Elite Dangerous Viper Loadout and Bounty Hunting Tips

Elite Dangerous Viper Loadout and Bounty Hunting Tips by Calistron

I wanted to share a few of the things I’ve learned bounty hunting in Elite Dangerous so far, as well as share my viper loadout for discussion. A lot of this information is things I’ve been running searches for and have had little to no success.

Viper Loadout

  • Small Hardpoint 1 – Fixed Beam Laser
  • Small Hardpoint 2 – Fixed Beam Laser
  • Medium Hardpoint 1 – Gimbaled Multi-Cannon
  • Medium Hardpoint 2 – Gimbaled Multi-Cannon
  • Utility Hardpoint 1 – Kill Warrant Scanner
  • Utility Hardpoint 2 – Chaff Launcher
  • Size 3 Compartment 1 – Class 3A Shield Generator
  • Size 3 Compartment 2 – Cargo Rack (8 tons)
  • Size 2 Compartment – Class 2C Shield Cell Bank
  • Size 1 Compartment – Class 1C Fuel Scoop

Notes: The cargo rack is something that has been in and out of my loadout many times. I’ve replaced it with a Frameshift Interdictor when I was bounty hunting via Interdictions. It’s also been a cargo door limpet when I was trying to find certain cargo for missions. It ended up as a cargo rack for doing Rank progression missions and I find that while bounty hunting in RES and Nav beacons, there’s really nothing else required.

Bounty Hunting Tips

RES vs Nav Beacons – I’ve had success at both RES (Resource Extraction Sites) and Nav Beacons when hunting for bounties. Nav Beacons feel relatively relaxed and laid back and are certainly nicer for just starting out. They don’t seem to escalate as quickly as RES’s do, but you can typically farm a good amount of bounties here. In anarchy systems, the Nav beacon is even better, as most targets have bounties of some kind. The RES’s in claimed systems are a steady source of income for me, and appear to escalate if you focus on killing larger targets instead of only sidewinders. Note that the escalation appears to reset when you reset the RES by jumping out and in.

Claimed Systems vs Anarachy – While I find that the bounties are typically higher in an anarchy system, using a KWS (kill warrant scanner) on every target is time consuming. Additionally, the extra effort to turn in bounties can be another time sink. The biggest knock though, for me, is that I’ve been trying to raise a faction through bounty hunting and the catch-as-catch-can bounty sources in an anarchy system can be counter-productive.

Bounty Hunting Raises Faction – I’ve seen this question floating around, but I can confirm that if you are turning in Empire bounties, you raise Empire faction. Both in that system and as a whole.

Laser Weapons are for SHIELDS – Note that thermal based weapons, including all the lasers, are adept at taking down shields. They are not nearly as stellar against a hull. On a side note, the fixed beams I use on my Viper are also quite adroit at targeting subsystems, this can be particularly effective if you’re trying to destroy a cargo hatch without blowing up the ship.

Kinetic Weapons are for HULL – In my loadout, I show that I use medium gimbaled multi-cannons. These weapons are very good at blowing through armor plating, but nigh usesless against shields. As they use ammo, you’ll want to conserve them for the time they’re the most effective. For me, I stay out hunting until I run out of ammo, the longer I can stay out by being sparing with my ammo, the more money I make. On that note, try and get a feel for when you SHOULDN’T be shooting your multi-cannons, even when the shields are down. Targets that are edge on take significantly reduced damage, compared to when you’re hitting the top or bottom.

Chaff Dispenser – This utility hardpoint system is incredibly useful against any ship firing gimbaled or turreted weapons at you. I initially got this to decrease the damage I take from anacondas, but I’ve found that many NPC Cobra’s and Pythons and other ships use gimbaled or turreted weapons that can be disrupted with this module. At 30 credits per chaff, there’s really no reason not to punch this every time you’re getting shot at by one of these weapons. I strongly recommend that you BIND THIS MODULE TO A KEYBIND as it is far more effective as a countermeasure when you don’t have to switch weapon groups to use it.

Shield Cell Bank – I was slow to realize how good this module really is. Used correctly, your ship is nigh on invulnerable. When you’re down to one ring of shields, pop one of these babies and you’re back to full shields. This is particularly synergistic with the best shield generator that you can buy, as they work hand in hand to keep you from taking damage. I strongly recommend that you BIND THIS MODULE TO A KEYBIND as it is far more effective as a countermeasure when you don’t have to switch weapon groups to use it.

Combat Maneuvers – In the end, this game is simple, keep the enemy in front of you so you can destroy him with your weapons. That doesn’t stop a simple thing from being difficult to accomplish. With the viper, I’ve noticed that the pitch thrusters are far more powerful than any other direction, I try and keep my targets in a plane such that I can either pull back or push forward to get them in front of me.

There are two primary ways that I’ve found to assist me in doing this:

*Flight Assist Off – This is an incredibly powerful tool that allows you to move freely in space without the game correcting for you. It allows you to turn faster, move in strange directions, and shoot behind you while moving forward. That said, it also has certain disadvantages. If you’re at zero thrust and shooting back along your course, you’re a sitting duck for fire. Also, it’s very easy to over-correct in the middle of battle and end up completely uncontrolled. But that’s ok, I’ve found an alternative.

*Thrusters – I will admit again, that I was slow to catch on to how much my thrusters could help me. It really wasn’t until I received my X55 Rhino that I realized what these could do. With the thrusters bound to a hat on the throttle, they became very easy to use and within reach during combat. The concept is ludicrously simple. If the enemy is moving up on your screen, thrust up while simultaneously pitching back. If he’s moving down, thrust down while pitching forward. This keeps your target in front of you, increases your maneuverability, and greatly increased my combat efficiency. There are two caveats though: 1) Using thrusters without being aware of your surroundings can cause you to hit obstacles, particularly in RES’s. 2) While it may seem counter intuitive, when an enemy is behind you and above you, thrust DOWN while pulling back on the stick, this moves you away from the target, allowing you to complete your turn and bring him under fire. Once he’s again in front of you and above, thrust UP. This can be discerned from the sensor screen.

Anaconda Killing – The thrill of killing anacondas in a viper is a fantastic feeling, but diving in without a plan is a quick way back to the insurance screen. As I’ve mentioned earlier, a chaff dispenser and shield cell bank can keep you alive, even in the thick of a fight with an anaconda. Use them often, if you run out and the target isn’t dead, seriously consider running for it.

In terms of tactics, I’ll start with the obvious, get behind him. This isn’t nearly as easy as it sounds, as many of the NPC’s are quite good at getting around again to shoot you. That said, there are other things to do. While targeting subsystems on smaller craft can be an exercise in futility, it’s the key to success fighting bigger ships. Once the shields are down on an anaconda, my next target is the drive. I’ll burn out my weapons power pumping both multi-cannon rounds and beam lasers into the drive. Once the drive is destroyed, you have a slowly spinning, uncontrolled ship that is really at your mercy. I’ll often go for the power plant for a faster kill once the drive is down, but that’s your call. Some people destroy the shield generator next instead, but I find that with fixed beam lasers, rebooted shields are really not that big an obstacle. Your mileage may vary.

I’ll try and add more info as I find it to this post. For now, good hunting Commander!

-CMDR Calistron (PS. Feel free to add me in game or ask questions!)

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