Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

A year in Elite Dangerous

ships_thumbWell that went quick. This time last year I was driving up the motorway to RAF Duxford with my youngest son to attend the Elite Dangerous launch event. A year a lot has changed, not counting protest goats and bobbleheads.
In January we had the 1.1 update which added some of the elements missing from the launched game (like decals) along with additions to GalNet and the new feature of Community Goals. We also saw the introduction of the sexy Imperial Clipper and the not-so-sexy Federal Dropship.
In March we had 1.2 “Wings” update which added the PvP’ers favourite Fer-de-Lance and the bulldog of space, the Vulture. As the name suggested, this update added the ability to join three friends in a group with a means of finding each other and travelling as a group. This had more than its fair share of troubles due to instancing. While mostly behind us, instancing still occasionally rears its invisible head and blocks us from seeing each other. 1.2 also added shield boosters & cell banks, changing the combat mechanic. The price of fuel levelled out, rather than scaling up with the value of your ship – previously a ton of fuel would cost 100’s of times as much for a Type 9 as it did for a Viper.

Between these updates Elite hit the Steam sales platform for the first time, bring the game to a wider audience, followed by its first release on the Apple Mac in May.

Not until June did the next major update for the PC surface and this one, the 1.3 “PowerPlay” proved controversial. Many couldn’t see what it was for. Basically Frontier’s version of space power struggle & politics got, at best, a lukewarm reception. Since its launch PowerPlay has proved to be Marmite - with some people loving its benefits, while others ignoring it totally, or railing against it in the forums. On a positive note, 1.3 brought two new ships – the DiamondBack in Scout and Explorer flavours and the Imperial Courier; a long-range combat ship. I was indifferent to PowerPlay, but have since changed my stance and think it has its place.
In September we got the 1.4 “Close Quarters Combat” as did the Xbox one, taking the game to its third platform. With 1.4 we had a new arena combat mini game added. Personally I have found CQC fun in short bursts, but lacking any lasting appeal; I just want to get back to my “real” spaceship. In the core game, 1.4 added a greater variety to missions, including the new salvage mission type and new types of extraction site for mining and bounty hunting. The Imperial Eagle (the poor man’s Clipper) was added to the game, along with the Federal Assault Ship and the Federal Gun Ship.
And so, on to today and the next update – 1.5 “Ships” which brings us an extra ship for CQC (The Imperial Fighter). It also adds the Asp Scout, Viper Mk IV and Keelback, plus the Imperial Cutter; the largest ship in the game so far and the Federal Corvette a hardened battleship with everything, except half-decent jump range (12Lyr) which is it’s Achilles heel. The Cutter is fast and sexy, but turns like an oil tanker. Also these ships both require the 12th naval rank in the Federation and Empire, so not just any riff-raff can buy them (me included right now!). The core game has been given a lot of polish and missions have expanded again in number and type. Integration with version 2.0 have been added to the game, so what I would describe as “feature bleed” is taking place, giving core players access to some of the goodies Horizons players will see.
Now Elite is about to launch into its second year or Season, and we’re starting with Horizons, the biggest update yet! My X52 pro shows no signs of dust and I haven’t played more than a couple of hours on any other game all year. My main concern now being that I have the cash for a headset and the graphics card needed to play Elite in VR next year.

Multi-crew, player avatars, maybe even a PS4 version of Elite? Prepare 2016 for launch…

Taking a new player from zero to Python level in a week

dmw-logoLast week at EGX I met a lot of really great people. One person I met was new to Elite: Dangerous, although he knew of the Elite games of old.

CMDR Satvia bought the game at the show and made a note of my gaming community group (www.deadmen.co.uk) as the URL was on my hat.

He popped on our teamspeak channel the following week, after registering with the forums and we started to talk through how to play the game, solve issues with outfitting and where to find things in-game. With all the usual dMw banter!

During the conversation I explained what I had been doing with merits and bounty hunting for Arissa Lavigny-Duval (see my previous post) and Satvia, being more interested in combat, asked if a new pilot could achieve the rank 5 and associated riches with just a basic ship.
Why not?

Challenge accepted!

Satvia threw himself into the task with enormous enthusiasm - first we Winged up and went bounty hunting in a resource extraction site and raised some cash to furnish his ship.

On evening one, we had the Sidewinder fully decked out and ready for long travel. Evening two, Satvia had relocated his ship to ALD space and some more RES hunting brought over a million credits, plenty to upgrade to the slower but hardier Cobra Mk III.

Then the merit hunting began! Slow initially, but with help from CMDR SneakyTiger, CMDR Ranualf, CMDR AgentZigZag from dMw and miscellaneous like-minded commanders in OPEN play, we racked up merits for five days. By Tuesday evening, Satvia had over 8000 merits, with two evenings to go before the PowerPlay cycle, it was a cynch!

When I arrived home from work this evening, CMDR Satvia had posted that he had hit the magic 10,000 earlier in the day!

Here is his video showing him posting the final merits and telling it in his own words!

Getting to Rank 5 in PowerPlay in three days

powerplay_thumbSince PowerPlay was launched I haven't really enjoyed interacting with that aspect of the game. I tried when 1.3 was first released to pledge my allegiance to Edmund Mahon, because his faction primarily awarded people who traded and trading is my core game play style. So, after a brief stint with Aisling Duvall where I attained rank three, so that I could purchase Prismatic Shields, I have abstained from PowerPlay until now...

On Monday I went into the Mobius group team speak server and chatting with some of the friendly commanders there, I was advised that if I was pledged to Arissa Lavigny-Duval I could attain 10,000 merit points in one week and gain rank five easily. With her faction not only would rank five come with a 50 million credit weekly pay cheque, but it would also give me 100% additional bounties when bounty hunting!

To me this frankly sounded easy, but also impossible. A bit like saying "go to the moon it's only a two day drive (if you have a spaceship)". So can it be done? Well, PowerPlay cycles on Thursday, so I had Monday and Tuesday and Wednesday to attain 10,000 PowerPlay points from scratch. Now I'm in full-time work, so only have 3 to 4 hours in an evening to play Elite.

Challenge Accepted!

How does it work? Well, I signed up with Ms Duval’s faction, I then flew to one of the two systems in expansion from the Galactic Powers interface and found a contact in the system named “Crime Sweep”, which is like a combat zone, but the opposing side is always the local system defence who you are there to suppress on behalf of Ms Duval. You just fly around and kill every ship that's red on your radar - don't hit the green ones! Once you've finished in the zone, jump to a Controlled or Exploited system and hand in the combat merits to convert to PowerPlay points. You also get paid at this point, but the reward is 100CR per merit (I think) so it only covers ammo costs really.

One of the key elements to my success was being able to wing up with various commanders in the Mobius Group (too many to thank here) who helped me take down ships at a very rapid pace. Each ship you kill, regardless of size or difficulty, awards you 10 PowerPlay merits. It is therefore easy to wrack up between 1000 and 2000 merits per hour which meant that on my first day - Monday between 7pm and 10pm I gained 3,100 merits. By 11pm on Tuesday I had 6,910 merits and a little after 12pm last night I had managed to attain 10,030 merits! This meant I would have rank five today when PowerPlay does its weekly cycle; now I stand to gain a 50 million credit pay out at the end of the cycle! Not to mention of course double bounties in the coming week!!!

Can it be done? YES! Was it hard? NO. How long did it take you? A little over nine hours. Was it worth it? In my ‘Conda I can make millions per night trading, but not 50M in three days and on top of that I have the bounties I’ll make in the coming week doubled, so YES!

Even a player in a fairly basic Viper could have joined in over the last three days and be looking at a Python-sized payout by the end of the cycle. Now that’s cool.

I know what you did last weekend

i_know_what_you_didNo, I didn’t run down a homicidal spaceman while at the wheel of my Anaconda and stash his lifeless body in a resource extraction site, only to be stalked and killed along with my implausibly attractive female friends at a later date. The truth is worse….

On Sunday CMDR Albert and myself were all Winged-up and patrolling Tau Bootis for enemies of the Edward Mahon faction in Super-cruise. We’d been lapping the system for a couple of hours. Albert in his Anaconda and me in my “Combat” Python – my Anaconda is set for trade, so while armed, it doesn’t have the extreme shielding and various scanners and shield cells needed for a good scrap.

We’d been knocking anyone marked as “enemy” out of super-cruise with my FSI, scanning them and if they held a bounty, collecting it. With extreme prejudice. Now Powerplay is far less rewarding than real bounty hunting, because killing a faction enemy only gets you 200CR and 15 merits if you are in the right system and they are carrying faction goods and the moon is full etc. Which is why we were scanning for bounty, making sure any combat paid for the ammo and fuel at least.

The odd NPC Asp or Python showed up and they went down easy (the bigger they are the harder they fall) but the real challenge were Wings of small ships, such as a Vulture and three Cobras. A challenge to take down a ship with two or three others pounding your shields. The AI ships are determined little buggers in the latest release.

Time flies when you’re having fun, so before long CMDR Albert had to sign off, European time being an hour ahead and I was left patrolling alone.
It was at this point that the first non-faction human CMDR showed up. After a quick scan in super-cruise, it became obvious that the CMDR in the Fer-de-Lance was pledged to Zachary Hudson, the very enemy we were here to oppose!! After a few maneuverers in super-cruise to get behind the ship, I fired my FSI. The FDL struggled and fish-tailed, but I’d been doing this for hours, so getting the fish landed was a forgone conclusion.

BOOM! Dropped to normal space and the FDL took off away from me like a startled hare! I fired up the KWS and scanned the ship for bounty, by which time it had left me way, way behind. Finally with more than 5km between us, the FDL jumped back to super-cruise, so I span up my FSD and jumped back after it.
The Fer-De-Lance was still in the system and not far ahead, so I got into FSI range and tried again.
BOOM! Back into normal space and this time the FDL turned to fight. I opened up briefly with all lasers then switched to KWS while my turrets continued to fire at the FDL while he tried to get behind me and out of range. However, my Python has Class 6A Thrusters, so I could keep turning fast enough to keep my guns and scanners on the FDL.
After the first pass, the Fer-De-Lance’s shields are down to one ring, but clearly firing a shield cell or two, as they returned quickly to three rings. On the second pass, the FDL’s shields are down to one ring again and then I realise my shields are also down to one ring, so I fired a shield cell.
Sadly, too late as on the third pass, as the FDL’s shields collapse, mine quickly follow.
By this point my grip on the stick of my X52 is leaving finger marks and the adrenaline is really pumping. The FDL’s hull is at 20% when my cockpit blows! Shhhhh out goes the atmosphere and a muted ships computer tells me I will shortly be screwed.
The FDL has realised this is not one it can win, as despite taking damage, my ship is still at 60% hull and firing continually with two sets of pulse-lasers and a C3 cannon, so the ship turns to make a run for FSD and safety.
It’s now or never to finish the FDL off! Boosting like mad to keep up, I keep firing relentlessly... 8%.. 5%, “Frameshift charge detected..”, 3%, 1%, 0% BOOM!

Is this how Luke Skywalker felt killing his first Tie Fighter? Probably.

The bounty? 742,000CR - to quote Monty Python, “He’s a very naughty boy”. So I’ve killed another CMDR. Do I feel bad? A little. Did I enjoy it? Hell yeah!

With the 5 minutes of oxygen I had left I jumped to super-cruise to get urgent repairs. As anyone who has flown with a blown-out cockpit knows, flying without the HUD takes a bit of concentration. But I got there with three minutes of oxygen to spare.

Now you know what I did last weekend.

David Braben Speaks - Two Diamondbacks and no module sales tax

Today's 4pm "Ask Me Anything" session with David Braben yielded some interesting snippets.

Firstly, there's now two Diamondback ships - the Scout (56K CR) and the Explorer (2M CR).

The Explorer has a base range of 14Lyr upgradeable (without downgrading shields or going weapon-less) to 32.6Ly!

Secondly, there is not going to be a 10% surcharge on module sales in the next release. The "module sales tax" may come later, but only after consultation it would now seem.

Another helpful bit of information came after this question:
Will Frontier be making official videos covering the ins and outs of Powerplay?
"Yes. Coming SoonTM."


The Scout (rear) and the Explorer (front) are the two Diamondback variants

There are two Diamondbacks. The Diamondback Explorer is the ship we showed in concept art back in April, and the Diamondback Scout is a cut-down cheaper ship made by Lakon for the Federal military.

There is this 10% module sale penalty elephant in the room. What does David Braben think about it?
"There are a few different things here. We should probably have had something in for this at the start, but we need to do something. We understand some of the complaints - particularly about swapping ship load-outs. I also think we should have discussed it beforehand - but given how many things there are in Powerplay, we simply didn't call it out. This is a bone of contention amongst our designers - and we will do something in the future. There should be a cost to this - but that is for another day. So some news - we will be reversing this change shortly (or 'soonTM' as Michael B would say...), so to be clear this aspect will be as it was before in the public release. This is a beta after all, and we want the best experience for everyone."

Powerplay Beta. The Benefits of Power

powerplay_thumb I previously made a list of all the pros and cons of the ten powers in Powerplay, but I have now had time to compile the other penalties and benefits of each evil overlord.

This is to accompany my previous post here

To quote CMDR Albert...

"Basically if you are a trader, Edmund Mahon is your man for agricultural goods and Li Yong-Rui is your person for High-Tech goods.
Archon "the Undefined" Delaine is your drug dealing pimp and the pirate's friend.

Zachary Hudson (Federation)

Benefits: Bounties awarded are increased by 20% in controlled or exploited systems, increased by your standing level 3, 2 or 1 to 30%, 40% or 50% reduction respectively. In Empire/Alliance & others security 40% less. In Federation security is 20% higher and weapons are 10% off. In controlled systems Imperial slaves are banned, Shipyards all stock Diamondback and Dropship, weapons are 10% off and security is increased by 30%.

Felicia Winters (Federation)

Benefits: Any positive influence change increased by 10% in controlled/exploited systems, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 15%, 20% or 25% respectively. In Federation 20% more security, double production/consumption of basic foods and medicine and imperial slaves are banned. In Alliance/Independent doubled production/consumption of basic foods and medicine and imperial slaves are banned. In the Empire Imperial Slaves are 10% increased in cost.

Arissa Lavigny-Duval (Empire)

Benefits: Bounties awarded increased by 20% in controlled/exploited systems, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 30%, 40% or 50% respectively. In Federation/Empire/Alliance/Independent bounty 20% more and black markets pay 20% less. In controlled systems fines/bounties are doubled, pay outs for bounty 20% extra, security increased and black markets closed.

Zemina Torval (Empire)

Benefits: Trade profit in a controlled/exploited system is rewarded with 5%, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 10%, 15% or 20% respectively. In controlled systems 20% off Imperial slaves and mined materials. In Federation/Alliance/Independent 10% reduction of price on mined materials. Imperial ships available at all shipyards. In the Empire production/consumption of Imperial Slaves is doubled.

Edmund Mahon (Alliance)

Benefits: Trade profit in a controlled/exploited system is rewarded with 5%, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 10%, 15% or 20% respectively. In controlled systems 20% off hull reinforcement/cargo racks and 10% off agricultural goods and equipment. In Federation/Empire 50% reduction of production/consumption and 10% price increase of agri-goods. In Alliance/Independent 10% price increase on agri-foods, 10% price decrease on agri-equipment and 4 times consumption of both.

Denton Patreus (Empire)

Benefits: In Federation/Alliance/Independent 10% off high-value goods to cover new taxes. 30% extra consumption/production of high-value goods. 10% extra paid for high-value goods. In controlled systems Imperial slaves are legal. Imperial ships 10% off.

Aisling Duval (Empire)

Benefits: Any influence change is increased by 10% in controlled/exploited systems, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 15%, 20% or 25% respectively. In Federation/Empire/Alliance/Independent slaves banned and production/consumption of high-value goods increases. In controlled systems imperial slaves are illegal. 10% extra on high-value goods. Security level raised. Increased production/consumption of high value goods.

Li Yong-Rui (Independent)

Benefits: Ship insurance cost is reduced by 5% in controlled/exploited systems, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 10%, 15% or 20% respectively. In controlled systems price paid for high-tech goods 20% extra and all shipyards will stock Cobra, Diamondback, Asp and Python. Outfitting discounted by 15%.

Archon Delaine (Undefined)

Benefits: Bounties/fines incurred are reduced by 20% in controlled/exploited systems, futher by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 30%, 40% or 50% respectively. In Federation/Empire/Alliance/Independent security is halved and black markets pay 20% more. In controlled systems all weapons, slaves, narcotics and medicines are legal with huge increase in production. Always a black market paying an extra 25%.

Pranav Antal (Independent)

Benefits: Positive influence change is increased by 5% in controlled/exploited systems, increased by standing 3, 2 or 1 to 10%, 15% or 20% respectively. In Federation/Empire/Alliance/Independent black markets pay extra 20% but fines 50% more. In controlled systems all black markets closed, fines/bounties are double and all Narcotics, slaves and most medicines are illegal.

Powerplay Beta. Shopping for power

powerplay_thumbI’ve done some research to ascertain some hopefully relevant information about the ten powers. Not just what cool toys they offer as perks to allies, but how far their homeworlds are from Founders World, what their goals are and what trade is like in their neck of the woods. Or not, in one case!

Perks are available to allies after four weeks where they have rating 3 (top 50%).

Trades were calculated using a Thrudd search for profitable trades of 30Lyr or less in a 30Lyr range of the ally homeworld.

What are the pros and cons of each power? I have no clear idea but after running around for Aisling Duval for a few days, I'm out of pocket and don't feel I've gained anything. Clearly the simulation of politics is working perfectly!

Zachary Hudson (Federation)

Ethos: Preparation/Combat, Expansion/Combat, Control/Combat
Perks: Pacifier Frag-Cannon (large frag cannon with decreased damage but increased range and tighter spread)
Homeworld: Nanomam – 82.03LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 20.01Ly         2255 CR Total

Felicia Winters (Federation)

Ethos: Preparation/Social, Expansion/Finance, Control/Finance
Perks: Pulse Disruptor (medium pulse weapon, causes module malfunction)
Homeworld: Rhea – 56.03LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 20.26Ly         2304 CR Total

Arissa Lavigny-Duval (Empire)

Ethos: Preparation/Social, Expansion/Combat, Control/Combat
Perks: Imperial Hammer (multi shot rail gun)
Homeworld: Kamadhenu – 135.68LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 24.24Lyr       1661 CR Total

Zemina Torval (Empire)

Ethos: Preparation/Finance, Expansion/Finance, Control/Covert
Perks: Mining Lance (mining lase capable of inflicting combat damage)
Homeworld: Synteini – 27LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 19.04Ly         2087 CR Total

Edmund Mahon (Alliance)

Ethos: Preparation/Finance, Expansion/Finance, Control/Finance
Perks: Retribution (small laser beam causes enhanced heat damage)
Homeworld: Gateway – 94.17LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 29.42Ly         2250 CR Total

Denton Patreus (Empire)

Ethos: Preparation/Finance, Expansion/Combat, Control/Combat
Perks: Advanced Accelerator (specialist plasma weapon)
Homeworld: Eotienses – 123.55LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 14.95Ly         2376 CR Total


Aisling Duval (Empire)

Ethos: Preparation/Social, Expansion/Finance, Control/Social
Perks: Prismatic Shield Generator (particularly strong shields)
Homeworld: Cubeo – 196.28LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 16.42Ly         1970 CR Total

Li Yong-Rui (Independent)

Ethos: Preparation/Social, Expansion/Finance, Control/Finance
Perks: Pack-hound rack (medium seeker missile that fires a salvo of "drunk" missiles)
Homeworld: Lembava – 165.83LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 9.36Ly           1044 CR Total

Archon Delaine (Undefined)

Ethos: Preparation/Combat, Expansion/Combat, Control/Social
Perks: Cytoscrambler (burst laser, highly effective against shields, but no hull damage)
Homeworld: Harma – 194.25LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: 29.42Ly         2250 CR Total

Pranav Antal (Independent)

Ethos: Preparation/Social, Expansion/Social, Control/Covert
Perks: Enforcer Cannon (reduced fire rate but improved damage)
Homeworld: Polevnic – 181.98LY From Shinrarta Dezhra
Current best trade: None

Powerplay Beta. What's it like?

powerplay_thumbSo three days into the Beta of 1.3 what’s it like? Well, lots of stuff had been tweaked. The sum of which means the game feels subtly different on many levels.

When in super-cruise, your shields now charge at the normal rate and the power management switches now function, so you can switch power around the systems. The audio is, well, enhanced. Travelling in hyperspace there’s a sub-sound like a tunnel echo and in super-cruise your ship makes an electric motor undertone, something like a tube train pulling away or breaking.

The new ships are very cool, but not top of the range examples. These ships fit nicely into the lower-mid range, between a Lakon-6 and an Asp, but are much smaller than I originally expected. More Cobra-sized. The Diamondback carries around 20T of cargo, so NOT a trade-ship.


The Imperial Courier is at least as sexy as the Imperial Clipper, in looks and sound. The cockpit is reminiscent of a Hawker hunter aircraft (The Red Arrow’s plane). It maxes out at Class 4, so the ships isn’t expensive to upgrade and while set to D rated internals, gets a jump range around 28Lyr with shields, which makes it a fair explorer. Where it really excels is as a fighter craft. Fast and agile, with three medium hard-points, it feels like an Eagle but hits like a Cobra. It doesn’t use much power for systems, so even with 15MW I can put three rail guns on it and make a flying sniper-rifle! Three shot kills are a hoot!


The Diamondback has four hard-points, two medium and two small, and is a little less agile than the Courier, but with a slightly greater jump range. Even A rated with weapons, it got 23Lyr range, which to my thinking makes it a very good bounty-hunter’s ship.

Navigation now includes the system maps, so you no longer have to fly to every planet to find that one water-world. You can now click on a planet in the system map and navigate straight there. You can even select the system map of a distant star system and plot a route to a planet within the system! You still jump to the star, but your compass is pointing to the right planet when you arrive.


Mine, Mine, Mine! Limpets (not the greatest name) now allow for prospecting and collecting. Mining is therefore a seriously easier process. Zap away at an asteroid and your deployed collector-limpets fly to the debris, and fly it back to your waiting cargo hatch! Limpets are bought as cargo from the munitions menu and you need a “controller” for collecting and another for prospecting.

powerplay_mining1 powerplay_mining2

I will go over the political stuff of Powerplay when I have had a chance to work out what the heck it all means.

Goats in spaaaaaaaaace!

goat-decal-smallThis week in Frontier's development diary the developers outlined plans in 1.3 to implement fines for people ramming other ships in the no-fire zones around stations. This was part of an effort to prevent “collision griefing”, where people were using their ships as an attack weapon, without firing, to kill other players without getting WANTED or incurring a fine, using the loophole that a crash wasn’t classed as murder.

However, the well-meaning proposal conflicted with a community activity - the demolition derby!

protest-goatSocial media (namely Twitter & Facebook) lit up with protest votes, which quickly became the Elite Dangerous Protest Goat. No. I have no bleating idea why either!

Anyway, Kate Russell and Mahdogg were leading the fray along with Fireytoad and many others, spawning a host of goat-related memes.

The social media protest and Frontier's response made headlines, when the community protest got a response from Sandro Sammarco saying

EDProtestgoat: I'll need to check with some clever coder folk on this, but I'm hopeful that we can have this crime not squawked with "don't report crimes against me": as long as all participants use this functionality then they would be safe to race near each other - though hitting spectators would still trigger the crime.



EDProtestGoat EDProtestGoat EDProtestGoat EDProtestGoat