Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Tips for Beginners: Mining

To take up the career path of mining in Elite: Dangerous, you need some basic equipment on your ship and the location of a rocky or icy planetary ring. Having these, you can go and refine the chunks you blast off of asteroids into their base minerals or metals and sell them. Why is doing this better than buying and selling them between stations? Because there is no cost to the commodities you mine, which means every credit of their sale value is pure profit.

Mining; to some it’s the fishing of space, to others it is figuratively and actually, grinding rocks.

Equipping your ship

The absolute minimum equipment needed for mining is a refinery, some cargo racks and one or more mining lasers. This means the bar for entry into a mining career is pretty low. So what are these items for and what should I choose?

You can equip a Sidewinder with a Class 1E refinery and a single mining laser for 12,800 CR, while a single ton of Palladium can sell for over 13,000 CR, so there's money in them thar rocks!

Mining lasers

The mining lasers drill into asteroids and cause chunks containing minerals or metals to break off and float into space. You can then retrieve these chunks and pick them up in your cargo scoop to be refined. Mining lasers are fixed hard-point weapons and only come in Class 1 and Class 2 (small and medium) sizes. They are purely for mining and cannot be used to shoot other ships, so effectively remove those hard-points for defence. Unless you manage to obtain the PowerPlay reward weapons, the Mining Lance, which can function as both a mining laser and as a weapon.

For best results; two Class 2 mining lasers.

Refinery

The refinery is a specialist internal slot equipment item that takes ore from the cargo scoop, grinds it and extracts the valuable metals and minerals into bins. When these bins are 100% filled with a single commodity, they are emptied into a one ton cargo cannister and transferred to your ships cargo hold, freeing the bin for a new item (or more of the same).

The bigger and better a refinery, the more bins you get. A Class 1E refinery has one bin, while a Class 1A has four. The largest refinery is Class 4A and has ten bins. What this means is that the more bins you have, the more things you can refine at one time. If you only have two bins and find a asteroid that contains three metals, you will keep having to discard the hopper contents of the third commodity to manually "unblock" your refinery. This can be time consuming, so you must either get a refinery with enough bins to keep up with the different types of ore, otherwise you'll be throwing a lot of money into space.

The refined ore can be held in the refinery and is not considered cargo, so you can go back to mining at a later date and fill the other 50% of the bin with Gold to get that ton of cargo. Ships can also be stored with partially filled refineries.

Mining process

For best results; the biggest refinery you can afford to fit!

Cargo racks

It may seem obvious, but you do need a cargo hold to stick the refined metals and minerals into, when you have processed them. You should, for maximum profit, use all free internal slots for cargo space. The more you fill, the more credits you make.

For best results; it's all about the cargo space!

Scooping your brains out

When you are mining, you need to collect the ore into your cargo scoop. To do this manually, you must line up each fragment in your sights and click "target" then, with your cargo hatch deployed, scoop the ore from space. When the cargo scoop is deployed, your target reticule changes to a range-finder with a cross-hair. Keeping the targeted fragment in the middle of the cross-hair, slowly approach the object and it will pass below the nose of your ship and into your cargo scoop. With a clang!

Scooping

While scooping ore to fill the six ton cargo space on a Sidewinder is not too arduous, however drilling and scooping to fill a largeer cargo hold is exceedingly laborious. So, in 1.2 of Elite: Dangerous, Frontier introduced Limpets that do the work for you.

Limpets for the win

Limpets are autonomous drones that carry out tasks while under remote control from your ship. There are fuel limpets to transfer fuel, hatch-breaker limpets that help pirates break open other ships cargo hatches and (what we are interested in) collector limpets, which grab any ore, materials or canisters in range of you ship and return them to your cargo scoop.

To use collector limpets, you need a Collector Limpet Controller fitted to an internal slot on your ship. Collector Controllers come in odd number classes – 1, 3, 5 & 7. The larger the class, the more limpets you can control at once and the longer the limpets will last and the further their range. You can (unlike refineries) have multiple limpet controllers, so they stack.

My Anaconda is equipped for mining and has two Class 5 Collector Limpet Controllers, so the ship commands six limpets at once - when mining ore the limpets rapidly collect all the spoil as it leaves the asteroid.

Limpet controllers program limpet drones and these have to be purchased, like ammo, in a station. Limpets are purchased from “Restock” menu and take up one ton of cargo space per drone. How many should you buy? As a rule of thumb, you should fill your cargo hold to 50-60% capacity with drones before heading out to a resource extraction site. Since drones have a finite lifespan and can be destroyed in collisions with asteroid, there is a fairly rapid turnover of drones.

When using drones, do not target ore (or canisters or materials) as the drone that collects the targeted item will self-destruct on return to your ship. Don’t ask me why.

Prospecting

The last type of limpet controller not already mentioned is the Prospector Limpet Controller. These also come in odd (not even) class sizes (1, 3, 5 & 7). They control one or more prospector limpets. What prospector limpets do, is when fired into an asteroid, tell you what ore the asteroid contains, what percentage of ores the asteroid is composed of and finally, the percentage you have mined that asteroid.

The Prospector Limpet tells you what you’ll get, when you have depleted the asteroid of ore and the best part; the limpet increases the yield of ore you can obtain.

Prospector limpets are well worth the cost, as they help you mine asteroids for the ore you want and give you a better volume of material.

The perfect mining ship

The ideal ship for mining should have both a Collector and Prospector Limpet Controller, two Class 2 mining lasers and all remaining internal racks converted to cargo space - half full of limpets.

Show me the money!

Okay, now you have your shiny new mining ship all set, where do you go?

You can mine in asteroid belts. These are usually found between the primary star and planets. The content of asteroid belts is determined by the type of star they orbit.

You can also mine for ore at any planetary ring, but there are three types of ring and each type will contain a different variety of ores.

  • Rocky rings - These contain Bauxite, Bertrandite, Cobalt, Coltan, Gallite, Indite, Lepidolite, Rutile and Uraninite.
  • Icy rings - These contain Bromellite, Hydrogen Peroxide, Lithium Hydroxide, Liquid Oxygen, Low Temperature Diamonds, Methane Clathrate, Methanol Monohydrate Crystals and Water.
  • Metal rich rings - These contain Bertrandite, Coltan, Gallite, Gold, Indite, Lepidolite, Osmium, Painite, Praseodymium, Samarium, Silver and Uraninite
  • Metallic rings - These contain Bertrandite, Gallite, Gold, Indite, Osmium, Painite, Palladium, Platinum, Praseodymium, Samarium and Silver

How do you know which is which? On the system map, selecting the second info TAB, you will see the ring type displayed. Which is best? Depends what ore or mineral you are seeking. The rare metals are only available in asteroids and are quite valuable. The most valuable items are Low Temperature Diamonds, but they are exceedingly rare, so in a time versus profit exercise, the metals will always win out.

Ring states

Another factor to be aware of is the ring state. How mined out are they?

Rings will start Pristine and then decrease in worth to Major, Common, Low and finally Depleted. Obviously you want the Pristine rings if you can find them, as they will give the highest yields.

A bit of time spent on the galaxy map finding systems with ringed worlds and then checking which are metallic and pristine, before you set out, will save you a lot of time and make you a lot more credits.

Now you have found a nice juicy pristine metallic ring and your ship is launch, where do you start?

Sauron is not the only one with ring trouble

The Resource Extraction Sites (Low, High and Hazardous) are obvious targets to head for when mining, but they attract both undesirable NPCs, police ships and other players. Not only have you got competition for resources, but also a high chance of attack. Now while these sites tend to have better ore content, they also carry higher risk. So you either want a wingman to guard your back or (after 2.2 hits) a deployable fighter. Some extra guns and armour can’t hurt – but you’re two hard-points down because of the mining lasers, so a hired gun is a better option.

The alternative is to just drop into a ring anywhere, at least 2000km from the nearest RES site. There may be a slightly lower yield of ore, but it is all yours and there will be nobody there to bother you or compete with.

If you decide to log off and resume mining later, leave the ring in super-cruise first! If you log off, then respawn in a ring, the game spawns a few NPCs around you and one of them will almost certainly be hostile.

Selling your cargo

Once you filled your hold (or run out of limpets) you then want to head to the nearest refinery economy station. These station economies tend to pay better rates for metals and minerals.

A number of Engineers require commodities for upgrades that can only be obtained from mining, so you have the opportunity to barter these items with other players who don't have a mining ship or don't want to pursue a career in the rock business. Even if you don’t have Horizons, you can still mine materials and ores that Horizons players need.

Another thing to be aware of, especially in refinery economy stations, is the mission board. You will often see mining missions that pay out thousands or even hundreds of thousands of credits for just a few tons of Painite or Palladium.

Always check the mission board BEFORE selling your cargo. You can pick up these high-value mining missions even if you already have the required commodity on board, so picking a couple of missions could easily multiply the value of your cargo a dozen times over!

 

 

The road to Thargoids: What we know so far

TTV 2Not everyone is fully up on where Elite:Dangerous is now with its ongoing saga of hunting for alien life, or the rich history behind it.

Alien 101

Back in 1984 when Elite hit the BBC Micro, the “bad guys” were an alien race known as the Thargoids. Beyond that, very little was known.  They flew octagonal saucer ships and would drag unsuspecting commanders out of the hyperspace tunnel (also called “witchspace”) and attack the commander in the deep black gulf of space between stars, where no help was available. Unless you were quick to fight or flee, it was certain death for most ships. The sight of their saucers was feared across the galaxy!

A decade or so later, in Frontier and Frontier 2 the lore of this race expanded and we found out that the Thargoids were an insectoid race with six limbs, resembling a praying mantis.

Since the release of Elite: Dangerous, and even before going right back to the 2012 KickStarter, the community has been speculating how and when the Thargoids might appear in the game.

Early signs

In March 2015, with the release of 1.2, Unknown Artefacts began to appear. These were being carried by Type-9 ships in a convoy in Strong Signal Sources. The NPC chatter was all about the "strange cargo" they carried. We also began to see them floating in space and they made a peculiar noise. You could pick them up in your ship's cargo scoop, but commanders found that their ship became rapidly damaged by holding one of these objects.

What did the noise mean?

There were two signals the UAs made. One was Morse code, which spelled out the system they were located. The other was a mystery until CMDR Mike Juliet Kilo realised the signal was co-ordinates and when plotted, drew his ship - a Vulture!

Throughout 1.3 the UAs kept making these same noises, but began to be found in space always pointing towards the Merope system...

Blistering Barnacles!

In January 2016, after the 2.0 release of the Horizons expansion, explorers found alien structures on the planet Merope 5C. These objects resembled barnacles or some kind of ocean shell, with crystalline spikes appearing to grow out of the ground around them. The spikes could be blasted into fragments with the SRV turret and one spike would yield a large emerald-like crystal, that when harvested using the SRV cargo scoop was revealed to be a meta material.

Meta materials and UA bombing

Commanders who noticed that the Unknown Artefacts damaged their ship, tried various things to avoid having their ship destroyed while hanging on to the UA they'd discovered. However, the side-effect of their sheltering inside a station, was that the station itself took damage and station services would shut down. Enterprising CMDRs then found that by delivering and selling multiple UAs to a single station could shut it down and thus "UA Bombing" was born. Deliberate sabotage of stations using UAs as a weapon.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the Meta Materials harvested from so-called "Barnacles" could repair UA-Bombed stations.

More and more barnacles have been discovered in the systems around Merope and seem to favour systems inside nebulas.

Unknown probe

Unknown Probe

In May 2016, Horizons 2.1 shipped and explorers began to discover smaller unknown artefacts, which were named Unknown Probes. These objects were active rather than passive, like their predecessors. When scanned with a discovery scanner they would emit an electro-magnetic pulse, disabling nearby ships and then play a data signal.

The signal was decoded in June by CMDR Muetdhiver and CMDR Wace. When fed through a spectrum analyser the audio produced a hazy diagram.

Probe signal

When cleaned up, the signal is clearly some kind of iconography.

Clean signal

General consensus is that the diagram represents some kind of address, but no definitive meaning has yet been found.

UPDATE: The guys on the Canonn Research Thread (#8) have noticed that the Unknown Probes appear to be seeking ammonia based worlds.

GamesCon hints

During GamesCom in early August, Frontier's live streams were "interrupted" by alien signals, which were overlaid with binary and ASCII messages.

Once again, the guys at Canonn Research put their collective brains to the problem and solved the puzzle and this week - CMDR Nochtrach, CMDR BALALAIKAX3 and CMDR Ihazevich found the clues Frontier gave led to an alien wreck site on the moon of Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4,
Planet 9A at co-ordinates -26,3772°, 97,6982°.

Alien wreck site

The wreck is very reminiscent of Ridley Scott/H.R. Gieger's Alien spacecraft. A bio-mechanical craft, laying in the bottom of a valley. The craft was huge – far bigger than any human ship in the game.

CMDR Niamhy has even mocked up what the ship may have looked like before it crashed. Scary.

Alien ship

So, is it Thargoids?

Well truthfully, nobody outside Frontier knows. The ship doesn't resemble the earlier Thargoid ships. Are they friendly or not? Again, we don't yet know. What transpires next is anybody's guess and may be decided by who finds them first and who shoots first (or not).

Be careful out there. We are not alone...

 

Tips for Beginners: Fight or flight

beginnersSo you’re in a basic ship without all the toys of combat, or in a trade-ship that simply cannot manoeuvre or fight. What do you do? "Run away" sounds simple enough, but there is more to it than that.

You don't need to "GIT GUD" you just need to "GIT AWAY"

Interdiction

You are minding your own business when a ship flies in close behind you and locks on with a Frame Shift Interdictor. There are three possible options.

  • You submit immediately (cut throttle to zero).
  • You fight it and win.
  • You fight it and lose.

What then?

  • If you submit immediately, your Frame Shift Drive will cool down faster and you won’t go into a flat spin when you drop out of super-cruise.
  • If you fight and win, you can carry on your way, but it is a gamble.
  • Because if you fight and lose, you spin uncontrollably into normal space and your Frame Shift Drive will take a lot longer to cool down before being able to jump once more.

The best option for a guaranteed safe outcome is to submit immediately.

Power management

Having dropped out of super-cruise, you put all power to engines right? Wrong! Put all power to SYS. Your shields will last a lot longer with four "pips" set.

[edit] Your boost speed is no faster at four pips than at two & while your top speed & rate of recharge on the engine capacitor is slightly lower, the shield benefits are worth the trade off.

High wake

When you jump to super-cruise you leave behind a low-energy wake and when you jump to another system through hyperspace, you leave a high-energy wake. You are trying to get away, so does it matter if you jump to super-cruise in the same system or jump through hyperspace to another system? Yes.

If the other ships is bigger than you, it creates a mass-lock, preventing faster-than-light travel (super-cruise) so you cannot jump to super-cruise if your pursuer is close and in a larger ship.
You can however, jump to hyperspace, as this is not affected by mass lock!

As soon as you have been interdicted, get the enemy ships(s) in your rear radar view, hit full throttle, boost as well, then switch to the navigation panel and pick the nearest system in range. Once the ten second FSD cooldown is over, jump.

Run interference

You may have to last twenty five seconds or more between dropping out and jumping safely away.

Got any mines or shock mines? Feel free to share them while your FSD is cooling. They’ll leave a nice surprise in your wake as you run.

Any chaff or a heat-sink? Firing these makes you a harder target for gimballed weapons and missiles. ECM too if you have it.

Or…

If the ship that just interdicted you was an Eagle. On its own. And you are in pretty much any ship from a Viper up.

Kill it with fire and laugh. A lot.

Tips for beginners: Engineers

Who are they?

There are currently thirty engineers to be found. Each one has a face and their own small biography. The upgrades they offer reflect their interests or former professions.

See HERE for up to date information.


Below is an example of the Engineers screen. It's accessed from the Status TAB on the Systems panel.

What do they do?

They trade materials and data and commodities for ship upgrades. These may be faster FSD drives, longer jump range, stronger shields, faster engines, etc.

Some of them also sell upgraded modules directly. Farseer Inc. is where you can buy racing thrusters.

Where do you find them?

On planets. Depending on your progress in the game (your combat, exploration, trade and CQC ranks) you will have "introductions" hit your mailbox. Once invited by an engineer, not before, you can visit their base and if you can meet their initial requirements, may begin a barter relationship where you trade materials for upgrades.

Each engineer base location will appear as a point on the Galaxy Map once you have that engineer "Unlocked".

As you progress with an engineer, they will introduce you to other engineers. Also, progress in different fields in the game will unlock more. I’ll try and get the unlock information as the full list develops.

Upgrades and unlocks

The upgrades offered by each engineer depend on their area of expertise. Initially you start at level one (very minor upgrades) and as you buy more upgrades, your business relationship with engineer improves and more upgrades unlock. Upgrades go up to level five. Each engineer’s "special interest" may allow a faster path to higher levels. For example Felicity Farseer was an explorer, so will accept exploration data and the more you give her, the higher the level of upgrades become unlocked.

Blueprints

Each upgrade has a blueprint, like the one above for increased FSD range. This tells you what the upgrade will do and what the pros and cons of the modification might be. It also tells you what data, materials and commodities are required. Once the upgrade is unlocked you can “pin" the blueprint to refer back to when away from the engineer’s base. You can only “pin" one blueprint per engineer.

Where do I find materials?

Everywhere! However to find the specific materials you need, look at the blueprint you pinned and selecting the material needed will display a clue as to where the item should be found. This is in the form of a general location such as “at navigation beacons" rather than a specific planet or system.

How do I find data?

Different types of data are gained from different types of scanning. Normal basic scanning of ships in super-cruise and normal space will collect data. Also some data (such as Atypical Wake Echoes) will require a Frame Shift Wake scanner, which is a utility slot item.

Do materials take up cargo space?

No. They list in your inventory panel and (we must assume) fit in your flight-suit pockets as they remain with you, even if you swap ships or are destroyed. You don’t need cargo racks for any materials, however some engineer modification blueprints do require commodities which will need to be stored in your ship’s cargo rack.

Where can I get blueprint commodities I can't buy?

These are only available as mission rewards. Again, the tooltip will give you clue as to the type of mission you'll need to take in order to obtain the rare item you seek. You could also ask other commanders. A lot of bartering has already begun. This will only increase with time.

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.

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.

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.

Fuel

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.

Tips for beginners: Finding your way around systems

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.

Having left a station, you want to travel the galaxy. Knowing how to get around, explore and find things and places is essential.

Modes of flight

When you leave a station you are flying in normal space. You maximum speed is dictated by your ships thrusters. In this mode of travel you can only fly around the immediate area. This may be the space around a station, a Resource Extraction Site or the area around a navigation beacon or other place of interest.

To travel further, you must travel much faster. To do this you must engage your FrameShift drive and enter super-cruise. Your drive takes 15 seconds to charge, then counts down from 5 and boom! You’re away.

You cannot fire your weapons or otherwise interact with other ships in this mode of travel, unless you have a FrameShift Interdictor, but you can scan ships to determine their identity and you can scan planets for exploration data.

As you fly away from planets, stars or other bodies their gravitational well fades and your ship accelerates. Your speed starts in km/s, but very quickly hits light speed (“c”) and can reach over 1,000 times light speed on long trips. This mode of travel is used to move around within star systems. You cannot travel between star systems using super-cruise.

The final mode of travel is hyperspace. This allows you to travel 10s of light years in a single jump that lasts only ten seconds. FrameShift engages the same way as super-cruise, but this time you must target a star system within range. Your jump-range is decided by the weight of your ship and the size and rating of your FrameShift drive. We'll look more at this when covering how to get around the galaxy.

Making an approach

In super-cruise you may see planets, stations and a variety of signal sources. You can select them as your destination by pressing the target button. Once you've done this you need to decelerate in super-cruise and get to within 1,000km of the target before you can drop back into normal space. See below.

approach radar

Things you might find in Super-Cruise

As you fly in super-cruise various things appear on your target scanner in the HUD, or on the Contacts TAB on the left instrument panel. These can all be visited by dropping into normal space and investigating.

signal types

Tips for beginners: Docking at stations

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.

Docking at a station is a matter of finding the access corridor (letterbox), asking permission to enter, flying inside and then finding your landing pad to land on, preferably with landing gear down.

FINDING THE LETTERBOX

When you drop out of super-cruise, you are for the most-part around 10km from the station. You cannot ask permission to land until you are less than 7.5km away, so get nearer!

With Orbis (wheel) stations and Ocelus (Dalek eye stalk) stations, the end that is the front is pretty obvious – it’s the big end – but with the Coriolis stations new players have trouble finding the “front”.

First thing to do is target the station – this is done for you when you request docking permission (see next paragraph for how).

station arrows

This causes your target hologram to display the station in orange (or green if you are classed as friendly). If you look carefully, on the sides of the station hologram are arrows which point to the front. finding the frontThe stations always rotate anti-clockwise, so if it’s turning clockwise you are at the back! If the station is orbiting a planet the entrance is always facing the planet.

Get around to the front and then ask to dock.

NOTE: The speed limit is 100m/s. If a policeman rams you, you'll be fined for speeding! Dirty cops…

ASK NICELY

permission to dockTo request docking, you need to open the CONTACTS tab on your left-hand panel (press “1”).

Find the station (it should be first in the list), select it and select “request docking”

You then either get permission denied, because you are too far away (or on rare occasions the pads are all busy), or you are assigned a pad number and a 10 minute countdown starts. After which time, permission to land ends.

in the green

Get lined up on the station’s centre of rotation – when you are new to the game it is easier to do this from a little further away.

Match the rotation of the entrance and head into the station, staying on the green side of the slot.

Remember to always enter and exit on the green side, no matter what way up you are.

WHERE’S MY PAD?

Once inside, pads are located in lines around the station interior like staves of a barrel.
Your pad will be lit up with a holographic number. Loads are lit up?

choose a padHUD compass

Ah, well here’s a trick. The compass on your HUD that normally points to your target in space is now pointing to your landing pad. If the dot is hollow, it’s behind you (you’ve already flow over it.)

Found it? Good. Now land.

IN STATIONS WE THRUST

Now you’ve found your pad, get lined up and drop your landing gear. You have to position your ship over the pad with your nose pointing at the back of the pad (where the number is displayed). You cannot land facing backwards. Stations are fussy that way!

hologramGet as close as you can, then slow right down. As you get near your pad, the ship's radar view changes into a hologram of your ship above the pad. You now need to use side thrusters and vertical thrusters to position your ship on the centre of the pad, so the HUD turns blue.

Don't worry if you overshoot a little. Reverse back and try again.

As soon as you are stationary, in the “blue zone” above the pad and you are low enough, the station’s magnetic clamps grab your ship and you are docked.

DON’T

Try and enter the station before asking permission. The station will start a countdown, after 30 seconds you are fined. If you are not out within 2 minutes, the station will kill you.

If you forget to request docking permission, stay calm. Stick the ship in reverse, or if you are in a small ship, fly though the entrance, flip over and fly out again.

After you have had your wrist (or bank account) smacked by station control, you must wait 10 seconds before you can ask again for docking permission.