Stranded by skulduggery, Elite: Dangerous’ Fuel Rats call for help

A space station, possibly doomed

Among the many player-run organizations in sandbox space sim/MMO-lite Elite: Dangerous, few have the glowing reputation of the Fuel Rats: A philanthropic alliance dedicated to rescuing stranded players that have carelessly used up the last of their hyperdrive fuel out on the far fringes of charted space.

Yesterday, it was the Rats’ turn to be rescued, after one of their fueling bases of choice nearly fell under quarantine. Unsurprisingly, there were a lot of people willing to lend a hand to these humble heroes of the spacelanes.

One of the bigger events to happen in Elite: Dangerous in the past year is the war against the Thargoids, a mysterious alien race from the original 1984 game. Once quietly hinted at through the presence of weird ruins on distant, airless moons, now they’re kicking over player ships out on the fringes of human-held space. Thargoid artifacts have become a frequently traded and highly prized commodity, but the biomechanical nature of their technology has a deleterious effect on human ship hulls, especially once enough artifacts are held together in one place.

Nobody knows quite why (although we can guess some band of jerks with nothing better to do was responsible), but a concerted effort was made to sell heaps upon heaps of Thargoid Sensors – which show up as ‘Unknown Artifacts’ on the radar – to Wollheim Vision station, one of the Fuel Rats’ primary outposts. Enough of this ‘UA bombing’ was done in a short enough time that the station’s systems started malfunctioning, threatening an automatic shutdown until repairs could be carried out, and the artifacts could be contained safely.

Problem is, repairing this kind of damage requires large quantities of Meta Alloys; expensive and heavy construction materials capable of resisting the corrosive effects of un-sealed Thargoid tech. Hauling in enough to do the job would be both costly and time-consuming. In any other situation, nobody would have bothered to get this done in a hurry, but these are the Fuel Rats, saviours of 40,000 players, according to their own estimates. Within minutes of the call for aid going out via Twitter, freighters were loading up and shipping out, ready to patch the leaking holes in the station’s hull.

The Fuel Rats’ frontier base is far from the only station to be threatened by this kind of toxic waste-dumping. Dozens more are currently shut down or on the brink of closing their doors, as reported by the in-universe GalNet News. There is naturally some debate as to whether this is an intended gameplay mechanic or something that should be patched, but Elite studio Frontier Developments remain quiet on the issue.

Still, it’s nice to see a community mobilize so quickly to help out heroes in need, and reflects well on Elite: Dangerous’ players as a whole. You can find more info on the Fuel Rats on their site here, or if you find yourself out on the fringes and running on vapors, give them a call here.

16 Comments

  1. CMDRrodshepard says:

    We have Meta-Aloys, you dont, any question ?

    • Darloth says:

      Yes… Did you mean for that joke to include Horizon: Zero Dawn (I envisage an army of clones) or was that a merely unintentional advantage? :)

  2. geldonyetich says:

    Trying that hard to sabotage the fuel rats strikes me as sort of a desperate cry for help for something of significance to do.

    • Snowskeeper says:

      I’d agree, if anyone had claimed attention for it. As is: maybe they were trying to create an event like this?

    • mike69 says:

      Trying as hard as fuel rats do to refuel other players strikes me as a desperate cry for help for something of significance to do.

      Sabotage actually sounds *fun*.

      • geldonyetich says:

        ‘Touche.

        For that matter, it’s possible that all they really had to do is jump over to the next system that wasn’t UA bombed, the whole reason they won’t is because “Fuelem” is a great system name for the Fuel Rats.

      • DigitalSignalX says:

        It was mentioned that other stations had been hit as well – sounds more like someone is making a ton of easy money somehow. Not going to say it was Alien Duping. But you know.

    • Nest says:

      It’s actually really easy to do, now. One ship can do it in a couple of hours. Wasn’t always this way, but new equipment was recently introduced to the game which makes it much much easier than before.

  3. Anti-Skub says:

    Good old Elite, where the most exciting thing that happens is you might run out of fuel.

  4. Nest says:

    In fairness, they’re in the Pleiades. That’s where all the UAs/Thargoid Sensors *are*. A lot of people will scoop them up from the Non-Human Signal Sources which occur in that region, and sell them at any station nearby. So it’s entirely plausible that stations in the Pleiades are going to be shut down by completely uncoordinated actions.

    Other key point: due to their corrosive nature; until recently it was nearly impossible to haul more than 8 of these things around without destroying no your ship, but with the recent introduction of 16ton corrosion-resistant cargo racks, a large ship could potentially haul dozens of these things around with no ill effects. It only takes around 50 UAs to shut down a station.

  5. Rindan says:

    So there was some out of game communication via Twitter, and then people had to haul some cargo to a place.

    Ok.

    I suppose I should just stop hoping for Elite to ever evolve into something I want to use as more than a cool tech demo for my Vive. The visuals and the feel of flight controls are just amazing in Elite, but there is nothing to do with it. Just nothing. And they are going to never change that. It’s such a waste. Why won’t they do something with what they have?

    I would love Elite with people having dedicated servers of 100ish or so people at once, and build for modding. I’d be so happy. I’d have the game I want. Someone would make a game with a few space stations, some asteroid belts, some hidden bases, and some other cool stuff, give people an excuse to trade between these places, and throw in some territory control. Don’t even have it bigger than a solar system or four. It would be fucking magical. It would have character. It would be better than a big pile of randomly generated garbage that is Elite.

    Maybe Star Citizen will be released some time this decade and it will have a little more meat on the bones? I’m not terribly hopeful.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Lo says:

    Stories like these make me so happy :D

  7. Nova Force says:

    “There is naturally some debate as to whether this is an intended gameplay mechanic or something that should be patched, but Elite studio Frontier Developments remain quiet on the issue.”

    While there is a debate in the community on whether or not UA bombing should be in the game. Frontier is pretty clear on it being intended gameplay. They even list stations affected by it on GalNet News link to community.elitedangerous.com

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