Elite Dangerous the sequel to the 1984 game Elite recently hit its 5th year of operation. Set roughly 1300 years into the future Elite boasts a game map that is a fan of exploration’s dream, consisting of a 1:1 representation of the Milky Way Galaxy with over 400 Billion star systems available for you to visit is far too large to be called a “world map”. At the rate players are currently exploring new systems it is estimated that it will be at least 150,890 years before every system has been visited at least once.
Making your way among the stars means you’ll need credits. On starting you’ll be placed at the helm of the most basic of ships, the Sidewinder in either LHS 3447 about 71.4 Light Years from our own solar system SOL or in Asellus Primus 47.39 Light Years away. Capable of being customized for almost any role the Sidewinder excels at none. It does, however, provide a suitable platform for taking your first steps into a wider universe.
One of the first things you’ll notice in Elite is it is not a casual game, everything demands a time investment an investment which will largely be spent in travel as every possible activity in the game pushes you to get out there and explore either your local system those within the region known as “The Bubble” made up of human-inhabited systems, or beyond. Distances in Elite Dangerous are often measured in terms of Light Seconds for local travel, for reference the Moon is 1.3 Light Seconds away from Earth, the Sun 499 Light Seconds. You are only limited by your ship and it’s capabilities, but there is always the shipyard if you have enough credits. Many systems especially those in Human Space have stations or docks where you can purchase new ships. They will come with a basic set of equipment that you can upgrade to the extent your credits will allow.
Fans of games such as EvE may find Elite Dangerous interesting, occupations in Elite are similar, though there is no true crafting system. Players have the option to become pirates hunting down other players and NPCs and destroying their ships to salvage the cargo, or you might find being a bounty hunter more to your liking and set out to hunt down and eradicate piracy where ever you find it for rewards and fame. Smuggling has a place in Elite as many stations and planetary settlements ban certain substances and if there is a black market trader available you can earn a nice payday by slipping past the system security with illicit goods. Buying low and selling high in other systems is a valid way to make your fortune allowing you to progress to better ships or upgrade the modules on your existing ship, or you can go out to various planets if you have a planetary vehicle hanger equipped on your ship and explore the surface for valuable raw materials and resources. Mining asteroids for commodities such as water, liquid oxygen or even the rare and valuable void opals can earn you a very good living, just watch out for the pirates.
Exploration, in my opinion, has the most to offer players as if you are the first to visit a new system not only can you turn in the data your ship generates and any additional scan data in at a StarPort or Dock for a hefty profit, you’re character name will forever be linked to that system as it’s discoverer for any future visitors to see. Exploring is as challenging in its way as any other profession it just like mining ships, exploration ships often are not armed with weapons and for those adventurers who are trying to squeeze the most jump range out of their frame shift drive, which lets you cover vast distances via hyperspace, many will not even have a shield generator onboard to save weight and squeeze a couple of more light-years out of their jump range. Explorers also often use lighter lower grade modules in their ships for the same reason making them especially vulnerable to pirates, PK activities, the hostile alien encounter outside of or on the fringe of human space, and accidentally coming out of a hyperspace jump into the middle of a neutron star. For the risks, and often sheer isolation involved there is no better way to see best sights in Elite, from Sagittarius A* the super-massive black hole in the center of the Milky Way to Beagle Point the furthest point from human space you can travel at the far edge of the galaxy.
If you’re ready to step out among the stars, you can find Elite Dangerous on Steam or purchase it from Frontier Developments, and join thousands of other Commanders as we literally reach for the stars.