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.

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.