Xbox One Gaming: Elite Dangerous Update

28 Feb

The first part of this gaming update is that Elite Dangerous is now free of charge on Xbox’s GamePass, which is a good thing but there are a lot of players who, like myself, shelled out the price of the game to be able to own it… and I guess we should have known that Xbox would eventually make it free for all GamePass members.

Next, my progress in the game so far. While there are a slew of players running around the galaxy fighting each other, blowing up shit and getting jacked up by an alien presence that one doesn’t see that often, there are folks like me who are enjoying the non-violent aspects of the game also one of the things I learned early on is that even when playing in Solo mode and a mode where you’re never going to run into any of the others playing the game, the game isn’t beyond having an NPC – non-playable character – come along and try to hijack you or blow you out of the sky: I guess the game wants to occasionally remind Solo players that the galaxy is still a very dangerous place and keeps you on your toes and well-versed in escaping interdiction attempts.

I’m still in the Lesser Orion Arm of the galaxy but I’ve slowly but surely managed to work my way, well, back home: The Sol system which is home to Earth. You need a special permit to go to Sol and when I got my permit, I wasn’t – and still aren’t – all that sure exactly what I did to finally get it other than to have my Federation rank go up (this is the galactic government/faction I’ve aligned myself with). I’ve been buzzing around delivering stuff and/or taking passengers either to other systems or outrageous tours of the stellar neighborhood to see the sights; there are a lot of sightseeing places that travelers are willing to pay millions of credits to go see.

The game is a grind if you’re not running around shooting up the place; you need credits for a lot of things, from buying new ships to taking care of ship refueling and repairs and updates to paying fines and, yeah, if you get blown up, you gotta pay a chunk of change in order to get your ship back and go on about your business. I’ve learned to pick and choose the jobs I want to take on and I have a “goal” right now to get the next size passenger carrier – the Orca – so that I can ferry those who want to travel in business or first class comfort… and for a lot of credits… but that heifer is expensive at somewhere around 45 million credits, give or take a hundred thousand.

I have four ships. The one the game gave me when I started it (a Sidewinder); I have a passenger ship (a Dolphin), a heavy hauler (a Type 7) and the ship that I use to explore and carry stuff (an Asp Explorer). I’ve bought – and gotten rid of – some of the fighter/military craft because, um, I very much suck at dogfighting in space, that and I can’t properly configure the ship in the most efficient way it can be done. I’ve bought such a ship, outfitted it the best I can, and when I’ve taken it out for a spin, it’s all good… until I deploy its weapons systems… and the whole damned ship shuts down and I’ve got about five minutes to get it up and running before I run out of air and die. Which kinda leads into the other thing I suck at: Mining.

I did the tutorial for mining and shooting an asteroid, well, that’s easy but catching up with the material blasted free? Yeah, um, shit… I totally failed that part of the tutorial. The good part is that in the game mode, there are things called limpets I can get that will go get the material I’ve blasted from an asteroid and I have a mental note to get some… but that’s not all there is to it. I had a ship configured with a mining laser, took a short trip to an asteroid field to see what I could mine; deployed the weapons to bring the mining laser to bear… and the ship shut down and right in the middle of NPCs buzzing around and, I guess, waiting for me to collect something so they could take it from me. I went to reboot the ship and it rebooted its systems… kinda. My shields were still offline, I’m not sure what my engine was doing and, oh, yeah, I was still running out of air and the clock was quickly counting down so I did the only thing I could do: Exited the game.

Shit. I don’t really need to mine anything but I kinda have to since in order to get certain upgrades for my ships’ systems, I have to mine stuff instead of going to a station and buying them from the “store” many of them have available. I couldn’t figure out what I had done wrong and as I continued to grind doing passenger trips and delivering goods, I was still thinking about how I managed to fuck it up. At one point during my play last night, I was about to dock at a station and had engaged auto-landing and as I marveled at how my ship was moving in order to get lined up, I had noticed that the auto-landing feature had re-tasked my weapon systems power to the engines… and in that instance, I knew how I fucked up my attempt to do some simple mining: I needed to shunt power from somewhere else to the weapon systems… and the mining laser is part of the weapons system.

Well, fuck me. I’ll test this later when I play (after I finish writing this).

Buzzing around the place, for a “space junkie” like me, is fun and especially when I see stars and systems that are not only real but I’ve read about in the many science fiction books I love reading. I’ve collected more permits to other systems, like Sirius; I’ve advanced in Federation military rank to be a Chief Petty Officer, which not only gives me access to the better fighting craft – which I have no plans on buying – but more lucrative Federal jobs. I’ve learned that taking passengers on sightseeing tours, while profitable, can be a pain in the ass. The one “complaint” I keep running into is my passengers bitching about how long it’s taking to get somewhere and them saying that they’d love to get there before they die. It’s not my fault that they’ve picked locations that are, sometimes, hundreds of multiple jumps away from where I picked them up and my Dolphin can only jump so far and cruise so fast… which is why I need to upgrade to the Orca and, eventually, the Beluga – it’s literally one whale of a ship.

I had one passenger get totally pissed off and cancelled the contract mid-trip and, as such, I didn’t get paid and had my reputation get reduced, too. I don’t mind when, in mid-trip, a passenger decides they want to take a side trip to some other place or that they need something like consumer electronics… and now I have to look for a station that may or may not have whatever they’re looking for. Or, lately, some have wanted to go into areas of conflict and I’ve learned to not get too close to whatever fighting is going on since, um, getting blown up with your passengers on board isn’t a good thing and I don’t wanna find out how bad that’s gonna be.

I don’t do that many sightseeing trips because it takes a lot of time… in real time. The last one I did took me three hours to complete and, jeez, even thought the trip went without anything going wrong, it was boring as fuck and to the point where I was watching TV shows on my tablet and iPad while grinding from one star system to the next. I’d occasionally check to see how many more jumps I had left, shake my head, mutter an obscenity to myself, and keep it moving. I tend to take on trips to deliver passengers from Point A to Point B which aren’t that time consuming and, often, doesn’t pay a whole lot… but that’s part of the grinding one can find themselves doing.

At one point last night, I’d earned about 25 million credits and while checking out the job postings, I saw a lucrative job to ferry a lot of items to a system that was one jump away… and I was in the wrong ship. I looked to see what ships the station had to offer and saw that they had a Type 7 bulk carrier, a step up from the Type 6 I had sitting at my home station… which was five jumps away and I knew it wasn’t available at my home station. I had a decision to make being halfway to being able to buy an Orca; do I pass on the Type 7 and the two million credit job… or do I spend the credits, get the Type 7 and take the job?

I decided to get the Type 7 and the job. After completing it, I immediately went home – and I kinda don’t like being empty but I couldn’t find anything I could haul back to my base in the Sol system – so I could sell the Type 6 I had and to have my Asp Explorer shipped back home to me, which is a pretty cool feature in the game if not a bit pricey. My problem is still that I’m not good at configuring ships. The Type 7 is like flying a brick; it’s slow and ponderous and while I can upgrade its engines, eh, there’s some tradeoffs to be considered. I upgraded its engines and power distribution systems but when I went to upgrade its stock laser weapons, well, that’s a problem because where I happen to be, they don’t have the type of laser weapon I need. The stock lasers are fixed in place… and pointing forward which makes sense… except when NPCs start shooting at me, they’re never in front of me and no matter how hard I try to point my weapons at them and shoot back, well, it just ain’t happening so I need the type of laser that isn’t fixed and can move as necessary to target the asshole behind me and eliminate them.

And this is part of the grind as well. I’m slowly but surely learning about configuring ships so that, say, when I take off from somewhere, the damned thing doesn’t shut down or I go to scan an area and, oops, I haven’t properly assigned things to the right areas. I’m not a fan of landing at locations that are based on a planet… but I kinda like it, too, because every landing presents a challenge that’s just too enticing to ignore and, of course, the goal is to “stick the landing” which means deorbiting at the right time and doing things in just the right way so that, if I do it right, I’ll be landing in a couple of real time minutes but if I get it wrong – and I do screw it up – it’s gonna take a long time for me to get to where I’m going.

The fun part is that while I’m in the middle of making planetfall, I catch myself flying the ship; I’m aware of the minute corrections I’m making with the joysticks and corrections I’m no longer and really paying that much attention to while keeping an eye on my speed, how much distance I have left and even how high I am relative to the surface… and all without really thinking about doing those things. Last night I made four planetary landings; I stuck three of them and totally screwed up one of them; instead of having a couple of minutes of flying to land, I was twiddling my thumbs and waiting out the 30 minutes or so it was going to take. Now, there is a way around such a screwup; all I have to do is engage my frame shift engines, aim at the escape point, and time the moment when I can lock back onto the landing spot… except, um, sometimes, I screw that up, too, and in this one, I actually wound up kinda crashing into the planet, not enough to seriously damage my ship but enough to have me cussing at myself.

This game is just so much fun to play.

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Posted by on 28 February 2021 in Xbox One Gaming


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