Choose My Adventure: Fumbling through the stars of Elite Dangerous

    
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It was a pretty close call in terms of what my first task in Elite Dangerous would be for this edition of CMA, but I’m glad that exploration got the nod. Mostly because it helped me learn to crawl before learning to walk… or in more specific terms, learn to navigate the galaxy before doing literally anything else.

While I did mention that I had some flight time in Elite Dangerous to get most of the basics sorted out, this first in-depth foray into the game illustrated that not all of the basics had been covered. There was still a lot to learn about basic navigation, keeping my ship topped off and managed, and delving deeper into the galaxy.

As everyone does in this game, I started off in a little Sidewinder single-seat ship that I’ve affectionately named “Cheesewedge.” What I had first assumed upon starting my CMA adventure was that heading to a location would introduce me to a guide to tell me more about exploration. What happened instead was a mess of UI elements at the specified starport and no real way of knowing who or what to do. So, since I was bumbling about the UI, I decided to do a cargo transport mission.

What I didn’t count on, though, was considering the jump distance from point A to point B. The Sidewinder has a hilariously short jump range and the target destination was on an entirely different plane of the star map than the one I was docked at. For the longest time, I tried to figure out why I couldn’t just navigate to where I needed to go.

After some frustration and a ticking delivery deadline clock, I did the sensible thing: I deleted my save and started again.

After my ragequit and reset, I took a closer look at the details that were in front of me. I paid closer attention to my ship’s loadout and its maximum jump range. I carefully scrutinized the parameters of the tasks laid out on the mission board. I even took care to upgrade my ship a wee bit, increasing its cargo capacity.

The mental reset mostly worked. I found a cargo delivery mission that was only two jumps away from where I was docked and it was offering a beefy money reward besides. What I didn’t pay attention to, however, was the cargo delivery size: 21 units to my 4 unit hold. This basically meant I had to zip back and forth between two stations several times. On the bright side, though, I’m really good at landing now.

After the job was done and I got my six-figure credit payment, I decided to call it a night and come at the game fresh tomorrow with keener focus on exploration.

The next day, I tackled my chosen task with greater aplomb. I did some research on just what I would need to start exploring Elite Dangerous properly, reading up some guides and watching at least one really good video. Armed with my new knowledge, I loaded up the Cheesewedge with the proper kit, including a bigger FSD, and headed out to what I assumed was an interesting location.

Upon my first couple of jumps, however, I was hit with yet another curveball. Scanning wasn’t just a matter of engaging an equipped sensor and “honking” at the void. Now there’s a whole system called the Full Spectrum System Scanner (FSS), which turned exploration into a minigame. It also necessitated some keybinding and effectively tossing some of what I had just learned out of the window.

Once I got all my buttons working and the system figured out, however, I quickly found that the FSS was much more involved. Granted, I wasn’t exactly trailblazing, but I was still unlocking new things and otherwise getting into the hang of properly exploring the Elite Dangerous galaxy.

Plumbing the depths of space by tuning into frequencies was only part of the exploration dance, however. There was also the delicate matter of learning how to scoop fuel from stars. It was here that the guides I read actually came in to some use as far as navigation is concerned, making diving into the galaxy much less intimidating and frustrating.

Skimming the surface of a star at speed for jump drive fuel is just about as insane as it sounds, but it also ended up being an engaging activity. Riding the corona of a sun to power up my ship for the next jump like a sort of interstellar skateboarder doing a rail grind was equal parts impressive from a technical standpoint and worrying as my ship’s innards cooked when I got too close.

By the time I had made my tenth jump or so, I was getting better. Not good enough to slurp up star juice like a pro without becoming a nicely baked potato, but it was improving. Better yet, by the time I had made a couple of destinations, I had some data to sell, which stocked up my coffers pretty handily.

Overall, pursuing exploration was both a lucrative venture and an educational one. I’ve ended up with a little over 435,000 credits to my name and a tiny bit of reputation as both an explorer and trader to “mostly aimless” and “peddler” respectively.

With all I’ve learned, however, there still seems to be so much more to figure out, so I’d like to reach out to you fine readers for aid. I recall the last CMA had a few commenters offering to help me further learn the ropes, so I’ll be sure to reach out to anyone interested. For the record, I’m currently docked at Remek Platform in Anapos and play on the Mobius PVE server, though I’m not entirely against going into Open Play should the need arise.

Of course, this being CMA, being a commenter isn’t the only way one can help me along. Which means it’s poll time!

As I mentioned before, I’ve got some money burning a hole in my pocket. I’m almost positive it’s not a lot of cash in the greater scheme of things, but coming from the last game I played, Elite Dangerous feels significantly more rewarding. So, where should I invest my newfound wealth?

Where should my money go to in Elite Dangerous?

  • A new ship. Suggest one in the comments! (75%, 91 Votes)
  • Improve the Cheesewedge. Stuff that little fella with new toys. (25%, 30 Votes)

Total Voters: 121

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Next is my current course of action. I’m feeling pretty confident that I can work through more of what Elite Dangerous has to offer, which means a fair bit of the game seems to have opened up to me. That said, I definitely wouldn’t mind some guidance here.

What should be my next pursuit in Elite Dangerous?

  • Make money. Focus on fattening that space wallet. (37%, 40 Votes)
  • Chase reputation. Run missions for some faction love. (11%, 12 Votes)
  • Space Truckin'. You've got a ship and a cargo hold, use 'em! (15%, 16 Votes)
  • Keep exploring. You've sorted out how to use a map. Time to push the depths. (38%, 41 Votes)

Total Voters: 109

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As ever, polls close at 1:00 p.m. EST on Friday, January 11th. Until then, here’s to further adventures in the digital Milky Way with less ineptitude and hard resetting. Seriously, this was tough to work through.

Welcome to Choose My Adventure, the column in which you join Chris each week as he journeys through mystical lands on fantastic adventures – and you get to decide his fate. Which is good because he can often be a pretty indecisive person unless he’s ordering a burger.

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Tobasco da Gama

I dumped my Sidewinder for a Hauler pretty much as soon as I could manage it. If you strip it down for weight, you can get really good jump range out of it!

(Tip: switch your routing mode on the galactic map from “economical” to “faster”, if you haven’t already.)

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PhoenixDfire

I would say upgrade to a Cobra MK III (it is the best multi-role starter ship and is reasonably manoeuvrable), get at least at Surface Scanner and a SRV for driving around planets and carry on exploring. With the rewards for exploration these days, you should be able to ‘A’ Grade it within a week or so.

If you’re wanting combat, then the Eagle. It is the most manoeuvrable ship in the game, a good dogfighter but fragile. There is the Viper, if you want something more solid but for Fun, I would go for the eagle (low rebuy too)

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Ryuen

Another vote for the Cobra Mk III, it’s a great and versatile ship that won’t break the bank (too much) and is quite fun to fly.

As for making money that has become a lot easier, exploring is viable with the FSS/DSS. Finding planets in the FSS counts the same as the old system where you honked but had to fly to the planet itself for a detailed scan. So you get the detailed scan payouts right from the system entrypoint now.
The new DSS system where you probe planets gives an extra payout on top of that but you have to fly to the planet to do so (can’t do it from the main star like the DSS minigame), it’s only really worth it for the big paying planet types: ELW (Earth Like World), WW (Water World) and AW (Ammonia World). Note this requires an extra module as it is not part of your ship by default.
To give an example from my last exploration trip I had several systems with payouts over 5 million (with first discovery bonus) and the most I’ve heard a single system was worth was 20 million. These are the exception rather than the rule, of course.

Mining right now, especially void opal deep core mining, is the big money. While I haven’t tried it myself from what I can see and read it seems to be a engaging mechanic which can be fun. Its definitely not ‘shoot at big rock’ for 5 minutes while stationary.

For combat I’d suggest practicing at Nav beacons or low haz resource sites. Do not engage first but wait for the NPC police to engage wanted pirate NPC’s. Make sure to wait for your scanner to finish and say the NPC is wanted, then just join in and help the NPC cops. You will get the bounty payout without drawing aggro from the pirate.
This allows you to practice staying behind and on target in relative safety.

Oh and if you thought fuel scooping was crazy, try doing a neutron jump ;)

Fly safe CMDR, and if you can’t fly safe then fly dangerous.

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Annoyed badger

Get into a cobra, a really flexible ship.

You can fight reasonably well, explore a bit and run rare goods trading if you want to cargo run for a bit. If you dont like what you are doing , its really easy to respec a cobra.

If you want money, the quickest way is probably flying to a decent combat system, buying a cheap combat ship and grinding out bounties if your piloting skills are up to it. I did this when I started playing and you can quickly ramp up the credits and get into a decent combat ship (like say the vulture with its nice large hardpoints) or into an asp for either cargo runs or exploring (sure you can use a lakon 6 for cargo….but its like flying a brick…)

Sure you can mine, its good money if you learn how to do it effectively…its also incredibly borign imo,not eve mining boring, but still, not exactly engaging.

cmdr_cotic
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cmdr_cotic

Cobra Mk3 is a very nice ship to aim for at this point because it’s such a good all-rounder.

I think some combat should be on the cards rather than more passive activities :)

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Ironwu

Congrats on making great progress! :)

New ship for sure. Select based on what you are going to be doing.

I recommend getting more cash. That will allow you to upgrade your new ride for more effective whatever! Then, just mix it up; don’t need to just do one thing all the time.

Also, great move on getting into Mobius. Nothing is more frustrating than being ganked or playing in a quiet universe. :)

StreamingSmackz
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StreamingSmackz

Grab a cobra mk 3 and some deep core mining equipment. Bare bones mining setup is 550k-600k. You can easily pull in a few million creds per 10 tonnes of ore. Plus explosions are cool!

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Oleg Chebeneev

Man, i didnt play Elite on ZX Spectrum for decades but I still remember cobra mk3 from it.

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Mr.McSleaz

Space Truckin’s how I made most of my money when I played.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

What I had first assumed upon starting my CMA adventure was that heading to a location would introduce me to a guide to tell me more about exploration.

Ahahahaha. Welcome to Elite Dangerous. The game will tell you nothing and you will like it.

Sounds like you got a decent grasp on things though. It also looks like you haven’t blown up yet so grats on that!

I’d say the next step here would be to get a new ship, specifically the Cobra Mk. III. It’s an all arounder that you can fight, explore, and do space trucking in. You should be able to afford it with what you have with a bit of room left over for some cargo bays. I think my Cobra which I still have has around 24t of cargo space. Much better than the Sidey. Should be able to let you do those cargo missions you missed out on due to space. After that you can go for the bigger, badder ships but the Cobra was my daily driver for a good while as I worked up into larger ships. Once you get out of the Sidey the game really opens up.

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BalsBigBrother

I watched a stream of someone starting up in Elite:Dangerous over the Christmas break. They went with a Cobra but quickly out stripped in terms of what they could afford.

Its been a while since I did a reset but it certainly seems a lot easier these days to get your bank roll going and move through the ships, certainly a lot easier than I recall.

CapnLan
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CapnLan

Yeah it’s definitely easier. The last update nuked board flipping but in return they beefed up the mission rewards to compensate. Deep core mining is also insane cash right now. I’m pulling 100m/hr in an Anaconda doing deep core ice mining for low temp diamonds and void opals. New players can load up a DBX and probably pull 10-20m/hr which is nuts for newbies. Money is everywhere now and it’s a good thing. No more having to wait for someone to stumble on a gold rush. Newbies benefit from this for sure.

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TheDonDude

Remember when Han Solo ditched the Millennium Falcon for the newer model? Remember when Captain Kirk put the Enterprise in mothballs because it was getting old? Remember when Malcolm Reynolds flipped off Serenity because it was falling apart?

No!

You stick with the Cheesewedge, dammit. She is your baby.

Xijit
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Xijit

Do not listen to this man: you will hate your life if you stick with the cheesewedge.

Bree Royce
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Bree Royce

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han.gif