Elite Dangerous: 15 awesome things to do… IN SPAAAACE!
Whether you’re a space veteran or a newcomer to the… erm… dangerous universe in Elite Dangerous, here are 15 things you really should do when you start exploring space for the first time.
1. Explore Our Star System
It might not surprise you to learn that visiting Earth is one of the more popular destinations for Elite Commanders, and if you want to see our humble collection of planets then you’ll need to travel to our Sol system. It’s not too arduous a journey from wherever you first start, likely only a few light years away and easily travelable with a few pit stops for fuel. However, you will first need to get a permit. This is the origin of the human race and the capital of the Federation; it’s not going to be open to just anyone, so if you want to get a glimpse of Earth from space – and let’s face it, this might be your only opportunity to do so – then you’ll need to do a few odd jobs for the Federation first to earn that permit.
2. Visit Famous Space Stations
There are plenty of easter eggs here, many of which appear as names of random NPCs or – in the case of more significant ones – the names of space stations. Amy Winehouse, Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams are all featured in the game, appearing as random NPCs. Heck, they might even be pirates. But our favourite easter egg has to be the Ridley Scott Station: not only is the idea of landing in a station named after the man who created Alien a little creepy, but if you look at the list of available commodities you’ll see you can purchase a rare batch of leathery eggs. Not sure we want those…
3. Bask In The Scale
It’s been said once and it’ll be said again: space is big. So are some of the things in it. A quick look at the Elite Dangerous galaxy map – which only covers the Milky Way and not the entire vastness of space – will prove that point well enough. But a visit to the Betelgeuse system will make that all the more apparent; here is one of the biggest stars in the galaxy, a red supergiant sitting close to the galactic rim, and is quite an impressive sight. Even when you jump in from hyper travel it’ll consume your view, and the sheer size of it makes it hard to not been astounded by it. You’ll even be able to see the star from as far away as 300,000 to 400,000 lightseconds!
4. Do It For Honour… Or For Credits
It might not sound all that exciting to pick one of the three factions and complete missions for them, but in doing so you’ll be affecting the way the story unfolds. Power Play is a special system that tallies up the different warring factions, and by picking a side and completing missions you’ll not only work your way up through the ranks – in terms of political importance – but you’ll also contribute more and more to that faction’s success in the war. In doing so you can help change the way the game’s story plays out – not just for you, but for everyone. Some people prefer quiet lives trading goods, others want to feel significant – even in the vastness of space.
5. Be A Bounty Hunter
Fancy earning some Credits? Post up outside a popular spaceport and scan each new contact that comes in range – chances are you’ll find someone with a bounty on their head. You can equip special modules that’ll help track outstanding bounties, and sensors that’ll help you detect any recent Frame Shift Drive anomalies to find out where they’re going. There’s something so satisfying about finding a trail, hunting them down and then ambushing them during supercruise. Admit it, ever since Boba Fett you’ve wanted to be a space age bounty hunter – well now you can! Easily one of the most thrilling ways to spend your time in the Milky Way.
6. Become The Ultimate Troll, Go Interdiction Hunting
With the right hardware installed on your ship you can initiate Interdictions, a means by which you can catch up to someone in supercruise and drag them out, forcing their Frame Shift Drive’s to shut down and dramatically lower their speed. There are benefits to this if you enjoy playing as a bounty hunter or pirate, but the real trolls will find no end of amusement of disturbing another player’s journey just to say ‘hi’. Be warned, however, most people come out of an Interdiction guns blazing and ready for a fight.
7. Find The Unknown
No one yet knows what these strange items are for or the significance that they hold, but there’s no denying their prestige. Whether you want to help explore the science of what these mysterious alien devices are or simply sell it for cash (you’ll earn easily 200,000 Credits for one of these things), there’s no denying the sheer value of coming across one. Be wary though; the radiation from this thing can ruin your hold – even force it open during hyper travel, ejecting all your stored goods – and that’s saying nothing of the target it’ll put on your back. Everyone knows the value of these things, and if you want to carry one of them around then be prepared to defend yourself.
8. Smuggle Stolen Goods
Many mission opportunities will give you the option to find and acquire stolen goods, but in truth you can opt to do that yourself if you so wish. While you’ll end up finding favourite space stations you prefer to visit when fencing stolen items, there’s always a sense of panic as you slowly guide yourself in through the letterbox of the station’s entrance. What if the scanners are activated as you begin to fly through? Can you make a quick escape before the law enforcement turns up? While the obvious benefits can often outweigh the risks, there’s no denying that there’s sense of criminal thrill to being a smuggler. And besides, who doesn’t want to be Han Solo?
9. Decimate In Multiplayer
Recently added to the Xbox One version only, PvP matches offer a more traditional form of multiplayer combat to the typical open-world equivalent in the main game. Plus, you’re able to equip your spacecraft with a special loadout to better compete against others, giving you a risk-free sense of thrill as you gun down the opposing team. The reason these are more exciting encounters than run-of-the-mill space combat is because these arenas are specially built; it helps form specific strategies and playstyles that aren’t usually possible. Whether it’s weaving in and out of asteroids or narrowly avoiding gunfire by a space station – PvP is where you’ll want to be.
10. To Barnard’s Loop!
Barnard’s Loop is a popular destination for explorers. It is one of the most significant sights in the galaxy, and easily recognisable to anyone interested in looking for it. Find for a red semi-circle of gas and you’ll have found Barnard’s Loop, an emission nebula in the Orion constellation. But what use is seeing something from a distance? If exploration is an aspiration of yours, then you’ll certainly want to see Barnard’s Loop up close as you drift through the red mist and witness the many other visual phenomena in the area. It really is one of the most gorgeous locations in the game, a likely reason for its popularity as a tourist destination.
11. Take Part In Piracy
If you kit out your ship with all the vital parts, you’ll find becoming a pirate to be an incredibly lucrative choice – but more than that it’s a surprisingly strategic affair. It begins with you scanning potential victims to ensure they have goods worth fighting for, and then it’s a case of initiating an ambush. But you don’t want to destroy the items you’ve come for, which is where the strategy comes in. With particular modules you can target just the cargo hold of your victim – once their shields are down – and crack open those doors like a zero-gravity pinata. Once that’s done you’re free to claim the booty for yourself and head off into the darkness of space.
12. Find The Original Voyager Spacecrafts
This cool little secret is a fun thing to find, though you’ll need to do some investigatory work to actually see it yourself. Both of the original Voyager spacecrafts that NASA sent out to explore the universe have been included in the game, and though their battery power long since died and aren’t outputting a signal they are – mathematically speaking – in the same locations they are presumed to be in Elite Dangerous’ year of 3301. As with everything else in the game’s simulation it is all rendered in real-time, so these Voyagers won’t stay in the same place. You can use science (and the internet) to help hunt down these historic machines, though.
13. Go To The Kepler System
If you already have an interest in space, then you’ll likely know of the name of Kepler – more specifically you’ll know of the two exoplanets, 438b and 442b alongside the recently unveiled Kepler 452b. These planets were very recently discovered (in real life) and were declared to be the most similar to Earth than any known planets, the most likely of any before to sustain life. Upon their discovery, the planets 438b and 442b were correctly placed in-game to their corresponding place in the galaxy, giving you the opportunity to travel to and visit planets that could one day be a second home for humans. No doubt 452b will make its way into the game soon, too.
14. Find Your Own Planet
Perhaps one of the coolest things about Elite Dangerous has nothing to do with any of the exciting gun battles or tourist destinations, but the fact that so much of the universe is undiscovered. This means that, if you so choose, you can become the next great explorer, heading off into the black yonder and never looking back. It’s possible to sell the scan data of planets, stars and systems that you discover to earn yourself money, with never-before-seen discoveries obviously netting you the biggest reward. Even better is that the game tracks ‘First Discoveries’ – so when you are the first to scan a planet you’ll be permanently noted as the explorer who found it.
15. Visit The Supermassive Black Hole At Sagittarius A
You’re in space, you’re going to want to visit natural phenomena. There’s plenty of those around – if you notice one thing about Elite Dangerous, it’s likely to be how beautiful space is – but the huge black hole at Sagittarius A is special; it’s at the centre of our galaxy. As a result it’ll take a lot of time and money to get there (you’re unlikely to make the journey in your starter ship), but it’s definitely a reward for the energy you put into it. This is the only ‘supermassive’ black hole in the game.