So, you just bought Elite: Dangerous and have no idea what to do… Or maybe you haven’t bought it yet but are considering it (well, you should go buy it… NOW). I saw a lot of posts on various E:D communities asking for help starting out in this wonderful game, so I decided to write this post. I’ll try to keep it short and useful, let’s see how that goes…
Before we go into detail about the game itself, let me just say this: If you don’t have a HOTAS, you should probably get one. Although you can play E:D without one, having a joystick and throttle will significantly improve your experience in the galaxy. There are a number of options out there, including the X-52, the X-55, the HOTAS X and the Warthog. You may also look into buying a head tracking solution. This will allow you to look around in your cockpit and will also improve your immersion. You can get the more expensive TrackIR or go for a cheaper solution like the DelanClip or the EDTracker. Or just look for tutorials on YouTube on how to build one yourself. Also check out VoiceAttack and one of the many awesome HCS Voice Packs. Talking to your ship computer is awesome – especially if you’re an explorer, all alone, far away from “the bubble”.
First thing you should do is set up your controls to fit your play style. You will probably tweak it as you go along, but try to set some basic controls before anything else. Thrust, vertical thrust, pitch, yaw, roll, hardpoints, landing gear, etc. Next you should watch the Training Videos and play the Training Missions. I can’t stress this enough, these will teach you how the game works. They aren’t mandatory, but will help a lot in the beginning.
Once you watch the videos and play the missions, it’s time to finally play E:D. This is when you get to choose if you play in Open, Private Group or Solo. Open means you will be playing with everyone else on the same server. This is where you’ll meet the most Commanders (shown in game by hollow icons on your radar). It also means it’s the most dangerous of the three options. Not all Commanders are friendly. There are also pirates and they’ll burn you just for laughs. The Private Group options is somewhat of a compromise. You join a group of people with common interests. For example, look for the Mobius group. They’re a bunch of friendly, helpful people only interested in PVE. Playing on Solo, while safest of the three options is also the most boring and lacks any kind of human interaction. You’ll be playing in a galaxy full of NPCs. That’s it. You can still lose your ship (and Cargo, if any) if you come across some skilled pirate NPC, but there’s a chance in a million of that happening.
Now, once you begin playing the game, it’s all up to you. I recommend trying the different mission types. They’ll show you what every profession in E:D is all about. And there are a lot of them. You can be a bounty hunter, assassin, trader, smuggler, pirate, explorer and so on. Try doing at least a few of each to get the hang of it. See what you like doing the most. Don’t set unrealistic goals. If all you can think about when playing is “I need to get credits for an Anaconda” or “I need to grind more reputation with the Federation to become Admiral“, you’ll hate the game. It can become a grindfest if you let it. Don’t! Enjoy the game for what it is and what it can give you.
Never fly a ship you can’t afford to lose. Always make sure you have enough credits to pay for insurance. You never know… Also, make sure you buy the right ship for the job you’re doing. Multirole ships are cool and all, but don’t really excel at any particular role.
Ask for help. There are a lot of players willing to help. Join communities, join groups and wings in game, and use the many helpful sites that will just make your experience so much better. I’ll just list a few:
- EDDB.io – will help you find stations selling particular modules, identify trade routes and a lot more;
- Coriolis.io – build your perfect ship using this excellent tool;
- Inara.cz – awesome aggregator site… has a lot of useful tools and the community is awesome;
There are many more, but you don’t need them all at once if you’re just starting. Well, this guide was supposed to be a lot shorter, but even so, I feel like I’ve only just scratched the surface… Elite: Dangerous is a beautiful, huge game. Have fun out there, CMDR! And most important of all, be nice to other players. Nobody likes a smart-ass.