It’s been a while since I wrote about playing this game and the first thing to report is how addictive I’m finding it. There’s so much to think about in this game and so many things that can be done that there are days when I tell myself, “I’m not gonna play it today; I’ll play Minecraft or one of other games I have…”
Then crank up the console, check for updates… and open Elite Dangerous. Because I play in Solo mode – and that’s because I’m just not into the cut-throat way a lot of people play the game – I get to do whatever I’m doing without being bothered with other humans – the game’s NPCs – non-playable characters – give me enough grief at times when they decide to attack me during a cargo or passenger run and the passengers sometimes get on my last good nerve wanting to get taken all around the place and often complaining when they “think” I’m not getting there fast enough.
Not my fault that they chose to take a trip than can be, combined, hundreds of jumps long. I have the best ship for this: The Beluga. I’ve learned to arm it to the teeth and the ship includes a fighter and pilot who can join me in defending the ship from the NPC bad guys. And speaking of ships…
The best ships cost a lot of credits and a few times, I’ve amassed over one hundred million credits and this is a good point to either upgrade ships in my fleet or to buy the next best one and by the time I get finished purchasing and outfitting a new ship, I’m usually “broke” but that’s okay; I’m used to grinding in a game. Grinding is just doing mission after mission after mission and in my selected “profession” as a Trader and Explorer, it can get pretty boring but if you wanna make the credits, you learn to stick to it rather than to take “the easy way” to make credits by attacking and destroying other players or doing the one thing I’ve yet to wrap my head around, which is mining. I’ve done the tutorial for this several times and I can fire my mining laser at an asteroid and break a piece off easily enough but when it comes to capturing it and putting it in my cargo hold? I suck at it and that bothers me something fierce because I just can’t seem to catch up with the errant piece and, to date, I’ve only managed to successfully mine something once.
My everyday ship is the one called a Python and it’s a favored multipurpose ship for a lot of players. It can carry 200 pieces of cargo which, for most jobs, is pretty decent but its main attraction is its firepower and ability to dogfight when outfitted with the right mix of weaponry. I had bought the next level ship: An Anaconda and another ship that is favored among other players. It has decent cargo capacity when outfitted properly and you can pack in a lot of firepower but it’s downside is that the base configuration is slow; its thrusters leave a lot to be desired and its ability to maneuver at slower speeds just drove me crazy and especially when I’m trying to line up and deorbit to make a planetary landing. The game has Engineers, specialists who, upon meeting their criteria, can provide stuff to pump up many aspects of ship.
At first, I wasn’t all that interested in this aspect of the game but when I bought the Anaconda and, um, gotten my ass shot off a few times because of its poor maneuverability, okay, let’s do some engineering but even then there’s a problem I can’t get around: Some of the best improvements require a payment in, say, iron or sulphur… which you cannot buy at any station… you have to mine it and I suck at that. There are other modifications available and getting the components needed is often easy enough since many jobs pay in those materials and you can always go to a Materials Trader and wave your fingers over stuff to get what you might need.
It took me a bit of time to get the Anaconda engineered to the point where it moves better but I’ve still had some interesting moments trying to deorbit and once – and only for the second time since I’ve been playing – crashed into the planet and got destroyed. Bummer. But one of the things I get a kick out of when buying a new ship is learning how to fly and fight it and once I outfitted it with a fighter, well, when I couldn’t get away from being interdicted and had to fight, asses got kicked and names were taken and most of the time the attacker realizes they’re overmatched and run away; sometimes they come back and continue the fight, though. While both the Python and Anaconda have decent cargo space, I found I needed more; when you advance through the Trader ranks, you get access to the higher paying (and riskier) jobs and having credits is just as important as having good ships.
So I bought the Type-10 Defender which is a beast of a ship. More than decent cargo capacity but more slots available for weapons and a fighter bay. The downside? It’s like driving a fully loaded tractor trailer without power steering and it’s stuck in mud. It is so slow to move that trying to evade an interdiction is a lot of work… but the good part is that if I gotta fight, yeah, buddy, let’s do this! I had to engineer the shit out of this ship just to make it move better and even after doing that, it’s still kinda slow when maneuvering. Mine is outfitted to carry 408 pieces of cargo and, yeah, fully loaded? Still maddeningly slow but I’ve learned to fly and fight it well enough.
One of the decisions I have to make every time I start the game is what am I going to do and which ship am I going to use and while the Type-10 is a beast of a “warrior,” it’s ponderous movement is a liability that I’ll say I don’t want to deal with… but I’ll take it out anyway and a few days ago, that decision cost me dearly when I got blown away and “respawned” and by the time my insurance payment came out, I had gone from having just over 50 million credits to… just over a million. I hate when this happens; the grind is bad enough and now it gets worst to get as many credits as possible just to cover the insurance payoff in case I get my ass shot off again.
But I worked through it and while I’ve not gotten my credits back to a place where being able to pay for stuff isn’t a problem, I did the one thing I didn’t want to do: Traded in my Anaconda for one of the best ships in the game: The Federation Cutter. It is a beast of a warship with respectable cargo capacity and other players have said time and time again that the “FC” is that ship you do not want to fuck with unless getting blown up is something you enjoy. I didn’t want to get rid of my Anaconda but the good thing is that at some point, I will be able to buy another one – and I will.
So today, I’ll be in the FC and taking a trip to a couple of engineers to apply what modifications I can. I’m still kinda/sorta outfitting it and the thing I already like about it is that I equipped it with a fighter bay that can carry, at this time, two fighters and will eventually upgrade it to carry four of these puppies. I’ll be out there learning how to fly and fight it which is actually a lot of fun if not a bit nerve-wracking at times. I took it out briefly last night, leaving my home base and going just outside the No-Fire Zone so I could deploy its weapons to make sure the ship didn’t shut itself down and a mistake I’ve made a couple of times. Today, as I journey to the Engineers, I’ll be testing every aspect I can think of including landing on a planet which, for me, is “harder” than fighting any of the ships I have except the Python – it can turn and burn really well for such a large ship.
I just can’t seem to stop playing this game. It often gives me fits and doing some stuff is so boring that there are a lot of times when I’m flying along and not paying attention – and watching TV on my tablet or playing another game or reading on my iPad. I recently reached Elite status as a Trader, which is a big deal; I’m close to reaching Elite status as an Explorer and currently at 96% and it’s a bitch progressing because even when I find unexplored systems and sell the data to the folks who buy it, I’m just not selling enough to get that last 4% in – yet. But the grind will help with this, too.
Time to get to grinding. There’s work to be done and bad guys to kill and credits to make…