Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

Friends, Romans, CMDRS lend me your Engineers

Long term members of the community have been expressing frustration and dismay with the latest update to Elite, like Titus Balls https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/267381-My-Elite-Dangerous-inflection-point, Thrudd (author of Thrudd’s Trade Tool) https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/263684-The-Engineers-is-turning-into-a-deja-vu-for-me?p=4070730&viewfull=1#post4070730 and Obsidian Ant https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKeC-FBomCw

This isn’t the AI changes that came into 1.6 and 2.1, what we’re talking about here is the Engineers.

What’s the problem?

To “unlock” most Engineers (so you can visit them) you have to reach a certain level with other Engineers. This means a certain level of grind. Either repeated upgrades to unlock higher levels or some form of trade (if you know what that engineer wants).

To get an Engineer to modify something, you must provide all the ingredients from the blueprint. Initially these are just materials or data, but higher upgrades include commodities (cargo).

Most of which cannot be bought, but must be earned as mission rewards. If you get a reward of cargo you can’t swap to a ship that doesn’t already have a cargo rack fitted. It also means you cannot apply these mods or use any ship that doesn’t have a big enough cargo rack for the items you need to hang on to for upgrades. So you might have to jettison rare cargo, just so you can carry on playing the game. Currently there is no way to locate a mission offering the reward you need, other than just visiting the Mission Board at every station and reading every mission.

Now assuming you do have everything, you go to the Engineer’s (remote) hideout and you request an upgrade, hand over the beans and pull the handle. The lights flash, the wheel spins and you get… numbers. Mass, Integrity, power draw, optimised mass. You have no idea what it all means. So, you won’t find out if your top speed or jump range is better until you apply the upgrade. It’s then you find out if the results are in fact worse. A level 5 upgrade can easily prove worse than a level 3! Now during the BETA when all the Engineers wanted was fish it was inconvenient and puzzling; now when you might struggle for a month to find the items for a blueprint, only to have it produce bad results, it is very disheartening, knowing you've got to start the search again and when you finally get back to where you started, the results may (again) be just as random.

So what?

Engineers is part of a paid expansion and was supposed to add more game play. It shows a lot of promise and the Engineer modifications are interesting, but are let down by an illogical and random delivery system.
Like a chocolate bar stuck half-way out a vending machine, the goods are in sight but blocked by mechanical failure!

It’s easily fixable.

Short term improvements

  • More transparency with upgrades i.e. "Your FSD max range is 12Ly and with this modification would be 14Ly. Apply Y/N?"
  • The ability to deliver cargo/data/materials to an engineer in advance of using blueprints, no longer making it mandatory to have cargo racks for most mods.
  • Change the randomness on modifications so it is within tiered bands, not a 0 to 100% range, so that a level 5 mod should always be better than a level 4, even if it isn't the best. i.e. level 1 = 1-20% improvement, level 2 = 20-40%, level 3 =40-60%, level 4 = 60-80% and level 5 = 80-100%.
  • Find a better way to communicate where materials etc. can be found on blueprints. The Galnet news post was a quick-and-dirty fix.

These would make a significant improvement to the existing mechanic making it more logical, transparent and progressive (rather than pot luck).

In the long term

A player market in materials would allow all players to sell on items not required and you could purchase that oh-so-hard-to-find material or cargo if you have more credits than time. These could be like rare goods, but in reverse. Materials would cost the most (and sell for the most) close to Engineer outposts, but get cheaper further away from Engineers. Materials would gravitate towards where they are needed.

The ability to apply same upgrade to multiple items with the same result. i.e. If I have enough materials for 3 blueprints, I should be able to apply the same upgrade to all three multi-cannons with the same outcome (if done together).

Expand cargo and material storage to all stations (not just Engineers) and add module storage, so you can refit your ship for another purpose without losing the upgraded modules you own.