This has become one of the rare games I own that drives me crazy but not so much to make me stop playing it. There are a lot of players who are very much into the mode of playing known as PVP, or, Player Versus Player. They go around attacking each other, pirating cargoes, and other such combative things while others, like myself, are well into the PVE – Player Versus Environment – aspects of the game and aren’t all that interested in fighting and “killing” other players.
There is still so much to learn about the game and so very much to see since we’re playing in a pretty good representation of the known Milky Way Galaxy and the parts that are unknown to us are very nicely “stuck in there” and creating one hell of a playground for anyone who can take to the game to just do their thing.
Mine is being a courier; taking important data from one place to another; I’m also a “space trucker,” taking goods from place to place; I’m also a kind of space-borne cruise ship, ferrying passengers from one location to another or taking them on sightseeing tours and while doing all of these things, I’m also an explorer; as I travel, I scan every system I arrive in and, more often than not, discover new systems that, at the very least, I haven’t seen before. While the PVP players are all about collecting bounties on each other, stealing whatever they happen to be carrying in their cargo hold, fighting an alien presence that I’ve not seen for myself yet – and I’m sure I don’t want to if what other players are saying is accurate – and even taking jobs to assassinate NPC – non-playable character – criminals and are getting paid huge sums of credits to do so, I prefer to take a more non-violent approach to getting paid…
And one that isn’t without its own set of risks even though I play in Solo mode; it allows me to run around the galaxy without running into those playing in the more popular Open mode. Grinding is, well, doing whatever you’re doing in order to make credits, like mining… which I suck at something fierce. While a lot of players are keen to get the biggest and best ships the game has to offer and as quickly as possible, grinding is all about slowly but surely doing your thing to amass credits and not really deviating from it all that much. It’s pretty much the same thing being done every time you play the game and, hopefully, with some goals in mind. And while a lot of players have collected a lot of ships, I only have two; one of the things about this game is to acquire the best ships you can buy and outfit them to do the jobs you need them to do whether it’s fighting or moving cargo from place to place or just roaming around the galaxy to see the sights.
The day before yesterday, I was playing and grinding and with a bit of “urgency” to rebuild my credits after dishing out 55 million credits to buy a ship known as the Python, which is designed to carry a lot of freight while also being very capable of fighting. I was making good progress building up my credits and roaming around my local neighborhood – that would be our real-life solar system and where my home base is – and, well, it gets pretty boring because while every job is different, I don’t get to go to many different places and I feel that when I take a job and both the system and delivery location are things I know about, it tends to make me not pay a lot of attention to what’s going on around me a whole lot… and now, enter the NPCs.
The game designers had to have figured that it would be way too easy to play in Solo mode and totally escape the dangers one can face playing in Open mode and, early on in my play, I found out the hard way that the game will throw an NPC at me that’ll try to shut me down and rob me – and even if I’m not carrying anything – or just do their best to destroy me and just because. I’ve gotten to the point where I can look at a job and tell that, yep, I’m going to get attacked along the line and I’ve gotten to be very good at escaping being interdicted – that’s when someone forces you out of “warp” and tries to do you harm. But the day before yesterday?
I’d been doing job after job and, at that point, hadn’t been attacked and interdicted until I had taken a really high paying job – around two million credits – to deliver ten items to a planetary base and one I could get to in just one jump. I knew before I even took the job that, yep, I’m going to get attacked and, holy shit, did I ever get attacked! Usually, an NPC will try to interdict me once and if I escape, well, that’s it. Sometimes – and depending on whether I’m in friendly space, Federation Security forces will show up to take out the bad guy NPC which allows me to escape unharmed but when in hostile space, eh, maybe they show up, maybe they don’t.
I got attacked three times. The first time, I used my Python’s firepower to fight back but since I seem to suck at fighting other ships, my Python took a lot of damage while dealing out some damage. This part really fucks with me because I can’t seem to get the attacker in front of me where I can see them and have a better chance of fending off an attack… which is why my ship is outfitted with weapons that will track an attacker without me having to really be face to face with them… theoretically. The NPC pain in my ass gave me a beating but I put some serious hurt on it as well, got my engines back on line, and hauled ass to my destination. Whew! At least I didn’t get blown up, which would have been very expensive and would have badly affected my reputation. But the NPC wasn’t done; I was, oh, about halfway to my destination when the motherfucker tried to interdict me again and making this even worst is the attacking NPC always talking shit about how they’re gonna destroy me if I don’t give up whatever I’m carrying, something I find funny.
It was of great import for me to not get interdicted again; my ship had suffered 50% damage so taking more wouldn’t have been a good thing. I’m dipping and diving trying to catch the Escape Point that’ll set me free – and trying to catch it isn’t all that easy; I got interdicted the first time because the asshole attacked while I was sitting in front of the local star and so close to it that when I started to evade, I got too close and the proximity caused my ship to shut down and I got caught. Federation Security arrived and engaged my attacker and I’d caught the Escape Point and back to hauling ass to my destination. Now, this wasn’t the first time I’ve been attacked twice but I was breathing a sigh of relief to have escaped again; I looked at my panel to see – confirm – that I wasn’t too far from my destination so I could get into its safe zone and couldn’t be attacked. But just as I almost go to the distance where my ship would “drop out of warp,” I got attacked again!
Getting jumped once? Expect that. Getting jumped twice? Didn’t expect that but it happens. A third time? I’m actually laughing about this – and as I’m back to dipping and diving to catch the Escape Point – and more so when a quick peek at my scanner showed a slew of security ships surrounding my attacker and the cool part was that because I had “locked on” to my attacker (necessary for my weapons to be effective), my ship’s computer was telling me that the target’s shields had failed and, seconds later, that it had been destroyed. Yeah, take that, bitch! I caught the Escape Point… but overshot my destination so I had to turn around and reacquire it and gratefully activated the Auto-Dock feature and docked, safe but pretty beaten up and in need of repair.
But the destination port was one of those that didn’t have the repair facilities I needed and, after completing my delivery, getting paid, and even upping my reputation, I was “forced” to return to Galileo, my home station in our real-life Sol system to get the repairs I needed. I could have checked out any of the places in the system I had made my delivery to… but the triple attack kinda left me rattled and after I got home safely – and it wasn’t a given that I would – I repaired my ship and shut down the game.
Grinding can be boring and monotonous but if you want to succeed at whatever you’re doing, there’s no escaping it. Other players complain about having to grind and as if they feel they don’t have to put in the work that the game requires in order to make credits, gain reputation and achieve naval ranking in the three navies that one can be ranked in. Most of the time, the distances involved are daunting, like one sightseeing gig I took that took over 150 total jumps and a couple of real-time hours to complete just to get the passenger to the places they wanted to see… and with a very cranky passenger onboard who kept giving me shit about the trip taking too long and then making over 150 jumps to take them back to where I picked them up. Grinding in this game can wear you out and while you can “take a break” to get up, move around, use the bathroom, whatever, you’re never really safe to take your eyes off of what’s going on because even in Solo mode, an NPC can appear out of nowhere and attack the shit out of you. I’ve learned to take my controller with me if I’m going to the kitchen because I can still see what’s going on from there or just standing up and stretching with it in my hand because you just never really know.
I tell myself that, today, I’m not going to play the game and grind; I remind myself that I have almost 100 other games I can play instead, like No Man’s Sky, for instance. There’s grinding in that game as well and it comes with its own risks and dangers since most of the planets you can be on are trying to kill you. Or Minecraft which is all about grinding in order to keep your stock of materials and food as full as needed. But Elite Dangerous has proven to be rather addictive. On the game’s Facebook group, a player asked what everyone does when they’re not playing Elite Dangerous and I responded by saying, “I think about what I have to do when I do play…” because grinding requires a purpose, a goal, a plan. I only have two ships; my Python and a recent purchase, a passenger ship called an Orca, a big step up from the Dolphin I used to own. My goal is to eventually either replace my Python with an Anaconda – a seriously badass ship and the only thing better than an Anaconda is a Fleet Carrier – or just buy one and keep the Python and to do the same thing to acquire a Beluga, the best passenger carrier the game has.
It’s going to take a lot of credits to buy these ships and to get those credits, I have to grind and be committed to grinding to achieve my goals. I want to up my reputation with those I do business with and while I’m not a fighter so much, I want to keep advancing my Federal Navy rank – which is currently Lieutenant Commander – because doing so gets me better and higher paying jobs as well as access to other kinds of ships that are, admittedly, more for fighting than anything else. Grinding allows me to explore the many other things the game has to offer and that can be seen and it’s often a nice break to go check out something marked as “Unexplored” even if to break up the monotony of going from point A to point B over and over. Grinding also includes keeping my two ships up to date with the things I can get to improve them and some of those things aren’t cheap and, yep, still have to keep whatever ship I’m using to grind fueled and repaired.
Grinding in this game is a pain in the ass… but since I’ve embraced the grind, it’s really a lot of fun. It’s still not an easy game to learn and there are many things that you wind up having to learn as you grind to do whatever it is you’re doing. The grind just never stops until you turn the game off.