Author Topic: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond  (Read 144 times)

Darkness

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Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« on: September 20, 2017, 05:38:26 AM »
I'm still playing this. My wife bought me the best HOTAS you can get  (the Thrustmaster Warthog) as a Birthday present and with a new PC up and running, Elite Dangerous is back to being a hugely immersive experience. I mainly play it to relax at the end of the day, as its so darn pretty and I can do low impact/high profit activities (like missions or exploring) to unwind. My new HOTAS takes the immersion level up a notch and I just need to find a way to combine that with voice attack + minus, to make the experience complete. I'll probably write a review of the Warthog at some point, because it excites me and I'm tedious that way.

But, I want to talk about Elite Dangerous here.

Graphically it continues to be pretty, with various tweaks and optimizations making it more so and run a lot more smoothly. The graphical enhancements to ships for damage and wear and tear, are very impressive.

Gameplay wise a lot has changed since I last wrote a review of the game, which was my second review of the game, incorporating various updates and improvements. Unsurprisingly, the game has now more updates and improvements. Although, unlike other MMOs (and ED is sort of a weird hybrid of MMO/Co-op/Single Player), Frontier haven't simply thrown more content at the game, but most of he updates are refinements to existing systems which add depth and generally improve the experience.

1. More ships = more variety = smoother experience in terms of progressing to more expensive vessels.
2. More ship fitting options = gives a wider variety of roles to different ship classes and sizes, which means that the game progression isn't linear from small ship to big. It all depends on what sort of task you want to perform and also, what sort of ships you like to fly.
3. Additions to missions and points of interest in space. Much more variety here and a meaningful sense of progression with the different political bodies around the galaxy, so the game feels less aimless (beyond just make money). Missions can be technically quite interesting to do.
4. Balance of payment for different activities. Missions and exploration now more rewarding, so they're no longer a sideshow to the main money making exercise of trading. Combat still has some issues in terms of risk vs reward, given improvements to NPC AI.
5. Engineers - add more ship customisation options and progressing through engineers is well integrated into the main gameplay, so you can do it alongside other activities or just focus on that. This is what I'm doing at present in my limited playtime and this makes for a nicely involved and focused experience. Contains some unhelpful RNG elements, which are a little frustrating.
6. Community goals appear to be more frequent and continue to help drive the overarching narrative for the game.
7. Related to CGs, one of the main stories is about the colonisation efforts outside of the "bubble" of occupied systems, led by a giant mobile space station owned by the cyborg Jacques (originally appeared in one of the stories published with Frontier Elite 2 in 1992). There is a whole mass of players currently working on the occupation of the new frontier.
8. Improvements to the in game small factions system, which allow the player base to more dynamically influence the galaxy by supporting or hampering the efforts of smaller factions. Currently this feels like the more meaningful way for players to influence the galaxy than the actual massive faction system of Powerplay. Game now also supports, by application, player groups aligning themselves to specific in game factions.
9. The story about the Thargoids has continued to progress over the year and now, they're finally here. Next patch introduces the return of the Thargoids and the military complications that arise from that.
10. Improvements to crime and punishment coming in the next patch should help address some player concerns about lack of consequences for PvP in open (where I don't play because PvP asshats).
11. Customisable pilot models and faces, adds a little more individual personality to CMDRs.
12. Ability to give names to ships and add nameplates to ships so the individual names can be seen in space (if you get close enough).
13. Ship transfer. No longer any need to manually move all of your ships to a new "home" system, providing you don't mind paying the charges and waiting for the transfer to take place.
14. Module storage and transfer. Keep much loved modules and move them to where they are needed.

All of this aside Elite Dangerous is, for me, one of the most immersive games I've played and continues to be so. Frontier have managed to add more depth to the game and have done so in a way that retains the vast feeling of space but, as somewhere with lots to do (the neutron star "highway" is one example). The game continues to be about the player making their own story in the universe, rather than being shoehorned into Frontier's narrative, which players will love or hate, depending on how much structure they want from a game.

The biggest achievement for me is how each of the ships in Elite Dangerous feel very different to fly and the game is as much about finding a ship which appeals to you as a pilot, rather than it simply being "bigger is better" as the earlier Elite games were.  If you enjoy flying a particular ship, then there is enough scope in the game now to mean staying in that ship isn't a horribly limiting experience. Obviously small fighter ships will never be useful for trading or carrying planetary exploration vehicles but, they're no longer simply a stepping stone to a larger combat vessel. If you like flying the Eagle and are prepared to invest in learning how to fly it well, then you can merrily combat away in that. There are limitations of course, in that it will take you a while to gun down a bigger ship by yourself but, against smaller ships it can be a highly effective dogfighter and ordnance launcher.
« Last Edit: September 20, 2017, 06:01:25 AM by Darkness »

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #1 on: September 20, 2017, 11:17:03 AM »
I am an anti-social git.  Does/can single player stand on its own?

I have long debated getting this game.

Darkness

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #2 on: September 20, 2017, 05:35:45 PM »
Does/can single player stand on its own?

I think so (as I am also an anti-social git). I play alone 99% of the time. I do play in a massive PvE only private group but, I rarely see anyone and if I do, its usually a case of saying "fly safe" commander over comms and going on my merry way. I've only ever winged up with friends and that was purely for shiggles, rather than any sense of necessity.

I was playing in solo this evening as I switched from private group to solo to see if the game would reload more missions at the station I was at. The game is perfectly playable in solo. There is no "offline" mode, because what you do as a pilot can still impact on the server simulation but, in solo you won't ever see another player Cmdr.

The sole mission I did last night (with a pay out of 800k) involved tracking down a secret location on a planet. Landing on the planet. Deploying my surface vehicle. Driving to the locating and destroying some of its defensive turrets, then driving into the location to find its data relay tower and using the data link on my surface vehicle to extra info from the tower. Then back to the ship and head home to turn the data in. It doesn't sound like a lot and because of my ship's fitting I was able to truncate the process somewhat (I have an advanced system scanner which allows me to easily locate which planet the secret location is on, without one, you have to link with the system's Nav beacon to get the data on the planet's location) but, it is still quite involved. Landing on a planet involves finding a suitable spot to land, because landing on uneven surfaces is bad for your ship and doesn't work. Deploy SRV. Dismiss ship so its not just sat on the planet surface where a roving NPC pirate could blow it up. Orient SRV to find the location (which I usually land within a couple of clicks of) and drive there (which can have its own challenges dependent on surface gravity). Do stuff at the base. Drive away. Recall ship and drive to where it lands. Depending on where the ship lands, getting the SRV into the hanger bay can be a pain. Board ship. Use thrusters to restart the engines and move away from the planets surface, before engaging the main engines to fly away.

Its very easy to get sucked into the mechanics of what you're doing.

Having specific thruster controls (which all the earlier Elite games lacked, as well as many other space based flight games) really adds to the feel of the game. Getting over a landing pad and then gently using thrusters to get into the right position and then thrust down to gently land, is just really satisfying. You can tell the developers have given a lot of thought to making otherwise mundane activities as interesting as possible, without introducing extraneous complexity or difficulty.

Arriving at a station and getting a greeting (both in audio and over comms) that's specific to your relationship with the station faction as well as your ship make, along with a dialect, that is responsive to your docking request, makes docking at a station feel like a "real" thing, rather than a simple artifice of gameplay.
« Last Edit: September 21, 2017, 05:18:00 AM by Darkness »

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #3 on: September 21, 2017, 01:28:58 PM »
Alrighty then.  I will have to grab this game and give it a try.  It has been a long time since I played a space-sim.  Used to love the genre...mainly playing Wing Commander.

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #4 on: September 21, 2017, 02:49:51 PM »
Ok...what version of the game do I need to buy?

Just the base or do I need to get the new DLC to get the stuff that you are mentioning?  It also seems that the new content hasn't dropped yet. 

I am also curious about how to best get up to speed being a nubbie...still at work...haven't had a chance to really delve into the game.

Darkness

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #5 on: September 21, 2017, 04:59:20 PM »
I don't know what spec PC you have but, I assume you have something decent so I would get Elite Dangerous: Horizons, so you can do planet based stuff. So you might as well get the Deluxe Commanders pack so you have it all.

For starting out, there are some tutorials in game that are worth working through so you understand the mechanics of navigation, docking and so forth.

There are a shit tonne of controls to learn and configure, to suit your set-up. Elite Dangerous is fine as a mouse and keyboard game (I know people who exclusively play it that way) but, for me it is a game that benefits from a HOTAS. The Thrustmaster T-Flight X is a great entry level HOTAS that doesn't cost the earth. Above that there is the X52 (which I recommend and you can sometimes hunt down on e-bay cheap) and then there is the X52-pro which the games controls are modelled on (the actual joystick in the ships cockpit is the X52pro) but, I would only recommend the X52pro if you can find it cheaply as it offers little in the way of benefits over the X52.  Whatever control mechanism you use (some folk use the XBox controller on their PC for ED), its worth taking time to get the feel for it.

After that, it really depends on what you want to do. Missions early on are a nice way of making money to afford your first ship upgrades or to buy a new ship. It is easier to make money now than it was at launch, with more variety to how it is earned. So you won't be staying in the starter ship for long and the credits to buy and fit a bigger ship come soon enough.

Missions can be very lucrative but, you the best paying ones come with having a high reputation for a given minor faction and having high rankings in Combat, Trading and Exploration. The Ancient Ruins mission, which takes a long time to complete (and I've no idea how to access it), is worth about 100million.

I wouldn't get stuck into combat until you either have upgraded your starter Sidewinder or have amassed the cash to buy something with a bit more combat grunt like the Viper MK III. Outside of combat missions, the places to look for pirates are at system Nav points or in Resource Extraction Sites (RES), found in the rings of gas giants in certain systems. RES come in four tiers of difficulty Low RES, RES, High RES and HAZ RES. Never fire on a ship until you've finished scanning it to confirm it is "WANTED." To earn extra cash from bounties, fit a Kill Warrant Scanner.

All ships come with a basic discovery scanner as standard, so it is possible to get stuck into rudimentary exploration straight away although you won't earn big money from this without all the requisite gear, which requires a slightly larger ship and few million for the required ship modules. Still, the new commander guide has helpful exploration info in it.
https://imgur.com/a/i7KFV

The "Roads to Riches Pathfinder" is a helfpul index of planets with high value targets such as Earth Like Worlds (ELWs) all found around "the bubble" so, you don't need a super long jump range ship to do this exploration (although it does help. I wouldn't recommend doing exploring with anything less than a 20LY range and a decent fuel scoop). Visiting all the systems in this guide will earn you about 250million credits all told, once you turn the exploration data in. Keep in mind that if you crash or otherwise get destroyed, you lose any exploration data you've not submitted.
https://www.alpha-orbital.com/pathfinder

Trading is trading (also covered in the new starter guide) and is a reliable way to make cash. In the guide you will find a rares trading route, which is a good way for to make money trading in a smaller ship, as the rares are finite in number and most trading can be done with 20tonnes of space. If the life of a long distance space trucker is for you, then trading is the way to go.

Mining is also covered. I ain't mined jack, so can't advise. But, its covered in the new commanders guide.

The ten powerplay factions are a way to make a steady income as well. Signing up with one of those factions and getting your standing with them to level 3 or 4 (and keeping in there) will earn a steady 5million a week. Which isn't bad but, honestly, there are more lucractive ways to make money out there. The main reason to join a Powerplay faction is for the rank specific items you can access and also, if you enjoy this sort of thing, actively participating in a massive effort to extend the political influence of your chosen faction in the galaxy.

The games two biggest overall factions are the Federation and the Empire. They have their own individual faction reputations and ranks. Higher ranks give access to certain ships and the very highest ranks allow access to two of the biggest, and most potent, ships in the game.

MOST IMPORTANT BIT OF ADVICE

Do not fly what you cannot afford to lose. If you do not have the credits to cover the rebuy cost of your ship (typically 5% value of the ship plus fittings), then you will find yourself back in the sidewinder if you get destroyed. Always make sure you have a healthy reserve of credits.

Also, keep in mind that new ships are sold as stock. So they have the lowest rated modules for their core and optional fittings. Some ships fly like ass until you get decent thrusters inside them. As a rule, never buy any ship unless you can afford to buy D rated modules (at minimum) for all the core internal modules.  The titular Cobra MKIII only costs 349k credits to buy but, to give it a full A-rated fitting, you're looking at spending over 7million credits. Buy comparison, the stock sidewinder only costs 700k to A rate. The cost is all the module size, with size 1 and 2 modules costing very little and then the prices escalating quickly above size 3 modules. A Python will set you back 56million to buy the stock ship. A class 7A powerplant for a Python costs 51million!

In summary if you have 6million credits, buy a Cobra MKIII, splurge your remaining millions on fitting it, leaving you few credits left and then suffer a tragic accident at the hands of a pirate/asteroid/station wall, you will be a very sad panda.

Do not fly what you cannot afford to lose.

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #6 on: September 21, 2017, 09:17:51 PM »
:thumbsup:

I have purchased the game and I am downloading it.  I got the steam Deluxe Commander pack.  I imagine I have a long haul ahead of me as I learn to play.  I like the idea of a HOTAS but I imagine the earliest I would get one is Xmas.  That will give me some time to figure out if I like the game.

As for my computer it is pretty good.  I can run most games on 4k and I can easily switch to 2k as the monitor can do both natively.  Looking forward to this, the more I read it seems to fall into a similar range as the old Privateer game.  Which I hugely enjoyed.

TheNix

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #7 on: September 22, 2017, 06:26:59 PM »
I am assuming this is the great grandchild of my all time favourite game Elite. Yes?  I wish my C64 was still alive!

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #8 on: September 22, 2017, 07:35:41 PM »
The answer to that would be yes.  But I get to be dangerous.  ;D

Darkness

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #9 on: September 25, 2017, 06:11:15 AM »
SECOND MOST IMPORTANT BIT OF ADVICE


When jumping between systems, zero your throttle when the countdown to the jump starts. I repeat. Zero your throttle.
Coming out of hyperspace with your throttle at 100% is a recipe for flying into the atmosphere of a star. Which is bad.

As I had a reminder about this yesterday in a moment of absent mindedness. Forgot to zero throttle. Come out of jump. Get the fuel scooping announcement, followed by the collision warning, followed by crashing out of supercruise in the heliosphere of a star. It was a bit warm. The awkward part is getting away again, as your ship is already hot and activating the FSD creates more heat. If I'd had a heatsink on my ship, I wouldn't have worried but, as it was I took my ships temp above 100c and fried my modules jumping away from the star. I got lucky.

If I did that with a White Dwarf or a Neutron Star, I'd be looking at the rebuy screen.

Always zero your throttle just before or during a jump.

Sssith

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Re: Elite Dangerous - 2.4 and beyond
« Reply #10 on: September 25, 2017, 12:50:36 PM »
lol....so far I have madly turned away and throttling down, when coming out hyperspace.  Good to know you can do it before.