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Review in Progress #2 - Space. It's Big.

Jonathan Doyle Posted:
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Space. It's big. Really really big.

After coming to terms with the fact that it is so mind boggingly big and that I do have a place in it, it was time to get out into the galaxy at large.

Last time in this review in parts, I realised that I needed a flight stick. Fortunately I happened to have one buried in the house, left behind by my brother. Maybe I'll invest in something a little more fancy, but it did the job. It finally made me feel like a pilot, like I was competent. I went from viewing each docking with a mix of fear and dread to hotdogging them. From fitfully trying to slam my ship onto the pad and pray to gliding in on pretty fine vectors if I do say so myself.

So I could dock. So what?

Elite: Dangerous still has the same options that previous Elite games have had. I can trade, I can fight or I can explore. Whatever I do, I can make money doing it. Just because I could I could dock, that didn't mean I was comfortable with becoming the great Irish terror of the spaceways. Exploration too seemed ever so slight daunting. There's an advertised 400 Billion star systems to explore... what if I run out of fuel? What if I run into something big and mean? What if I can't hack it?


As with everything there are options. There's ways to overcome all of the little exploration trepidation. I'll be setting out deep into the galaxy soon enough. First I decided that I needed money to kit my ship out for such a journey.

What's a new pilot with a new ship to do? Run jobs of course.

What did I do? Took off for Alpha Centauri like a complete idiot.

The galaxy map in Elite Dangerous is your guide to the big bad galaxy. Do you want to get somewhere? Put it in the navigation function and get shown that system. Is there a route available? You can auto plot the jumps necessary. Yes sometimes you just have to push off in the right direction and check back with the map to see if you have a jump route yet.

Let me just give everyone a bit of free advice. Possibly the best you will get in any review of Elite: Dangerous. Do not go to Hutton Orbital. Don't. It's in Alpha Centauri and it is a flight of 0.22 light years. Everything else you'll face outside of system jumps which use hyperspace is measured in light seconds. Nearly an hour of acceleration and deceleration later, I got to a station that doesn't have a huge amount of things. Lesson learned. I was going to head back to my starting system and run jobs instead.

Fortunately I did pick up some Centauri Gin which goes up in value the further you go.... so the trip paid for itself and made some profit.

Running Tasks

So you want to be a trader. What are your options? You can zip back and forth between systems plying the trade you pick up yourself. Do you know that Agri system nearby really needs agri-medicine? Do you know a source where you can buy as cheap as possible? Go for it. Naturally the bigger margins are in more expensive commodities but it's an option.

Failing the guessing game of supply and demand you can hit the bulletin board and take trade jobs. From low return zero mass courier jobs to bulk shipping. From low cargo space runs to collect floating junk missions... there's plenty of opportunity for trade.

Trade sounds boring. I haven't found it to be so yet. I like making my profits, building up my credits for that inevitable galactic cruise. I like the healthy bonuses that I can get for bringing items I'd likely have been shipping anyway along that route.

Most of all I am intrigued by the idea of smuggling. This week I made a mistake and stopped by a station with some... "stolen" cargo. Anything you find in space and scoop up counts as stolen so keep that in mind. I got slapped with nearly 20,000 credits worth of a fine. I could have avoided that though by avoiding the scans from police and system ships.

Do you think you can fly? Do you think you're hot on the flight stick? Try turning off practically every module you have and lining up a coast into the station. Try turning on silent running and praying that you make it in and out of sight before the heat buildup starts causing damage to your ship.

Try hoping that no one notices you... or even worse that no one malicious notices that both of those smuggling tactics mean your shields are down and you aren't exactly going fast.

Escape Vector

Personally, early on, I stuck to simple trade runs. They made me enough money to stick some point defense cannons on my ship and two small gimbaled laser weapons to round out my offensive weaponry. A small upgrade came shortly later to my cargo capacity. Federation space is nice and all but I've friends out near Alioth in Alliance space.

It was time for the long haul. I filled up on choice goods including more of those wonderful "worth more the further you go" items and set out.

Second free bit of advice. If you have a discovery scanner, make sure you have a key bound for it and use it every time you come to a new system. Universal Cartographics pays a small sum for star data, a decent bit (distance from source depending) for picking up a number of astronomical objects and quite a nice chunk of credits if you take the time to aim your ship at and target all those delicious "Unexplored" returns. Explorers it seems will make money just for sight seeing.... assuming they get back or ... aren't "interrupted".

Space is big. Really really big. Frame Shift drive though tends to be noticeable.

I'm bringing this up because well... even if you just plan to trade, sooner or later you will get jacked. Interdiction can come at any time and well... it made for one of the more exciting parts of system travel for me.

Line up with the escape vector or someone potentially nasty is going to pull you out of supercruise and start shooting you. Quick moves on your stick aren't just necessary for combat.

Enough is Enough

Alliance space is treating me well. I'm working on my Alioth system permit by running all sorts of jobs in the area. Mostly cargo but .... after being interdicted once and not managing to escape I got my introduction to combat and came out victorious.

There may be something in the combat and piracy. In bounty hunting and cargo snatching.

Of course it's not without its risks. This week was all about trading and the simple joys in making the credits from good runs and the thrill in a smooth docking after a least time approach. This week was me padding that bank account so I can set out into the unknown, but before then I think I have to spend some time in combat. After all it's a big big galaxy. It's not going to be friendly.

Oh and if ever you want a tense time. Accidentally crack your canopy while trying to blow up a pirate... Combat isn't without its risks. I thought a sweet docking was a thrill? Try docking without any visual data dead ahead because you broke your canopy and time is ticking down on your oxygen supply.


Jonathan Doyle

Born and bred Science Fiction and Fantasy fan. Head in the clouds is for amateurs when there is space instead. Look for the tall guy with a beard.