Elite Dangerous Beginner’s Guide



Elite Dangerous Beginner’s Guide by technophebe

Starting Out

Controls

If you can’t control your ship you can’t do anything else! I’m assuming anyone who’s invested in a joystick knows their way around flight controls, so this is for keyboard/mouse:

– Change the mouse x axis from roll to yaw
– Set Q/E to roll left/right
– Set W/S/A/D to up/down/left/right thrusters
– Set R/F to forward/reverse thrusters
– Set your mouse wheel to control speed; what I mean by this is to click in the ‘increase throttle’ binding box and roll the mouse wheel up, and do the same with ‘decrease throttle’ and roll your mouse wheel down.
– Set speed increments to 25%. You’ll never need more fine grain control than that. (I also set shift/ctrl as secondary binds for these)

You’ll find that these bindings give you ample control over everything you need for combat and landing, which are the trickiest tasks. I’ll cover both of these below.

Maneuvering

A couple of useful things to know about maneuvering in general:

– You can turn up/down faster than you can turn left/right. You can roll to make something that is left/right of you up/down from you to take advantage of this.
– You are most maneuverable at 50% speed (forward or backwards). There’s a smaller blue bar to the left of your speed bar that indicates this ‘best maneuvering’ speed.
– Bigger ships have more momentum and don’t accelerate/decelerate as quickly as smaller ships. Be aware of this when you’re flying (or docking) your new ship for the first time.

Tutorials

– Try the tutorials, but don’t fret if you can’t do some of them, a few of them are hard. Try them once or twice and move on.

Super-cruise

– Your top speed in super-cruise varies based on how close you are to a gravitational body. In deep space you can manage almost 2000 times the speed of light; close to a planet or star you won’t even reach light speed.
– Having said that, there’s a simple way to manage your speed in super-cruise:
– Once you’ve selected your target, super cruise at max speed and just keep an eye on the timer at the bottom of the ring around your objective.
– When the timer drops to 0:07, immediately roll your mouse wheel down once (or click ctrl) to reduce your speed to 75%. This will get you there as quickly as possible without risk of overshooting (it will still take a tediously long time).
– Keep lined up on your target; when you reach 1Mm (1 million meters or 1000km) a blue “Safe Disengage Ready” notice will appear above your radar; hit your super cruise button while this message is up to arrive at your target.
– When approaching stations: try to maneuver so that your approach brings you from above/beneath the ring of orbit, or so that your back is to the planet as you drop out of supercruise. The larger types of stations always face the planet or along the line of their orbit; approaching in this manner will make docking easier.

Interdictions

– If you get a warning about being interdicted, drop your speed to zero to drop out of super cruise without damage.

– If you wish to avoid combat, immediately boost (tab by default) and set your speed to max (roll the mouse wheel up) and make sure you have 4 ‘pips’ of power going to your engines (more on power management below). Spam the boost button until you boost again; at around this point your FSD should be coming off cooldown, jump back to super cruise (J by default) to escape.
– This works against NPCs; against players you may need to fight.

Docking

This is my recommended procedure for beginners; you’ll develop your own method fairly quickly once you’ve mastered this. The instructions below assume you’ve set your controls as I suggest at the start of this guide; by default W increases your throttle so be aware of this! Also, remember that you can drop your speed to zero at any time if you get flustered; docking permission lasts ten minutes which is more than enough time to take it slowly.

– First, you need to ask for docking permission. You’ll need to be within 7.5km to do this. Do this from the contacts screen in the left panel.
– The smaller stations (“outposts”) are easier to dock at, just look for the orange box that indicates your landing pad (your ‘magic 8 ball’ to the left of the radar points to it).
– For larger stations, line yourself up so that you’re staring into the ‘mouth’ of the station at the start of your approach. An easy way to do this is to get to a space roughly in front of the station, drop your speed to zero, face the station and then use your WSAD thrusters to maneuver the ship sideways while keeping your nose pointed towards the station mouth.
– Approach at whatever speed you feel comfortable at. At 2-3km out, drop your speed to 50% (mouse wheel roll down two clicks from 100% or two clicks up from standstill) so that you’re at the best maneuvering speed.
– The larger stations rotate as you approach. With your starter ship you don’t really have to worry about this as it’ll go into the slot at any rotation, so just point at the very middle of the slot to get in. Watch out for oncoming traffic, particularly other players in open play!
– Once you’re inside the station or close in to an outpost, engage your landing gear and drop to 25% speed.
– You’ll have a docking bay number assigned to you (look at the blue message just above your radar. Your ‘magic 8 ball’ also points to your bay once you’re through the station mouth); approach this bay until your radar turns into a holographic display of your ship approaching the bay; kill your speed to zero at this point.
– You should be looking at the back of your ship on the holographic; if you’re looking at the front then you’re facing the wrong way for the pad, spin around 180 or do a loop-the-loop and 180 roll to turn the other way; it won’t let you dock facing “backwards” (with the little ship at the bottom facing towards you).
– You can now use the WSAD keys to maneuver yourself up/down/left/right and the RF keys to boost forward and backwards to place yourself at the center of the pad; once you’re close enough to the center and low enough to the pad, you’re docked, congratulations!


Making Money

WARNING: Some of the following sections talk you through upgrading your ship. Once you have a better ship, if you get destroyed for some reason (interdiction, a crash), you must pay an insurance premium to get it back; you can check how much this in the right hand window in your ship controls, under “Rebuy Cost”. NEVER EVER LEAVE A STATION WITHOUT AT LEAST THIS MUCH IN YOUR CREDIT BALANCE. Doing so risks losing everything and ending up in the starter sidewinder with nothing to show for your efforts; this is the number one cause of rage-quit. You have been warned!

There are many ways to make money in Elite, but starting from a fresh save your best bet is one of two approaches: missioning, if you want a more peaceful path and some time to learn the ropes; or bounty hunting if you’re more confident of your combat abilities and want to get stuck in. Trading (and to a lesser extent mining) will make you more money in the long run, but you’ll need some start-up capital first.

Getting Around

Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is.

The Galaxy Map

– The galaxy map shows you nearby star systems. In the ‘view’ tab you can apply various filters and colour schemes which give you information on the stars you see; the ‘economy’ filter is particularly useful for trading, while the ‘government’ filter is useful to find an ‘anarchy’ system for bounty hunting.
– The galaxy map also has a route planner which will help when planning long journeys. The first thing I suggest you do though is go to the ‘navigation’ tab and select ‘fastest routes’; this will plan routes that take advantage of your maximum jump distance, which may use more fuel but which will also get you where you’re going much faster.
– The in game route planner has a maximum range of about 100ly. If you need to plan a longer journey, this community route planner covers the entire galaxy. Use this to pick out a series of waypoints 50-60ly apart and then use those to set your route using the in-game route planner.
– The route planner calculates routes dynamically each time you open the galaxy map; if you’re plotting a longer trip (anything over 20ly) it may take a minute or so for the planner to calculate your route. Just hover over your destination star every few seconds and eventually the plan route button will turn from red to white, meaning the planner can now plot you a route to that system.
– Your maximum jump distance is affected by how much you’re carrying, so if you’re doing a trade run be sure to wait until you’re full before plotting a route, or use the slider in the navigation tab.The System Map

– You can also see a view of all the planets in the system (the “system view”) by picking this from the tooltip that appears by stars in the galaxy map. This is useful for seeing which stations are in a system, and what the main economy and allegiance is at each station.
– When you jump to a system, you’ll arrive at the most massive (not necessarily visually biggest) star in the system; each star has a ‘solar masses’ entry in the system map.
– In most (but unfortunately not all) cases this is the top star when looking at the system view. LHS 3447 is an example of a system where the bottom star on the system view is more massive.
– The other stars will likely be a *long* way away so be careful about where you think you’re landing. It’s almost always better to ignore any station that’s not around the primary star – it’s too far to bother travelling there.
– Hutton Orbital station in Alpha Centauri is infamous for this; don’t ever accept a mission to Hutton, you’ll regret it!
– The further out from the primary star a station is, the longer it will take you to fly there. Stations orbit planets; the planet’s ‘Semi Major Axis’ in the system view gives you a rough guide to how far out from the star the planet is.
– This is measured in AU (Astronomical Units). 1 AU is approximately 500Ls; using this info from the system view you can get a rough idea of how far you’ll have to travel to a station. If the station is orbiting a ‘moon’, it’s the primary planet’s semi major axis which is the relevant one.

It’s possible to run out of fuel in space, and if you run out of fuel in a system without a station to refuel at, your only option (at the moment, FD have said this will change) is to self destruct. Fitting a fuel scoop to your ship will mitigate the risk of this; fuel scoops have their own section later on in the guide. You don’t really need to worry about this until you start making longer trips, but it’s worth being aware of.

Missions

– The bulletin board is one of the options that appear at the left while you’re docked at a station. This is where you find missions.
– The quickest way to make your first few thousands is to do courier missions; these are missions where you are given goods and you simply have to take them to another station.
– A similar type of mission requires you to obtain certain goods and return them to the station where you picked up the mission. These can be both paid and unpaid; the unpaid ones however give you a large boost to reputation.
– Once you’ve arrived at your destination (or returned to the source with the relevant goods), you also hand in your mission on the bulletin board. Don’t sell the goods you picked up for the mission to the commodities market!

Reputation

– Mission timers don’t stop when you log out, and the penalties to your reputation for failed or abandoned missions are fairly harsh, so try to avoid failing missions.
– Each mission is being offered to you by a specific local faction, some of which are independent and some of which are associated with one of the 3 major factions (Federation, Alliance and Empire). If you want to get in good with one of the major factions, try to pick missions being offered by a local faction who are part of that major faction.
– Information on local factions can be found on the system view, by moving the cursor away from any stars or planets to the background. Names can be misleading; the Revolutionary Council of Tralal might just as easily be an independent anarchic faction as a democratic federal faction.Finding Goods
– To find a particular good, this page on the wiki will tell you which economy type you need to go to; have a look on the galaxy map for a system with the right economy type, you’ll probably find what you’re looking for there.
– Systems can actually have multiple economy types; each station within a system has its own economy, so a system might have an agricultural station and an industrial station each buying/selling the set of goods associated with their own economy type.
– Just occasionally, a station will not have a commodity that it ‘should’ have; you’ll just have to look elsewhere.Kill Missions

– These missions ask you to kill X number of a certain type of ship; pirates, bounty hunters, traders, smugglers etc.
– The only type of ship that can be easily found and killed without penalty are pirates; I suggest you only accept ‘pirate’ kill missions and ignore the others.
– To find pirates, go to the nav beacon in the system named in the mission. If it’s an unpopulated system, bad luck you’ll have to look for USS’s!
– Anyone with ‘wanted’ status has about a 50/50 chance of being a pirate. Anyone who scans your cargo with a greedy message is definitely a pirate.
– Using a kill warrant scanner on your targets before killing them will increase your profits.
– Essentially this mission (assuming your target is pirates) requires you to do some bounty hunting until you have the required number of kills. The bounty hunting section below has more detail.

Assassinations

– These are highly paid (150k or more) missions to kill the toughest enemies in the game; elite ranked pilots flying highly equipped Anaconda ships.
– You won’t be able to attempt these when you start out; you’ll need a Viper equipped to the tune of at least 1 million to do them reliably.
– Once you have a well eqiupped Viper however, with a bit of focus these missions can be completed with a minimum of risk and can be very profitable.
– This is my recommended technique:

– Scan with KWS at the start for extra goodness (obviously!).
– Sub-system target his power plant or FSD (you can sometimes finish him by destroying these while his hull is still up near 30%).
– 4 pips weapons, 1 pip in the others.
– Keep him between 1-1.5km by setting your thrusters to about 25% reverse. You’ll need to control this throughout the fight; you’re in danger if you let him get much closer than 1km.
– Lasers for the shields, lasers and multis for his hull (I pack 2x Class 1 gimballed pulse lasers, 2x Class 2 gimballed multi-cannons).
– If your weapon power gets low, multis only for a while to let heat drop.
– Circle around him using lateral thrusters, spamming your chaff as often as possible and using a shield cell when your shields drop to 1 ring. (I pack 1 chaff and an A3 shield cell).
– You *must not* let your shields drop. If you get distracted and forget to use your shield cells and your shields drop, power up your engines to max and get over 3km away from him, and hope he’s not packing missiles. Once your shields have returned, use a cell to max them and return to the routine.
– His plasmas can also drop your shields in a single hit, but as long as you’re using your laterals constantly and maintaining the correct distance you won’t get hit by these at all.
– Once you have the technique down you’ll reliably kill him before his shields have even had a chance to reset, 3-4 minutes tops, and with 3 shield cells to spare.

– The above assumes a Viper with full ‘A’ grade internal equipment (except ‘D’ life support) which runs to about 3 million.
– ReaperAlex uses a modification of this technique which should allow you to do these missions in a cheaper craft (about 1 million), if a bit slower. See his full post here.

Trading

– Trading is the quickest way to make money; with the proviso that you have enough credits to invest in a reasonable trading ship and cargo to begin with.
– You’ll need 70-80k for your first real trading ship, plus another 20k for cargo – so in total you’ll need 90-100k credits in the bank to start trading effectively.
– Depending on your starter package you may have a second ship parked somewhere that you can sell to generate a good chunk of this. Go to the shipyard screen at a station (not all stations have this screen) and in the top left you’ll see a “ship locations” tab; if there’s a ship listed there, you can go to the station in question and sell it (again from the shipyard screen) to gain an instant influx of cash.
– Once you have enough money, the ship you’re looking to buy is the “Hauler”. You may need to search around to find a station that stocks these; unfortunately it’s just a case of flying around until you find one, there’s no way to tell from outside a station which ships (or equipment) it sells.
– Having bought your new Hauler (congratulations!) there are a few extras you want to buy for it before it’s a really solid trading ship.
– Equipment for ships is found in the “outfitting” area of stations. Again, not all stations have this area, and not all stations stock all equipment. High-tech economies tend to have the best outfitting docks.

Equipping your Hauler

– On the hardpoints tab, sell the pulse laser it comes with. You’ll be running away from anyone who interdicts you.
– On the internal tab, replace the two ‘Cargo Rack (Capacity: 4)’ items with ‘Cargo Rack (Capacity: 8)’ items.
– Replace the “Basic Discovery Scanner” with a ‘Cargo Rack (Capacity: 2)’
– Where you see “Frame Shift Drive”, replace the standard ‘E2’ drive with a ‘D2’ or if you can afford it ‘C2’ drive.

– As mentioned above, you may need to fly around a bit to find the equipment mentioned above, but once this is done you’ll have a trading ship with 18 tonnes of cargo space and a reasonable jump range. Soon the money will be rolling in!
– Goods are traded from the “Commodities Market” area of stations. Most but not all stations have this.
– The commodities market has columns marked “supply” and “demand”, these are what you’re interested in.
– The essence of trading is to find a station that has a good with medium or high “supply” (meaning that you can buy at a good price) of a good, that is close to a station with medium or high “demand” for that same good.
– The best trade routes also allow you to do the same on the return trip, buying a different good at the destination station and selling it to your original source station on the return leg.

Finding Your First Trade Route

– Find an industrial economy station that is close to its parent star (so that it’s a short journey to get to it, making your trips shorter and your profits per hour higher!)
– Assuming supply is medium/high (if not, find another industrial station in this system or another), buy as many ‘crop harvesters’ as you can afford there, making sure to keep your rebuy cost in reserve.
– Make a note of the demand at this station for ‘animal meat’, ‘coffee’ and ‘tea’
– Look for an agricultural economy station (again close to its parent star) in a nearby system
– Assuming demand for crop harvesters is medium/high, sell your goods (if not, look elsewhere)
– Buy animal meat, coffee or tea here, using your judgement based on supply levels here and the demand levels you wrote down earlier. Make sure to keep your rebuy cost in reserve!
– Return to your starting station and sell.
– Repeat!

– Once you understand the core idea in the example above, you’ll be free to find your own trade routes. More expensive goods will reap more profit per tonne.
– A useful tip (from forum user Googol) is to always check the bulletin board before selling your goods. Sometimes you can find missions to procure the goods you already have in your hold, for instant extra profit!
– The goods list here on the wiki is an excellent guide to what types of economies you can expect to buy/sell at a profit from/to.
– Be aware that the economy is dynamic though, so you are not “guaranteed” that a route will be profitable just because it “should” be.
– Going “off the beaten track” will often allow you to find better buy/sell gradients for higher profit per run than the systems near the starter area or famous areas (such as around Sol or Lave).
– A good trade route will allow you to make 25-30k or more per round trip in your Hauler; at 5-10mins per run if you’ve picked your systems well you can see that trading can be very lucrative.
– Once you have around 600k, trade your ship in for a Cobra MkIII and buy a similar set of upgrades for your cobra. This will triple or quadruple your profit per run and no-one will be able to doubt your trading prowess at this point!
– The combat section (after the bounty hunting section) has more detail on equipment upgrades for your ship.

Rare Goods Trading

Rare goods are products that only appear in a single station for sale, and in very limited quantities. They increase in value the further away they are from that station; you can make a massive amount of profit (10-15k per tonne; yes you read that right) by transporting them 150ly or more from their sale location. Their profit margin, availability and even existence in the game have been hugely controversial over the course of the game’s development and the rules surrounding them have changed numerous time, I’ll keep this guide up to date but don’t be surprised if the rules change at some point in the future.

– I don’t recommend starting rare goods trading until you at least have a hauler set up as detailed above. You’ll also want to swap out your smallest cargo bay for a class 1 (quality A ideally) fuel scoop.
– Rares are available in *very* limited quantities; never more than about 20 units. You also can’t wait for the units to refresh or similar; you have to sell what you have before this station will generate more.
– Each player has his own ‘allocation’ of rares; don’t be afraid that you’ll get to the station and someone else will have taken all of the rares, that’s not how it works.
– The most common rare trading technique is to travel from one station that sells rares to another rare-selling station around 150ly away, sell the first set of rares and buy a different set, and repeat.
This thread by Patau82 is a comprehensive list of rare selling locations, distances, spreadsheets, tools, kitchen sinks etc. Patau82, you rock.
– To make your way efficiently across the galaxy you *must* have a fuel scoop. This will mean a small reduction in your cargo space but since rares are very limited in number anyway this isn’t a massive problem.
– Be aware that fuel scoops work on *most* but not all stars. Stars of any of these types: O B A F G K M are scoopable (“Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me!”). If your fuel tank is low and you know you’ll have to stop to scoop soon, make sure you don’t get stuck in a system with an unscoopable star. The info tab on the galaxy map shows you the star types of any system you mouse over.
– There’s more in depth info on fuel scooping in the ‘exploration’ section below.
This website can help a lot when planning long trips across the galaxy; in combination with the in game route planner you can get around very efficiently.

Bounty Hunting

While trading is profitable, it can also get a bit dull. Bounty hunting will earn you a lesser but still solid income and has the advantage of being much more fun! Your stock sidewinder can be a perfectly reasonable bounty hunting machine as it stands; it also has the advantage of being free to replace so you can afford to make some mistakes as you’re starting out without worrying about losses.

Where To Go When You’ve Got To Blow (Stuff Up)

– All stars with population have a ‘nav beacon’ close to their primary star. These babies are it.
– When you arrive at the nav beacon the area will be visited by a steady stream of ships, some of whom will have bounties; lucky for you, not so much for them.Scans, Reputation and the Police

– When you first target a ship, you’ll notice at first that the name, skill level and wanted status of the ship are ‘unknown’; keeping a ship in front of you for a few seconds will do a passive scan and reveal this information.
– If a ship has ‘Wanted’ status showing after the passive scan, that means you can attack and kill that ship and receive a bounty for it, without incurring a bounty on yourself.
– This does not mean you can *necessarily* attack with impunity though; firstly, if he has friends nearby (other ships of the same faction) they may take exception to you attacking him and attack you themselves; secondly, system authority ships (the police) may also take exception to your violent actions, even though you’re doing them a favor. Go eat some donuts and leave us alone, po-po!
– If his friends attack you, be aware that you can only legally attack them back once they’ve succeeded in hitting you at least once; at that point their status will turn to wanted and you can blast away.
– If the system authority ships start attacking you there’s really only one sensible thing to do; frame shift away (no need to jump out of the system, just frame shift out).
– Yes, you will feel shame, but trust me the fines are not worth it. You can immediately turn around and jump back to your hunting grounds and you will be magically forgotten about.
– All of this makes bounty hunting in lawful systems a bit of a pain. This is where the kill warrant scanner comes in.

The Kill Warrant Scanner

– The kill warrant scanner (henceforth known as the KWS) is a ‘utility’ slot item that is both vital to the bounty hunter… and also causes a lot of confusion.
– The KWS is an active scanner that needs to be mapped to a weapon slot and then used on ships to actively scan them. You can do this in the ‘fire groups’ tab in the right hand ship panel.
– In order to scan a ship, you’ll need to keep it aimed at them for several seconds while the scan completes. They’ll try to evade the scan, so be ready to dodge and roll to keep them in view.
– Once a ship is scanned, you’ll have a record of (and be able to claim) bounties that systems other than the one you’re in have posted on this ship. How does this help you?
– If you look at the galaxy map, you can color stars by government type; what we’re looking for is an “anarchy” system
– In an anarchy system, there is no law and no police to bother you (hooray!).
– All ships in an anarchy will show as ‘clean’ (no bounty) under passive scanning.
– *But* with your trusty KWS you can cruise the nav beacon at an anarchy system looking for ships that have bounties posted elsewhere in the galaxy.
– Once you’ve scanned you (unfortunately) have to go into the contacts tab in the left hand window to see if the ship has bounties from other systems (yes this is a drag, expect this to be improved by FD at some point though).
– If a ship has a bounty, you’re in the money! And no pesky police to ruin your day.
– You’ll also find that ships tend to have much larger bounties in anarchies; think of them as the “behind the bike shed” of the galactic school yard – the bad kids hang out here.
– You should be able to kill anything up to the size of a Cobra or Type-7 in your Sidewinder with a bit of practice. Asps, Pythons and Anacondas you should avoid until you have a bigger ship.
– If you die, you’ll lose any unclaimed bounties, so don’t let yourself rack up millions without stopping to claim (unless you’re super confident!).
– Bounties are claimed from the ‘contacts’ section of a station, at the ‘local security office’.
– If you’ve been hunting in an anarchy you’ll likely have bounties for the Federation, Empire and Alliance, and possibly for some nearby independent systems. Each of these has to be claimed seperately, in a station controlled by that faction; you can see which allegiance a station has on the system map.

Exploration

Space is big. Really b… oh wait, we already did that bit.

There are many star systems in the Elite galaxy that have never been fully surveyed (or even visited) by humans. Exploration (as a profit making enterprise anyway) is the business of surveying these systems and then selling the data to stations. It’s not the most profitable career path, but many people find it enjoyable to explore just for the sense of discovery, so you might as well make some money while you’re doing it, right? (I’m right).

– You can explore casually as a way of making some extra credits as you do other things; you can also fully fit your ship as a ‘dedicated’ exploration vessel and head for deep, deep space.
– There are three pieces of equipment that are most relevant to explorers (four if you count your frame shift drive): Discovery Scanners, Surface Scanners, and Fuel scoops.
– The absolute minimum you need to make money from exploring is a discovery scanner.
– A totally dedicated deep space exploration vessel would have: the best quality (advanced/detailed) of both types of scanner, the best FSD you can fit, a good fuel scoop, and the smallest and lightest equipment you can fit in all other categories (that means class ‘D’) – possibly even fitting small size classes if you can get away with it (ie. using a class 1 power plant even though you could fit a class 2). The reason for all this weight saving is to maximize your jump range.
– Having a shield is important for long range exploring because they reduce the rate of wear and tear on your ship, allowing you to go further before you have to return to civilization; it doesn’t need to be a *good* shield though.
– Many ships can be capable explorers, but the smallest/cheapest ship that can fit both scanners, a fuel scoop and a shield is the Hauler.
– Be warned that you lose all your exploration data if you die before selling it.
– You gain money and reputation for selling exploration data at a station (in the ‘Universal Cartographics’ section).
– You must be at least 20Ly away from the scanned system to sell data, and the further you go from the scanned system to sell, the more the data will fetch.

Scanners

– The discovery scanner allows you to find stars and planets in an unexplored system. You’ll need to assign it to a fire group in the fire groups tab in the right hand ship panel.
– When you charge and fire off the discovery scanner, it will find any stars/planets within its range in the system. Better discovery scanners (basic < improved < advanced) will scan further.
– Scanned objects appear as ‘unexplored’ entries in your navigation tab in the left hand ship panel, and in the system map.
– Getting close enough (the range depends on how big it is) to an ‘unexplored’ object and pointing your nose at it for a while will do a surface scan.
– Surface scans are more or less valuable for different objects. Exotic (black holes) or useful (life capable or metallic planets) are worth more than common star/planet types.
– If you look at the system map of a discovery scanned system, brown or blue planets are more likely to hold high value data.
– It’s not necessarily efficient in terms of earnings per hour to surface scan every object in a system; if you’re going for maximum profit per hour you just want to do a discovery scan, and surface scan only what looks interesting.
– Having a surface scanner installed is not necessary to do a surface scan, but will increase the detail (and thus value) of any surface scans you do.Fuel Scooping

– Having a fuel scoop allows you to refill your fuel tanks from stars. This is vital for long range exploration and in fact useful for any career path; most commanders pack a fuel scoop on their ship.
– Fuel scoops work on most but not all stars. They work on stars of these categories: OBAFGKM (“Oh, be a fine girl, kiss me!”).
– If you’re getting low on fuel, make sure you *know* the system you’re jumping to has a scoopable main star; otherwise scoop before you jump. If you get stuck in a system without a scoopable star, it’s self destruct time and all your lovely data goes up with the ship.
– Getting close to a star is dangerous. The secret to fuel scooping is to get close enough to fill your tanks quickly, without getting so close you burn up.
– The easiest time to scoop is right after you jump into a system.
– Drop your speed to 25% and point your nose at the edge of the star.
– When your heat level gets to about 95%, drop your throttle to zero so that you’re cruising at 30 Km/s.
– At this point you’ll be scooping *some* fuel and your heat should be staying at a safe level. You’ll only start taking damage if your heat goes over 120% or so.
– You can now start closing in on the star to find an optimal level where you’re scooping loads of fuel but your temperature is stable.
– Push your throttle up to 25% for a few seconds, and then back down to zero.
– Your fuel scooping rate will have increased, as will your heat. As long as your heat isn’t rising quickly (more than a percent every couple of seconds) you should be fine.
– Keep nudging closer until you find a point at which you’re comfortable that your heat has stabilized and you’re scooping at a nice rate.
– Once you’ve done this once, remember the rate that you’re scooping at. You can then use this as a guide next time you scoop.
– For instance, with a class 1 quality A scoop, the optimum scooping rate is about 32 per second. If you approach a star (obliquely as mentioned above) at 25% speed until the scooping rate hits about 28-30 and then drop your speed to zero, you’ll stop in the safe-but-quick scooping zone every time.
– Once your tank is full, turn away from the star and accelerate away. Don’t jump until you’re a way away from the star or you run the risk of heat damage.
– Your fuel scoop fills your main (jump) tank only. Your in-system tank (the thin line above your main tank) refills itself from the main tank when it’s empty.


Combat

There’s no denying, it’s a bad old galaxy out there. Even if you’re a pure trader, sooner or later you’ll come across a fight you can’t run away from and you’ll be glad you know how to handle your ship (you do know how to handle your ship, right?). Your best bet is to get the practice in *before* you need it. Hell, give it a go and you might even find you enjoy it!Equipment

– All equipment belongs to a size category; these run from 1 -> 8 (smaller -> larger)
– Equipment also comes with a quality rating; these run from F -> A (worse -> better)
– It’s also useful to know that (excluding weapons), D equipment is lighter than other equipment in its size category, and B equipment is heavier. Being heavier lowers your jump range and maneuverability.
– For weapons, the quality rating gives you some indication of the weapon’s damage output, but you won’t find better or worse versions of the same weapon. *All* class 1 fixed pulse lasers are ‘F’ rated for example.
– The most important pieces of equipment for a bounty hunter are the weapons, shields, power distributor and thrusters.
– Better weapons obviously give you better damage; better shield improves your survivability; better power distribution improves your weapon, shield and booster charging; thrusters improve your speed and maneuverability.

Weapons
– Energy weapons (generally lasers) are better against shields, and kinetic weapons (anything that takes ammo) are better against your opponent’s hull.
– Weapons come in three mounting categories: fixed, gimballed and turrets.
– Fixed weapons fire exactly ahead of your ship; you might get a very (very) small amount of auto-aim, but largely you’re responsible for pointing your ship in the direction you want the fire to go.
– Gimballed weapons will track and auto-aim at any target you put in front of your ship (the large circle on your main HUD is a good rough guide); to offset this they do 10-20% less damage per hit than fixed weapons, and are more expensive to fit.
– Turretted weapons will track a target at any angle; the only thing stopping their field of fire is your ship itself; they are weaker again than gimballed weapons (and also a lot more expensive).
– Gimballed and turretted weapons are more accurate the closer you get to your target, and the less “jerky” you are able to make your maneuvering. They are also affected by ‘chaff’, a defensive utility slot item that when fired by your target will stop your weapons tracking him for a short while. This is more of an issue when fighting players, NPC ships don’t tend to use enough to make it more than an irritation.
– Lasers come in 3 categories: pulse, burst and beam. These do respectively more damage, but are also respectively less efficient in terms of heat generation in combat (we’ll get to that).
– The most common weapon setup is to split your weapon mounts half and half between lasers and multi-cannons; assigning lasers to left click and multi-cannons to right click. Using this, you attack your opponent with lasers until his shields drop, then switch to multi-cannons for his hull and firing lasers in addition when your heat buildup isn’t too intense.
– I would also recommend fitting gimballed weapons in all slots if you’ll mainly be fighting NPCs. The decreased damage per hit is more than made up for by the increased “on target time” these weapons provide.
– You also need to ‘assign’ weapons to the left or right mouse button; you can do this in the fire groups tab in the right hand ship panel; I suggest you split your weapons so that lasers are on one button and kinetic weapons are on the other.

Power Management

There are two aspects to power management; firstly, out of combat setup done to ensure that you’ve got enough power for all your systems when in combat; secondly, the dynamic management of power to weapons, shields and engines that you’ll need to do in combat to achieve maximum effectiveness.

Out of Combat– Your power plant (not power distributor) provides a certain amount of power for your systems. You’ll need to ensure that your total energy needs don’t go much over 100% of this.
– Energy weapons tend to need more power than kinetic (ammo) weapons. If you’re really struggling for power, try swapping some of your lasers for kinetic weapons.
– Rail guns and plasma accelerators are particularly energy hungry.
– You do fortunately have a bit of “wiggle room” with your energy needs, because some of your ship’s systems are irrelevant in combat and so can be set to turn themselves off when your weapons are out.
– In the right hand ship panel, the modules tab allows you to do this. Scrolling up and down the list, you can set the power priority of modules using left and right. 1 is the highest priority.
– You can set the following modules to priority 2: Cargo Hatch, Frame Shift Drive and if you have one, Fuel scoop
– By doing this you can ‘free up’ in the region of 8-12% of your total power output.
– The percentages shown in the modules panel are approximate; even if it looks like you *just* have enough power or you’re 1% short, the only way to be sure is to draw your weapons and look at the modules panel to see if just the “low priority” modules have deactivated, or everything has. Do this before combat!During Combat– To the right of the little hologram of your ship on your dashboard are your power distribution indicators; three segmented bars each with 4 ‘pips’ beneath them.
– Left to right the bars represent: Shields (also secondary modules such as chaff) / Engines / Weapons.
– The ‘fullness’ of the bar indicates how much power is stored in the capacitor for each of the systems.
– Recharging your shields (and running secondary modules) depletes the left bar; note that the bar does *not* indicate your current shield strength, this is indicated by the blue lines around your ship holo.
– Using your ship’s ‘boost’ depletes the middle bar.
– Firing weapons depletes the right bar; generally energy weapons deplete it faster than kinetic ones.
– The number of ‘pips’ lit beneath each bar indicate how much of your generator’s output is directed to that system.
– You have 6 ‘pips’ in total to assign. Each system can be assigned a maximum of 4.
– By default the arrow keys on your keyboard assign pips to the different systems (down equalizes 2 pips to all systems).
– Having more pips assigned recharges the capacitor for a system more quickly; more pips assigned to engines also directly increases your maximum speed and maneuverability.
– There’s speculation that more pips in shields or weapons directly increases your shield toughness or weapon damage; I’m not convinced that this is definitely the case yet, but I’m noting the fact here anyway.
– My standard combat allocation is 1 pip to engine and shields and 4 to weapons; switching to 4 in engines and 1 in the others to boost my speed and maneuverability to get someone in my sights; and 4 in shields and one in the others if I need to back off for a while to let my shield/capacitor recharge.
– Managing your power during combat is a real distraction from your focus on just fighting, but it’s very much worth it. The difference in maneuverability or damage output for different allocations is *significant*.
– I’ve written a small script/utility that helps a lot with this, making each power allocation I’ve mentioned above available with just a single keypress. The utility and instructions for use are hosted here.


The Fight

Fighting another ship is largely the task of keeping it in front of you so that you can shoot it; everything else follows. To do this you firstly need to know where he is, and secondly you need to be able to turn fast enough to put him in front of you (since most likely, he doesn’t want to be shot).

The Radar

– The radar display is often a cause of confusion for new players – you’re not alone!
– Think of the radar as a plate that your ship sits in the middle of. Nearby ships are balanced on sticks or dangling from strings on the plate around you.
– If the blob at the end of the line is at the top of its attached line (balancing) it’s above you. If it’s at the bottom of the line (dangling) then it’s below you.
Changing Direction– Note that because we’re in space, ‘above’ can very quickly become ‘to the left’ or even ‘below’ just by the simple action of rotating your ship slightly.
– Your ship rolls (spins like a corkscrew) and pitches (turns its nose up or down) much quicker than it yaws (turns its nose left or right).
– This means that it’s almost always quicker to roll your ship to put your objective above or beneath you (and then pitch up or down to face it), than it is to just turn (yaw) your ship towards it.
– Looking at the final image above, the quickest way to get our glamorous assistant in front of us (so that we can scoop him up and set him free, of course) would be to roll about 45o to the right and then pitch upwards; we could also just yaw and pitch our ship to face him, but it would take a lot longer.
– Speed is everything in combat, so you should always be aware of this concept; yaw is very useful for making small adjustments to your heading but when you’re trying to make big changes, such as getting someone who wants to be behind you in front of you anyway, roll and pitch are king.
– Roll And Pitch Are King – weren’t they a punk band from the 80’s?Speed and Distance– Once you have your target in front of you, you want to do two things; shoot him, and *keep* him in front of you.
– Your speed indicator (to the right of your radar) has a smaller blue indicator to the left of it. This indicates the speed(s) at which you can turn fastest.
– Spoiler alert: you can turn fastest when at 50% of your maximum speed. If you’re using the control scheme I suggested above, this is two ‘clicks’ down from full speed or two ‘clicks’ up from standstill.
– At the risk of stating the obvious; this is the speed you want to be going at most of the time.
– Shooting someone is easiest when they are close, but not *too* close (500m – 1km is the sweet spot).- If your target starts to get too far away, they’re harder to hit; they may also have chance to spin around and point their sharp end towards you. This is a bad thing.
– If your target is getting away from you, you can just increase your speed; if he’s *really* getting away, you can hit the ‘boost’ button.
– Boosting gives you a burst of extreme speed (faster than your usual maximum speed); you also get a brief period of increased maneuverability.
– If you have your throttle set to 100% when you boost, you’ll continue to go very fast (although gradually slowing down) for some time.
– If you have your throttle set to less than 100% when you boost, you’ll boost up to extreme speed but then start slowing back down fairly promptly.
– Each of these has its uses; the first allows you to close a really big gap as quickly as possible, the second allows you to ‘reel him in’ a distance, without sacrificing too much maneuverability.- If your target gets too close, you may find if impossible to keep him in front of you; this gives him the chance to slink away and come back with his sharp end pointing towards you (see above).
– You don’t really want to drop your speed below 50%, so rather than slowing down in this case you’ll use your thrusters to ‘reel him out’ a bit.
– If your target is flying fairly straight and you’re not having to turn quickly to keep him in front of you, you can just thrust backwards (‘F’ by my suggested controls) in little spurts to let him away from you a bit.
– If you’re frantically turning and spinning to try and keep him in sight, you can instead use your sideways thrusters to ‘slew’ your turn; this is a bit like a rally car drifting on a bend.
– You want to thrust in the opposite direction from the one you’re turning; so if you’re pitching up to keep him in sight, thrust down; if you’re pitching down, thrust up.
– This will let him get a bit further away from you without compromising your turning ability too much.- A reminder: you can maneuver and fly faster if you have more pips assigned to engines in your power management (see above); if you’re struggling with a particularly maneuverable opponent, shifting your power management to 4 pips engines can give you the extra oomph you need to get him in your sights, at which point you can switch back to 4 pips weapons and let rip. Remembering to do this in combat and not letting it distract you is a fairly advanced maneuver, but one that it’s useful to bear in mind once you have the basics down and are looking for further ways to improve your flying.Heat Buildup

– Your weapons are constantly heating up as you fire them; your heat ‘capacity’ is shared between all weapons, it’s the small bar that appears beneath the names of any laser you have equipped on the main view.
– Energy weapons will deplete this faster than kinetic weapons.
– Your heat capacity recharges itself quicker or slower depending on how many pips you have assigned to your weapons in your power management (see above).
– Lasers work better against shields; kinetic weapons work better against hull.
– For maximum heat (and ammo) efficiency, use just your lasers to get your opponent’s shield down; no kinetics.
– Once his shield is down (or if he doesn’t have a shield, silly boy), use your kinetic weapons as priority, firing your lasers as well *if* you have heat capacity to spare; if you’re low on heat cap, leave off the lasers and just fire your kinetics for a while.

Lead Time

– Lasers fire directly where you point them; kinetic weapons take a while to get where they’re going, so if you fire directly at a moving target, by the time they get to where he is, he’ll be somewhere else. This is sometimes known as ‘lead time’ (that’s lead for a dog not lead like your heart when a ship has it’s sharp end pointing towards you).
– When firing lasers you fire them exactly *at* your target, no messing around. However because of this ‘lead time’, kinetic weapons need to be fired ahead of their target to hit them.
– There’s what looks like a small circle with a couple of chips taken out of the top left and right that appears on the hud when you have a kinetic weapon; this indicates where you should fire now to hit your target, taking lead time into account.
– This means that unless you’re exactly behind your target, you’ll never be able to shoot him with both lasers and kinetics at the same time. Except…
– Gimballed weapons help a lot with this; they’ll track and shoot at the lead time indicator or the ship depending on the weapon, all you have to do is point your ship roughly in the right direction.
– Pointing in *roughly* the right direction is a lot easier than pointing in *exactly* the right direction.
– For this reason, I recommend that all your weapons are gimballed (at least if you’re fighting NPCs). Some people think it’s better to have fixed lasers and gimballed kinetics. I disagree. And this is my guide not theirs so I can say that they’re wrong and there’s nothing they can do about it, ha ha ha.

Congratulations, you are now an Elite combatant. All you have to do is remember every single detail of what you’ve read above while simultaneously flying your ship and putting it all into effect. On that note; your starter sidewinder is free to replace if you’ve not upgraded it, and very cheap to replace even upgraded. It’s also quite maneuverable and generally makes an excellent little combat training vessel. Bounty hunting is an excellent way to practice combat against a variety of ships and make money while doing so; there’s a section on bounty hunting above; just sayin’.


Reputation

Okay so if you’ve been following the guide so far you’re stinking rich, you’re flying a lethal killing instrument, you’re constantly killing people, and yet still no-one seems to like you. What gives?

What Do You Mean “Don’t Do That”?

– Many of your actions affect the inhabitants of the game world. Trading with a station improves the station’s economy; doing missions for a faction increases that faction’s power; killing random passers-by relieves the tedium, but is frowned upon by some (unless they have an unpaid parking ticket in which case, death is the only reasonable response).
– To complicate things slightly, some actions can please some people but displease others. I’m trying to think of an example that isn’t politically inflammatory and I just can’t (you get the idea though).

Fractious Factions

– Every star system and station has a controlling ‘faction’.
– Many of these factions also have an ‘allegiance’ themselves to one of the three greater powers in the galaxy; The Federation, The Empire and The Alliance (no, not that Empire and Alliance).
– You can see which major allegiance controls a system on the galaxy map.
– Stations within a system may not all be controlled by this main faction (or even the same major allegiance) however.
– In the system map, moving the cursor over a station will allow you to see its faction. Moving the cursor away from all system objects allows you to see a list of all factions present in the system, and their allegiances.
– In general, your actions affect your reputation with the faction in control of an area. In the case of missions they affect your reputation with the faction who gave you the mission (and possibly their friends/enemies).
– If the faction you gain or lose reputation with has an allegiance, those gains or losses will also affect your reputation with that allegiance.
– Your reputation with a station, faction or allegiance can range from (worst to best): Hostile < Unfriendly < Neutral < Friendly < Allied.
– As your reputation rises (or falls) you may notice that the colour of ships and stations on your radar changes from yellow to green or red.

Ranks

– If you gain reputation with the Federation or Empire allegiances, you will be periodically offered “rank” missions at the bulletin boards; these are special missions that if completed allow you to gain ‘ranks’ with that allegiance.
– Ranks are related to, but not the same as, the reputation levels you can achieve with an allegiance mentioned above.
– Gaining ranks has only a couple of (known) benefits at this point in time (other than the cool titles of course); permission to buy specific ships (The Imperial Clipper and Federation Dropship), and permits to visit restricted systems. There have been comments from the devs to the effect that more benefits are planned though.
– The lower ranks are not mutually exclusive, so you can rank up with both Federation and Empire without issue. The devs have stated that higher ranks *will* be exclusive however.
– The Alliance doesn’t have ‘ranks’ available at the moment, sadly. Here’s hoping!

Things That They Like (or don’t)

This isn’t an exhaustive list by any means, and once you understand how station/faction/allegiance reputations are linked the rest is pretty common sense, but for the sake of completeness here are some examples of actions that will gain or lose you reputation:

– Trading with a station raises your reputation with the controlling faction (and allegiance, etc.).
– Anything that gives you a fine or bounty lowers your reputation with the area’s controlling faction (generally the controlling faction for the system).
– Completing a mission raises your reputation with the faction who gave you the mission (noted on the right in the bulletin board).
– Failing or abandoning a mission lowers your reputation in a similar manner.
– There are specific “donation” missions that don’t have a credit payout but that reward you with a larger raise to your reputation.
– Selling exploration data or cashing in bounty vouchers raises your reputation with the station’s controlling faction.
– Conflict zones are special areas that appear in systems undergoing military conflict. Currently the reputation rewards and penalties from these appear to be buggy.

When Can I Shoot at Them?

One of the questions that has plagued mankind since the beginning of history is this: “Can I hurt this guy without getting into trouble?”. In the real world the answer is probably “no”, unfortunately. The world of Elite however tends to have a slightly breezier relationship with terms like “aggravated assault”, “murder” or “burned his face off with a laser”. Just don’t forget to ask for docking permission or THEY WILL HUNT YOU DOWN AND KILL YOU.

– If the ship says “Wanted” in his details when you target him, you can kill him without any loss of reputation.
– However, other ships of the same faction (including police ships) who see you doing this may take issue with your actions, even to the point of attacking you.
– You can never attack police (System Authority) ships without losing reputation. So if you’re being attacked by the police, you should probably just run away.
– If a ship does attack you in this manner, he will remain “Clean” (and thus you shouldn’t attack back) until he has scored at least one hit against you or your shields. At that point he will become “Wanted” and you can blast away.
– Systems with “anarchy” government are the galactic equivalent of a wild west saloon; pretty much anything goes (with the obvious exception of asking for docking permission of course, that shizz be serious).

There have been significant changes to the way various actions affect your reputation in recent days; expect this to be another area where things may change in the future.

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