Welcome all newcomers to the world of Elite: Dangerous!
BOUNTY HUNTING GUIDE
BOUNTY HUNTING GUIDE
If you are new to Elite: Dangerous (ED), you may be wondering "How Do I get Started?" As after the tutorials, you are pretty much on your own and the game does not explain how to get started or where to go.
In ED, there are 6 main ways to play the game. These ways come in the form of various different roles, so you can be a: Trader, Miner, Explorer, Pirate, Mission Player or Bounty Hunter. Today, we will be discussing that final option: Bounty Hunter, as it is by far and away the most popular way to play. There are several reasons as to why this is the most popular way to play. For one, its very easy to get started. Two, you can Bounty Hunt in any area of the Milky Way Galaxy. Three, its the fastest way to intense firefights and full-of-action game play. And finally, Bounty Hunting can net you some of the fastest currency gains in the game, in very little time. I myself have achieved 4.5 Million Credits in one hour of play!
So How Does Bounty Hunting Work? What is It?
In the world of ED, there are millions of pirates and murderers cruising around. A Bounty Hunter's job and description is basically to Eliminate as many of these hostile threats as possible and therefore "Clean up Society".
So How Do I get Started?
Well, Key Bindings for the game vary depending on your input methods (Keyboard+Mouse Vs Gamepad for example). Unfortunately this means I just couldn't possibly list every single step, as even keyboard bindings can be customized based on your preference. I suggest that before you get started, you head to the "Options" Menu at the Main menu, then choose your preferred method of input under the "Controls" area. When I sold my Xbox One, I kept an Xbox One Controller for use on my PC using a special Sync Adapter module you can purchase from Best Buy or online for about USD $20. This is a very good way to play the game, as the joysticks give you full 360 degree adjustable control over your ships flight. Under the "Controls" Options menu, you will want to select the "Advanced Gamepad" preset to use this setup effectively.
Once your controls are selected, head to the "Training" area of the Main Menu. From here, you will want to get used to your controls by completing all of the tutorials in this menu. Do not worry if you cannot beat the "Advanced Combat" Module, as it is actually quite difficult and requires a skilled pilot.
Once you have completed the tutorials and are confident that you understand your controls, you will want to start the game in "Solo Play" Mode, as "Open Play" Mode includes other players and believe me, as a new player it is extremely frustrating when experienced Pirate players pick on you and kill you over and over again. I will let you know when it is wise to try "Open Play".
Once in game, you will notice you are already in your starting ship: The Sidewinder. The Sidewinder is a very weak ship with very low power shields and hardly any armor at all, but you can still Bounty Hunt in it, but you will want to follow the instructions further down very carefully...
Pirates and Murderers are found in Resource Extraction Sites (RES). You will want to open your system map by rotating your pilots view to the left-hand side of the cockpit and selecting "System Map" under the "Navigation" Tab. RES sites are found on ringed planets, inside the rings, as this is where miners mine their resources from, and where Pirates kill those miners for those resources.
If there are no ringed planets in your current system, open your "Galaxy Map" under the same "Navigation" Panel in the cockpit instead. This will show all the Solar Systems in the game. Hover over a nearby one that displays a low "Distance". In the little box that pops up, you will see an icon that looks like small dots orbiting a bigger one. This is the System Map of your selected Solar System. Select it and look for ringed planets in the system. If there are, hover over that planet and select the "Plot Route" Option. If a line-with-dots icon appeared, your Sidewinder can Hyper-Jump there successfully. If route plotting fails, it means the jump distance exceeds the Sidewinders jump limit, and you will need to look at a closer Solar System.
Once you have successfully located a ringed planet you can travel to, then travel to it. You should have learned how to travel in the tutorials. As you begin to get close to the planet, slow down and pull up your "Navigation" Panel. Across from your "Galaxy Map" and "System Map" Options, there will be a list of nearby locations. In these locations, you should see "Resource Extraction Site" options. These options vary from Low, to Medium, High, and Hazardous. The Medium sites will not display anything next to the destination name. As a beginner in a Sidewinder, you will want to avoid both High and Hazardous RES sites, as these sites will contain much more difficult bounties in much larger, much more powerful ships that will destroy you quicker than you can say "Oops". As a beginner, I personally recommend the Low RES sites but the Medium sites are doable if you are feeling brave.
Select a RES and enter it. Once inside, you will notice ships beginning to appear on your radar. One by one, scan ships by selecting them either in the left cockpit panel under the "Contacts" Tab or by simply pointing your ship at them and selecting them. This will automatically initiate a scan of the ship. NOTE: As a beginner, it is a GOOD idea to keep your hardpoints (weapons) retracted (closed) while scanning ships. Accidental fire on a civilian, innocent target will cause the local police to open fire upon you, and trust me in a Sidewinder you will have no chance at all against them and slim chance of escape. ALSO, do not open fire while your scans are still in progress, EVEN IF the police are already battling that target. This will automatically default to a criminal act and you will be eliminated!
Once your scan is complete, under the targets information in the bottom-left corner of the screen when facing forwards in the cockpit, you should see a status that either says "Clean" or "Wanted". "Clean" means the target is an innocent civilian with no bounty and if you open fire, the police will kill you. "Wanted" means the target is a criminal and there is a bounty on their head, meaning it is okay to open fire. As a beginner, it may be a good idea to look around for targets already being pursued or shot at by police forces, as the enemy will most likely stay focused on the police and not fire upon yourself.
If you do decide you wish to engage before police are around to help, you will want to engage small ships like your own. In the Sidewinder, your options are pretty much limited to other Sidewinders, Eagles, and Adders. Once you attempt to engage a Viper, a Cobra, or larger on your own, you will more than likely be killed. Larger ships are OK to engage if the police have already engaged them, but as a Sidewinder pilot even this tactic becomes risky when engaging the more expensive and powerful ships (Vultures, Fer De Lances, Imperial Clippers, Pythons, Federal Dropships, and Federal Assault Ships) and under NO circumstances should you ever engage the largest Anacondas or Federal Corvettes as a Sidewinder!
So I Have Bounty Hunted for Awhile, When Should I Stop?
A good general rule for all ships is to cease Bounty Hunting Activities as soon as your Hull Integrity (Health) Drops Below 50% or as soon as you start a fight that you feel you cant finish.
OH, NO! IVE STARTED A FIGHT I CANT FINISH OR ACCIDENTALLY ATTACKED POLICE! WHAT DO I DO?
DO NOT PANIC! Well, we all know we are going to panic. The good news is a stock Sidewinder is free to replace and so if you are killed, no big deal. However for future reference (once you are in a better ship as it costs money to replace destroyed ships), here is what you ATTEMPT to do: ESCAPE! There is no fairy-tale secret way of automatically having a way to win in ED, so if you screw up, you RUN!!! If you have a Chaff Launcher, then use it, divert MAXIMUM power to your engines, point away from the RES center point, and FLOOR IT! Go to maximum throttle and use boost over and over again while doing barrel-rolls to avoid as much damage as possible. As soon as you are no longer Mass-Locked and can enter Super-Cruise, press the button and start the process. The process will more than likely take more time than usual as your pursuer(s) will disrupt the functionality of your Frame Shift Drive (FSD). Continue boosting and barrel-rolling until you successfully escape.
If you attacked the police, you will now have a bounty on your head in your current system. STAY IN SUPER-CRUISE, DO NOT HYPER-JUMP TO ANOTHER SYSTEM, point away from any other planets or objects into empty space, go to max throttle and pay close attention to your screen until you are far away from the area. At this point, look at the left panel in the cockpit and go to the "Transactions" Tab. Here you will see your current bounty along with bounty rewards you are due to be paid for the targets you have killed. Next to YOUR BOUNTY, there should be a time listed (EXAMPLE: 0H10M), this is the amount of time you MUST REMAIN IN THIS SYSTEM BEFORE HYPER-JUMPING, or you will be locked out of this system with a dormant bounty for SEVEN DAYS! Once your bounty time says "0 ON H-JUMP" you will want to Hyper-Jump to another Solar System. Once jumped, the bounty will de-escalate to a fine, and you can return to the System you were Bounty Hunting in to collect your earnings.
How do I Collect My Bounty Hunting Earnings?
Simply travel to any station within the system where you did your Bounty Hunting (I recommend the largest/main Orbital Station so you can also repair, refuel, and restock your ship). After Docking, select the "Station Services" option and head to the "Contacts" Page. Here you can collect your Bounty Rewards as well as pay any fines you may have received.
I Have Earned a Good Amount Of Money, When Should I Buy a New Ship? Which One Should I Buy?
You should get out of the little Sidewinder as soon as possible. It is upgradable but this is not very sensible and spending your credits on it will mean that much longer before you get into a decent ship. That being said, the cheapest ship offerings such as the Eagle and Adder aren't much of an Upgrade either. To see a REAL combat performance boost, you should look at the Viper Mk III and the Cobra MK III. The Cobra is preferred my most including myself as it is slightly more maneuverable, has more powerful shields and WAY more armor. However, the Cobra MK III is 380,000 credits where as the Viper MK III is 140,000. Regardless, both are capable fighters ready to take on most ships, the Cobra can even handle more powerful and expensive ships such as the DiamonBack Explorer or Vulture all on its own with no support in the hands of a Skilled Pilot. The Viper and Cobra will cost you in excess of 1 Million Credits to fully outfit with advanced weapons and other modules but just some larger pulse lasers or multi-cannons and then running the ship stock otherwise will get you started cheaply, but you may need a power plant upgrade depending on your chosen weapons.
What Ships Do You Personally Recommend?
My ideal BOUNTY HUNTING Ship Progression Chart looks like this:
Sidewinder [Free] - Cobra MK III [380,000], DiamondBack Explorer (OPTIONAL STEP) [1,900,000], Vulture [4,925,000], Fer De Lance [51,570,000], Anaconda [146,970,000], Federal Corvette (Option to the Anaconda) [187,970,000]
My personal favorite is the Fer De Lance. Ive never had the money to own one myself but I played one on a friends account and man, oh man, that is one serious Bounty Hunter. It is fast, fairly Agile, and equipped with 4 Medium Class Weapons and one Huge Class Weapon, plus its incredibly powerful shields and very decent armor, it is definitely the best if the "Fighter" Class Ship in the game, for SURE!
You can build any ship you want but these are the Combat Ready, relatively agile ships that get this particular job done in the best way with the most efficiency.
How Would You Effectively Outfit a Bounty Hunting Ship?
THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! Outfitting your ship correctly for Combat and Bounty Hunting easily makes the difference between success and failure or death. You will want to equip every ship with either at least one laser or plasma weapon or make up for it with multiple multi-cannons to effectively deal with shields. The most common and easy setups are usually using lasers on larger hardpoints and multi-cannons on smaller ones. These are effective setups that shred shields and armor from any range up to 3000 meters. They are easy to use and require no special skills to use effectively. Specialty weapons such as Plasma Accelerators, Rail Guns, and Fragmentation Cannons require more skill to effectively use but can deal high amounts of damage in single bursts.
My ideal setup on the Fer De Lance would be Two Medium Beam Lasers, Two Medium Multi-Cannons, and a Huge Fragmentation Cannon. This setup would allow for good DPS at far range, and once the target gets close (under 500 meters), the Giant Frag Cannon will obliterate them.
I recommend gimballed turrets to everyone. Fixed turrets may do more damage but against fast, agile targets such as Eagles and Vultures, it is nearly impossible to keep the target in line and get enough hits to make them effective to use.
As for other modules, I recommend maximum Power Plant Upgrades ASAP, to ensure you can run your other upgrades. From there, Max Shield and bulkhead upgrades are also a good idea so you can stand up to some punishment. Chaff Launchers and Kill Warrant Scanners are a must-have on any Bounty Hunting Ship. Kill Warrant Scanners allow you to collect more information on more bounties that your target may have in the area, making you more money. Chaff launchers cause targeting systems to loose lock on you, making them a certainly worthwhile defense. Point Defense are small turrets that automatically take aim and fire at hostile missiles and torpedoes, and are also a great accessory.
I do NOT recommend filling ANY space with Cargo Holds, Surface Recon Vehicles, or Discovery Scanners. These modules are designed for exploration, trading, and mining. Having these equipped on a Bounty Hunting Ship will waste space, use power, and add weight that could me more effectively used on offensive or defensive capabilities. THE ONE Non-Combat Item I recommend on ANY SHIP, including combat ships, trader ships, and ESPECIALLY exploration ships is a FUEL SCOOP. Sooner or later you will want to travel and combat ships historically have terrible fuel storage and jump range. To travel ANYWHERE far, you will need one. I recommend using the smallest, lowest class, cheapest Fuel Scoop available on a combat ship to save power for other modules. Who cares how long a combat vessel takes to refuel?
So When Can I Head to the HIGH and HAZ RES Sites to Make Some REAL Money? When Should I Try the "Open Play" Mode?
Once you are in a FULLY UPGRADED/OUTFITTED Cobra MK III or better, you can go ahead and visit High RES sites. With help from local police, you and your Cobra can now take on even the biggest foes, such as Anacondas and Fer De Lances. On its own, it would be able to start and finish fights with fairly powerful ships such as DiamondBack Explorers and Vultures. This is also when I recommend trying the "Open Play" Mode, as you will have a ship powerful enough to fend off most Pirate Players and in most cases they wont even risk the attack on a skilled pilot in a proper, fully outfitted ship.
As for Hazardous Sites, these get their name for a reason. These sites DO NOT have ANY LOCAL POLICE, and thus you are completely on your own taking on murderers and pirates in large and powerful ships. Because of this, HAZ RES Sites are not recommended until you have one of the largest and most powerful ships. Acceptable ships are the Imperial Clipper, Federal Gunship, Fer De Lance, Anaconda, or Federal Corvette.
So What Ship do You Currently Pilot?
I pilot a Vulture. Its the fastest and most agile of all the higher-tier fighters, only outpaced very slightly by the little Eagle. It features two Large Class Weapon Slots (or Hardpoints), giving it good firepower but not enough in sheer weapon numbers for a very versatile setup. As a result, I currently have a Large Gimballed Burst Laser and a Large Gimballed Multi-Cannon as its weapons, to give me a setup that is usable and effective against most types of ship builds from most ranges and angles. This ship does suffer badly from sub-par powerplant options. Even Fully Upgraded, I had to sacrifice a class of Thrusters and go with the B Class option to give me enough power for my weapons and defenses. However, because it is already so agile, this is hardly a sacrifice, plus the ship is a full 4 Million Credits Cheaper to build, as those class A Thrusters are EXTREMELY EXPENSIVE!
Where do you like to Bounty Hunt?
My two favorite Systems are Ross 847 and HIP 20277. Use the Galaxy Map search option in the second tab to type in these systems and locate them. Both are great systems and have High RES Sites located very close to their main docking stations. I am currently in HIP 20277. In Ross 847 I managed my best ever 4.5 Million Credits per hour and in HIP 20277 so far I have managed 3.2 Million Credits in one hour.
Well, I believe that is all you need to know to get started. If you feel I have missed something, please comment! I hope this has helped you and I hope you enjoy Bounty Hunting in Elite: Dangerous!