Elite Dangerous Lucrative Bounty Hunting Guide by Fluentcode
The Big Game Bounty Hunter. A moustachioed, pith helmet wearing, elephant gun wielding hunter, braving the wilds of space to bag those trophies that will look best on the wall of his captains cabin. You.
This guide is not intended for veterans, they should know better already and they likely know better than me anyway. If you are just starting out, I hope this will provide some information you find useful. Be confident in your flying skills before you start shooting, experience will quickly tell you what targets you can realistically handle by yourself. Your choice of ship and loadout will determine the size and skill of your prey. The better your ship, the better the target you can aim for. Your aim is to take targets down quickly and maximise your bounties. Spending an hour taking on an Anaconda in a sidewinder may be fun and certainly demonstrates your skill, but it is less than optimal for your earnings. Fun should be YOUR aim, but it is not the aim of this guide. You can (and should) adapt anything in this guide to tailor your fun levels.
Your Location: The big game hunter may spend time waiting, but he does not go chasing after his target. He knows that the watering hole is where his targets prey will be, hence that is where his prey will be. All he has to do is wait for them to show up.
Currently the best watering holes are located in Resource Extraction Sites (RES). Many NPC miners make for many NPC pirates hoping to snatch a stolen load or two. RES sites currently seem to operate on a fixed spawn system. Each instance has a set list of ships that will spawn during your stay. Resetting the instance will reset this list. Either jumping to supercruise or logging out and in will reset this. If you wish to avoid logging in and out, it is adviseable to hunt in solo mode. Another commander in your instance will stop it from resetting, even if you jump to supercruise and re-enter. You can usually tell what sort of spawns the instance is currently set for within the first minute or two. Your first wanted targets will set the tone (generally). If you see an Eagle, Adder or Sidewinder, I would suggest you reset the instance. Cobras and Vipers can seem to spawn in both the upper and lower tier, but your target is a Dropship, Clipper, Python or Anaconda. Asps in RES will almost always be a clean miner. I have yet to see a wanted Asp in RES. This resetting may seem unsportsmanlike, but it is an issue yet to be addressed by Frontier. Your concscience will be your guide.
The system you hunt in is personal choice really. You should check the galaxy/system map for a system containing a planet with rings. The type of system government is largely irrelevant, however anarchy systems will not display ships with local bounties (as no bounties are earned in the system, possibly a benefit if you are trigger happy), so all targets will need to be scanned down with a Kill Warrant Scanner, more on this later. It may be of considerable benefit to locate a system with close borders to Fed/Imp/Alliance systems. Ideally, your chosen system will have a station orbiting the same planet with rings as your RES.
Your Equipment: Pith helmet? Check. Moustache? Check. Elephant Gun? Well?
You can begin your bounty hunting career in any ship you please. The stock Sidewinder can easily handle upto and including a Viper with careful piloting. With a few upgrades it can comfortably deal with Vipers/Cobras but that is about its limit. With its better turn rate, the Eagle is a small step up, but it is still limited by its class one weapon loadout. The Viper is a cheap enough vessel that punches well above its own weight. The Cobra can handle everything the Viper can, but hardpoint placement can make it slightly unwieldy. These two ships are both capable of taking on the largest of the big game, albeit with some work involved when taking them down. This brings us neatly to the Vulture. The Vulture is not a big game hunting elephant gun. The Vulture is like taking an M16 to the petting zoo. You are going to come home with dinner to be sure. When just starting out, the 5million credit price tag may look a galaxy away. Work for it if you want bounty hunting to be your thing. The stock version (with the correct sized weapons of course) will vaporise the four large ships in a variety of seconds (ranging between 10-15 for a Dropship and about 60 for an Anaconda) and fly rings around anything in the game.
How you outfit your ship is a matter of choice, but there are very good guides out there and www.edshipyard.com is a great resource for min-maxing if that’s your thing. Priorities regardless of personal preference should be power plant and power distributor. These are important on any ship, but the Vulture really needs these to be top notch grade items. My personal favourite is pulse lasers, but if you can fit beams on, things simply melt under them. The rest of your loadout is best done by experimentation. What works well for you may not work for others. The only other piece of equipment I will mention is a Kill Warrant Scanner (KWS). This is a worthwhile use of a utility slot, and can significantly increase your earnings, at the expense of having to travel to cash in those bounties. This is where that system with close location to Fed/Imp/Alliance borders really pays off.
IMPORTANT: You must allow your built in ship scanner to declare a target as wanted before you open fire. Your KWS will show bounties available in other systems, if your target is not currently wanted in your location, opening fire WILL gain you a bounty!
The Hunt: Find a suitable spot and lie in wait for your target.
You won’t have to wait long, especially if you are reseting your RES instance to get the best spawns. Allow 2-3mins for targets to populate your area, if you haven’t located at minimum a Dropship in that time, you likely will want to reset. Keep your eyes peeled for blasts of laser fire in the distance. Mining lasers tend to be more white coloured than the yellow of combat lasers, don’t be fooled. Use your ‘Contacts’ tab often. When you locate a suitable target, orient toward it and allow your ship scanner to determine it’s wanted (if it is there, it doubtless will be, unless piloted by a CMDR) and then switch to the subsystems tab. Almost all NPC ships are outfitted the same, but regardless you are only looking for one target. The power plant. Just like our big game hunter, you are looking for maximum damage per shot. We may not be able to manage ‘one shot one kill’, but you’ll be surprised how quick your prey goes down when targetting the power plant. Make sure you use your KWS, if you have it fitted, once in range. Then simply bag your prize. How you pilot is up to you, I won’t recommend Flight Assist Off or double loop-de-loops, but your aim is obviously to keep your guns trained on that target spot as much as possible. Your thrusters can help, but they limit your turn speed. Worth bearing in mind. In the Vulture, against NPC targets in a RES, I find it best to simply put four pips in WEP and hammer that target, your shields will barely take a dent unless you end up chaining Anaconda targets back to back. As said, Dropships go down in one capacitor load, even fully shielded, anacondas make take two to three capacitor charges.
Taxidermy : After a successful hunt, it’s time to put those trophies up. Using this guide, with your own take on it, you should be able to rack up 1.5 to 3.5 million credits per hour in bounties. Personally, despite the obviously overpowered Vulture, I find this to be more fun than Trading.
Happy hunting CMDRs.Other Elite Dangerous Articles
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