Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Engineer workarounds

In previous posts I’ve pointed out the limitations of the Engineering element of the game and how particularly the mission reward commodities cause major road-blocks.

I have been chipping away at these obstacles and with the help of members of the community providing both cargo and practical advice, I have some solutions.

Commodity storage

This isn’t going be an option for most players, but it is an option all the same. One CMDR told me his son is a lapsed player, so he has been using his son’s Type 6 as commodity storage. How does that work? The player logs in on two PC’s using two different Elite accounts and goes to the same location and game mode, then drops the mission reward commodity on one screen, the (on the laptop in this case) the CMDR scooped up the canister in his son’s Type 6, then logged out.

He now has storage for up to 100T of cargo.

Obviously not everyone has access to a second account, but maybe you have a friend who can hold on to your cargo for a while?

Upgrading ships that don’t have cargo racks

My Federal Corvette is built for combat and doesn’t have any cargo racks. What’s more once my Python has picked up a mission reward, I have to sell those commodities before I can switch to my combat ship. A major pain if I need the said commodity to upgrade my Corvette’s FSD to a level 3. So what’s the solution? Well, I have an Anaconda, which does have cargo racks and has identical internals to the Corvette, so I can fly the Anaconda out to Farseer Inc and get the Class 6A FSD on that ship upgraded by the Engineer. I then fly back to where my Corvette is stored. Here comes the “tricky” part.

  • I have to sell the modified FSD and buy a lesser model.
  • This puts the modified FSD in the outfitting “cache”.
  • I can then swap ships to my Corvette, in outfitting, using the “buy back” grab the modified FSD.
  • I then swap back to my Anaconda and rebuy the vanilla 6A FSD.

My Corvette now has the better FSD and my Anaconda is none the worse for wear – neither is my bank account!

Why is that “tricky”? Because the server controls the outfitting cache and it resets every five (or maybe ten) minutes. This means if you start doing this at 14:39 (server time) and take longer than a minute when the clock strikes 14:40, the “cache” may reset and bye! bye! goes your modified FSD. So don’t start until 14:41 and get done before 14:44 to be safe! Avoid minutes divisible by 5.

This option is permitted by Frontier, but not officially supported, so while it works now, it may not always work.

Finding tricky mission reward commodities

I have slaved, explored, worked and jumped game modes. But I could not for the love of anything get a mission with Modular Terminals as a reward. I went to stations where people had seen them (or even were at that moment) but zip! The mission board is random and my dice were cursed.

So how to get that one final ingredient to the FSD Jump range spell?

Trading with other players.

CMDR TheArmysRedNeck mentioned to me that he had some Modular Terminals, but needed some Osmium and Praseodymium but didn’t have a mining ship to get them.

I did have a mining ship and knew the exact pristine ring system where these items were plentiful.

I gave him my location, went mining in the ring and by the time Red arrived, I had half what he needed already.

We then made a simple exchange and were both on our way with what we needed for our respective blueprints.

So my advice is, if you have an excess of Praseodmium or you have a bunch of mission reward commodities you don’t want, advertise the fact! Go to FaceBook groups, the Frontier forums – wherever and let others know you want to trade.

Tips for beginners: Engineers

Who are they?

There are currently thirty engineers to be found. Each one has a face and their own small biography. The upgrades they offer reflect their interests or former professions.

See HERE for up to date information.

Below is an example of the Engineers screen. It's accessed from the Status TAB on the Systems panel.

What do they do?

They trade materials and data and commodities for ship upgrades. These may be faster FSD drives, longer jump range, stronger shields, faster engines, etc.

Some of them also sell upgraded modules directly. Farseer Inc. is where you can buy racing thrusters.

Where do you find them?

On planets. Depending on your progress in the game (your combat, exploration, trade and CQC ranks) you will have "introductions" hit your mailbox. Once invited by an engineer, not before, you can visit their base and if you can meet their initial requirements, may begin a barter relationship where you trade materials for upgrades.

Each engineer base location will appear as a point on the Galaxy Map once you have that engineer "Unlocked".

As you progress with an engineer, they will introduce you to other engineers. Also, progress in different fields in the game will unlock more. I’ll try and get the unlock information as the full list develops.

Upgrades and unlocks

The upgrades offered by each engineer depend on their area of expertise. Initially you start at level one (very minor upgrades) and as you buy more upgrades, your business relationship with engineer improves and more upgrades unlock. Upgrades go up to level five. Each engineer’s "special interest" may allow a faster path to higher levels. For example Felicity Farseer was an explorer, so will accept exploration data and the more you give her, the higher the level of upgrades become unlocked.


Each upgrade has a blueprint, like the one above for increased FSD range. This tells you what the upgrade will do and what the pros and cons of the modification might be. It also tells you what data, materials and commodities are required. Once the upgrade is unlocked you can “pin" the blueprint to refer back to when away from the engineer’s base. You can only “pin" one blueprint per engineer.

Where do I find materials?

Everywhere! However to find the specific materials you need, look at the blueprint you pinned and selecting the material needed will display a clue as to where the item should be found. This is in the form of a general location such as “at navigation beacons" rather than a specific planet or system.

How do I find data?

Different types of data are gained from different types of scanning. Normal basic scanning of ships in super-cruise and normal space will collect data. Also some data (such as Atypical Wake Echoes) will require a Frame Shift Wake scanner, which is a utility slot item.

Do materials take up cargo space?

No. They list in your inventory panel and (we must assume) fit in your flight-suit pockets as they remain with you, even if you swap ships or are destroyed. You don’t need cargo racks for any materials, however some engineer modification blueprints do require commodities which will need to be stored in your ship’s cargo rack.

Where can I get blueprint commodities I can't buy?

These are only available as mission rewards. Again, the tooltip will give you clue as to the type of mission you'll need to take in order to obtain the rare item you seek. You could also ask other commanders. A lot of bartering has already begun. This will only increase with time.

A. I. feel your pain

Elite: Dangerous shipped version 1.6 and 2.1 last night and a massive update it was.

Following the launch (and a fair bit during the BETA as well) there have been complaints about changes to the A.I.


What’s that? Well, if you are not a ED forum regular or don’t know what I mean, what we refer to as the NPCs or A.I. are the Non Player Characters in the game – the spaceships you fight that are not other players and the A.I. being the combat logic program that controls them. Much of this written by Sarah Jane Avory at Frontier, who has been christened the “Mistress of Minions” by the community. She takes great delight in the achievements of her “children”.

Now to the controversy; one camp is complaining that the A.I is now impossible to beat. That all the NPCs use all the Horizons Engineer upgrades. That the NPCs don’t follow the same rules as players, such as having infinite ammo and being immune to heat build-up.

The other camp, is saying that the NPCs were harder in the first BETA of 2.1 and have been “dumbed down” because of complaining from players who just can’t hack combat. Their argument, is that the game is called Elite: Dangerous and combat should be life and death. Not a stroll in park picking daisies. Their response has been the phrase “GIT GUD” meaning learn to fight.

There’s also the group who are in the “goldilocks zone” who think Frontier have got it just right. They are currently the majority.

Where lies the truth of the matter?

The NPC behaviour was different in the first BETA of 2.1 and it did make it harder, because the moment a ship lost its shields, the NPC would flee beyond your range and return when their shields were back up. This might have been harder, but was it better? It made combat take a LOT longer, but it wasn’t very intense as a result. So Frontier changed that and NPCs don’t flee like that now.
Do NPCs use infinite ammo? Are they cheating? I’ve seen no evidence of this.

I asked Zac at Frontier:-

Does the AI cheat?
No, the AI ships work in the same way as any other ships. Anything an AI can do a Commander can do (with exception of one small point noted below in Q3… )
Do ALL NPCs have access to Engineer Mods?
No, NPCs of a higher rank, much like Commanders of a higher rank, will have explored and done far more in our vast Galaxy than lower ranked NPCs. The higher the rank, the more likely you are to see Engineers upgrades
Do NPCs have unlimited ammo?
No. HOWEVER, they do have unlimited multi-cannon ammo. This is a deliberate decision and is designed as such because the multi-cannon fire is made to miss far more and generally to improve the combat experience.
Are NPCs immune to heat build-up?
No, in fact there have been some interesting times when NPCs have blown themselves up from heat build-up. This is a common misconception but NPCs do definitely suffer from heat.

So the claims of cheating don’t really hold up to scrutiny. What I have observed, is that NPCs are vastly different to fight, depending on their rank and the likelihood of meeting high-ranked NPCs increases with your rank.

Harmless, Mostly Harmless, Novice, Competent, Expert, Master, Dangerous, Deadly, Elite.

You now need to check what the NPCs rank is, before biting off more than you can chew. I could swat a wing of three competent Eagles, but a Deadly Dropship took all I had to stay alive.

Whatever camp you are in, the days of NPCs barrel-rolling in a stationary position while you kill them is over. The minions are fighting back!

Engineers could do BETA

The latest addition to Elite Horizons is the 2.1 engineers update.

Having played with it for the last seven days, I’ve began to get a feel for what it brings to the game.

The engineers are a bunch of solitary individuals who camp out on remote planet bases. These bases are by invitation only. The engineers require an initial “offering” before they’ll deal with you. Once there you can opt to upgrade components of your ship, in exchange for combinations of materials and data. In simple terms, you collect loot to craft better ship components.

Each engineer has different specialties, so some can pimp your FSD while others make your pulse laser blue and "fizzy".

Materials and data

How do you get materials and data? When you destroy another ship, it will explode and eject parts that can be collected (via limpet or cargo scoop).

These can also be found in wreck sites, USS’s and other POI’s in space. They are stored, like materials and are not part of the cargo. Data is obtained whenever you scan an object in space, such as another ship or an FSD wake.


Once you’ve got your loot, you can proceed to the base of the engineer of your choice (shown on the new panel) and exchange them for a spin of the roulette wheel. What? Yep, when you pick your upgrade, there is a sizeable degree of randomness to the result. What’s more, is that any special effects (such as healing lasers or shock blast) is also random chance. Which means, like any fruit machine, you’re more likely to get mixed fruit rather than three cherries. This is why the forums have been up in arms about Random Number Generators (RNG).

Upgrades may go down as well as up

The upgrades you can purchase come in four levels, one being the lowest and four the highest. As you "buy" more upgrades from engineers, higher levels (and other engineers) unlock. You get “referrals” from one engineer to another, while other engineers are unlocked by actions within the game - such as visiting Sag A or getting friendly with a minor faction.

Bigger may not be better though. I applied a level 3 upgrade to my FSD and got a range of 42Lyr, but when I applied a level four upgrade once unlocked, the FSD range went down to 39Lyr! RNG strikes! If I had spent all week hunting materials for that upgrade, I'd be less than happy.

Living la Vida Piñata

Phase two of the beta has unlocked all engineer upgrades - you no longer need materials, just fish; so I have been able to try a number of them and experience the fickle RNG effects. Because the results can be less than great, it might take several attempts. When you only have to hand over a few ton of fish, like now, it’s mildly annoying. When you have to hunt for materials for days for each try, it's going to be at best very frustrating.

Here’s the problem. Materials are random. Data scans (as far as I can see) are also random. I flew around for a week and failed to find enough ingredients for a single engineer upgrade! With only two or three hours to play per evening, having to stop after every ship kill and at every USS to scoop for materials was a major chore. The alternative was to fit every ship with a collector limpet controller and cargo rack (to hold limpets) losing two internal slots. That still didn’t help the fact I couldn’t target the components I needed in any way. There is, as far as I can see, no logic that can be applied, other than collect everything all the time.

Easter egg hunt, or virtual housework?

At this point my feeling is that Engineers will be a lot of trawling around in the dark to get a single attempt at an upgrade with a dubious outcome. I've never needed or wanted to grind in Elite and I don't want to start now.

Either the resulting upgrades need to be less random, so that special effects are influenced by the amount or type of materials and data used, or the materials themselves need some logic to their acquisition. Two randoms don't make a right.

The Engineers is still in BETA and some of this is bound to change. I hope it does, because I want the game to be more of an easter egg hunt and less like doing housework.

Beta than before

The first thing I do with a new BETA of Elite, and I’m sure everyone does this, is to buy all the new ships and weapons. Then go crazy pew-pewing everything in sight. Then I go exploring a bit, then start looking at the mundane stuff.

So what is 2.1 like? Well, so much has changed it is difficult to point at one thing.


The graphics for planets, both from orbit and on the surface have been visually improved and the performance is better, giving much higher FPS on my GTX 970. Planets look so amazing from orbit, I doubt anyone could see better currently without joining NASA. Stations look a little different too; not sure if some fog has been added, but it looks better.

As you approach stations, traffic control hails you in a wide variety of voices (depending on system), with your ship designation – in my case “Core Dynamics Alpha Romeo India”. It is a small thing, but adds a huge level of immersion into the Elite universe. You feel like you’ve arrived at a space station. And if you cut throttle down and listen carefully, you can hear – very faintly – radio squelch in the background, inaudible conversations between the station and other ships.


Obviously there are the new engineer modifications (I’ll get to those) but the main change for both 1.6 and 2.1 are the addition of large multi-cannons and huge multi-cannons, beam lasers and pulse lasers. I fitted my FAS with large multi-cannons and medium pulse lasers, then took it for spin. The multi-cannon performed very well on the ship, but it didn’t feel like it was an overpowered mega-weapon, it just inflicted more damage than the smaller class version. Overall, very satisfactory. Gratifying audio too.

So following that, I switched to my Corvette and tried the huge beams, multi-cannons and pulse lasers. The beams looked damn sexy, but I found the pulse lasers have the most effective results. Mainly because of the new NPC AI.


While people on the forums were raging about the NPCs running away, I found that some had a low “cowardice” threshold while others stuck around a little longer before bugging out, but overall, they displayed human-player-like behaviour. When their shields were down, once damage was done, they would run to 6-7km distance and wait for shields to come back up before returning to the fight. If damage got really low, they’d high-wake.

How did this affect combat? Well, my Corvette in the weapon configuration I started with was useless against small ships. As soon as they took damage, they’d run and a Corvette is not a ship you can chase anyone with. The FAS was far more successful, as I could keep ships in range long enough for a clean kill. With this in mind, I changed the Corvette’s weapons for short-burst high-damage weapons and had far more success. So the dynamic is moving towards that you'd see in PvP.


I have only tried one mission and due to time constraints, I failed it (had to log off and sleep). Yeah, I’m rubbish, I know. The missions are defined far better than ever before, with a detailed overview and list of required equipment. The mission giver was rather obsequious towards me (an Elite pilot) basically being a kiss arse. All this makes the mission feel more tangible.

The job was to kill 7 smugglers, some not-so-wanted mission targets amassed a bounty on my head in Nuenets. So yesterday, I logged on for a bit of bounty hunting in a RES site on the new ice ring RES at Fong Wang and I was interdicted by a bounty hunter NPC – an Elite Anaconda – so I let him shoot first, making HIM wanted and began to fire back. The NPC flew the HELL out of that ship, using shield cells, chaff, missiles, flight assist off. My Corvette had the advantage in both weapon and manoeuvrability, but it was still a battle royale; this guy was my match.
Then security turned up and it was over for him. By then he was on 10% hull anyway and the Viper that showed up distracted the Anaconda enough for me to make the kill.

So if you do something illegal, expect trouble to follow you.


Now when a ship is destroyed, it isn't just cargo and scrap left floating, but also components which can be traded with Engineers for upgrades. Basically, every enemy is now a Pinata. This means most people are going to want a collector limpet controller on combat ships and the cargo rack for limpets.

Good or bad?

I'd say this is good. With ship AI changes, my game had to adapt. I'd pick an NPC and do enough to make him flee. Then I'd hit another, the finish off NPC 1 while NPC 2 licked his wounds. Overall my kill rate didn't suffer any. While the Corvette lost some of it's effectiveness on small ships, with the right load-out I was okay. Big ships however, took more effort - especially if they had high rank. But that, in my opinion, is how it should be.

In my next post, I'll talk about enhanced thrusters, meeting Engineers and what to do with the loot.

All the dirt on 2.1

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the core game content click here

Elite: Dangerous Horizons 2.1

  • Engineer modifications won’t just be weapons.
  • Hostile NPCs will now attack on planets.
  • NPC traffic between bases will be seen on planets.
  • Engineer mods are mostly beneficial. Only a few have negative effects.
  • Rebuy will cover the Engineer modifications on your ship, so you won’t lose them if you vessel is destroyed.


  • Engineers are planet dwelling individuals (around 30 to start with).
  • They will deal with you based on your reputation and rank and your relationship to them.
  • Relations are built with Engineers by bringing them materials and carrying out missions for them.
  • They will sell modifications to ships systems as well as awarding them for services carried out (missions).
  • Some Engineers will be approachable immediately, while others must be found and some will only deal with players of rank from their faction.
  • There may be PowerPlay specific Engineers.

Visual changes

  • Improved graphical fidelity for planet surface textures.


  • Man made Points of Interest on planets will be mostly within the bubble (i.e. crashed ships)
  • Natural Points of Interest now exist to be discovered.

Confirmed Engineer modified weapons

  • Regeneration laser – a beam laser that will recharge a wing-man’s shields.
  • Feedback cascade – a new rail gun that, if fired when a shield cell is being used, collapsed the targets shields instantly.
  • Thermal shock – heats up a target.
  • Force shock shells – projectile version of shock-mines.
  • Emissive munitions – applies to cannons and multi-cannons. This ammo will increase the radar signature of target ship. Counters silent running. Larger signature also means the target will take more weapon damage. Causes weapon used with ammo to heat up more.
  • Incendiary Rounds – turns kinetic weapons into thermal on impact.
  • Effects of these weapons is multiplied when used by more than one ship on the same target.

Rank and circumstance

elite rank logo I made the Combat rank of Elite this week after 18 months and 15 weeks of play-time. Which goes to show it can be done without any grind.

I was helping a new player (Awesome_Gamer) and thought a bit of bounty-hunting combined with a Community Goal (The crime crackdown at Morrina) would be a good way to introduce him to the concept of community goals and do some pirate-hunting for cash in the process.

Over the week of the CG my young Padawan went from a Cobra Mk III to a Viper Mk IV and put several million credits in the bank. He’s current goal is to achieve enough rank with the Federation for a SOL permit.

On Monday night I pushed the combat rank from Deadly that last 1% into Elite. I’m now looking forward to seeing what missions that this new status unlocks!

Choose your weapon

For the most part in Elite, I tend to fly around in multi-role ships favouring light armour and good jump range over ships with heavy combat loadouts and short range.

I’ve owned an Anaconda since February of 2014, so a lot of smaller ships have simply passed me by, having been added later. Although I own a Federal Corvette (The "Kharon") which is a monster of a combat ship, I hadn’t really tried any others.

During this week’s CG though, I took out my Federal Assault Ship on CMDR Ranualf’s recommendation and loadout advice and found it an amazing ship. Agile, tough and very adept at bounty hunting. Having found the change rather satisfying, I dusted off my Vulture from storage and took “Toomes” out for flight last night (Spider-man fans will get the reference). Wow! The thing is a killer. A space-faring attack-dog! Equipped with a C3 Beam and E3 Pulse I was racking and stacking the kills, but the best part was how it sounded. The audio effects are pure artistry! If you haven’t tried these ships, do yourself a favour – you don’t know what you’re missing.

Footnote: In case you are wondering why I have ships I haven't flown, it's because I have every ship, but until this February I only had four. The rapidly acquired collection of ships are for my VR shipyard at LaveCon.

What have the Romans ever done for us?

Yesterday I received the most forum reputation I’ve ever had for any single post! People were complaining on the forums (shocker there) that 2.1 was over-hyped. I pointed out that, just like the militants in Monty Python’s Life of Brian in the "What have the Romans ever done for us?" sketch, that you can give someone everything or nothing or something in between and they will STILL be unhappy.

To make the point with a bit of satire, I whipped up a GIF file.


The best bit (for me) was when someone reposted this on Reddit and people were making complaint posts underneath, about how it "..was outrageous for them to have to pay $60 for these fixes to be done when all the Horizons functionality should have been in the game at launch for free!"

Clearly the irony was lost. Everything mentioned (except skid marks) is free and available to everyone at the next release. My point made for me – you just can’t please some people.

Horizons speculation alert!

buggyOn Friday Frontier, for the first time it should be noted, laid out a general plan for most of the coming season of expansions to Elite: Dangerous Horizons. Giving us an outline for what content was coming and when. So what are we getting? Well the first instalment is soon, probably next month, and is titled “The Engineers”

2.1 – The Engineers - Coming Spring 2016

"Everything changes. Introducing an expanded mission system and game-changing loot. Craft exotic weapons and modules for your spacecraft and build a ship unlike any other."

It is confirmed that we’ll have around 30 persistent NPC characters to interact with. These characters will process loot into crafted weapons and modules for you from blueprints. The toys on offer will depend on your pilot and federation, or empire, rank. Using the character creator, Frontier will give these engineers a face to see.


We can speculate that these characters, called Engineers, will abide on the surface of planets at certain locations, which makes them by default, a Horizons-specific feature. Since they require loot to work, you will have to bring them materials(?) to work with in order to make your green beam laser (or more useful), a longer range FSD drive. They also require blueprints. How will these be acquired? Stolen? Found? Clearly a new avenue to explore. You can’t just grind 30T of hand-wavium and have the best ship in the galaxy; you are going to have to find, steal, trade or buy the means to make these upgrades.

Over the last year Frontier had expanded the bulletin-board missions, but as they’ve done so, the basic framework has started to creak under the load. In 2.1 we’re getting a total replacement of the mission system, incorporating these talking head NPC characters which will also be persistent, depending on your pilot rank, faction rank and possibly location. I would love to speculate that these characters will speak (audio? Text to speech?), but in all likelihood they will simply be the face of your mission-brief text, much the same as the characters were in Elite Frontier (shown above). The good news for players without the Horizons expansion is that this element of the game is generic to all, so it is highly likely that the new NPCs will be seen by players of the core game as well as Horizons players.

The new "mission givers" might look something like this:-

mission_face Continued..