All engineers leveled to grade 5 - a brag, a guide and a feedback

How to obtain
(how to git gud)


So, i have completed getting all 15 currently known engineers to grade 5. I invested so much time into this, that i figured making a guide is mandatory - to help you guys out with the rough corners that slowed me down a whole lot.

The purpose of this project was to systematically defeat the 'grind' by fast tracking through the system using efficient methods of acquiring materials and choosing the right way to level up, that is picking the correct recipes.


Some important parts first:
the talk

No, you are not going to finish this in less than 100 hours if you start out fresh and yes, you will be doing mining, you will be doing surface prospecting, you will be doing missions, combat zones, pirating, bounty hunting and that is the way it goes. What i can spare you though, is the worst of the engineers, which is keeping commodities that are exclusive as a mission reward and hard to find. For the most part. Doing this will take you all across the bubble many times over and i seriously lay it on you to be desensitized to having to fly 6-10 jumps to get where you need to be next.

Good. Now that you understand that there is no 5 minute shortcut to godhood, you must face the next requirement: your starting point.
You absolutely need to be able to deal with combat zones and similar situations to farm the materials you want. For almost all tasks involved i used a fully A grade FDL that i upgraded with a FSD range 5, slapped on a single 16t cargo rack and went with it. If you don't have the money to to get a good vanilla ship first, you will be spending your time better on making credits than this.


the walk

Alright, heres some important information that will help now and forever. Do not bother with alternative leveling methods for engineers. Unless you are going back from a long exploration trip right now, you will not save any time by doing that stuff. The reason for this is that most recipe paths engineers have are hilariously easy to go through. I am talking about armored x, shielded x and light weight mount x. These are your friends. Why? Because they use commodities that are not part of mission exclusive rewards. The commodities are able to be bought from ports around the bubble without having to roll the dice to get what you need. As for materials, they are all easily farmed from ship loot that you obtain by, well, killing stuff. Which stuff depends on what you need. Every kill follows a certain loot table that depends on what kind of ship you shot down. This is why you will be doing everything, including piracy, though that may rather be called simply 'murder'. Before we go too deep into this, let's build a structure first. Remember? Systematically defeat it.

1) You choose the engineers you want to get to 5 next

Just because of how the unlocking process works you can only do this in single step to 2-4 engineers at a time. Of course i could just tell you how many ceramics and proto alloys you have to collect and get it all at once, but it is more important to teach you how to fish than to give you a meal. If i told you to get exactly what and where, you will learn absolutely nothing and be mad at the engineer system again when they release the next 15. Do not worry though, i will tell you exactly how to obtain critical items so you don't have to do trial and error.

2) Find the best route to get through the engineer

I have two awesome links for you, one of which is relevant for this step. These helped me more than anything else and honestly, without them i would be wasting so much more time and the reason they contain the information is because players went through trial and error. They are the real MVPs here. Thank you for saving my time so now i can save yours.

This neatly formatted list has all the recipes at your disposal.
Alright, let's say we want to get through the dweller, straight up 0-5 in one single stop. Because that is how often we will be going there. Only once. At this point i strongly recommend you launch this handy program called notepad and write down what you will be needing for your chosen engineer.

For the dweller i see power distributors letting us go from 1-5 straight up. Let's check some recipes out! At this point it is important to know which recipes are bad and which are good.

Let's take the very first one the high charge capacity power distributor grade 1

Sulphur, Zinc and Electrochemical arrays. At this point, if you don't know what these items are, it is good practice to google them to find out what rarity they are and what actual material type we're talking about here.

I differentiate between these types of materials: Surface materials, ship salvage, firmware, general data and wake data.

Surface materials: Consider them all easy to get. No, seriously, compared to the alternatives, any surface material that exists is hilariously easy to find and gather. When people complain about this it is definitely always either a lack of knowledge or a lack of assist by tools. Speaking of tools, this brings us to the second link.

This database is SO good, i had to write 'so' in capital letters. You can find any surface material you want in a matter of seconds. Simply select 'bodies' and enter what you need in the respective fields. When it comes to actually getting the materials though, please bear with me and wait until step 3, because that will cover how you actually get the stuff.

Ship salvage: Depending on what it is specifically, this is a low RNG but high time investment thing or unobtainable. As a general rule of thumb, you want to avoid grade 1(only complete trash ships like eagle actually drop these, which you won't find around that easy) and 5(doesn't seem to be able to be dropped by anything) ship salvage at all costs and primarily look for conductive x, proto light alloys, mechanical x, heat x, shield x. Everything can be obtained by destroying ships, but you can't ever get everything you need from the same type of environment. Combat Zones drop entirely different loot than pirates in a RES. Once you get through your first engineer you will develop a feel for what drops where. For now it is important that you absolutely and definitely cannot get everything you need from one location. Step 3 will have a priority list for what it is found where. Moving on.

Firmware: Avoid this unless you have them already from some of your previous adventures. They are not worth the effort of getting and you can only consider using the unimportant ones like Specialized legacy firmware if you happen to have them in bulk. Which can happen. These are a trap though. Simply don't pick this recipe if you can avoid it.

General data: These usually come by themselves just from you doing stuff in the game. When you farm out a combat zone to get your ceramics, you automatically get so much data you have no idea what to do with it all. These fields should basically be filled at all times when you look at them and if you don't have them, don't bother, look for another recipe.

Wake data: These come with typical names having 'FSD' or 'Wake' in their names. You can farm these really easy by using a wake scanner and camping a station for all your data needs. Basically free loot.

Oh yeah, the grade 2+ recipes will also use a commodity. Check the aforementioned database to see if you can buy it at all and where. If there is no result, you avoid this recipe to not fall into the trap of having to do 10 hours of missions. If you have to fly 180 LY out and back for this, this is great, you just saved yourself 10 times as much trouble from avoiding an actually hard recipe.

You will also find mined commodities. There is no way around them. Simply deal with it. You have to mine and that's that.

So, all in all i call most of these things easy to get and rightfully so, i was getting 1-5(most of time 1-2) engineers done from 0 to 5 each day of working on this.

Now, lets fast track through the picks i made for the dweller based on this.

Weapon focused 1
Shielded power 2
Shielded power 3
Shielded power 4

Now i have a list in notepad of what items i need:

6 Sulphur
3 Conductive Components

6 Carbon
6 Shield emitter
3 High density composites
3 Cmm composite

3 Carbon
9 Shield emitters
6 High density composites
3 Osmium

3 Vanadium
9 Shielding sensors
6 Proprietary composites
3 Reinforced mounting plate

Alright! We finally got through this step and as you develop a feel on what materials are hard to get and which are easy, you blast through this step in a very short time.

3) Actually getting the items now

Let it not be said we don't actually get work done ingame. Trust me. Every second you spend out of the game preparing for this will save you a minute of trial and error ingame.

Surface material, how to get anything and all in one location on a planet you know its on:

What you are looking for is metallic meteorites and metallic outcrops. It is unbelievably important you understand these 2 points.

A) You want to always land in a mountainous area. Forget about craters, canyons, plains and colors. There are usually small protruding spots on a planet that turn out to be huge mountains once you actually land there. This area is prime time for meteorites and metallic outcrops. Simply drive in a straight line towards something, like the sun or a nebula as a focal point.

Heres an example:

B) Learn to use the wave scanner correctly. Learn the sounds and the visualization at
You want to exclusively go for the material pop that has 2 lines at the bottom of the scanner waves. Do not bother with anything else. Do not bother with canisters and continue driving until you find a 2 line signal that leads you to a rock that has a comparatively high chance to drop what you want. Since you're just leveling engineers and not getting grade 5 upgrades, just about anything you could want from here will be found in just minutes.

Thats about it already. Still think its hard? Probably need to get desensitized to the amount of time you will spend doing this. There is no alternative. Actually there is with mining but that is the real RNG way to get the stuff. You want to stick to the SRV.

Ship salvaging, where to get anything easy:

There are 3 major sources of loot you want to stick to. Combat Zones. Bounty hunting. Hauler murder.

Combat zones

Proprietary composites
High density composites
Conductive components
Conductive ceramics
Electrochemical arrays
Thermic Alloys

Bounty hunting (Anything WANTED)

Precipitated Alloys
Chemical Distillery
Proto light alloys
Worn Shield Emitters
Shield Emitters
Shielding Sensors
Compound Shielding
Phase Alloys
Focus Crystals
Refined focus crystals

Hauler murder (CLEAN T6,T7, T9, Keelback, Python doing mining in RES)

Chemical processor
Chemical manipulator
Heat conduction wiring
Heat dispersion plate
Heat exchangers
Heat vanes
Basic Conductor

Theres also some sources that i have not explored very well. For instance, i have murdered a T9 and his escort anacondas in a threat 3 convoy USS, and obtained obscene amounts of conductive ceramics from them, to the point of it being kinda pointless to farm them in the combat zones. USS are very unreliable though and you never know if you will even find a convoy you can blow up by yourself in the next hour.

I am writing this after the fact and it is possible that i got some of these mixed up, but if you absolutely can't find them in a combat zone, try hazres bounty hunting instead and it should drop.


Simply use the database to find what you need. CMM composites are the best thing because they're all over the bubble. Don't forget to check planetary landings with 'Yes'.

4) Carry it all to the engineer and upgrade everything in one go, then say good bye and repeat at 1.


Feedback for the devs
"You call this a grind? Hah!"

Overall i am happy with how things turned out, because of the massive variety that it brought to the game. I am excited for the next 15 engineers and being able to finally make a sick grade 5 beam laser. That being said, i want grade 5 materials to drop from ships eventually. To simply limit them to USS salvage and mission rewards only is making the progression in this regard painfully slow. I have yet to encounter a single mission offer that lets me get a single imperial shielding. And i need 10 of those. It would be perfectly fine to have these drop only from boss type enemies like in assassination missions. Now i blurted this out without having done a single assassination mission since 2.1 landed. So it might totally be there and i look like a complete idiot now. I'd be totally fine with that.

I, personally, really like that you guys make me do everything elite has to offer. Driving in an SRV really isn't so bad after all. To just shoot enemies can get really boring after a while, and this is actually what i'm skewing the progression toward, because it is simply the most rewarding to do. Nothing beats getting 30 proto alloys in 1-2 hours and then sweep a couple engineers with them.

I understand the importance of the open world and how you absolutely cannot spoonfeed people with exact locations on where to find everything with a glowing arrow on the screen that leads to the nearest loot pinata. However, i agree that there needs to be some way to finding out the information ingame without trial and error alone. This is where i remember that concept art of surface scanning from years ago. It looks very cool and until now it would have been a pointless gimmick. Not anymore though, now we can have a cool looking feature that actually has a purpose in gameplay. I am aware you are making the surface scanner display materials. But it would be very nice to also make it show where on the planet you can find higher concentrations of the better rocks. Just a suggestion there.

Now for the one bad thing about all of this, the one thing i had to make this guide because its mindblowingly tedious.

Mission exclusive commodities. These are insanity. When i was getting my last engineer to 5, col. bris dekker, i had to get nanobreakers, no matter what, to make it happen. The only time i couldn't get around it. These are mission exclusive. I have seen them sometimes as a reward, and if i got them i had to sell them because cargo space. But when i actually needed them, i ended up looking for them for 10 hours of playtime. 10 hours. That is just unacceptable. I did get a bunch of grade 5 materials on the side from trying to find nanobreakers. I was offered just about any commodity that can be offered and i tried all kinds of economies, stations, outposts, settlements. None of this seemed to matter as i was getting offered the same old 4 ion distributors over and over again. So that was a huge pain. Mh, kinda ending this on a low note after so much high, but it must be said.
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That's spectacular from your part. I almost kinda want to give the engineers a second shot after reading your guide!
Thanks for the guide.
I'm trying to level up the Dweller using trading as I thought crafting (RNG style) would be a slower process.
Also, like to add that "murdering" traders in an Anarchy system does not put a bounty on your head. And in a Compromised Nav beacon you can come across "wanted" trade ships.

Have fun, fly safe. o7
Goog guide.

I'd recommend this site for engineering resources. It's well ordered and presented and provides recipes engineer details and a full list of materials with rarities.

I've taken a different approach and done a bunch of missions, accumulating materials that way. Simply find somewhere you want to work and pick up missions which offer materials. These have overwhelmingly been fed-ex or fetch missions. The only dedicated task I've performed was some mining.

I have found pretty much everything I need via those means - even including 3 units of Imperial Shielding and some Polonium. The only thing I seem to be missing is Yttritium... which doesn't matter, because - as suggested - you can work around difficult materials to get to level five. The only materials you *need* are ultimately the ones you want to make your level 5 modifications from. Everything else is just a means to an end.
+rep, some great info there. I found the easiest way to get higher ranks was to use all the junk i collected for the lower upgrades and just keep upgrading anything i could, you get the rep increase, even if you reject them. (which i did mostly)
Nice work! I'm getting pretty close to the same accomplishment and for the last few days have been thinking about writing up something like this. I guess I'll just add to this thread as I structure my notes. :D
There is no way around them. Simply deal with it. You have to mine and that's that.
This is the only point of significant disagreement I have with the otherwise excellent content here. This is only really true for the "unlock" donations for engineers like Lei Cheung. In every other case there have been ways around the need to mine commodities simply for grinding recipes for rep, usually with things I already had on hand, or by selling exploration data/etc.

I found that for getting at least as far as rank 3 or 4, the "lightening/hardening" recipes--e.g. Lightweight/Sturdy/Armoured/Shielded/Strengthening--were the way to go. Particularly Lightweight Mount, which has the same components no matter what weapon type, nearly all of which are incredibly easy to come by, and many of which are shared in common between grades 2 and 3. Most of the engineers mod at least one kind of weapon, so this is a reliable go-to.

It's also worth noting that if you've got an engineer to a new rank, and the recipes for that rank all require mined/mission commodities or truly rare stuff, you can often fudge it by using the overabundance of relatively common mats you have for the Lightweight et al recipes, or for something else of the last rank that you have an abundance of--the last rank's recipes will still add up if you churn out enough of them.
Great guide!

I may use it!

On a side note, who's idea was it to be mandatory to murder haulers?

What did haulers ever do to FD?

I won't feel safe flying my hauler taxi anymore..... lol
Good read. I'm still thinking that Fdev will be tinkering some more with the Engineers, so I'm not quite willing to jump on them yet, but if I do, I'll be referencing your OP. Thanks.
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