Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Tips for beginners: The galaxy, far, far away

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.

Getting to planets and stations in other star systems is about having a Frame Shift Drive that can “throw” the weight of your ship far enough and sufficient fuel to get there.

Rule#1 - Don’t run out of fuel

Never set out with an empty fuel tank. Ever. There will be tears. Then gasping, followed by death. Bad idea.

Pick a star

You are out of the station, you’ve cleared mass-lock and you’re ready to see the galaxy. Unlike most other games the starry sky is not a painted backdrop, but a realistic render of the stars as viewed from that position in space. If you can see it, you can go there!

“All I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by”

- John Masefield

The first to be aware of is what your ship’s jump range is in light years. This is show on the Systems Panel on the Functions TAB. For the basic Sidewinder that will be 8Ly. Not much. With upgrades the humble Sidey can leap 22ly in a single bound, so don’t dismiss the capability of ships before you’ve upgraded a few systems.

The Target Panel

On the left-hand side of the HUD, triggered by the “1” key, the Target Panel shows the Navigation TAB, which lists local bodies and (towards the bottom) the nearby star systems in range of your Frame Shift Drive (FSD). If you select one of these, you can then engage your drive with the joystick (or keyboard) and make the jump into hyperspace. A hyperspace tunnel lasts ten seconds and drops you out close to the Nav beacon of your target star.


When you target a star, your fuel gauge shades a section in blue, indicating the amount of fuel needed for the FSD to make the jump. If there is little or none left AND the system you are travelling into doesn’t have anywhere to refuel, don’t make the jump! Remember rule #1.
You use more fuel the further you travel in one jump. Eh? What? Yes, the amount of fuel used increases with distance, so you use less fuel making 2 jumps of 8Lyrs that 1 jump of 16Lyr. Short jumps are "economic" while long jumps are "fast".

If you want to make more than one jump to get to your destination, you need to plot a route. To do this, or to see information on the target star system, you must open the galaxy map

The Galaxy Map

Open the galaxy map from the Navigation TAB of the Target Panel. This will display your current location and the nearby stars in a 3D map. I will write an article on the galaxy map, but for now we’ll concentrate on what’s needed here.

On the tool panel, there are four TABs; Info, Navigation, View and Options. Select the Navigation (2nd) TAB and enter the name of the system you want to travel to into. This moves the view to centre on the destination system.

You can then click on the system and select from the pop up menu. The options are Target, Plot and View. Target selects the star for a direct jump (not possible if too far away). View displays the system information if it is available. You want the Plot option. The route type will be determined by whether you’ve selected the economic or fast route methods.

The route is plotted as a series of orange lines.

If the lines change from solid to dotted, that leg is the point where you’ll have run out of fuel.

Remember rule #1. Don’t let that happen! Find a station on route, or purchase a fuel scoop for your ship.

When making a trip using a plotted route, the total number of jumps remaining is displayed in the Target Panel's Navigation TAB. As you make a jump, your FSD charges for 15 seconds, then counts down from 4, the jump takes 10 seconds and your FSD needs to cool for another 15, so each jump cycle takes 40 seconds.

If you jumped 30Ly per jump you'd take 2200 jumps to get to the other side of the galaxy!

Okay, so I did run out of fuel. Now what?

What did I say? Never mind. All is not lost. There are a group of players in the game who make it their mission to rescue people in your position. They are The Fuel Rats. These guys will fly to your location with fuel and get you moving again. All the information you need is on their site.

3-2-1, and you are back in the room. Have 5M CR!

Just an update from yesterday; after putting a long 4,500 light years under my belt last night (from 6pm) at just before 10pm I touched down at Zeta Trianguli Australis, by adopted home world, and cashed up my Cartographic exploration data.

A cash payout of 5.5M CR was a nice end to the evening.

I'm going to do a bit of trading now until I feel the pull of deep space once more!

So I'll go no more a roaming!

exploring_hyper-space-smallI've been out of it this week. Well, several thousand light years out anyway.

I popped into my Stealth-fighter-skinned exploration Asp and headed out for parts unknown on Friday of last week. The idea was to head into the centre of the galaxy, as all my previous explorations had been outward rather than inward. The furthest I had been previously was 2,000 Light Years, making a total round trip of over 4,000Lyrs.

Initially I found all the systems I visited had been previously explored, but by the time I was out of inhabited space by around 500 Light Years, I started to find the odd unexplored planet – usually 100,000Ls distant from the hyperspace exit point! Gradually it became every third jump that I found a system unexplored, then every other jump, then I was in uncharted space.

This system was the largest I found, with 70 astronomical objects.

Just to say a little bit about my ship. My Asp is equipped with two heat sinks, no weapons (weight) and two auto-repair modules as well as a class 6 Fuel Scoop. When out in the deeps of space, scooping takes up a lot of time, so if you’re going out there, buy the biggest one you possibly can. My Asp has a jump-range of 34.16 Light Years. Something that sets it above the capability of most non-explorer ships. Only an Anaconda can jump further (so far).

After two days of jumping, scooping and scanning systems I had reached 8,000 Light Years from home. Nearly there right? Wrong! 18,000 Light Years still to go. Plus, due to a couple of sun-related collisions my hull was at 96% and my power plant was damaged.
Now, while auto-repair can fix most systems, it cannot fix hull damage and it can’t fix the power plant, because you can’t take it offline. With the damage to the power plant, I couldn’t raise the MW to run my heat-sinks, so I had to shut them down. With such a large distance still to go, I had to make a decision whether to forge on and hope for the best or turn back and return (alive) with all the massive amounts of scanning data I had amassed.

So last night, I turned my Asp around and headed back. Buy only stopping for fuel every third jump and scanning the star while my ship slurp hydrogen from the star, I made much faster time. I managed to put 4,000 Light Years under my belt in the course of three and a half hours.

Ironically after coming so far, it wasn’t until I had turned back, I found my first undiscovered earth-like world. I shall call this planet “Muffet” after my childhood pet guinea-pig which itself was named after the robot dog in BattleStar Galactica.


Within another thousand light years I had discovered a second. I haven’t thought of name for that one yet. I’ve found more than a few Water-World’s, but as my fellow CMDR Kalen said, “No sign of Kevin Costner anywhere!”.

When I finally parked up my ship last night, I was still around 4,500 Light years from my home system.


I have to get back to Quivira to collect my 6,000,000CR payout from the last community goal!