Elite Dangerous How to Avoid Dying in Open
This guide provides tactics that will help you avoid death at the hands of black-hat PVP players (henceforth referred to as “gankers”). These tactics are applicable to CMDRs of any rank and experience. You do not need access to Engineering or rank-locked modules to use these tactics with nearly 100% effectiveness. They do require an understanding of several fundamental game mechanics and ship functions which will be explained, and you may need some practice to master them.
This guide is broken into four main sections:
- Tactic 1: Situational awareness. How to predict when an interdiction is coming. (DO NOT SKIP)
- Tactic 2: Evasion. How to avoid being interdicted.
- Tactic 3: Escape. How to get out once you have been interdicted
- Tactic 4: Preparedness. How to set up your ships to give you the best chance of escape.
Tactic 1: Situational Awareness
This is absolutely the most important part of this guide. Following the tips and procedures from this section alone can keep you from ever dying from a gank again. It involves knowing what ships are in your area and using that information to decide how to proceed. There key game mechanics involve high-traffic systems, how interdictors work, and radar contacts, which are explained below. The end of this section provides a step-by-step procedure for utilizing these mechanics.
High-traffic systems: You are much more likely to find other players, and therefore gankers, in high-traffic systems. These include the engineering systems (especially Deciat), the several permit-locked systems (especially Shirarta Dezhra and Sol), and the Galactic Power headquarters. You should check your radar any time you enter a new system to see if there are other players present. On PC, you can also press ctrl-B to display your network usage and use this to judge if there are others nearby. Values over 1000 B/s indicate that you have company.
How interdictors work: For a CMDR to interdict you, they must be roughly behind you and within a certain distance of you. You cannot be interdicted while in orbital cruise. If a CMDR tries to interdict and ends up flying into a planet or star, the interdiction fails. Therefore, if you are near a body (planet or star) in supercruise facing away from that body, you cannot be successfully interdicted. Any attempt will have the ganker flying into the body and the interdiction failing.
Radar contacts: Your radar shows bodies and ships in your immediate area. Hollow ship contacts are players, solid are NPC. Triangular contacts have hardpoints deployed, and squares do not. If you select a contact, you can immediately see the ship type. If you face the ship and scan it, you will be able to view its loadout (weapons and modules) in the External (left) panel, Target menu.
Procedure: Follow these steps when you jump into a system or jump to supercruise within a system, especially if you are in a high-traffic system:
- Zero your throttle and orient your ship to face away from the nearest body (sun, planet). This will prevent anyone from interdicting you while you get the lay of the land. If you are not near a body, proceed with extreme caution.
- Check for hollow radar contacts (players) and scan them. You may have to turn your ship temporarily to do so, but you should be safe if you are still close to a body.
- Any combat-oriented ships are potential threats, especially if they are wanted or in a wing.
- Check loadouts (Left panel, Target menu). If you see a full bill of weapons and shield boosters and an interdictor, you may be looking at a ganker.
- Decide how to proceed. If there are threats, you have several options:
- Try to communicate and establish their intents. You might get a pleasant role-playing experience out of it. The other CMDR may be patrolling for gankers and offer to escort you.
- Quit to the main menu and load back into Solo or Private. There’s no shame if you’re in a rush or carrying some high-value cargo or exploration data, and it only takes a minute. Just please return to Open when you reach your destination safely.
- Proceed to your destination with caution.
- Before leaving the safety of the nearby body, it is highly suggested to plot a route to another system in the galaxy map. This will aid in escaping if you are interdicted. More on this in the Escape section.
- Keep those threatening contacts targeted and watch for them to turn and attempt to get behind you.
- See the next section for ways to evade their interdiction attempts if you do see targets behaving aggressively.
Tactic 2: Evasion
If you have spotted a CMDR who appears to be positioning his ship for an interdiction, there are a couple procedures you can use to avoid the encounter altogether. The key gameplay mechanics involve emergency drop and supercruise speed, explained below. The end of this section provides two evasion techniques.
Before all else, Let’s talk about Combat Logging. This refers to exiting the game by killing the process (Alt-F4) or purposely disrupting network traffic to avoid undesirable outcomes, like interdictions, even when not in combat. It is against the Terms of Service, and you can be banned for it. Don’t be a cheat. Don’t combat log.
It is not recommended to fight an interdiction by another player as a means of evasion. More on this in the next section, Escape. For now, know that you are better off avoiding getting interdicted in the first place.
Emergency drop: Pressing the supercruise button twice in quick succession will cause you to drop out of supercruise even if you are over the maximum safe drop speed. Your hull and modules will take a minimal amount of damage. When you drop, other players that were in your supercruise instance will see your wake and be able to travel to it and drop there as well, but it will take them some time to do so. They will appear right on top of you when they drop, regardless of how far you have traveled in normal space. However, the time that it takes them to slowly approach your low wake to a safe drop distance may deter them, and even if they do try there is a good chance you will have time to select a nearby system and be in the process of jumping when they arrive. I tested this a few times, and it took my pursuer an average of 40 seconds to drop on me. When they did drop, my FSD was cooled, and I was moving at a high speed, which meant it took them another 2-3 seconds to orient and close on me to a distance similar to an interdiction drop. I endured a couple seconds of fire before high-waking, as opposed to 15 or more in a typical submit-high-wake scenario.
They will appear near your original drop location. During the time it takes them to get to your wake and drop, you can usually move far enough away that they cannot see you on their radar. Then you can essentially hide from them while your FSD cools down (40 seconds).
Supercruise speed: Interdictors have a range that is measured in seconds. If a CMDR decides to interdict you and is initially out of range, he will have to close some distance. What often happens is that the target gets out ahead of the attacker as they both fly away from the system’s main star. The attacker pursues and catches up to the target as they slow down on their approach to the destination station or planet. However, if the target recognizes he is being pursued, he can change course and head away from the system bodies without slowing down, and the attacker will never be able to catch up. The target will always be further from the gravity wells of the system bodies and therefore always going faster than the attacker. This gives the target time to safely decide how to proceed.
Evasion technique 1: Emergency drop.
Your goal is to drop and then move as far away from that drop point as possible so that your pursuer cannot locate you on radar when he drops on your location. Your goal is to select a nearby system to jump to (if you haven’t already) and to be moving as fast as possible when your pursuer drops on top of you. This technique is marginally better than submitting and high waking, which is covered in the next section, because you will likely face less time under fire. It is not fool-proof, however.
- Press the supercruise button twice to drop
- 2 pips to ENG, 4 pips to SYS
- Select a nearby system to jump to and turn towards it.
- Full throttle.
- As soon as your pursuer drops, boost and fire chaff, heat sinks
- Juke and jive and continue boosting until you jump.
Evasion technique 2: Outrun. If you are in a situation where you are many light-seconds in front of your pursuer, you could keep the throttle up and slowly point your ship perpendicular to the orbital plane, away from the system bodies. You will not be making progress toward your destination, but you will be safe from interdiction and have time to consider your options:
- Wait out your pursuer and hope he gives up
- High wake to a nearby system and come back for another try
- Emergency drop (see above)
Tactic 3: Escape
Once you are interdicted by another player, your chances of survival drop. Whether you make it out alive will depend on the other pilot’s skill and ship build, your own ship build (see next section for suggestions), and how efficiently you can follow the standard “submit and high wake” procedure.
You do not want to fight the interdiction because there is a good chance your assailant is more experienced than you and will win. If you fight the interdiction and lose, your FSD cooldown is 40 seconds. If you throttle down and submit, your FSD cooldown is only 10 seconds.
High waking to another system is preferable to low waking back into the same system for two reasons. First is that an experienced ganker will likely just follow you and immediately interdict you again. The second deals with mass lock. When low waking, a larger ship nearby will slow down your FSD spin-up significantly. This slow-down does not apply when high waking to another system.
The procedure for escaping has been pretty standard for a while. The basic idea is to high wake away as soon as possible while minimizing damage. Fighting back is pointless unless you are in a PVP-engineered combat ship, in which case you are probably not reading this guide. The step-by-step process is as follows:
- Before being interdicted
- As soon as you enter a system, plot a route to another nearby system from the galaxy map. This will allow you to escape more quickly.
- As soon as you are interdicted
- Deep breath. You got this. Remain calm.
- 2 pips to ENG, 4 pips to SYS
- Throttle back and submit to the interdiction.
- As soon as you drop
- Boost and full throttle
- Fire chaff and heatsinks (if you have them)
- Turn toward the assailant and fly past them
- Target next system in route (This is an input you can assign in Settings)
- Juke and jive, continue boosting until your FSD cools down (10 seconds)
- Initiate jump to the next system
- As your FSD spools up, begin reorienting toward the targeted system. Try to move unpredictably. Keep boosting and firing chaff and heatsinks. Try to get your alignment spot on just as your FSD engages.
- If your shields drop, engage silent running. Your pursuer may lose target lock as a result. Don’t worry about the heat – you’re probably about to die anyways!
- If you make it out alive
- Take another deep breath.
- Be aware that the assailant could pursue you to the new system. Keep your back to the star until your shields are up again and you’ve figured out what you want to do next.
It will take some practice to be able to do all of this efficiently and quickly. You can practice it easily by loading up a cheap ship with one ton of expensive cargo and flying around an anarchy system waiting for NPCs to interdict you.
Once you do get the procedure down, I would highly encourage you to pay attention to your comms as you are escaping. If your attacker communicates with you, consider stopping and seeing what they have to say. You might have a pleasant role-playing interaction.
Tactic 4: Preparedness
This section gives tips on how to build a non-combat ship to maximize your chances of surviving an interdiction. I’ll start with general module choices and then talk about engineering. Though engineering is not required to create a more survivable ship, once you have unlocked some engineers you might as well take advantage.
It is very common for new players and even many experienced ones to build ships that are min/maxed for optimal jump range and/or cargo space and completely ignore defense. And mostly you can get away with it with no major repercussions. But if you are going to be flying in Open in some of the high-traffic systems in one of these ships, don’t be surprised if you end up getting interdicted and one-shot killed. You can multiply the survivability of any ship in the game many times over without sacrificing a huge percentage of your jump range or cargo space.
I recommend planning your ship builds in Coriolis.io and using EDDB to find stations to buy modules. The main stats to be aware of for a ship’s survivability are the shield HP numbers. You want all of these to be as high as you can get them, with a focus on Absolute, Thermal, and Kinetic, in that order. I won’t be providing any specific builds here, but I encourage you to play with the builds you find online to see just how much you can increase these numbers with small changes to the build. Doubling these numbers essentially doubles the time it takes to kill you, giving you a better chance to living long enough to escape an interdiction. A lot of times this can be achieved at a minimal cost to jump range and cargo space.
Module choice for non-combat builds, in order of importance:
- Shields: If you fly without a shield, then I don’t want to hear you whining in the forums, OK? A-rated is preferable, but D-rated if you must. Don’t mess with anything other than A or D. In general, an A-rated shield of one size is comparable to the D-rated shield of the next biggest size. It depends what else you need that internal space for. Bi-weaves are for combat ships – they have less health but recharge faster. If you are trying to survive a gank, you do not need to worry about charge time. You want the highest health you can get.
- Shield Boosters: I can never understand why so many people neglect shield boosters. If you have empty utility mounts, then put a shield booster on it! E-class only weighs 0.5 tons. Put as many on as you can, and the highest-rated ones that you can.
- Heat sink launcher: If you’re exploring, you probably have one anyways. Otherwise, the utility slot is probably better occupied by a shield booster.
- Chaff launcher: If the goal is survivability, don’t bother. Most PVP players don’t use gimballed weapons anyways. Better off with a shield booster.
- Hull armor, hull reinforcements, and module reinforcements: In my experience, if your shield goes down to an experienced player in an interdiction, you’re toast. They’re going to shoot out your engines or FSD, and you’ll be a sitting duck. That said, if you have the space, it can’t hurt to have some extra protection.
- Shields: I recommend Reinforced, High-Cap
- Shield boosters: One (smallest if you have multiple types) Thermal Resistant, Thermo Block (or Super Cap). The rest Heavy Duty, Super Cap. If you only have one, go Heavy Duty.
- Hull armor: If you are running Lightweight Alloy armor, then Heavy Duty increases your hull HP with no downsides whatsoever. Might as well…
- Heat sink/Chaff: Ammo Capacity
Explorers: Look, I get that you aren’t likely to sacrifice your jump range for survivability. So here’s another way. Build yourself a nice fast ship with some decent shield strength. Park that bad boy on the edge of the bubble when you head out into the black, and then transfer back into it when you return with your hundreds of millions in data. For the love of God, please don’t fly your no-shield Asp Explorer into Procyon to sell your data for a Sirius permit and then get salty when a Power Play CMDR pops your hull in 5 seconds.
A suggestion from Shwinky:
A small A rated shield with Enhanced Low Power + Stripped Down and E rated Shield Boosters engineered for Heavy Duty + Super Capacitors will barely affect your jump range while increasing your shield strength several times over.
You don’t need to compromise jump range for survivability. You can have your cake and eat it too!
I collected this information from a variety of sources over my 3+ years of playing. I should have given credit to a couple of those sources at the time of posting. Well, better late than never. Thanks to wilson007 for reminding me about Rinzler’s amazing video.
- The Git Gud Guide to Trading in Open – a fantastic and hilarious video containing almost all of the same information in a much more entertaining format.
- Surviving Open: A Beginner’s Guide – another excellent guide by Exigeous. His informative posts on this subreddit have been immensely useful over the years but are totally eclipsed by his amazing YouTube Channel. It is a one-stop-shop for concise guides on everything ED
I hope this helps! o7