About Nick Boughton
Just a nerdy web and systems developer on the webbertubes. I make silly things and play D&D.
Perhaps a little late to the party but I’ve started playing Elite: Dangerous on PS4 (with the Horizons expansion). Thankfully I’ve got the Pro so I can get the benefit of the more powerful hardware and enjoy the Quality mode and those nice smooth framerates.
So how’s it going? I’m enjoying it but it certainly has a learning curve. I started in the default Sidewinder (which I named Amelia May) and took a load of data/cargo delivery missions until I could afford a Hauler. That was a definite step up but what I really wanted to do was go exploring.
So I thought I’d try and make the trip to Colonia.
After about 7K light years and some ship damage as a result of not being particularly experienced in the ways of fuel scooping I realised that I was a victim of my own hubris. The journey was far longer than I’d anticipated and even with my reasonably kitted out Hauler (I’d managed to get it up to around a 22Ly jump range) I didn’t have the equipment to make the trip fun and truly capitalise on exploration as a career.
I’d also set out without even knowing about the Colonia Connection Highway. When I found out about that and realised I was a couple of thousand light years away from the nearest way station I decided that I had to go back, get a better ship and try again with the right equipment to make it a real journey of exploration.
I bee-lined it for Amundsen Terminal and managed to land safely and cash in the scan data I’d picked up on the way. This netted me a cool 4M credits and it dawned on me that with this money alone I could kit out a decent Cobra MKIII, complete with SRV hanger and surface scanner.
I was determined. I repaired, refueled and made the long journey back to the Bubble, finally arriving in Eravate after a long slog but thankfully no further ship damage. I requested docking permission at Cleve Hub and began angling to get in, it seemed to be going so well until some asshole collided with me on the way through the airlock. In all honesty it was probably my fault. It’d been so long since I’d navigated one of these that I was rusty as hell and not flying at my best. It didn’t help that Haulers are about as agile as American cars.
Thankfully all I lost was my shields and after a second attempt I docked, repaired my ship, sold my scan data and started shopping. I stored my Hauler (the Amelia May II) and with my now further fattened wallet of around 7M credits I nabbed a Cobra MKIII and managed to equip it with most of the modules I wanted.
I now had a ship with a 25Ly jump range that ran a lot cooler than my trusty old Hauler. I popped into the Livery on Cleve Hub and renamed her to Amelia May III and set her ship ID to AM-3. You may have noticed at this point that all of my ships have been called Amelia May, the reason for this? It’s the name I picked out for my baby who’s due in December. I’m going to find out next week if it’s a girl or a boy. If it does turn out to be a boy? Well then my wife gets to name him.
Anyway, I digress, my ship was almost completely outfitted but I still didn’t have the fuel scoop, the detailed surface scanner and a few D-class modules I wanted to maximise my jump range. So now that’s my goal, scour the Bubble for those last few modules and plot a course to Colonia. But this time, I’m going with purpose. I’m going to properly map every system, land on planets and go driving and make a mint off the scan data I’ll pick up on the way.
Once I’m ready to embark I’ll keep a diary on here of the journey.
So Is It Good, Nick?
Yes. So far I’m enjoying it a lot. It’s definitely not a game for everyone but for me personally it’s great. As a massive Star Trek, Star Wars and Babylon 5 fan I’ve wanted a space sim like this since I was a kid and I never got to play the original Elite games. I’ve only really just started with the game so I’m probably not as jaded as some more experienced Commanders however I think there are some definite areas for improvement that I’ll list here:
The net code could be improved. I had some real issues with gameplay stutter in Open Mode when more than a few other players were present. Which is a shame. As such I’m sticking to Solo/Private Groups for the moment. To be fair this isn’t a huge issue for me, I’m not exactly a social gamer but while it was working it was kind of nice to see other ships in the distance and know that those were real people.
Not every shipyard stocks every module. This is ok, it’s a galactic economy, I get that but there should be a mechanism in game for finding where to go to find these things. Maybe there is and I’ve missed it? But at the moment I’m dependent on EDDB to find out where things are which isn’t ideal unless I’ve got a laptop on the table next to me while I’m playing.
Needs more training missions. I appreciate the training missions provided so far, I really do but they don’t prepare you for things like planetary landing or tell you that landing on a pad outside of a station requires you to make sure the sloping pad (? don’t know what else to call it, you’ll know it when you see it) is behind you and the pad number is at your nose, being an unaware noob with regards to these things can lead you to spending too long trying to land on a pad, facing the wrong direction and getting very frustratred and a fine for loitering. They could also make more mention of how to use the alternative flight controls. Those are really useful.
Griefers. I’ve had a few people try to interdict me. Thankfully no one has succeeded so far but judging from the discussions on the subreddit FDev could probably do more to dissuade this kind of behaviour or make it part of a more rewarding gameplay loop. I hate griefers, especially in a game where there’s relatively little reward for piracy. At that point it comes down to them being people wanting screw with other players out of some perverse sense of enjoyment from bringing misery to others. That could be better handled in terms of appropriate security measures in the game.
I want to walk around ships, stations and planets. I believe this is a planned feature at some point, along with living planets and the like. I just wish FDev would hurry up and implement it because it’d be awesome. I totally get that in a game with the scope of Elite this must be a massive undertaking and I’m happy to wait, I’d rather see them take their time and get it right than rush it and it be a mess. At least I get to play a complete game now instead of waiting for eternity and only getting Alpha builds (sorry Star Citizen fans, couldn’t help it).
All in all, I love Elite so far. It’s a great space sim. I love the ships, the 1:1 modelling of the Milky Way is an incredible undertaking, it’s beautiful to look at and while there is certainly a learning curve it’s fairly intuitive to pick up once you’ve got the basics. It offers a great sense of freedom and almost unlimited choice. These are all things I want from this game and it makes up for the mechanical shallowness that was disappointing in No Man’s Sky. Which is not to say I didn’t like NMS. I did but I feel Hello Games went a bit too far towards making it arcadey whereas Elite captures the simulation and beauty of space flight in a much more satisfying way.
I’ve seen some discussions that complain about “the grind” but in my opinion games like this are best enjoyed as a roleplay experience. If all you’re doing is grinding to get a certain ship then you’re probably missing out on what this universe really has to offer. Which is not to say “don’t have goals”, by all means do but don’t ever forget that it’s the journey that makes it worthwhile. If you don’t stop to enjoy the view then you’re not going to enjoy the journey.
I’m particularly excited for The Return. The story of the Thargoids coming back has been amazing to watch from the Frontier livestreams to the Canonn Research Radio channel, I’m so stoked for what will come in the 2.4 update.
There are definitely a few issues that need ironing out in the PS4 version but FDev have been pushing out updates and are clearly working hard to make sure it runs well. I’m really looking forward to walking around on ships, stations and planets, I just hope that this feature gets rolled out soon. Hopefully it’ll be done by the time I eventually rock up at Colonia.
I think that’s it for now. Look out for my journey log to Colonia!