Elite Dangerous Fixed Weapons Guide
Elite Dangerous Fixed Weapons Guide by Cmdr_Truesilver
Tired of NPC chaff? Fancy trying a new weapon, like plasma-slug rails? Wanting to boost PvP skills? Or just looking to move up on your personal ED learning curve? And yet – a bit unsure whether fixed weapons could ever be for you? You’re not alone, Cmdr…
In response to a number of recent official forum requests for tips on learning how to use fixed weapons, I’ve prepared this guide and added a PvP demo vid taken from a recent duel at the Latugara CG, Courier v FdL.
I used to be a member of Adle’s Armada (great guys, we keep in touch) and much of what follows comes from my experiences of offering advice to newer members there. A lot of it is about taking manageable steps.
WHAT DO FIXED WEAPONS HAVE TO OFFER?
1. A better auto-aim, without jitter
Fixed in ED are not ‘completely fixed.’ They actually gimbal also – just within a tiny cone. As you’ll see in the vid, this is more obvious at longer ranges. They will even auto-lock onto any nearby subsystem on your target (whether selected or not) – again, in vid.
Absent adverse RNGineer effects, fixed weapons have no ‘jitter’ – they shoot true.
So a fixed weapon is a firing solution that you have to aim yourself to a much greater degree than a gimbal, but which if aimed correctly, will always hit (if hitscan, i.e. laser or rail).
In contrast, gimbals have a very wide firing cone but considerable jitter – at 2 km much of the fire of a gimballed weapon will miss a small target even if stationary and apparently ‘on target.’
So fixed weapons offer the potential for a 100% hit rate, which gimballed can only achieve at very close ranges.
2. More damage
Check out my thread …
…although the difference varies, you’ll see that fixed weapons have better stats than their gimballed equivalents, typically by about 25% DPS.
(Note that damage for projectile weapons are in a state of flux in Beta 2.2 as FDev are considering buffing fixed, see below)
3. More guns
Plasma cannons and rail guns come fixed only. The former are currently being buffed.
Rail guns, although not the go-to weapon they once were, come with arguably the game’s single most significant special: feedback cascade, which effectively neutralizes enemy SCB’s.
But to neutralize them you have to hit them within the usage window … basically to benefit from one of the most significant advantages in the game, you need to git gud with fixed.
4. Possibly, buffed guns
As above, there are dedicated threads in the Beta 2.2 forums from the Devs concerning buffs to fixed weapons. At the moment the focus is on projectile weapons (plasma, cannons, multis) but it’s not impossible more buffs may come.
5. No countermeasures
Gimballs can be countered by chaff, the dispersal cannon special, or (to a very limited extent now) silent running.
Against fixed the only counter is evasion. And if you’re fighting someone good enough to evade, the chances are they’ll be well prepared against gimbals.
GETTING STARTED: (a) Gun and ship
Buy a small fixed beam laser. This is the ideal learning tool because it takes timing out of the equation and has (for a beam) low distributor draw and thermal load.
Next, your ship. If you’re really new to this you may not appreciate the significance of hardpoint layout. Hardpoints very far off line (e.g. large hardpoints on Imperial Clipper) are difficult to use with fixed. In contrast, hardpoints with good positioning for learning fixed are those in line with the pilot, eg:
- The central lower mount on FAS (not the top one, it’s too high).
- The two upper mounts or lower huge mount on FdL.
- The medium mounts on Python.
- The huge mounts on Corvette.
- The lower large mount on Anaconda.
- The central mount on Courier.
- The inner mounts on Cobra III.
- Anything on Asp, DBS, Cobra IV, Viper III or IV.
If you have ships to choose from, for starters I recommend something manoeuvrable (although ultimately you’ll need to practice with the ship you’ll actually be flying). Any combat-viable ship can rock with fixed (mine have included an eight fixed pulse Anaconda, a four rails plus one fixed pulse Python, a five Imperial Hammer FdL and a dual-huge-plasma Corvette) but you’ll find it easier to get time on target with something with easy handling.
One ideal learner choice is the Federal Assault Ship due to its manoeuvrability – just slap a bi-weave, some HRP’s and two point defence covering your drives on it and you’re good to go for PvE (but not recommended for PvP in 2.1 or 2.2 due to weak shield + module damage).
GETTING STARTED: (b) Find your asteroid (optional)
For those that want to start on asteroids, I’m going to refer you to No.1 in this series – my …
Hopefully if you follow the advice in there you’ll start to build up control of your ship also.
FIRST HOSTILE NPC’s
I recommend you interdict traders or other civilian vessels in an anarchy. No cops, low threat. No other NPC’s to distract you like at RES or Nav. If you don’t like griefing NPC’s without just cause, pick one from a pirate faction…
For best results:
- Use beam lasers sufficiently small that your Power Distributor can run them continuously, ideally with as many pips left over for sys and eng as possible. Stick with the one small if you have to.
- Track the target with your beam.
- If it feels that you are pitching too slowly to track, briefly use FA-off while (if pitching up) simultaneously applying down thrust. This should catch the target up. Consider eng pips.
- If it feels that you are moving too quickly, reduce control sensitivities using in-game options and, if necessary, your peripheral’s own settings.
- Fly backwards / forwards as necessary to keep the target in your sights. Learn how handling properties differ when moving backwards. Use dedicated inputs for forward/reverse thrust (as opposed to just throttle).
- Use yaw to fine-tune and maintain aim. This is vital, I have yaw under two of my fingertips at all times.
- As you improve, pre-target subsystems before opening fire. Drives or powerplant are good choices. For example, if you read my circle-strafing guide you should be able to use lateral and forward thrust to move around a Lakon Type 9 so as to shoot directly down into its Powerplant when shields drop.
If at this stage it already seems hard – if you’re thinking “OK, I could hit an asteroid but I can’t even hit a Type 7” – be encouraged. The game rewards practice. This is an achievable objective.
I remember the first time I put five fixed weapons on my Fer-de-Lance. After what felt like an hour (may even have been an hour) trying to take down a high-ranked NPC Viper III, I had to jump out in almost tearful frustration. Nowadays, as I hope you’ll see from the vid, I don’t get frustrated very often … but this is an acquired skill. Flying hours are the main thing. Fortunately FDev have provided the ideal tool for that…
NEXT STEP: INCURSION ADVANCED!
You may not have done a training mission for a while but ‘Incursion Advanced’ is perfect. You fly an Eagle (with 2 x fixed burst and 1 x gimballed multi) against waves of enemies.
Truesilver’s Top Tip: Quickly use right panel to switch off one of the burst lasers and go with 1 pip to sys, 4 pips to eng, 1 pip to wep.
You now have manageable draw (cuz one burst not two) and an ultra-manoeuvrable ship. With practice you should be able to reach the anaconda just using the multi to dispatch enemies quickly when shields drop. Pip management is an essential ED skill but there’s actually no need to do it before the Anaconda except to replenish the wep cap occasionally.
Remember to control range using your fw/reverse thrusters and practice shooting at subsystems. The Cobras in particular will let you sit on their tail so you can shoot out their drives.
In the main game, work your way through beam laser, then pulse laser, then burst laser (order of difficulty).
After burst laser, rail guns. The quickest way to learn rail timing is by binding a burst laser and a rail to the same trigger. The burst rat-a-tat will teach you when the rail will fire (thanks to stealth legend Cmdr Na’Qan for this tip).
If you have a ship with a decent sized fuel tank, a plasma-slug rail is a joy to use in PvE. Remember that rails have infinite penetration distance so always go for the subsystems – it’s basically a crime not to, with a rail.
Once you are proficient with the hit scan weapons it’s time to move on to projectiles, where of course lead adds a new difficulty spike. I strongly recommend using Enforcer Cannons at first (they have the highest projectile speed in the game and are an all-round awesome use of a c1 mount) but multis if not. Pacifier Frags (1,000 mps) are then a great next step if you have access, before coming to the slower weapons.
LAST FEW TIPS
Control of range is crucial with fixed weapons. At very close range you lack the huge fire-arc of gimbals but with extensive thruster use and some FA-off (how much depends on ship) you will basically have a target you can’t miss.
Conversely, at very long range your target’s movement relative to yours is very low, so that with practice fixed feels like the only way. At 2.5 km you can face tank a gimballed guy without countermeasures and (assuming comparable ships) do a ton more damage.
Nothing will help you control range (which is essential to accuracy) better than VR, because you see in binocular vision. Try it somewhere if you can. If VR isn’t an option then consider head tracking software to help to keep up with the target’s movements.
Also, try to develop a ‘one eye always on the sensor’ peripheral vision thing. This is essential in winged PvP but helps a great deal in understanding your opponent’s movements in a 1v1. (Admittedly it isn’t really possible with VR but there are other advantages that make up for that.)
AND FINALLY … ONTO THE DEMO VID
I thought a good demo would demonstrate close to 100% time-on-target with fixed in the highest of pressure situations … which in a 1v1 means, “While a pirate in an engineered Fer-de-Lance is trying to kill mah Courier.”
I’ve thrown in plenty of captions which I hope will help highlight some of the points above.
I hope you’ve found this guide helpful and, as ever, all comments and queries welcome … now go and git gud with fixed!
See you in the black,