like one of yer men from Top Gun. Phwoaaar.

My setup, though not perfect, works well. I have a Thrustmaster T-Flight HOTAS (a solid entry-level joystick with 12 buttons, a twisty stick for ‘rudder’ and a control for lateral thrust). Between the thruster and joystick is the keyboard, F1 to F4 bound to things like Heat Sink and Chaff. The mouse is set to ‘headlook’, while the Num Pad controls all my panel navigation. This last thing takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you’ve got it down you’ll be able to flip through your side menus speedier than a scared rat.

You can try out this setup or go with your own. The point is to be comfortable, as your hands are going to be going everywhere (he he). Half the fun of your first few hours is binding everything so that your ship feels juuuust right. You want to make it so if someone else who plays Elite were to sit down to play at your PC, they’d instantly feel weirded out by the subtle differences. Because this ship is YOURS.

Docking

Although you can spin around in your Sidey at leisure without worrying about insurance, maybe be careful not to ruin somebody else’s day by crashing into them as you come through the docking bay. Docking takes some practice but just remember the helpful mnemonic Pretty Super Brilliant Landing:

Permission – go to your Contacts tab (on left screen) and request docking permission!
Speed – slow down when coming through the ‘mail slot’ to avoid crashes
Bay number – get your docking bay in sight and line up for landing
Landing Gear – put your landing gear down!

Now it’s just a matter of manoeuvring into place. There you go. Pretty Super Brilliant Landing!

Remember: you can request docking anywhere from about 9-10km away. But go inside the station without getting permission and you will only have 30 seconds to get out before being blown up by the internal lasers.

Your Sidey is equipped with shields, two pulse lasers and a 4 tonne cargo bay. That means you can only carry 4 cannisters of goods at a time. The pulse lasers included are also pea-shooters. You’ll have trouble taking on many hostiles with those. My advice is to head to Outfitting and sell these guns right off the bat, making your ship lighter and increasing its jump range. (I’d also advise selling your as-standard Basic Discovery Scanner for the same reasons). Don’t get too worried about the Outfitting menu right now, we’ll cover that in more detail later.

Anyway, you won’t be able to make much use of it until you have some money. Note that if you do add any upgrades to your ship, you will have to pay to replace them if you crash, as they do not come included with the free Sidewinder. But again, don’t worry too much. In this case you won’t have to pay the full cost of the component, just the rebuy cost (see: Insurance).

The Bulletin Board

You will likely want to make some fast bucks and change your ship. But whoa, chill out. The other ships might look cool but the humble Startwinder is going to be your best friend for a little while yet. To make some quick cash, however, you don’t have many options to start with. Go ahead and select the Starport Services and click on the Bulletin Board. This is where you are going to make your first thousands.

This board is basically a list of missions. Generally, there will be a selection of these types of jobs:

Deliver these goods from X to Y.
Go find us some X and bring them back here.
Deliver this message for us, willya.
Go kill X amount of pirates/traders/space cops.
Go kill this one Big Bad Dude for ludicrous monies.
Go find that videotape we forgot to pick up, it’s like, floating out in space or something.
Give us some money for no reason except that you want to be friends.
Give us some guns/food/meds for no reason except you like our trendy name.

Obviously you will want to avoid these last two ‘philanthropy’ missions for now (and the foreseeable future). These get you a reputation gain with the organisation that advertises them, unlocking new, bigger jobs. But there should be enough jobs available to you already without having to pay up, and anyway, you don’t have the cash.

What you are really after is some quick courier missions or goods delivery. Going on missions to find Black Boxes or Rebel Transmissions at shipwreck sites may pay well but these activities are deemed illegal by the Po-Po and you’ll have to smuggle the contraband material back into the station if you want the paycheck – something you might want to put off until you’re more comfortable in the cockpit. Right now, just take a look at some of the simpler stuff.

Above is an example of a mission you could take. It pays a decent 3000 credits and involves a trip to a system just 7 light years away – a single jump in your Sidey. This scrap mission also has the benefit of a super-low fine for failure – just 77 credits. And since it only requires 2 tonnes of cargo space, there is room to take some more stuff. If you are very lucky, you’ll see another delivery mission of 2 tonnes to the same system, or a courier mission you can stack with it. Courier missions have the advantage of requiring no cargo space at all, since you are usually carrying data or small items. (You could also pick up something loose from the Commodities markets to sell in your destination system).

For now, just go ahead and accept whatever mission you can, making sure it is a delivery mission, which looks like this:

…and not a sourcing materials mission, which looks like this:

Basically, a delivery job is a one-way drop-off. A sourcing mission means you gotta go looking for things, then bring them back. These are more time-intensive and really only worth it the material in question is expensive and highly sought, like gold.

Pro-tip for leaving the station: I usually only pull my landing gear up once I am lined up with the gateway, and no sooner. With the landing gear down, your top speed will be cut dramatically, so keeping it deployed while you are inside the bay is good for forcing yourself to stay slow. Whatever you do, don’t bind your Afterburner button close to your landing gear button. Mixing these up has cost many a pilot (including myself) their cargo.

Navigation

To find your destination, bring up the Nav Panel on the left-hand side of the cockpit. This lists the known objects in the system (planets, moons, outposts) and the closest stars of other systems, in order of proximity. Select the Galaxy Map from this screen to see a 3D map of nearby stars.

A few things you should know about the Galaxy Map:

    • Get the Galaxy Map bound to a comfortable hotkey, because you are going to be referring to it a lot. Mine is set to the spacebar. Because I get to think the phrase “Let’s hit the Space Bar!” to myself when I tap it. Space Bar.
  • Under the View tab, you can change the view from realistic to map. This lets you see the systems based on their allegiance (red for Empire, green for Independent, grey for unexplored, etc), rather than a depiction of the star.
  • You can also filter the systems by different traits: population, economy type, government type, etc. This is useful if, for example, you are looking for the nearest anarchy system, or want to find the closest high tech station for ship parts.
  • You can plot a route by hovering over a star and selecting the plot route option. As of the latest update, you can plot to a distance of about 1000 light years.
  • Under the map’s Navigation tab you can switch between most economical route and fastest route. Make sure you change this to ‘fastest route’ if you don’t care about fuel (which you often won’t). Setting a route means you’ll already have your next system selected when you jump from star to star on a longer journey.
  • Full lines between systems show a jump you can make. Dashed lines show jumps you could make but will have to refuel to do so.
  • There is also a useful slider under the Navigation tab for adjusting your expected cargo mass, allowing you to check if you can make a jump before actually loading up on goods. Remember: the more goods you carry the less distance you will be able to jump.
  • Okay, so let’s deliver your scrap/waste/delicious fish. You can either find the relevant system on this map (check the Transactions tab on the left if you have forgotten the name) or more simply scroll down the list of nearby star systems on your Nav Panel. Select your intended system and lock destination.

    The compass directly left of your sensors will now show you the direction to turn and the system will be highlighted on your HUD. The blue pip on your compass will be hollow when you are pointing away from your destination and fill up when you face the right direction. Point yourself at the goals, throttle up and hit the key for your Frame Shift Drive.

    4, 3, 2, 1. Bwwwooooooooooo!

    Supercruise

    OH JESUS STOP, THROTTLE DOWN, THROTTLE DOWN.

    Phew. Okay. You will notice that you have dropped out of warpy warp in front of a giant star. This is how you get from system to system in Elite. There are no insta-warps from planet to planet or station to station. Instead, there are three modes of travel:

    Normal flight: Coasting around space stations, nav beacons and other “bubbles” of localised space, sometimes at a comfortable 250 km/s or so. It is possible to go faster than this in other vehicles but know that around the 400 km/s mark you will start to black out from G-force. No, really. There’s a lot to learn about piloting in “normocruise”, including when to turn Flight Assist Off. But that’s a lesson for another time.

    Frame Shift Jump: aka hyperdrive aka warp. This mode of travel is pretty much an unalterable loading screen between systems, during which you will be unable to check your screens, redistribute power or change any aspect of your vehicle. Still, looks pretty neat.

    Supercruise: This is your inter-system mode. Technically still faster than light, supercruise will allow you to travel from planet to planet, approach stations as they orbit their parent body and fly away from that terrifyingly large star before it boils you alive like a sorry lobster. Travelling in supercruise can take some getting used to and it is very easy to overshoot your target. Here are the things you need to know:

    Your HUD and your Nav Panel will tell you how far away your target is, be it a space station or moon or another player. Just like in normal piloting mode, planets and systems are under the Navigation tab, while other pilots are marked under Contacts. But you can only see the pilots that are also in supercruise. You cannot detect the ones in “normal” space.

    Distance is measured in LS, or light seconds, dropping to a measurement of Mm (Megametres, ie. a million metres) when you get much closer to an object. For example, let’s say you head towards a station 100 LS away. When you are 0.1 LS from it, the measurement will switch from reading 0.1 LS to 29 Mm. To break this down: 1 LS = approx 300 Mm because that is how fast light travels. Three hundred million metres a second. So, 0.1 LS = approx 30 Mm. Maths! If you still want some sense of scale, the moon is about 1.3 LS from the earth.

    Again, the blue zone on your throttle is a great help. If all you do is point in the right direction and get your throttle to the middle of the blue zone, your journey in supercruise will be mostly sorted, as your ship will adjust its speed automatically. This isn’t the fastest way to travel in supercruise but it is reliable.

    Things will often be hundreds or thousands of light seconds from the sun you “land” at. Judging which stations are simply too far away to bother visiting will save you a lot of time. Generally, I don’t bother visiting places over 3,000 LS from their parent star, unless it is REALLY worth some cash (and it rarely is). If I could only warn you from visiting a single place, it would be Hutton Orbital in the Alpha Centauri system. It is a staggering 0.22LY away from its star and will take you about an hour to reach in real time. They sell a rare good called Centauri Mega Gin, but frankly, the galaxy can do without that pish.

    When you are close enough to a target (usually within 1km) and travelling slow enough you will see a blue ‘safe disengage’ notice at the bottom of your windshield. A single press of the FSD button will drop you into your intended zone. Happy days.

    Planets, moons and stars all have their own gravity wells, which slow you down measurably when you are close. So if your station is on the far side of a body, don’t try and cut corners by flying close to the planet, as you’ll often end up slowed down. On top of this each body has a sphere of proximity that you can’t enter (ANDINTHEGAME). You can see these spheres as a visible, circular line. If you get too close and pass over this line, your ship will perform an automatic stop and forcefully drop you out of supercruise. Which brings us to our last tip…

    Do not use your emergency stop. Your first few trips in supercruise will likely see you going too fast and flying straight past your intended target. This is OK. When you tap the FSD button while going too fast your ship will warn you that it cannot safely stop but, if you like, you can double-tap to emergency stop. My advice: don’t.

    It is tempting to pull the brakes when you think you are going to overshoot but an emergency stop damages your hull and modules and this costs money to repair, even if the damage is slight. It also takes time for your FSD to cool down and re-engage. It is much faster, easier and less costly simply to drop the throttle, loop around and get the destination back in sight, all in supercruise. Trust me. If you missed your exit on the highway you wouldn’t pull the handbrake and screech to a halt. You’d die. No, instead you would calmly find the best turning point and safely go back.

    My personal method for supercruise is usually to throttle full speed toward my goal from the sun, then pull the throttle back to the middle when my speed matches the distance by a factor of ten, then slowly drop my speed as I approach. For example, if something is 1000 LS away, I throttle full speed, and when the station is about 300 LS away, my speed ought to be about 30c. I quickly drop the throttle and continue to keep my speed matched with the distance.

    Remember: 1 km is the distance you will normally need to be within to safely disengage. My method is not the speediest (although still pretty fast) and it takes some mental practice to start with. But I rarely overshoot and figuring speeds and distance is pretty much second nature now. Fangrim offers a more thorough guide to pro supercruising on Frontier’s forums.

    Now that you’ve got to your destination (and hopefully have not burned up in the sun), you can dock as before (Pretty Super Brilliant Landing!) and complete any deliveries using the bulletin board. Easy. Even a handful of these missions will see you on your way to making a bigger buck.

    Outfitting

    Once you’ve got some cash in the back burner, you can begin to think about upgrading the parts on your ship.

    I advise getting at least 20,000 in cold, hard creds before you start to outfit the Sidey, which shouldn’t take so long. This is all you need to kit out a starter vessel capable of carry a few more goods that usual, and still have cash left for extras. You can check how much money you have, while docked, on the Starport Services screen. But while in transit you can also check your balance on the right screen, under your ranks on the Status tab. Scroll through the Status tab and you will also see your Statistics screen. This is just a beautiful screen to know. It charts a lot of stuff, but most importantly it displays your current assets. This sum is pretty straightforward:

    Current assets = credits in account + value of your ship + ship parts.

    Basically, everything you own. (Although any other ‘stored’ ships currently don’t seem to count towards this number).

    Arguably Elite’s most obfuscated and unclear mechanic, the outfitting bay is also one of the smartest parts of the game. You just need to understand it first. Because this takes a little more explanation than everything else, we’ve done this handy video.

    I advise you watch it at least until the basics have been covered. If you are strapped for time, however, here are the most important things:

    • High Tech and Industrial systems are the best places to do a big outfitting job, as they generally have the biggest selection of ships and ship parts. Poor economies based on Extraction or Refinery will have far fewer parts. Check your galaxy and system maps to see what type of economic system you are in by using the ‘economy’ filter.
  • You can sell any part you have bought for the same price as you got it. Ship parts, unlike the ships themselves, do not depreciate in value after use (see ‘Buying a new ship’). They always cost and sell for the same price. So don’t be afraid to make a clicky mistake in the outfitting.
  • You can also buy back parts you have sold or exchanged. However, if you leave the station these parts will no longer be available to “buy back” when you return. So double check you are happy with your loadout before you leave, especially if you are in a system with a limited selection of parts.
  • Do not allow your Deployed Power Usage to go over your Available Power Usage. Otherwise the power between your modules (guns, shields, thrusters, etc) is going to be spread too thin. This means when you go out and deploy your hardpoints your ship will automatically deactivate some modules. Bad, bad times. If you want to increase the level of your Available Power, you will have to install a better Power Plant.
  • Keep an eye on your mass. Your shields and some other modules will have an optimal hull mass. Try to keep your ship’s mass below this number, so that shields operate at maximum efficiency. Note: in the video I fumble this explanation. To clarify, you want your ship’s mass to be below the shield’s optimal hull mass. If your ship ever goes above the shield’s maximum hull mass, the shield will not work at all. To increase your max mass level, install better Thrusters.
  • Remember to leave enough credits to afford your insurance and/or any cargo you want to haul after outfitting. You never, ever want your credit balance to reach zero in the outfitting menu. That is a bad thing.
  • Insurance is super easy. While in the cockpit, look at the left panel. Underneath your ranks, there is a rebuy cost. This is how much it will cost you to buy back your ship (including all its attached parts) if you are summarily destroyed by, say, the one hundred lasers of death in any port.

    This rebuy cost is 5% of your total ship’s value. Simple. Always, always have enough to pay this figure. As in EVE: Online, the rule “don’t fly anything you can’t afford to lose” is God. By covering just this small insurance fee, you will secure a huge sum of your assets, because you will likely have as much money attached to your ship in the form of parts as you do in your bank account.

    With a vanilla Sidewinder with no modifications, you obviously do not need to worry about this fee, since the basic model is free to replace. However, you need to know that taking the free Sidey will always plop you back in your very first system – in the very space dock where you began all your adventures. So buying back your old model is advised if you don’t want to travel that distance again, or if you have begun to attack modules that are costly and hard to replace. Once you begin adding these better modules to your ship, it is wise to start covering your insurance.

    Buying A New Ship

    So you reckon you’ve got enough for a new spaceship? WRONG. You most certainly do not. Although the Eagle (a nippy fighter going for 44,800 credits) and the Hauler (a basic transport van for about 53,000 credits) are affordable looking while they sit in the shipyard, you need to remember that there will be extra costs to outfit either of them with better bits and bobs. So do not consider the price tag of a ship your next goal. Realistically, you are going to want thousands of credits more.

    When you do go to buy a ship, you will have two options.

    1. Buy it outright and stick your current ship in storage.

    2. Trade in your old ship for extra cash.

    Trading in your ship is a good way to get onto the next rung early in the game but note that the money you get for it is 10% less than its total value. This is a pawn shop, after all. This 10% will be a much bigger problem later in the game, when you are dealing with huge sums of cash and fat ships. Right now, if you can get a little bit of extra cash trading in your vessel, I say go for it. HOWEVER, there is something you can do to minimise this cost: Go to the outfitting menu and strip your ship down before selling.

    This means the value of the parts isn’t included in the 10%. Instead, you have sold the parts for face value, and will only lose 10% off the “shell”.

    So basically, there is one rule for trade-ins: Always sell every part on your ship individually before selling the ship itself. This way you lose less money on the 10% loss when you sell or trade it in.

    And there you have it, we’ve covered all the truly basic stuff. If you want some tips on how to go about preparing for a career in trading (or how best to indulge in a life of crime) read our guide to the handful of specific careers you can follow in Elite: Dangerous. I also highly recommend taking a butchers at our resource guide which is overflowing with useful tools, infographics and links, including a calculator that can discover the most profitable trade routes and a shipyard tool that lets you estimate the cost of any planned ship. For now, I hope you learned some things. Goodbye, and may your space life be full of pretty super brilliant landings.

    56 Comments

    1. sarbian says:

      I did not log for a while but the 8s rule was the easiest way to get out of supercruise. Bind a key to 75% throttle, supercruise at full speed and when your target is 8s away press the key. You will slow down at the right speed and won’t need to touch anything more.
      It works a 7 and some of 6 second too, but if you miss it then you go the long way around.

      • Somerled says:

        My method is to fly in at full speed until around 3-4 seconds to destination, then cut engines. Pitch down so you’re starting to come ‘under’ the target, then pitch up and do a circle around it, keeping the target in view above you. You adjust pitch to keep the ETA near 3-4 seconds, which adjusts how fast you’re approaching radially much better than flying in straight and tinkering with thrust.

        I’ve never timed it to see if this is faster. I assume coasting in at 0% is faster than slowly decelerating at 75%, but I can’t be sure if swinging wide takes full advantage of the faster deceleration up close. I just like it because it’s a much better minigame than the ETA/range sliders…

        • steves says:

          This is good advice, and yes, it’s way quicker. Also much more engaging. Takes a lot of time to get used to the finer details of things like “come ‘under’ the target”, and it varies depending on your ship’s mass/drive, but 0:04 is usually the point to slam the throttle to zero (0:03 all the way is do-able in a Clipper though!) and start spiralling.

          Ideally you want to drop to <1Mm away just as your speed gets into the safe disengage zone.

          Also, try and approach big stations with a 'mailsot' (not outposts) with the planet/moon behind you too, as you're much more likely to line up with the slot in front of you when you drop out.

    2. SuicideKing says:

      This displays full on the home page of the site.

    3. Gpig says:

      I want to play this game, but I want to wait to play it with a virtual reality headset. I wonder if that is a common thing? I’m tempted to just go ahead and buy it.

      • Zanchito says:

        You are not alone, but it will be a while until we get that. In the meantime, I’m looking into this baby: link to overclock.net

        • hollowroom says:

          I got an Asus P278Q. I can testify to the quite startling difference G-Sync makes.

      • Rindan says:

        I would wait. Elite Dangerous is a solid foundation with absolutely nothing built on top of it. I bought it when it first came out. It is beautiful. The flight model is almost perfect. It is utterly devoid of things to do. It boils down to trade heavy stuff small distances, move rare stuff large distances, point your ship at objects and scan them, blow shit up, and mine. Every single one of the “things” to do are really, REALLY empty. You do the exact same motions, over, and over, and over, and over with almost no variation, and the number of “things” you do for each “profession” is extraordinarily small. Even blow shit up, the most interactive thing on there, is crippled by the fact that the number of scenarios to “blow shit up” is horrible limited. There is absolutely not even a drop of meaningful player interaction. People tell stories on Reddit about how one time they ran into a human that talked to them because it was fucking amazing to have that level of interaction with someone in this “MMO”. Apparently Frontier didn’t get the memo that while yes, the”M” and “O” part of MMO does mean “multiplayer” and “online”, we kind of hope you understood that it is “multiplayer” and “online” so that we can interact with our fellow humans.

        Unless you REALLY like the watching the same pretty vistas over and over, or really enjoy doing grindy tasks to make numbers go up, avoid ED, at least for now. Like I said, they have the foundation for a mind blowing game, but there is nothing on that foundation. They are basically barely getting to the point where they are talking about putting a floor down in the unfinished basement. The next big update will make it so that in this multi-player game, you can actually play with people. Right now, you can’t even fly with friends in a meaningful way, much less do anything so grand as form a corporation, pirate ring, or trading company.

        Nope. Shove ED back in the oven and ignore it until Christmas. When Christmas comes around, see if they have added actual content.

        ED really kills because it is such a god damn amazing foundation. I wish it was awful with no redeeming value like X:Rebirth so I could just write it off instead of screaming at the monitor, demanding they fix the game. If you could see me right now, you would see me frothing at the mouth, throttling my monitor, screaming with spittle flying everywhere, demanding that Frontier to just slather Eve’s economics and corporations on top of Elites flight model, combat, and aesthetics. It would be my dream game.

      • Arithon says:

        You can play Elite on the Oculus. I do. It’s amazing, pretty much a case of “nobody can tell you what the Matrix is…”

        The downside is, after four hours of playing, you have a ring around your eyes like you’ve been wearing a diver’s mask!

    4. Cinek says:

      Step 1) Brace yourself, grind is coming.

      • Thurgret says:

        I skipped the initial grind by killing an Anaconda with a 150,000 credit bounty with my free Eagle. I bought a Viper not long after. Then I had fun with the game for a bit, my ship was adequately upgraded, and the grind appeared. Extreme grind. Which – combined with the inability to play with friends properly and the utter blandness of the “story” they devised and apparent brokenness of the system which was meant to enable players to change the galaxy – made me stop playing.

        *grumble*

        Hopefully they’ll have it fixed by summer. There’s a solid core there. They just over-promised and released the game much too early.

        • farrier says:

          I happily worked my way up to Cobra in a couple weeks, taking my time. The grind wasn’t bad once I fitted my Adder for combat (I think it’s a somewhat underrated ship) since I love the flight controls (I don’t care that it’s more of an atmosphere-flight sim). Then I took a regularly scheduled week-long break from gaming.

          And never went back. I think of playing and then I also think, “Meh.” It’s the grind of Destiny except even more lifeless. And yet, I really do like the game, I just don’t care enough to play it anymore.

          I see people posting pictures on the subreddit and just losing their minds about how beautiful it is, and look at this binary system I found, and wow these asteroids. And I don’t want to belittle or diminish their enthusiasm at all. I just feel like I have some sort of social disorder where I look at it and just don’t get it. Yes, those are stars. That one’s blue, that one’s yellow, that one’s red, that one’s a different shade of blue. Oh look, there are three near to each other. Neat-o. Let me fly back to another solitary cookie-cutter station.

          I WANT TO LOVE THIS GAME AM I BROKEN INSIDE

          • jack4cc says:

            This. It was kind of fun to do all the things once or twice, but the next ship would be a long grind away, and the actual game part of elite doesn’t exist, so I never got back to playing it.

      • badmothergamer says:

        The grind is what drove me away. Had about 5 mil in the bank doing the same trading route over and over, slowly upgrading to better freighters. Got my Type 6, bought a mil in superconductors, forgot to request docking permission at the next station, got blown up and 20% of my wealth destroyed (the exit warning counter was only 10 seconds though, not 30 as mentioned in the article). Bought a Cobra to try some combat but it got old quick. Haven’t played again since.

        One addition to this guide I would highly, highly (cannot emphasize highly enough) recommend is Voice Attack. It’s $8 but you can bind keys and macros to voice commands. For my setup I had a flight stick, WASD for thrusters, but everything else was setup with Voice Attack. “Gear” for landing gear, “Guns” for deploying hardpoints. Not only does it save you from having to press the keys but it adds a great deal of immersion.

        The only catch is when your wife gets sick of you saying “Engage Superdrive” every 2 minutes and makes you stop using it.

      • Danarchist says:

        Upgrade to an adder as soon as you can and start doing rare runs (google it hehe). I was in a cobra in a couple of hours, currently flying a kitted out Asp out in the middle of nowhere exploring. The ship grind is very very real though. I find trading and exploring very Zen in some weird way, actually relaxing minus the occasional interdiction. Lately I have not been able to get back into it however. I log in, set a route etc. Get bored 20 minutes later and go back to Homeworld, or keep working on my 300th hour in Skyrim.

        Both this game and Star Citizen I pop into once a week to see if anything has changed. Whichever one lets me crew a ship with my friends first wins my $$$. That would change this from boring cash grind to drunken screaming in no time

      • grundus says:

        Yep, I’m quite adept at grindy games, maybe as a side-effect of being raised on Japanese things, but Elite… Well, I traded my way to a Python (about 60 million), flew it about for maybe half an hour, that was roughly two weeks ago and I haven’t been back yet. I will give it another go when 1.2 is out but I expect I won’t get back into it properly until they make things that aren’t trading profitable enough to run such an expensive ship.

        • Arithon says:

          You can make 100,000 every few minutes at any Nav point bounty hunting wanted ships. 35-50K per Anaconda depending on rank, 11K for a T7, Asp or Python, 5K for a Viper or Cobra. Using Kill Warrant Scanner first can double that buy accruing bounty in the other two factions for the same kill.
          I made 500K in three runs at the Nav point last night (went back to station to cash in and reload) in 45mins.
          I could make that in a single trade run in my (180M) Anaconda, but I could also have easily made the same money using a 500K Cobra, which could never trade at that income level.
          So trading isn’t the only way to make money. Exploration makes >1M on a typical 2,000Lyr trip.

    5. caff says:

      Excellent, far better than the instructions/tutorial videos that Frontier provide!

    6. ThatFuzzyTiger says:

      And currently one of the biggest pieces of advice being handed out:

      Avoid open mode like the plague, join a premade private group that matches your personal tastes, or play in private solo, because there’s serious problems with hacks and cheats

      Frontier are doing their best to try and get on top of it, but this is a problem they engineered into the game right at the start by choosing peer to peer netcode, and as a result they ensured that with a client authoritative structure, it was only going to be “when” and not “if” before some enterprising cookie figured out how to make their ship invulnerable in PvP. Now, that’s becoming a fairly scary occurrence.

      • Holysheep says:

        PVPing is my favorite thing, I do it daily, and when I pve, I wanna avoid space truckers as much as I can, so I just do bounty hunting, which just leads to me encountering more players, none of which was impossible to kill when I fought them. I never saw any cheater and got called a hacker multiple times.

        So prove this, please. Because there is truthfully NOTHING I hate more than people calling people cheaters in game without a single proof . I never saw any cheater in any game since I played the DayZ mod, Dark souls or CS GO.

        • ThatFuzzyTiger says:

          Considering CS GO gets high profile bans for aimbots on a semi regular basis I think you could have picked a better example upon which to make your stand ;) But fine, let’s start with the obvious, I didn’t accuse anyone in specific, I said that there’s an ongoing problem with cheats and hacks in open play, and I explained why. The games you’ve listed (Dark Souls is tied to an official server only, CS:GO has official VAC protected servers, I’m not sure about DayZ’s anti cheat protection) generally are “Server authoritative”, which means the server has final say over the data, and the server determines where clients are, what client equipment reads out as, etc.

          Elite Dangerous is client authoritative, which means that it’s cookies and cake to mess with such things, and there’s already been a fair brouhaha on the forums for this exact reason, but hey, feel free to get indignant if you like, it’s adorable. ;)

          • jrodman says:

            Huh, I thought people learned this lesson with nettrek in the 80s.

            • ThatFuzzyTiger says:

              Apparently Frontier went peer to peer to save on costs, because it meant they could keep server maintenance relatively affordable, of course this does mean that there’s issues when it comes to combat being handled entirely by the clients. That’s become a real problem for quite some time now, they’ve had people get banned and suspended in waves over the last month, but that doesn’t solve the underlying issue (unfortunately the only way to fix that would be to re-engineer the netcode, which would be a huge burden).

            • melnificent says:

              If it’s all clientside then it looks like the servers are mainly for authentication and an occasional market price update. Seems like they could’ve included offline afterall

            • jrodman says:

              As if that was in question.

      • James says:

        I have never encountered hacks and all but one of the people I encountered was friendly (or at least had justification in shooting at me). The one that wasn’t was a dick – but meh, I don’t carry cargo. I find there is a special kind of fun in contacting your player ally and saying ‘player ‘conda nearby, looks to be lining up a shot on you’ and seeing the return message ‘thanks, that guy is definitly going for me’ and then working together to take them down.

        • Danarchist says:

          Only played open world a couple times, the second time I was blown apart by a guy in a sidewinder hanging out inside a station. After the first few hits I pulled my hardpoints out, fired one salvo, and got blown apart by the stations lasers. Haven’t played open since, do not plan too either. I setup a private instance for me and my friends and we have a good time occasionally running into each other in there.

          • Arithon says:

            They couldn’t do that since 1.1, as hostile ships cannot “shoot first then dock” as their docking is revoked and the station turns on them.
            If you do encounter someone who appears to be hacking, report them. Frontier have a new bug-reporting system you can use.

      • hollowroom says:

        I only played open play for the first week, and discovered that Elite is plagued with the same problem as most multiplayer games: people are asshats.

        Now on solo mode, and loving it. Considering the late lamented offline solo mode is the reason I entered the alpha, this is as close as I’m going to get.

      • Arithon says:

        Open play is fine. I was playing Friday night, stalking Kerrash to see if I could gatecrash his live Twitch stream.

        I’ve only even been interdicted by a human once and they left me alone when they saw I had no cargo.

        If you have any genuine evidence of hacking take it to Frontier and they will investigate and deal with it.

    7. Chiron says:

      I’m getting old, I just want to jump straight in and blast some shit with a decent ship (though tbf I’d want to do that when I was young as well).

      Pity, because otherwise it looks like it could be fun and its a gorgeous gorgeous array of views to see but meh, no trainers or cheating to skip the grind so I’ll pass.

      • Holysheep says:

        Fuck trading.

        Killing stuff with your sidewinder is def possible. From this, you grind to the eagle, with an interdiction device and some flight skills, you can take the fight to heavy carriers, get the bounty, steal their shit and sell it illegaly.

        Then you get the viper, and a world of blood and wrecked metal awaits you. I could achieve this in not too much time, and now I settled in a system where extraction sites are like 1-2 mins away from the station, and when I’m there, it’s war.

        • James says:

          I had a viper worth 3 mil credits with all the upgrades I put on it. It was so awesome that I could use it as a ram, unload multicannons from behind and run before the ‘conda’s knew what was coming. Then I got an Asp, it is slow because it is basic at the moment, with few upgrades. But when I press the lef tmouse buttion and unload a new tier of death it all becomes ok.

          The fun of Elite is not to be found in trading (unless you are actually into that sort of thing) – it is to be found in the near perfect combat. Forget the money, just blow stuff up and collect the paycheck. Community goals are fun as well.

          tl;dr: Elite is more fun with more lasers

          • Mr_Blastman says:

            Correct. Trading is pointless. Why slave hours for some big ship you’ll never use much nor know how to use right when you can blow stuff up with a Viper or a Cobra.

    8. Cyda says:

      A good way to make money when starting out is by trading in rare goods. Certain stations sell a specific commodity only found on that station, be it a rare whisky or ingredient, which you can buy for quite a low cost (around 500-1000 credits for some). If you then haul these items to a any station 170ly away you can sell each of the rares for around 16,000 profit. You can do this is a small ship and earn a nice amount of credits. I started with a hauler, upgrade the FSD and add a fuel scope and you can make a lot of credits with not much outlay plus you get to see more of the systems then you would just doing normal trading.

      I made the bulk of my early money doing this and it quickly funded my upgrade path from a hauler to cobra to type-6, at which point you can either keep doing rare runs in your t6 or move to short bulk trading.

    9. Arren says:

      Heh — I do the same, but come in from above.

      Spline that vector, for the jolly ol’ Three-Dee!

    10. Blackcompany says:

      Tip: The game accepts bindings using a “Shift” key. I keep one button on my Thrustmaster that does nothing. I then use it plus another button for some functions. This gives me 22 keys on my HOTAS. I never even touch my keyboard, and I rarely use Voice Attack any longer either.

      Oh…and it plays nice indeed with TrackIR. Its really something.

    11. K_Sezegedin says:

      Ok I haven’t read the whole thing yet but you can request docking permission starting at 7.5km, not 9 or 10 and safe disengage range doesn’t start at 1KM for chrissakes, it starts at 1000km.

      If 1km is your preferred disengage distance you must be a real supercruise ninja.

      • Brendy_C says:

        Whoops! You’re right about the disengage. Meant to read 1000km. I guess my brain farted there. :S

        But it is only small orbital outposts that demand you have to be within 7.5km for docking requests. The big stations accept your requests earlier. Try it!

    12. crazyd says:

      Once you get enough saved for a Cobra, might prove helpful. It’s a solid rare trading route that will make you a good amount of money relatively fast. Though, it is pretty pirate ridden in Open Play, so I’d suggest sticking to Solo to avoid the throngs of overpowered assholes looking to pick off people getting started.

      • crazyd says:

        Er, bad link. Here you go: link to i.imgur.com

      • jrodman says:

        Is there a point where open play becomes more fun?

        • crazyd says:

          I dunno, man. I’ve actually spent most of my time in open play, and have only ran into nice people until I started making this run (and actually making money). Once I get to the point where I can expect to be able to properly defend myself, I’ll probably go back to Open.

      • Mr_Blastman says:

        We aren’t overpowered assholes. We are doing a public service! Rules to obey when being pirated:

        1. Kindly stop your ship’s engines when asked to be cargo scanned.

        2. Listen quietly to pirate demands.

        3. When pirate demands a tax, pay them EXACTLY what the ask, fast! Just abandon the cargo.

        4. Once you have paid, the pirate will let you go and you can be on your way.

        Pirates are reasonable folks trying to make an honest living in the public service sector. They are simply tax collectors and if you pay your fair share, you will be fine and not have to worry about losing your ship.

        • crazyd says:

          Fuck off, you are bullies who are too scared to fight someone your own size and instead pick on little guys. It shouldn’t be mandatory to accept being mugged if you want to play the game with other people. It doesn’t even make you much money, and there’s no skill involved when picking on little guys. You are 100% an overpowered asshole, and I am looking forward to getting a good ship to bring the pain to as many of you dick wipes as I can.

          • Cinek says:

            ^ What he said. People like Mr_Blastman are exactly the reason why fewer and fewer people play in the online mode. They’re tired of these assholes with some odd superiority complex.

            • Badgercommander says:

              Yep at the moment there’s no reason to use open play. All you’re doing is playing as normal but with an increased chance of a random person attacking you for no reason or trying to steal your stuff. Piracy at least makes some sense in the game universe, there’s just no reason for the trader to engage so might as well be offline.
              The people that come out the blue at attack without cause are effectively roleplaying as psychopath marauders.

              It’s sad that open play could devolve into plain deathmatch mode but with possibly hours between combat (exciting!) but I do enjoy the idea of pirate players hang out on trade routes all day wondering why there’s no traders anymore.

            • iainl says:

              Piracy is a legitimate role to play in the game’s universe, even though you do have to wonder why someone would chose to role-play as an arsehole. Frontier have spent a lot of time building bounty ratings and all that stuff with the explicit anticipation that some people would do this. The problem seems to be twofold:

              1) there’s no sensible way to team up and escort a vulnerable freighter through a dangerous area of space, thereby increasing the risk to pirates in a way other than them dying of boredom out there on an empty public server, and

              2) there’s no financial incentive to play online and run the risk of these attacks, rather than stick to a nice, safe private server until you’re tooled up solely to play PVP.

              Until those are fixed, you’re playing a mug’s game to regard open online as anything other than deathmatch.

        • hollowroom says:

          People like this (apart from the fact I’m oldschool, and if it was the way I did it in ’84, then it’s good enough for now, dammit ) are pretty much why I play on solo now. Just a more relaxing experience with 100% less assholes.

    13. Arithon says:

      You don’t need a super-expensive HOTAS joystick setup. The game works really well with an XBOX 360 controller or a typical £30 joystick + keyboard. Keyboard + mouse is just less tactile.

    14. hollowroom says:

      I use voiceattack instead of pressing all the buttons. (I have less fingers than the average)

      Saying ENGAGE to go into hyperspace or supercruise is a childhood dream come true.

      I also have voice control for landing gear, lights, boost etc.

      • Colonel J says:

        I really want to give this a try when I get back to playing Elite Dangerous. Can’t remember where I found it (PCGamer article?) but will probably buy the ASTRA voice pack from here….less keen on their other voices though.
        link to elitedangerousvoicepack.com

    15. Kerr Avon says:

      Good article, nicely done! I was quite into playing ED since around mid-beta and loved the new sound & graphics but lost interest soon after release. It was just getting way too boring and immersion-breaking without proper planetary interaction (landings!). Also jarring to my psyche was a worse sense of Newtonian physics dumbed-down to accommodate the online-idiots.. even old Frontier & First Encounters has more interesting gameplay to me which always trumps superior sfx + gfx, no-matter how nice it sounds & looks. Anyone else waiting for planetary landings to start playing ED again, or just me?