Choose My Adventure: The lonesome job of star charting in Elite Dangerous


Today’s edition of Choose My Adventure features results that were both a landslide and extremely close. On the one hand, most people suggested that I trade in my current ship for a new one. On the other hand, by a margin of one vote, exploration won out as the activity. So it is that I continued my quest to map out the Elite Dangerous galaxy, or at least part of it anyway.

As for the new wings, almost every suggestion in the comments was for the Cobra Mk III, which was described as a ship that was just as versatile as the Sidewinder I started with. That prevailing opinion was right; the thing even looked quite a bit like the Sidewinder, only larger and flatter. To that end, I named it “Cheesegreater” to both honor the old ship and because I am extremely clever.

After the expense and a couple of new item installs for Cheesegreater, I picked a random star — Wolf 620 stuck out for obvious reasons, perhaps — and took the new ship for a spin to see what felt different. While this new spaceship didn’t have a lot of visual interest, its performance change was immediately apparent, especially in terms of fuel economy. While Cheesewedge crushed through fuel like a Hungry Hungry Hippo, Cheesegreater sipped on it like a debutante at a fancy ball.

Of course, this had the side effect of also requiring me to orbit a star for fuel scooping purposes longer. Making that many orbits around a star and slurping up its energy made me very good at the process, however. I managed to find a butter zone where I could scoop at 10.5 to 12.5 units a second without heating my ship up, which built up my personal confidence in managing Elite Dangerous’ many little underlying layers.

Mastery would soon give way to drudgery, unfortunately. After a certain point, I stopped orbiting stars for fuel at every jump and instead just leaped forward into the black as far as my range would take me, mapped out new destinations, and simply arrived to the closest station to refuel. This was significantly more efficient both in terms of time and expense, since the cartographic data I was selling was much greater than the cost of refueling.

In order to combat my building apathy towards the task of exploration, I tried a few things on top of skipping fuel scooping. I elected to mostly head to the center of the galaxy, where more stars were located. I put on some chill tunes and shut down the game’s otherwise mediocre soundtrack. I popped out of cockpit view at every open opportunity to see if I could snag some pretty pictures. No matter what I did, however, I wasn’t really able to jar myself out of the funk.

Perhaps the biggest issue I’m having with exploring in Elite Dangerous is the sense that I’m not trailblazing. I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised at this, since I am arriving to the game rather late in its life and am playing on a PvE server besides. Still, the thrill of discovery is… well… actually discovering something. There are a lot of stars around me, but even so it feels like most of them have been charted.

Worse yet is the feeling of emptiness. Again, probably not surprising because this is outer space, but the job of exploration really is a lonesome thing. That’s not to infer that I don’t see other folks online — there were more than a few ships at nearly every station I docked at, and we’ve been covering the massive event that many players are currently engaged in — but when the most exciting thing to happen to you is an attempted interdiction, perhaps it’s best to stop.

Ultimately, my exploration flying in Elite Dangerous has been valuable for a number of reasons. It’s absolutely made me plenty of credits and it was probably the best way to figure out how to play the game at a brass tacks level. After a certain point, though, you stop feeling like an explorer and more like you’re in an overly long tutorial, which isn’t helped by the fact that your discoveries technically aren’t.

Still, I get the impression that perhaps I’m doing exploration “wrong” somehow. Even with my perceptions about the activity, maybe there’s some piece of the puzzle that’s lost. Maybe I should have flown a whole lot deeper. Maybe I should have just sought out other explorers regardless. And even so, I feel like I’ve gotten the most out of this particular part of the game.

If players in Elite Dangerous needs some time to themselves to just chill and make some easy money, exploring comes highly recommended. Personally, though, I think it’s about time for me to press on to something different. Especially since the greatest bulk of my enjoyment while doing the Star Citizen CMA came from doing things with others.

Of course, what happens to me next in that regard is in the hands of voting fate. The first poll question seeks to address the loneliness that I’ve experienced in-game. Should I look for other folks in some way, or is it really just better to suck it up and continue to fly solo?

How should I seek out new people in Elite Dangerous, if at all?

  • Multi-Crew. Take your Holo-Me out for some holo-adventures. (17%, 22 Votes)
  • Wings. Find or form a wing and join in on some stuff. (56%, 70 Votes)
  • Fly solo. It ain't worth the time or trouble. (27%, 34 Votes)

Total Voters: 126

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Next poll, unsurprisingly, is the next activity to pursue. I’m going to leave exploration from the selections for what should be obvious reasons, and what I do next will pretty much depend on how the voting goes in the first question. Even so, I’m not against merging the whims of the polls into my activities. If either mining or trucking wins out, for example, I’ll certainly split that up between whatever group activities I may be asked to do.

Incidentally, if group activities do win out, I’m wide open to suggestions of wings to join or friend invites for Multi-Crew shenanigans. So long as you don’t mind me taking screenshotted evidence of our shared experiences.

So, how about it, CMDRs? What next?

What should I do next in Elite Dangerous?

  • Mining. Shoot the space rocks and see if you're good at cargo scooping. (14%, 20 Votes)
  • Space trucker. Use the Cheesegreater as a hauler for profit. (12%, 18 Votes)
  • Combat. Whether nav beacons or missions, blow up ALL the things. (43%, 62 Votes)
  • Piracy. Do illegal stuff and see where being a dirty, dirty pirate takes you. (31%, 45 Votes)

Total Voters: 145

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As usual, polls will be closing up at 1:00 p.m. EST this coming Friday, January 18th. For the time being, I’m going to perhaps press on with my exploratory efforts and see if maybe I’ve missed something. See you then!

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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