Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

All the dirt on 2.1

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the core game content click here

Elite: Dangerous Horizons 2.1

  • Engineer modifications won’t just be weapons.
  • Hostile NPCs will now attack on planets.
  • NPC traffic between bases will be seen on planets.
  • Engineer mods are mostly beneficial. Only a few have negative effects.
  • Rebuy will cover the Engineer modifications on your ship, so you won’t lose them if you vessel is destroyed.

Engineers

  • Engineers are planet dwelling individuals (around 30 to start with).
  • They will deal with you based on your reputation and rank and your relationship to them.
  • Relations are built with Engineers by bringing them materials and carrying out missions for them.
  • They will sell modifications to ships systems as well as awarding them for services carried out (missions).
  • Some Engineers will be approachable immediately, while others must be found and some will only deal with players of rank from their faction.
  • There may be PowerPlay specific Engineers.

Visual changes

  • Improved graphical fidelity for planet surface textures.

Exploration

  • Man made Points of Interest on planets will be mostly within the bubble (i.e. crashed ships)
  • Natural Points of Interest now exist to be discovered.

Confirmed Engineer modified weapons

  • Regeneration laser – a beam laser that will recharge a wing-man’s shields.
  • Feedback cascade – a new rail gun that, if fired when a shield cell is being used, collapsed the targets shields instantly.
  • Thermal shock – heats up a target.
  • Force shock shells – projectile version of shock-mines.
  • Emissive munitions – applies to cannons and multi-cannons. This ammo will increase the radar signature of target ship. Counters silent running. Larger signature also means the target will take more weapon damage. Causes weapon used with ammo to heat up more.
  • Incendiary Rounds – turns kinetic weapons into thermal on impact.
  • Effects of these weapons is multiplied when used by more than one ship on the same target.

All the dirt on 1.6

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the Horizons content click here

Elite: Dangerous 1.6

Galaxy map

  • Named bookmarks. Select a system and pick a name.
  • Filter for political states of systems. War, Boom, Bust etc.

Visual changes

  • Visual effects for weapons fire now scale with the class of weapon. Bigger gun = bigger flash.
  • Improved graphical fidelity of asteroids in rocky and icy rings.

More weapons in larger classes

  • Large multi-cannon (Class 3).
  • Huge multi-cannon (Class 4).
  • Huge beam laser (Class 4), which fires four beams in rapid cycle.
  • Huge pulse-laser (Class 4).

Missiles

  • Missiles are getting a small increase in shield damage and splash damage (which damages modules and hard-points).
  • Missiles do not penetrate hull, so unless you target Power Generator, they will disable a ship rather than destroy it.
  • Missile guidance has been improved.

NPC changes

  • Improvements to skill level.
  • Security ramming fixed.
  • "Roll of death" fixed.
  • Higher security systems now have stronger security response.
  • NPCs can use Engineers modified weapons.
  • NPCs will no longer keep approaching you about a mission.

Missions

  • Missions are now affected by a system’s political state. i.e. war would generate weapons smuggling and assassination missions.
  • Completing missions will build reputation with minor factions and will introduce you to higher people with that faction.
  • Minor factions will now be represented by individuals with avatars.
  • Pilot federation rank will determine who you deal with in a faction and how they behave towards you. Your reputation also influences who you deal with.
  • Navy missions for Federation and Empire are being overhauled.
  • Your reputation with a faction will be visible on the mission board.
  • Criminal factions will offer more illegal missions than other factions, but all factions will offer some illegal missions.
  • Difficulty and rewards for missions are affected by the CMDR’s rank. New players won’t be asked to assassinate an Elite Anaconda.
  • Mission rewards won’t just be credits. In Horizons, you may receive materials needed for Engineer modifications. Other rewards are not yet revealed.
  • Missions follow a new set of templates for 1.6/2.1 with branching and multi-part missions. This affects Naval Ascension missions as well.
  • Mission branches will affect rewards. Mission timers may change on different mission branches and time may affect reward.
  • A new rank of "cordial" has been added between Neutral and Friendly for factions.
  • Missions may be given out in space by a faction representative.
  • Mission brief will list any equipment required, such as interdictor or scanner.

Exploration

  • Ships can now scan Nav beacons to get system map without a discovery scanner.
  • Exploration data obtained in this way from Nav beacons cannot be sold.
  • Unidentified Signal Sources are being changed.
  • Nav beacons contact information on locations of salvage and other signal sources to assist missions.
  • There is a new approach mechanic for Points of Interest.

Station outfitting

  • A more graphical tiered interface.
  • Statistics on each module.

Communications

  • Stations now have a traffic controller who hails incoming ships.
  • Each commander is addressed uniquely by the ship manufacturer and first three letters of their CMDR name. e.g. "Lakon Alpha Romeo India you have permission to dock"
  • Hostile commanders will be warned that they will be fired upon.
  • The voices used by stations vary around the galaxy.
  • The communications inbox is used more. Mission related messages will appear in your inbox in super-cruise as well as normal space.
  • New commanders will be given a welcome mission in their inbox. This is optional.

Small ships

  • Thruster upgrades for Class 2 and 3 thrusters.
  • This makes smaller ships faster.
  • These will cost "in the low millions".

Mining

  • Ice rings can now be mined.
  • There will be ice mining missions.
  • Ice rings contain new materials – some of which will be needed for Engineers

Tips for beginners: Guns and ammo

elite_noob

Whether you have the Federal Corvette bristling with hard-points or the lowly Hauler with its single small (lonely) hard-point, your choice of weapon is a life-and-death decision. Getting it wrong will most likely be your demise.

Best weapon?

There is no best weapon in Elite, just good combinations - the trick is finding the best combination for your ship and play style.

Thermal or kinetic?

Most energy weapons are thermal (they burn), while projectile weapons do damage by striking a ship’s hull (bullets, missiles, torpedoes and cannon shells), but there are the exceptions that do both (Plasma Accelerator bolts and Rail Gun shells).

Energy weapons do more damage to shields, while kinetic weapons do more damage to hull. That’s not to say a multi-cannon won’t take down shields, but they won’t be as effective as a beam laser of the same class. The reverse is also true. The same multi-cannon will turn a ship’s hull into Swiss cheese while the beam laser will burn away for ages before the enemy is destroyed.

It is worth mixing weapons types for a more effective attack.

Weapon mounting

Weapons come attached to your ship in three flavours. Each variant has strengths and weaknesses.

  • Fixed fires straight, must be aimed by ship’s nose position.
  • Gimballed weapon will track target within forward view.
  • Turret weapon will track all round and fires automatically when in range.

The amount of damage a weapon does decreases if they are gimballed or turreted, compared to the fixed version.

Fixed weapons fire in a straight line, so you can miss any moving target if you don’t anticipate, but equally your aim cannot be affected by countermeasures.

A gimballed weapon can auto-aim, so you’ll get more hits on the target. While a turret can fire behind you, or above you, even when you cannot see the target through the canopy.

Fixed weapons would be effective on a fast fighter, such as an Eagle or Vulture, but a multi-cannon turret would be more useful on a Type-6 trader to shoot the bad guys behind you while you make your escape!

Types of weapon

  • Pulse laser – steady fire rate. Does equal damage to shields and hull. Low power consumption. Low heat output.
  • Burst laser – faster fire in short bursts. Does more damage than pulse, but uses more power and produces more heat.
  • Beam laser – most dangerous laser. Pours on the damage like a hose. Burns through your WEP capacitor quickly and produces damaging amounts of heat with larger classes.
  • Multi-cannon – very effective against ship hull. Rapid fire. Doesn’t use much power. Very low heat. Runs out of ammo in sustained combat.
  • Cannon – slow to fire, but causes a lot of damage. Next to no heat. Causes “splash” damage – it doesn’t just damage where it hits, but spreads the pain around! Very good at killing modules.
  • Fragment cannon – slow to fire. Low heat. Very short range, but does a lot of damage when close. Often described as “space shotgun”.
  • Plasma Accelerator – fires low speed projectiles. Does a LOT of damage. Huge power drain and produces almost as much heat as beam lasers.
  • Rail Gun – super-fast projectile. Does lots of damage. Big power drain and makes lots of heat. Very slow to fire (over a second) so needs practice to use.
  • Missile rack (dumb fire) – very damaging kinetic weapon. Good range. Power use and heat are high.
  • Missile rack (seeking) – like their “dumb” counterparts, seeking missiles have the same strengths and weaknesses, but will lock on to a target and follow it, so are much harder to evade.
  • Torpedo pylon – fires a single heavy yield kinetic projectile.
  • Mine launcher – these can drop proximity mines that cause explosive damage, but also shock-mines which do very little damage, but throw a ship off course.
Energy weapons as primary and kinetic as secondary is a good tactic

weapons

Countermeasures

Combat can be an elaborate game of “rock, paper, scissors” with ships having different weapons, armour and shields. But for every weapon, there is some kind of countermeasure.

  • Heatsinks – these drain your ship coolant into a hockey-puck projectile and fire it from the ship, making your ship cold. How is that a countermeasure? Now your ship is (for a short while) radar invisible, while the heatsink is a radar blip. Fire one, change direction and escape.
  • Chaff – this firework display from your ship scatters the aim of gimbals and turrets.
  • ECM – electronic counter-measures will deflect the tracking of an incoming torpedo or seeking missile.
  • Point defence – this is a tiny auto-cannon that will attempt to shoot down any incoming missile or mine.

With the exception of point defence, all these countermeasures are totally useless against an enemy with a fixed weapon and a good aim!

Tips for beginners: Shields and Armour

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

 

When you fly around in a ship in Elite: Dangerous there are two things saving you from the bullets and lasers of those pesky pirates. Shields and hull armour. Your shields are a semi-visible barrier that blocks energy and matter from hitting your ship, preventing most damage. Your hull starts with a basic level of armour that prevents incoming weapons from damaging your ship. Better armour can take more damage.

Shields

Your shield is an energy bubble that protects you from a fixed amount of damage (measured in Mega Jules "MJ") from weapons fire. When it isn’t being hit, it will recharge at the rate of 1.6MJ per second from your "SYS" systems power capacitor. If the shields are drained, they collapse and the hull will start taking damage. You see your shields displayed as three blue rings around your ship hologram on the Heads Up Display (HUD).

Ship power systems

When your shields have collapsed, they must be recharged to half their total capacity before they come back up. This means the bigger your shields the longer they last, but the longer you are without them once they collapse. This means you have a choice of keeping them light with a faster recharge or “tanking” and hoping to outlast an opponent by having the bigger shields.

The exception are Bi-Weave shield generators. These come only in C rating in all class sizes. They have the same resistance as standard shields, but recharge at 2.4MJ/s (roughly 1.5 times faster).

There is also one other type of shield currently. Prismatic shields. These are only available to rank 3 power player members of Aisling Duval’s faction after four weeks. Prismatic shields are 20% stronger than standard, but draw a lot more power and weigh more. They are like a shield with an A rated booster built-in. Why use them? They free up a utility slot on your ship if you are short, to add more shield boosters or other things, like Chaff launchers or Kill Warrant Scanners.

Shields often come in one class size that is the default for your ship, but a higher class may be fitted (or lower if weight and power are an issue) but the caviat for this is the shields only work for a maximum hull mass, so like other modules, if you fit shields too small for your ship, they will not function. You cannot fit multiple shield generators. Sorry.

The examples below are of one model of each shield type fitted to a Cobra Mk III (the most common ship in the game).

Shield types

Hull armour

Your basic ship hull comes with lightweight armour. This has a “Hit Point” value, which indicates the amount of damage it can take before it fails. Buying better armour (or Hull Reinforcement modules) will raise this value. There are also two derivatives of the top-end armour that make your hull more resistant to thermal damage (lasers) or kinetic damage (bullets).

The examples below are of one model of each bulkhead type fitted to a Cobra Mk III.

Armour types

Armour is expensive. Military grade composite will cost as much as the ship you are fitting onto! Another thing to be aware of, is weight. The extra hull will reduce your jump range, which is why most fighters can’t jump very far.

Hull Reinforcement

Armour is a way of making your ship tougher, but hull has to be repaired when damaged (unlike shields which recharge) and is one of the things you can only fix at a station. You can also add armour into module slots with "Hull Reinforcement Packages". This upgrades are not as effective as bulkheads, but add a lot of armour and can be used to fill any free internal slot with armour. What difference does this make? Well if you've got some cash to splash on it, a lot. Spend 3M CR and you'll get a pretty tough ship. See below.

Upgrades

Both ships look the same from the outside, but it's clear who will last longer in any conflict.

Obviously you don't have to add these upgrades all at once, but as you can see there is a large scope for incremental improvement of your ships hull and shields. No ship can be made indestructible, but you only have to be a bit tougher than the other guy. A bit of extra shield or hull might mean the difference between making the jump to hyperspace or being slain by those pirates.

Career paths – Combat vs Mining vs Trade

I’ve been on holiday the last week, which is why no blog updates. What I have been doing is trying out mining for the first time since limpets were first added. Back then, limpets blew up 75% of the time, hitting the cargo hatch.

So, with some time on my hands, I equipped my Type-9 with a refinery and some collector/prospector limpet controllers and set out. Arriving at a HIGH resource extraction site, I started mining and within half an hour, I had a lot of minerals and trouble. A wing of pirates dropped in, scanned me and in very rapid order destroyed my ship. Ouch! 3.5M CR rebuy.

Lesson one. Don’t mine in Resource Extraction Sites!

For safe mining, you need to drop out in unmarked areas of the planetary rings at least 20km away or more from the RES sites. CMDR Ranualf has written an excellent guide to mining on the forums here.

Following Ranualf’s advice, I switch to my Anaconda (more guns made me feel better) and equipped it with a refinery and a prospector controller and two limpet controllers.

I found mining a bit like fishing. You blast the rock fragments from any given rock, then wait a short while for your limpets to hoover them up for you. The minerals and metals just fly in. You go through limpets in the ratio of around a third of the cargo you collect. I managed to fill my 284T hold using 100 limpets. An exchange of 10,000CR of limpets for 2.2M CR of metals and minerals.

As you can see from my income log on Inara.cz, trading gets me the most money, while mining and bounty hunting in a RES are fairly equal.

income

But here’s the critical difference. To get 10M CR in three loops of a trade run, you need a 200M CR Imperial Cutter (and the rank to buy one), but my "padawan learner" CMDR Awesome_Gamer was able to equip a Type-6 for mining and was making 1M CR per run to the RES area. That means he was making the basic value of his ship each trip. Furthermore, bounty hunting in his Vulture, CMDR Awesome_Gamer was making the same amount of bounty as my more expensive Federal Assault Ship.

While trading is the "licence to print money" at the top end of the scale, combat and mining are far better options for newer players, with mining offering the most reward for minimum risk.

Now that CMDR Awesome_Gamer has two ships, he can switch between mining and combat as the mood takes him (much as I do) so the game never makes you feel like you are grinding.

Currently I've parked my mining ship and I'm back in the FAS for the Hammer of Justice Community Goal in Phiagre (is that a blue planet?), so a few days of pew-pew before I decide what I'll be doing next.

Rank and circumstance

elite rank logo I made the Combat rank of Elite this week after 18 months and 15 weeks of play-time. Which goes to show it can be done without any grind.

I was helping a new player (Awesome_Gamer) and thought a bit of bounty-hunting combined with a Community Goal (The crime crackdown at Morrina) would be a good way to introduce him to the concept of community goals and do some pirate-hunting for cash in the process.

Over the week of the CG my young Padawan went from a Cobra Mk III to a Viper Mk IV and put several million credits in the bank. He’s current goal is to achieve enough rank with the Federation for a SOL permit.

On Monday night I pushed the combat rank from Deadly that last 1% into Elite. I’m now looking forward to seeing what missions that this new status unlocks!

Choose your weapon

For the most part in Elite, I tend to fly around in multi-role ships favouring light armour and good jump range over ships with heavy combat loadouts and short range.

I’ve owned an Anaconda since February of 2014, so a lot of smaller ships have simply passed me by, having been added later. Although I own a Federal Corvette (The "Kharon") which is a monster of a combat ship, I hadn’t really tried any others.

During this week’s CG though, I took out my Federal Assault Ship on CMDR Ranualf’s recommendation and loadout advice and found it an amazing ship. Agile, tough and very adept at bounty hunting. Having found the change rather satisfying, I dusted off my Vulture from storage and took “Toomes” out for flight last night (Spider-man fans will get the reference). Wow! The thing is a killer. A space-faring attack-dog! Equipped with a C3 Beam and E3 Pulse I was racking and stacking the kills, but the best part was how it sounded. The audio effects are pure artistry! If you haven’t tried these ships, do yourself a favour – you don’t know what you’re missing.

Footnote: In case you are wondering why I have ships I haven't flown, it's because I have every ship, but until this February I only had four. The rapidly acquired collection of ships are for my VR shipyard at LaveCon.

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Yesterday I received the most forum reputation I’ve ever had for any single post! People were complaining on the forums (shocker there) that 2.1 was over-hyped. I pointed out that, just like the militants in Monty Python’s Life of Brian in the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" sketch, that you can give someone everything or nothing or something in between and they will STILL be unhappy.

To make the point with a bit of satire, I whipped up a GIF file.

”what

The best bit (for me) was when someone reposted this on Reddit and people were making complaint posts underneath, about how it "..was outrageous for them to have to pay $60 for these fixes to be done when all the Horizons functionality should have been in the game at launch for free!"

Clearly the irony was lost. Everything mentioned (except skid marks) is free and available to everyone at the next release. My point made for me – you just can’t please some people.

Tips for beginners: When a map is more than a map

elite_noobOkay, so I am assuming you have done the basic tutorial missions. You haven’t? Well, do them! No arguments. They teach you the basic basics. What’s the difference between this and those? The same difference between driving lessons and road experience. One gets you a licence, the other keeps you alive afterwards.

The Galaxy Map is not just a "you are here" diagram of the Milky Way. You can do a lot more than just plot routes. It shows the location of stored ships, mission related destinations, friends online and gives you the ability to search for systems by economy, population, star type and allegiance.

I want to find a high tech station

galaxy_map_filterThere are third-party websites (such as eddb.io) that use crowd-sourced data to show where ships and modules may be found, but the Galaxy Map gives you the ability in the game, to a lesser degree. It can’t tell you that a station has a particular module or ship in stock, but you can find the most likely candidate systems in short order.

To do this, you open the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. This offers a selection of categories to map. We want "Economy" here. This shows the different types of economy in the galaxy. We want to select just "High Tech" and "Refinery". Below the list is another filter option, select "Population" here and slide the "minimum" selector past half-way. You should now only see star systems of High Tech and Refinery economies with large populations. And well stocked Shipyards and outfitting…

galaxy_map_economy

Running low on fuel? Find scoop-able stars!

Again, open the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. This offers a selection of categories to map. We want "Star Type" here. This shows the different types of star in the galaxy. We want to select just types "A, B, F, O, G, K and M". You should now only see stars you can fuel scoop. Very handing for panic refuelling on a long route, when you cannot make the next plotted jump, but there’s a nearer scoop-able star.

galaxy_map_star_class

Have bounty from Alliance and you’re in Federation space?

In the Galaxy Map and on the View TAB, select the Map icon. Select the allegiance category and only select the faction you want to find. You should now only see systems they control. You can then plot a route to the nearest and hand in that 300,000CR that has been burning a hole in your Transactions TAB for a week!

So you can see, without me demonstrating every use, that the Galaxy Map is a vital source of in-game information.