I played Elite back in the day so I was quite excited when Frontier started a KickStarter project for the next installment. This new version was going to be known as “Elite Dangerous” and Frontier just needed £1.2M to make it happen. I pledged my £40 out of pure nostalgia and I wondered where I would find the time to actually play the game when it arrived. This is my story so far …
Two years later the game was released and I was able to download it. I fired up the first training mission which I completed with a keyboard and mouse. Next was the basic combat mission and it all started to go wrong. I found the keyboard and mouse setup impossible. My heart sank as I realised that if a training mission was so difficult I wouldn’t stand a chance against a skilled opponent.
At this point I was about to give up and consider my £40 a donation to the British games industry … but in the back of mind I knew I was missing out because other people were getting on just fine.Christmas was approaching and as that is a time for giving I decided to give myself a joystick. I headed to Maplin and picked up a Logitech Extreme 3D Pro for £40. It was a gamble. If it didn’t improve my experience I would have bought a joystick for nothing and increased my loss to £80.
I plugged it in, loaded the game and set the control preset to “Generic Joystick”. A few minutes later the ship in the training mission that had run rings round me was now soaking up pulse laser blasts. Staying on target was so much easier I almost felt a dash of guilt as his hull disintegrated in a satisfying explosion. Other players swear by their Saitek X52 joysticks but given the price difference I knew the Logitech would be fine for me.
That was enough training missions for me. 400 billion star systems were waiting and training missions were for wimps …
It was at this point I started to enjoy myself and ended up operating from Cleve Hub in Eravate. The game suggested my PC could use “High” graphics settings but asteroids and space stations were far too jerky for my taste. I dropped the setting to “Low” and carried on playing. For a number of years I only ever used graphics cards with passive cooling as they are cheaper and never end up with noisy or broken fans. My Radeon HD6450 just wasn’t up to the job. It was still Christmas so in a act of extreme generosity I gifted myself an AMD R9 270X. It had fans. One day they will fail and I will get mad but in the meantime I could set the graphics to “High” and enjoy the fantastic detail ED has to offer.
I found a few trade routes and started to build up my cash pile. This is where I found my initial interest. Do you accumulate money or do you spend it on upgrades? Those upgrades may help you make money faster but how much money do you need to keep for emergencies. The game allows you to rebuy your ship for 5% its value if it is destroyed but cargo is lost at your expense.
I played it safe and kept enough cash to cover the cost of a few Sidewinder rebuys and replacement cargo (all 4T of it) until I could afford an Adder. The 18T capacity of the Adder instantly allowed me to start earning money at a faster rate. Everything was rosey until I was interdicted by a human player in a Cobra MkIII. He attacked me and I panicked. I’ll run, no fight, no run BOOM. I paid the fee and got my Adder back but traded it in for a Cobra MkIII. A few upgrades and I was up to 40T and felt much safer … but I realised that it wasn’t the Adder that let me down it was my ship management skills. I needed to remain calm and make the best use of the systems available to me to stand any chance in the Elite Universe. How could I get this experience with the cost of replacing my Cobra?
It was time to swap jobs. I parked up the Cobra and bought a Viper. It was relatively cheap to replace and built for fighting. To eliminate the need for re-arming I fitted it with 4 pulse lasers. I headed off to a “Resource Extraction Site” and went looking for anyone with a “Wanted” status. When I found them I attacked without worrying too much about losing. Once the bodies started to pile up I was getting much better at flying and equally important, directing power to Systems, Engines and Weapons as required.
Eagles, Vipers and Cobra’s were all easy prey. I lost a few Vipers although none to enemy fire. Watch out for those lumps of rock!
At this point the bounties I received for killing criminals more than covered the rebuy costs and repairs. I had a Viper and a Cobra and I wasn’t affraid to use them.
This was where the game started to open up for me. I had now :
- Done some trading
- Upgraded some systems
- Flown three ships
- Been brutally murdered in cold blood
- Done some bounty hunting
- Run various missions
- Seen an attack fleet burn like a match and disappear **
** ok I admit this didn’t actually happen.
Depending on my mood I could do some trade runs in the Cobra or jump in the Viper for some bounty hunting.
It was clear the game wasn’t going to hand me my entertainment. It had to be discovered and taken, whether it was a new trade route that needed exploiting or a pack of pirates that needed incinerating. Sometimes things just happen in front of you like this Imperial Clipper that had some sort of disagreement with the local law enforcement :
As the credits mounted I managed to buy a T6 freighter. The salesman assured me it only had one previous careful owner and had never seen combat although the plasma accelerator burns on the paintwork make me wonder.
The journey continues ….
Frontier are promising future updates that will increase the depth of content within the game and this is great news. Hopefully my progress so far will allow me to make the most of these when they arrive.
Whether you will enjoy Elite is really hard to say. It is a game where your imagination is as important as the provided game mechanics. This makes it more “Sim City” and less “Call of Duty”. Some people say it’s boring. Others say it is amazing. They are all right because Elite provides a platform in which you make your own fun. For example, the game allows you to dock at a space station. It provides the physics and rules. How interesting that process is depends on you. Finding docking boring? Well try doing it at twice the speed or with a hold full of stolen cargo.
Take a look at the Official Elite Dangerous web site for more information.