Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Shhh! I’m Huntin’ Thargoids

Following the addition of the “Experimental” weapons to the game yesterday on completion of the Aegis Community Goal, I decided to swing down to Merope and find myself some Thargoids.

On the way out, I purchased a shiny new Research Limpet Controller at Jameson Memorial in Shinrarta Dezrha and set off down to Merope.

Brestla, i Sola Prospect
LHS 3980, Schlegel Keep (15% discount)
Howard, Messerschmid Bastion

You can obtain Xeno Scanner and AX Missile launchers from any planetary station with outfitting in a High Tech or Refinery system.

After docking at the Planet Base, Alcazar's Hope I switched from my exploration Anaconda into my far speedier Imperial Courier and (using storage) switched the limpet controller to the smaller ship. Then I went a huntin’!

The nearby system of HIP 19072 was full of “non human signal source” points, so I dropped into one and found a couple of wrecked Imperial Cutters, the wreckage still burning, surrounded by a green fog. But no Thargoid ship.

I returned to super-cruise and continued my Thargoid hunt. At the next Non-Human Signal Source, I dropped out to find this one occupied. I got close enough to scan him and he scanned me. Lots of whale song and rumbling, but still in the green.

Then the Thargoid ship proceeded to ignored me and continued to scan the wrecks floating around us.

Feeling emboldened, I proceeded to scan the Thargoid with my Xeno Scanner - this took about the same time as a Kill Warrant scanner does. The petal ship began to pulse and chatter and the lights on the ship turned red.
A swarm of small missile-like ships circled the perimeter of the vessel, then dived at me, causing hull damage and reducing my shields. It turns out the flight suit doesn't help with the fear-response!

I tried to flee, but there were two problems. The first was the Thargoid vessel cruised at over 300m/s and my ship was badly damaged already, so I didn’t have best speed. Cruise wasn't fast enough to outrun it and boost was offline due to module damage.
The second issue was that the Thargoid ship has a mass-lock of 30 (at 27 the Imperial Cutter has the largest mass lock of any human ship) so nobody can jump away from a Thargoid!

The end result was predictable. Shields went down like a tissue curtain and the Thargons pounded my hull to zero in waves.

Not disheartened, although about 300,000CR worse off, I went into station outfitting and equipped my Courier with Module and Hull reinforcement and tried again.

I didn’t attempt to scan the next vessel I encountered, instead I just shot a Research Limpet from 2km away.

At first the Thargoid seemed unconcerned, but when the limpet began “extracting” a sample, the vessel turned red and steamed straight at me. It is worth noting that once attached, the limpet takes several minutes to “sample” the target and you cannot go more than 4km away from the limpet (and by extension the angry Thargoid), or the limpet will self-destruct. The extraction progress is shown on your HUD in a similar fashion to the FSD cool-down.

This lead to a cat and mouse situation, where I was flying at maximum speed avoiding energy blasts from the petal ship, all the while chased in circles by an angry swarm of Thargons. Too far and the limpet is gone, too near and the Thargoid inflicts devastating damage to your ship. Eventually, the toll was too great.

Driven away, with only three percent hull, my limpet went boom and I took the “Brave Sir Robin” option of running away.

At this point I decided the Thargoids had been getting it way too easy. Now it was my turn to bring the pain! Now I would chase them away!

Back to Alcazar's Hope for repairs and swapping the Limpet Controller for three Class 2 AX Missile turrets. This put my ship at the limit of its power plant but hey, you can’t have enough guns, right?

Back out into the black and found my next encounter.

I got close enough and scanned the Thargoid with Xeno Scanner, this revealed (on the subsystems panel) that the ship had four “hearts”. To disable the Thargoid, you need to destroy these.

You'll see (above) each Thargoid has a designation logo. These seem to have a number of variants. If you see one of these not shown below, could you take a screenshot and post it on Twitter to me (@ACHunt)? Thanks.

But, the scan itself triggers a hostile response from the Thargoid, like saying “Combat log” to a griefer, they are easily triggered! Going all gung-ho, I opened up with all three missile racks at once! Take that Thargoid scum!

At this point I realised that the vulnerable “hearts” of the vessel were at the back of the ship and the Thargoid, no matter how fast I moved, remained facing me. They make an Eagle look less agile than a Type-9!

This meant all my missiles exploded harmlessly on the front of the vessel. It was like throwing snowballs at an angry bear. There are no screenshots of this part of the encounter as I was too busy dying.

After my second rebuy screen of the evening, I decided to call it quits and come back another day with reinforcements.

The Thargoids Return on September 26

Last night Frontier had a live stream hosted by Edward Lewis and alongside him was lead designer, Sandro Samarco, to herald the release of Elite: Dangerous 2.4 on all platforms on 26th September.

They showed off a CGI trailer for 2.4; which sadly did not consist of any in-game footage. As in the past with these trailers, it was very dramatic, but had little real connection to the actual game of Elite: Dangerous.

Ed talked about Thargoid lore in the game (a short recap anyway) and Sandro answered some questions about game content. If you were not one of the 3,500 (ish) people watching the stream, here is the highlight reel of what you missed.

Law and Order

The Pilot’s Federation bounty on players who kill other players is a first-step. This will be refined and the Karma system fleshed out in 2.4. The system may also be expanded to NPC kills. Nothing is ruled out at this point.

Pilot’s Federation Bounty – When a player commits the crime of murder (PvP only), they receive an additional Pilot's Federation Bounty. This bounty is valid in every jurisdiction except anarchy systems.

A ship rebuy Penalty now applies when a player commits the crime of murder (PvP only), an additional cost is added if they swap to a less expensive ship before paying legal costs during the rebuy process.

New Ship

Sandro stated the Type-10 Defender (clearly a Lakon craft) is not the Panther LX. It’s a new ship. He didn’t answer any other questions about the Type-10. Is it a new ship or variant (combat Type-9)? We’ll find out I guess.

Above is a concept art of what was going to be the DiamondBack. Maybe as with the Imperial Ships, they'll adapt one ship concept to use for another. My thinking is that they've taken a basic type-9 heavy and made a combat variant, in the same way they did with the Type-6 Transport -> Keelback. The resulting ship would be a slow moving but very dangerous gun platform. This though, is pure speculation.

New Content & Features 2.4

Holo-Me now has multiple Save Slots for different Commander appearances, as well as new hairstyles and added slots for Eyewear and Outfits.

Synthesis can now create heat sinks, chaff, limpets and top up life support, however heat sinks require manufactured materials so you won't have an infinite supply outside the bubble.

Additional planetary bases have been added to the Colonia region for migration winners

New Content & Features 1.9

The Inbox has had a revamp with various quality of life improvements and a new look.
We get chained missions; missions that can be in several parts.
Hull/Canopy Repair Limpet controllers are now available which will enable you to repair your own and other CMDRs ships out in space.
Station outfitting now displays all options available for cosmetic items. You can preview paint jobs and other game extras with the Buy Now link enabled.
Your stored ships can now be sold from the rebuy screen to cover the rebuy if you are cash-poor when your ship was destroyed.
Exploration and the galaxy map have the following improvements:-

  • The maximum route plotting range has been extended from 1,000Ly to 20,000Ly.
  • Route plotting is much faster.
  • In route plotting there is now an option to make use of neutron star boost when plotting routes.
  • An icon is now displayed on your plotted route to show the last scoopable star before your ship will run out of fuel.

The stations now have a search and rescue contact for the new search and rescue missions. This option also allows you to hand in recovered escape pods (legally). In addition new and improved salvage scenarios have been added to support search and rescue game play.

Anti-Thargoid weapons

Confirming what was first show in concept art at this year’s LaveCon event back in June, we will be getting a new type of missile launcher which is specifically designed to combat Thargoid technology. Shown in Medium and Large hard-points, it will be the first missile launcher in Class 3 - The question is, can you use those missiles on anyone (not just Thargoids) and are they dumbfire or guided?

We will also get a new countermeasure to protect our ships from Thargoid EMP weapons. This was shown as "being deployed". Since all Utility Slot items are "always on", I'm not sure how you would activate this in game if it wasn't always on.

These were all shown off with a CGI video trailer for 2.4 titled “Commander Chronicles: Retaliation”, which demonstrated the importance of ZombieLand Rule #2 – “The Double Tap”. Don’t be stingy with those Thargoid-killer missiles or the target will regenerate fast and will kill you with extreme prejudice using their own nasty looking warheads.

Because if you don’t, you’ll be making “Dale Face” all the way to the rebuy screen...

 Interestingly, the video showed the Target Lock on the Thargoid ship showed the ship as "Thargoid Interceptor - Cyclops Variant".

If I ruled the (Elite) Galaxy

How I’d change Elite Dangerous

This article is not about new stuff; I’m not calling for atmospheric landing or EVA from ships. Nor is it a demand to Frontier to do things differently. It is just an opinion piece on how I would alter the current features of the game for “season 3” to make them more accessible if these decisions were mine to make.

Close Quarters Combat Arena

CQC was the arena-based PvP vehicle for the game, launched alongside the XBOX release of ED. It has, I think it is fair to say, flopped totally. Nobody plays CQC. It’s very hard to find a game.

How would I change it?

I would move the CQC system into the main game. Arenas would be large stations located in systems around the galaxy. You would fly your main ship to their location and dock to play. Human players would join the arena they dock at in their instance.

There would be AI opponents (bots) that would be hot-swapped with human players as they join and leave. This would then offer CQC in solo and all other modes of play, making it feel part of the game, rather than a bolt-on. By using the existing instancing, the matchmaking would no longer been needed.

Arenas would offer cash rewards and these would vary, depending on system state and faction. For example, a system in boom might hold a “championship” with larger rewards.

Players could also opt to watch competitions from an “observation room” in the arena station. Initially this would be a variation of the ship cockpit with player-controller view screens and a window onto the arena play area – basically overview + one or more controlled cameras.

CQC rank would be removed and instead players would be rated on a dynamic league table. Players would be invited to systems to play, based on their current rank.

Engineering materials

Currently (and I know this from bitter experience) finding materials and data for engineers can be a mind-numbing trudge through endless USS points looking for a single material or data item, waiting for the great god of random numbers to grant you those three cherries in a line. I hate random number generators.

Without excellent tools like EDEngineer, Inara and Eddb I’d have given up all together!

How would I change it?

Commanders would be able to pin multiple engineer blueprints for a “shopping list”. This would highlight the data and materials you have in your inventory as “required” or “not required”, so you can discard unnecessary cargo.

Your shopping list would then become a trigger for the game. Now, at the next USS or Nav Beacon or Station, you might be approached by an AI who would offer a mission with an item on your shopping list as a reward or as the mission itself.

“Go to system X and return with Y and I will give you data A”

“There’s a trader outside station X in system Y that will exchange data/material A for commodity B”

By doing this, the materials and data are then made part of the existing mission system and you would feel like you are playing the game, rather than wandering aimlessly waiting for a random timer to complete. Also, station missions would offer cash or the choice of a pinned material for reward.

Surface prospecting suffers from randomness the same way, even when you know there is 75% chance of arsenic on the surface, you can be driving in circles shooting rocks for hours and find none. It’s not fun.

Instead ships would have an “advanced surface scanner” and you would fly around in orbital cruise to map near-surface locations of elements; iron ore, sulphur deposits. Only impact craters would be a pick-n-mix like the current state of affairs. With the surfaced mapped, you would set surface waypoints and take the mining SRV to drill for the required elements or materials. The map would only be held while in orbit. After that, you’d rely on the waypoints you added entirely.

This leads into exploration.


Currently there are three system scanners (useless, next to useless and infinite honk). And a detailed surface scanner that can see the far side of planet, when your SRV can’t manage more than a burst of static for radar, not consistent or helpful.

How would I change it?

The basic and intermediate system scanners would detect planets and moons in their range and all stars in the system, but would also display “estimated” orbit lines for objects not in range, but detected through gravitational lensing and radial velocity. Explorers would have to search the orbits for the planetary bodies causing the effect.

Planet scanning would be carried out by orbiting the planet - three types of surface scanner (basic, intermediate and advanced) – these would set the width of area scanned and you would need to scan the whole planet. The GUI would show a 3D graphic of the planet as you scan. This scan would detect the presence of elements.

Detailed surface scans would be carried out using the same scanners in orbital cruise. These scans would detect the location of material deposits on the surface. It would also spot extra-terrestrial objects on the surface.

System bookmarks in the galaxy map would have groups (folders) and surface way points could be bookmarked and used for a heading in SRV and ship Heads Up Display.

The Scarab SRV is fine for pew-pew, but we need purpose-built SRV types for exploration and mining.

The mining SRV “Cicada” (a beetle that digs) would be the mining SRV for extracting minerals, liquids and gases from the ground in areas discovered using surface scanning. This would follow the same method as space mining. Refinery and cargo, but the Cicada would be larger than the Scarab and require cargo transferred to the ship before it could fold for transport. I can also deploy ground-mining limpets (already seen in game) which can be harvested later.

The survey SRV “Coleoptera” scans the surface in a large radius for mineral deposits. This could be used instead of the surface scanner in orbital cruise. Because it is used on the surface, it can detect gas, water and oil deposits under the surface as well.

Explorers would find a planetary body, survey the surface from orbit, provide a detailed survey from low orbit (orbital cruise) and geological surveys from SRV. All saleable information, scaling in value.

The same information then could be bought in Universal Cartographic by miners, so they can get straight to the drilling. The game should treat the data as a commodity. i.e. if nobody has surveyed Moon 3C then the data won’t be available. First survey gets biggest pay out. Repeat surveys get general fee.

Crime and punishment

2.4 is seeking to improve the current lawless nature of the open game. It’s currently a case of “play in private/solo or accept you will be griefed”. Not ideal. Great news for the tiny minority, but bad news for the majority of players and the game itself. After all, how many griefed players, especially new players, never come back to the game? Only takes one rotten apple to spoil the whole barrel.

How would I change it?

In the original Elite, if you murdered someone, the police were on you like flies on dung, so being wanted meant retreating to an anarchy system, or get killed in short order.

I see no reason not to go back to that. Trade should pay more in lawless systems, so players have an incentive to go there. Risk plus reward.

“Report crimes” would be a setting made on the options menu which cannot be altered during play. So no changing your mind about a PvP fight when you start losing and getting the cops to fight for you.

In secured systems, if a commander attacks another (CMDR with report crimes on) or an AI and they are not wanted/in a powerplay faction/in a combat zone (i.e. no in-game reason for an attack), then a police response should be immediate.

What’s more if you are wanted, the police would interdict you in the same way that the powerplay AIs already do when you join a PP faction.

The police response would be proportional to your bounty and ship size, so if you accidentally shot a ship in a Nav beacon and you are in a Sidewinder, then an Eagle or Viper would chase you after a minute or two.
If you have been murdering other ships and you are in a Fer-De-Lance or Corvette, then the police response would be much faster and the ships chasing you would be Anaconda and Vulture wings, dispatched within a minute or less of you leaving super cruise.

Basically, you’d be looking at an escalating response to wanted status, as you commit more crimes. First system wide, then faction wide.

The only way to not be constantly harassed is to pay your bounty or leave for a lawless system.

The only way to kill ships and not get dead yourself at the hands of the feds, is if they are PvP willing with Report Crimes off (which would show on your scanner) or if they are in an Anarchy system.

With the balance redressed, Open would have a lot more players. Players should be choosing which systems to avoid, not which play mode.

I would also add a fine for “ungraceful exit” of the game during combat (terminating Elite.EXE or ALT-F4) – so called “combat logging”. The fine would last seven days before you could pay it off. A second offense extends the period to two weeks. A third will carry a wanted bounty for a month “FOR ILLEGAL USE OF TELEPORTATION TECHNOLOGY”. If your PC crashes or your network fails, you will have to avoid all combat in the game until your fine clears, or face the same consequences as if you committed murder.

Piracy tools

Currently to be Robin Hood (or robin’ anyone) you need an interdictor, a manifest scanner and a hatch breaker controller.

What we don’t have is any tools to disable a ship without destroying it.

How would I change it?

I posted about piracy before, as I think (far more than CQC) it should be a recognised career with a rank.

The key element is, while victims are threatened with destruction, a good pirate would rarely have to follow through on the threat. A successful pirate gets their booty without killing the traders.

Currently that is very hard to do, as nearly every weapon available will destroy a ship long before any module is disabled, so any attempt to knock out the targets FSD will likely kill them instead.

What is needed is a “FSD hack” utility module that can be used to “reboot” an FSD on a target ship once their shields are down.

Yes, these could be abused by griefers, but the revised karma system would make their life impossible after a handful of murders by using these, just as any other weapons.

Interplanetary Bounty Hunting

Currently you get bounty missions, assassination missions and can trawl Navigation Beacons and Resource Sites for NPCs to kill for cash.

But there is no mechanism for hunting criminals directly.

How would I change it?

Players and NPCs in the “most wanted” list in any system would be traceable. You would have to sign on at the station they’re wanted by to hunt them (through the mission board). You would then get updates on your transaction panel every time they are scanned by feds in space or super cruise in any system, or dock at any station. For human players, this would cover all game modes and state which mode they were playing in on the updates.

“CMDR Harry Potter just docked at Guest City in Zeta Trianguli Australis OPEN”

“Mrs Trellis of North Wales was spotted near the Nav Beacon in Eravate”

Private Groups

Currently private groups are a nightmare to administer (just ask the guys at MobiusPvE) and the GUI isn’t very helpful when you want to know which one friends are in. And if you want to name an Elite Private Group you have to buy an extra copy of the game, just to create the group name you want.

How would I change it?

The group member list needs a filter. Really. How hard can a text filter be to implement?

The GUI should display the name of the Private Group your friends are playing in, so the friends list says "Private Group (Dead Men Walking)".

Private groups need the ability to nominate more than one admin and name the group. So player Jameson can create a private group and while they remain the owner of the account, other nominated CMDRs can administer the group. The group should also be re-nameable. So it can be "Jameson's Eagles" instead of "Jameson".

Admins of the private group should be able to send group messages (like server messages appear currently).

Ship Transfer

Moving ships between stations was a feature that was offered as a choice between instant or delayed transfer and the community voted for delayed transfer "for thar immershun".
But it costs a fortune to move ships and takes an age. For example a move between two systems 41Ly apart that takes (at most) two jumps and pad to pad takes a CMDR 8 minutes, will take 24minutes for ship transfer and cost 500,000CR for my Anaconda (which makes that in a single jump). It's slow AND expensive. Disproportionately so.

How would I change it?

The ship transfer menu should offer TWO options. Delayed ship transfer which will put your ship on a transport that calls on the hour every hour, or 3D printed ship transfer which is instant. The instant transfer should cost the same as the current process, while the delayed transfer should be a low fee based on pad size (small = 1,000CR, medium = 5,000CR, large = 100,000CR).
The instant transfer will take a minute while your ship is printed. The delayed transfer would be view-able in game.

When the feature was first confirmed, I suggested that a mega-ship would hyper-space in (like capital ships do) at regular intervals outside major stations and your ships would be transported from there into the station, so you would call (or send) a ship, and on the hour, a mega-ship would take/deliver your ship. You'd see the mega-ship jump in. You'd see it unload and you'd be notified your ship had arrived.

There's nothing about either option that does anything the game does not already do. It does more for "mah immurshun" on both counts than the current method.

Opening another possible avenue here, if the mega-supply-ship had tugs with cargo as well and dropped in outside the 10km zone to unload, there would be the option to add cargo piracy and ship theft to the piracy career path.