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Thread: Day 0 - A guide for brand new commanders

  1. #1

    Day 0 - A guide for brand new commanders

    Since I'm not well-known enough to write this as a Guide, I'll write this here and hopefully it will help enough people to gain me the reknown required.

    Elite Dangerous is not your typical game. It has more in common with a flight simulator than anything else. It also has more in common with other kinds of simulations than other kinds of games. There is no "last boss" to overcome, no "cosmic goal" to accomplish. Sorry Commander, but our Princess is in another castle. Trying to play Elite like a "game" is only going to end in frustration, so save yourself some headache, close your eyes, clear your head, and picture this as a "life in space" simulation.

    You are the commander of a space craft, capable of moving in 6 degrees of freedom. If you've never been in a gyrosphere, or been a pilot, this can be a bit much to get use to, and that's where tutorials come in handy. They may not be that much fun, but they won't cost you anything to fail. So take your time, get use to how you move, and most importantly, make sure whatever controller configuration you decide to use is one you are both comfortable with, or you take the time to get comfortable with, or you may end up eating your mousepad out of frustration.

    So let's take a minute to talk about controls and controllers:

    Mouse and Keyboard - Perhaps the most common way of playing PC games and pretty much everyone has these. They work. That's about all I can say for them, they work. I started off on mouse and keyboard. And even prior to starting the tutorials the first thing I did was to go into the Control settings and take a look at the key bindings. Wow, there are a LOT of keys used. It only took a couple days of fiddling before I decided to change my controls.

    HOTAS: Hands On Throttle and Stick
    - This is the more "traditional" controller setup for flight simulators. This can also require a major cash investment. As much as I love the look of the Thrustmaster Warhog HOTAS the $450 price tag is a bit steep. But these immersive controls allow both the "feel" of flight, and put nearly every important function right in your hands. I would recommend this and then some, to anyone who plans on getting serious with Elite. If you're not use to this configuration, fire up the tutorials, and get use to them. I recommend the Supercruise and Dock tutorial, as this covers the majority of the controls. You may also want to run at least one of the combat tutorials, until the controls become second nature. Believe me, you'll appreciate it.

    Additional Controls: To go hand-in-hand, no pun intended, you can easily invest a small fortune in additional controllers. Many people like rudder pedals as well for controlling yaw, operating SRV's - I have not yet added pedals to my set up, so I can't really comment, though I can certainly see where these could increase the immersion and enhance the experience.
    Switch Panels: Just give a Google search of "PC Flight Simulator Controllers" and you'll find yourself adrift in controller options. Personally, I'm considering adding a switch controller just to have some additional options available, however I'm not sure yet where I'd put this, as my desktop real-estate is somewhat limited.

    Other Controller Combinations: There are dozens of possible controller combinations, and in the end, this is a decision left entirely up to personal taste and budget. I will just stress what I have said above - whatever controller setup you decide to use, put some time in the tutorial missions to get use to them before you dive into the "game". It might seem tedious, but in the end it will be worth it.

    VR: I don't even know where to begin here - there are so many options available, and this will only further increase the immersive experience. I am not currently running a VR setup, just using a regular monitor, and that works well enough for me for now. This may likely change in the near future, as I enjoy the immersion tremendously. Just whatever option you choose to use, make sure you're comfortable with it prior, as above, abuse the tutorials!

    So, now you're all set up and ready to delve into the wide and wonderful world(s) of Elite Dangerous. You find yourself in a little ship, in a little hanger, with a few credits in your pocket. That's it, that's all there is. No driving storyline to motivate you, no final objective to work towards. The entire galaxy spans before you. Four hundred BILLION star systems lie in wait, with near countless worlds, and just as many hazards to life, limb and most importantly, to your bank account. So what do you do now?

    The great galactic sandbox lies before you, and in that little ship, you're just not going to go beyond the first few grains of sand. You're going to want better parts, bigger and better ships, and that all costs Credits. Fortunately, Credits are not that hard to come by, as long as you don't mind doing something to make them. Starting off, you may think you've a lot of options, but honestly, you don't - at least not if you're looking to make some Credits and save yourself a lot of grief. So to get started, take a look at the Starport Services. You'll find a "Mission Board" in there, with a number of different people, each representing different organizations and different interests. Each of them is willing to pay someone, namely you, to carry out various jobs, involving a space craft and your piloting skills. I highly recommend starting with data courier missions - Boom Data delivery being the most common sort. Your employer will ask you to take some data, which requires no actual cargo space - which is good, because that little ship barely has room for you and a good idea in it - to some other location and deliver it to someone there. Take note of the destination, both the system and the station, because you'll need to reach both of these to complete the assignment. Also take note of how far the destination is. Your little ship can only make little jumps, and can only make a few of them before needing to refuel. Don't try to push your limits. Dying in the void of space because you ran out of fuel is a terrible way to go.

    So you've found a job, and a destination, and you've transferred the data to your ship's computer, and you're now under way. One of a few things will happen:
    1. You reach your destination, land at the installation and find your contact (on the job board) and get paid. Congratulations, you've just earned your first few credits.
    2. Somewhere along the line, you get hit with a Frame Shift Interdictor. NPC pirates, thugs, and Player pirates, thugs and griefers use these to attempt to pull you out of a jump. If your piloting skills are good, and with a bit of luck, you can evade this, and continue on your way, leaving your harasser far behind and arrive at your destination and get paid. If not, you'll be pulled out of Frame Shift and more than likely wind up in a dogfight. Best to run, unless you're an extremely talent combat pilot. Running means putting as much distance between you and your attacker until you are able to frame shift again. Thrusters and evasive maneuvers are your allies. Time is not. It takes time for Frame Shift to charge, and you are susceptible to attack while charging. If you are unable to escape, all is not lost - you'll lose the data you were carrying and wind up back at the last installation you landed at, filing an insurance claim and watching those hard-earned credits dwindle - though in your starter ship, this cost is non-existent, unless you've loaded up on upgrades, and even then it's minimal.

    Once you've managed to scrape up some credits, you'll probably start eyeing other ships, and there are quite a few to choose from, though not all of them are available in any one location, and several require you to do things to earn favors to buy them. So with those off the table for the time being, you'll find yourself facing the question of "What do I do now?"
    To this end, you have several options, often referred to as "Careers". If combat is your thing, then either the life of a Bounty Hunter or Pirate may suit you.

    As a bounty hunter, you'll be cashing in on blood money offered up by various factions for the destruction of Wanted individuals. You can see someone's Wanted status when you scan their ship. Simply lock on to them and keep them in range, and you'll see the status display show Wanted. Destroy that ship and cash in the bounty at your local port. You can increase your payday with a Kill Warrant Scanner. Scan a craft with one of these, and you'll gain bounties offered in other systems for the death you inflict. As a bounty hunter, you're going to want to gear up for combat. A fighter-class ship is recommended, outfit with the best weapons and defenses you can load on your craft. For new bounty hunters, I would recommend a Viper IV, as it packs a good punch, maneuvers well, and does not cost a small fortune. It's also available at many ports within the range of your starter craft.
    As for outfitting, this is largely up to you, but a few things will make life much easier:
    1. Point Defense - an automatic system to shoot down enemy missiles and torpedoes.
    2. A Kill Warrant Scanner - a must to maximize your profits.
    3. Bulkheads - the strongest you can afford!
    4. Shields - the strongest you can get!
    Now when it comes to weapons systems, this is largely a matter of personal choice. At least one laser weapon is recommended. Lasers are good for melting away enemy shields, not so great at melting hulls though. Cannons, especially multi-cannons, are better for this. Personally I use a pair of lasers and pair of multi-cannons, but outfit your weapons to fit your style.

    As a pirate, you're a bit less of a combatant. Ideally, full-on combat should be your last option, as killing someone, especially someone who is not Wanted, will only result in you acquiring a bounty of your own, and this is not good for your profits. You'll want a fast ship that can soak a few shots and escape. Viper or Cobra are both good starting ships. A FSD Interdictor is a must, as you'll need to pull your prey out of hyperspace to convince them to dump their cargo. And cargo is what piracy is all about - steal what they have, sell it at your local black market, and pocket the Credits. You'll need to have some cargo space as well, and you'll want a cargo scanner to boot. Point Defense can also be helpful, should your quarry put up a fight, or the local system police turn up - or you attract the attention of a bounty hunter. This has not been a career path that appeals to me, so I can't offer much more advise in this area.

    "Space Trucker", Cargo Hauler, PlanetExpress™ - It's not hard to find these jobs, every station has a few. Take "X" amount of Cargo to Some Other location. This career meshes very close with "Trader" and the two often go hand-in-hand. Pick up a load of cargo, take it somewhere else, get paid. Sounds pretty simple, except for Pirates. They'll turn up sooner or later, demanding your cargo, threatening your life, and generally making things miserable for you. But this is part of what you're getting paid for, so...
    You have a lot of options here. You can take a combat-capable ship, like a Viper IV, go heavy on the big cargo racks, and cram as much cargo as you can and haul it from one place to another for the credits, and be ready to fight to defend your load. This isn't a bad option, but not ideal for "getting rich". You're eventually going to want more cargo space than these little ships allow, but it's not a bad way to get your feet wet either until you can pony up the credits for a larger vessel, unless you happen to have a regular "wing" to play with - more on that later. Your other option is to go with a small freighter, like the Type-6. At 50 tons of cargo, you can take some reasonable sized jobs, and actually turn a decent profit. BUT...
    Freighters are not fighters. You won't fare well against a pirate attack. Shields will help, shield boosters and upgraded bulkheads will help, but you'll be counting on speed alone to get you out their sights. Or more often, on that "wing" I mentioned, to provide protection.

    Trader - Like the cargo hauler, the Trader depends on cargo hauling to make money. Unlike the cargo hauler, the trader doesn't need to work for somebody - you can simply purchase goods at one port, take them to another port to sell, and repeat until you're drowning in Credits. Again, your cargo space is directly proportional to your profit, so more space means more money earned. This comes with a trade off - more room for cargo means less room for offensive and defensive systems, leaving you either dependent on piloting skills or a supporting "wing". As a trader you'll also find a number of "Source" jobs to supplement your income - someone always needs something, and they're willing to pay for it. These jobs require less learning of trade routes, and you'll always know what you'll make from them. Often they can be combined with regular trading as well, allowing you to make extra money for doing what you already do.

    Miner - Oh, the potential agony... Mining can be highly profitable and a good bit of fun, or it can be the most painful experience in the game. It all comes down to how you outfit for it. This isn't exactly a starter career, as it does require the outlay of funds, and in no small amount, if you want to see your efforts yield more than break-even returns. You'll need to be able to hold a fair amount of goods, and you'll really want to buy some specialized equipment for this. First and foremost, you're going to want a Prospecting Limpet Controller. This allows you to stick a little robot on a chunk of ice or rock and see what it's made of, how much of it there is, and how much material remains. If you don't use one of these, and simply blast away at the rock, you'll only chip off a small amount of resources before the rock is depleted. Using a Prospecting Limpet can double, triple or quadruple the number of chunks you can blast free, which means more raw materials, which means more cargo, which means more money. Of course, you'll also need a Refinery. A small refinery will only give you a little taste of what mining entails, and will force you to be more selective about what you mine. That's not always a bad thing though, however...
    There are a number of rare materials that can be mined, usually in small quantities - not enough from any single resource to yield a full ton "cargo" item you can sell. Low Temp Diamonds are just once such example. You'll find these, rarely, mining chunks of ice in planetary rings. The best yield of these I've ever come across has been around 40% of a load. It takes 100% to convert the contents of a Refinery hopper into a cargo item. I've yet to turn a full hopper of Low Temp Diamonds.
    In addition to the Refinery and the Prospecting Limpet, you will want Collector Limpets, or you're likely to die of old age and boredom before you strip your first asteroid. Collector Limpets do exactly what their name suggests - the collect the chunks of rock you blast away from rocks and load them into your Refinery, for processing into materials you can sell. While it is possible to pick up each and every chunk of material "manually", the tedium of doing so will prove fatal. Chasing little bits of floating rock around, maneuvering at low speeds and avoiding collisions, and of course, pirates, is the very bane of your existence. Use the limpets, you'll like it. Trust me, I've tried both ways, and limpets are the only way to go.
    But limpets are special little things. Prospecting Limpets are single-use, one-shot items. Once you stick it to a rock, it's gone. Collector limpets, on the other hand, will hang around for a while, barring accident or misuse. It is possible to misuse a collector limpet - if you lock on to a rock chunk, that will be the only thing that limpet collects before it "dies", and you'll have wasted Credits. Instead, lock on to your Prospecting Limpet and then launch your collectors. They will hang around, collecting rock chunks until their little batteries die, or they suffer a mishap. What sort of mishap? The worst thing that can happen to a Collector Limpet is collision with the rock you're mining. This will happen from time to time due to the fact that rock chucks will sometimes pass into the rock you're mining. The limpet will crash into the rock, and that's the end of the limpet. It's a minor annoyance, and there are some things you can do to minimize this. The other cause of limpet impact is spinning rocks colliding with limpets. The "secret" to dealing with these is to align yourself with a different axis of the rock to minimze the effect of the spin, thus sparing your limpets an untimely demise.
    So, to get the maximum effective lifespan out of your Collector Limpets:
    1. Target the Prospector Limpet. This will ensure your collectors do not simply pick up one fragment and die.
    2. Be aware of the rotation of the rock you're mining, as collectors do not survive impacts.
    3. My personal preference is to stick and target the Prospector and begin chipping away at the rock prior to launching my Collectors. This gives them the most lifespan collecting.

    Resource Management:
    This is crucial to mining. Cargo space is limited, though depending on your ship, you may have a great deal of cargo space to work with, which is ideal for maximizing profits.
    Some materials fetch better prices than others. Bauxite and Water will not make you rich. Low Temp Diamonds, Palladium, Platinum and Painite will, but these are exceedingly rare. Don't expect to haul in 50 tons of these in a single expedition. You can check the value of your cargo, once it becomes cargo, from the Cargo display on your right-hand panel. You can also see what materials are in your refinery bins from this panel as well, and you can choose to vent unwanted materials here too. Unless you are under contract for a lower-value material, loading up on these isn't going to make you many credits. However, contracts for lower value materials will pay out better than the value of the materials themselves. For example, I recently took a mining job for 8 and 10 tons of Liquid Oxygen. By itself, LOX sells for around 300 credits per ton. So 10 tons at 300 credits would net 3000 credits profit. The contracts, however, were paying around 50,000 credits for LOX, so 8 tons and 10 tons net 100,000 credits this way, as compared to a mere 5400 credits. So once I had my 18 units of LOX, I simply vented any additional LOX to make room for more valuable materials, like Lithium Hydroxide, which I was getting around 5000 credits per ton where I was selling. With a total cargo capacity of 64 tons, a full load of 46 tons of Lithium Hydroxide plus my 18 contracted tons of LOX yielded 330,000 credits.

    A little more on Limpets:
    Limpets take up cargo space. Each one weighs in at one ton, so in my case, 64 units of cargo storage can hold at most 64 limpets. Limpets are purchased at ports, for 101 credits each. Not a big investment for the return. They are also generic until programmed by a controller, so a "Prospector" or "Collector" limpet begins its existence as just a Limpet. Firing a Prospector programs that limpet as a Prospector, and reduces my cargo from 64 to 63 limpets. Each Collector launched also uses a Limpet, so if I fire two collectors that reduces my cargo space by 2 more to 61, and leaves me 3 empty spaces for cargo. While this seems like it may prolong your mining ventures, it can work against you if you collect more than you can actually hold, though a refinery CAN be used to store just a little extra unrefined cargo. More on this in a minute.
    It just takes some experience and luck to figure the right balance of limpets to cargo space to determine how many you should take with you. I would recommend, at a minimum, of devoting half your cargo space to limpets when setting out, unless you're planning to mine for very specific materials, and plan to use a lot of Prospector Limpets to make room for actual cargo.
    Speaking of cargo space, I mentioned a refinery can be used as temporary storage for extra cargo. If your cargo hold is full, when your refinery bin fills to 100% it will not have anywhere to deposit the newly refined material, so it will remain in the bin at 100%. Any empty bins after this will take on new material, so in my above example... I have a refinery with 7 bins, which translates into an additional 7 tons of potential cargo space, or an extra 35,000 credits, bringing my maximum profit to 365,000 credits. When space becomes available in your cargo hold, be it by turning a mining contract or by selling materials, the items in your refinery bins will convert into cargo, which can then be sold, allowing you to squeeze every last credit out of your mining run.
    Also, pirates don't like limpets. I've been scanned many a time even with a full 64 limpet load, and have not had any NPC pirate take interest in my load of limpets, so heading out to mine, it can be beneficial to hang around a while first, let them scan you and go away before you delve into mining. It's so much more relaxing when no one is hanging around wondering what's in your cargo hold. The trip back, however, that can be an entirely different matter! I have noticed NPC pirates not taking much interest in low-value materials, but as I mentioned, these just aren't going to make you rich. And what makes you rich makes pirates rich too!

    More on Mining Equipment:
    Aside from a Refinery and Cargo space, you absolutely must have one more thing for mining: A mining laser. This is the only thing that can chip off chunks of rocks. They make terrible weapons, so don't plan on defending yourself with one - they have terrible range, are fixed mounted, and just not meant for combat. And a miner shouldn't be engaging in combat anyways. So what's a good starting load out?
    Depends on your budget. I started mining with a Viper IV (I don't mind combat, and the Viper IV is decent for it). I loaded two big 16 ton cargo racks, a Prospector and Collector controller, a pair of small mining lasers, a medium pulse laser and a medium multi-cannon along with a refinery and I managed to make enough credits to buy a larger ship - a Type-6 which I outfitted with a pair of mining lasers on its hardpoints, a point defense and chaff system, two 32 ton bins, a nice refinery, limpet controllers, shields and a shield booster.
    Many miners will forego shields in favor of more cargo space, and that's fine too, as long as you can either outrun pirates or you have the support of a "wing".

    Wings:
    I've mentioned these a few times, and promised to get to them, so here we go... A wing is a group of friends who come together for mutual protection, much like teams or squads in other games. Wings also share in profits, and allow for specialized craft, like shieldless, dedicating miners or cargo haulers to transport their goods and fend off pirates much easier. The miner or hauler can focus on getting their goods where they need to go while the wingmen can deal with hostile forces. And for their efforts, they'll net 5% of the total profits just for being there. So there's really no good reason not to employ wings for mutual survival and profit.

    Explorer:
    A career path for a unique personality. The explorer makes Credits selling star charts. Nearly any ship can be used, though it is recommended to take one with a large fuel capacity. The tools of the trade are your scanners - a discovery scanner and surface scanner both to make the most of your explorations. You're going to want the biggest frame shift drive you can find, as big a fuel tank as you can get, and perhaps the most vital piece of equipment: a fuel scoop. This will allow you to harvest fuel from stars, rather than having to rely on stations to refuel. An automated repair unit would also be a good idea, as would a nice collection of materials to restock your repair units. Heat Sinks are also very worth your while, as fuel scooping can be HOT business, and heat can be a killer fast!
    Cargo space needn't be vast, as you won't generally be relying on this as your primary source of income - your detailed scans will net you income when sold. Of course, this is not a cheap profession to delve into, though you can make your humble starts even with your starter ship simply by navigating to the places you can reach and finding somewhere to sell your findings.
    Don't expect to make much this way, as you'll have only minimal equipment, and even the most basic Surface Scanner will set you back 250,000 credits.
    When it comes to cargo, however, you may want to allow yourself a little room, as there are certain rare commodities sold at various stations not sold anywhere else, that gain in value as you travel further and further away.

    And that will pretty much cover your initial dive into Elite Dangerous. With a little orientation, and some idea of what it is you want to do and how to accomplish it, you should be able to more than just "make a living" out there. And granted there are a lot more details and intricate nuances to each of these professions, and to virtually every aspect of the game itself, and this isn't even with getting into Planetary landings or SRV usage - though I may well write about those at another time.

    I hope this information proves helpful, as it has come at the expense of more than one painful and expensive lesson.

    Good Luck Commander!

  2. #2
    Seems pretty extensive and on the money. I'll have a full read tomorrow or Wednesday if I get chance and see if there's anything I can suggest to add/edit <- If I may.

    I'd probably try and add some pictures and links to useful sites like the shipyard apps, the exploration data value graphic etc to make it more readable and less wall of text.

    I'd also advise you press "report my post" bottom left of your original post and ask that it be moved here (despite being called reporting it's also a way of contacting the moderators here to do things you can't)
    https://forums.frontier.co.uk/forumd...ewcomers-Forum
    ^You don't have to, I just think its probably best suited there.

    Nice to see a positive contribution here. For what it's worth have a rep and welcome to the forums!

  3. #3
    Repped. TrackIR, EDtracker and also Voice Attack could do with an honorable mention. I'd bet there are more users of head tracking than VR!

  4. #4
    That is one *very* impressive guide. Shame that I can only rep you once, commander.

  5. #5
    Moved to newcomers forum and stickied it.
    Lets see the responses to it, to decide whether it should stay as a sticky.

  6. #6
    have some Rep, very nice contribution Commander

  7. #7
    Great work here. Deserves a rep

  8. #8
    Have some rep. Make it sticky!

  9. #9
    Good guide. Readability could be improved by having main topics and subheadings in bold.

  10. #10
    Thanks for the feedback - I've made an edit to help with the readability. I will see about adding some images when I'm at home, as I can't do it from work!
    That's IF I can keep from playing long enough!

  11. #11
    The default sidewinder comes with a basic discovery scanner. There are a surprising number of systems in the bubble that have not been scanned. (Or at least I have been able to sell the data anyway.) Encouraging new players to honk systems while waiting for the FSD to cool down should give them a nice boost to their income.

  12. #12
    Good job, I'd say. My first read on these forums as a complete newcomer and I found it very helpful.

  13. #13
    Thank you. This game has really intrigued me. Been watching tons of YouTube and Twitch on it and will probably pull the trigger and get it on my X1 soon. It's also got me interested in later going the PC route for the HOTAS and VR immersion. Outside looking in, it seems like a close knit supportive community that I would like to be a part of.

  14. #14
    I'm a new coming and found this information extremely useful!
    my com-utter is being delivered next week, so I look forward to putting this information into practice. ����

  15. #15
    Even after some time of play, there are a number of important things to learn and skills to master.
    Perhaps one of the most important skills to master is that of Fuel Scooping.
    Fuel Scooping allows you to replenish your fuel in-flight, for free, and is vital to reach distant systems and especially for Explorers, as outside the inhabited region of space, often referred to as "the bubble", as stations are fewer and farther between - or non-existent. Without fuel, you can no longer Frame Shift, and when fuel is entirely depleted, you will die.

    Fuel Scooping is not terribly difficult. To Fuel Scoop you need 2 things:
    1. A Fuel Scoop. These can be purchased at many stations, and can fit most Optional Internal compartments. The larger class and higher grade, the more fuel can be scooped per second. While this might seem a good argument for equipping the largest fuel scoop you can, it's not necessary, if you develop the skills to fuel scoop. It will take longer to refill your fuel tank with a smaller scoop than with a larger scoop, but the galaxy is 13.21 billion years old, and will be here for a good while longer.

    2. A Star, but not just any star. Only 7 types of stars can be scooped for fuel: O, B, A, F, G, K, and M -class stars are scoopable. You can filter your Galaxy Map for these types of stars, which can be helpful, especially when making long trips across the galaxy.

    Once you've equipped a fuel scoop and located a suitable star, you need only to fly close enough to the star for the fuel scoop to activate automatically and begin gathering fuel. Of course, flying close to a star come with a serious risk - heat build-up. Fly too close, and your heat will shoot up fast. Get too hot, you'll take heat damage. Systems will begin to fail, and you will die. A heat sink launcher can save you if things go bad, and these are one of the most useful Utilities you can carry. But they're certainly not a requirement.

    So how close can you get? It depends on your ship mostly - some ships take the heat better than others, but all can fully refuel without ever overheating. Rather than try to explain any further, I have included the following video, showing a "successful" fuel scooping in a Fer de Lance with a 2A Fuel Scoop. While the Fer de Lance may be an excellent combat ship, it has a small fuel tank and does not take stellar heat so well.



    As you can see from the above video, my heat never went over 65%, and I could easily have continued to circle this star indefinitely to refuel and maintained my heat level. Like real estate, the ultimate secret of fuel scooping is: Location, Location, Location. With the correct positioning, you can maintain your heat while you fill your tank and be on your way to your destination. One last thing to keep in mind, is not to Frame Shift too soon after fuel scooping, as your Frame Shift Drive will also add to your heat, and you could easily end up taking heat damage from it.

    Stay Tuned for More Videos.

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