Elite: Dangerous is a Space Simulator where everything is possible. You have at your fingertips the incredible number of 400 billion star systems to explore, a large variety of space ships and hundreds of things to do. It doesn´t matter if you want to be a Pirate, Bountyhunter, Miner, Trader or Smuggler. You can be any of these, or all at the same time. You can change your attitude, plan or route any time and as many times as you wish.
Overwhelming at the beginning.
400 Billion star systems to explore and infinite possibilities seem something incredible, right? And it actually is. But nothing is easy, without effort, without dedication. In Elite: Dangerous you don´t start with any ship, nor with millions of credits to spend or a sky-high reputation (ironic, right?). No, in Elite: Dangerous you start like everybody else, with the smallest and most basic ship in the game, called Sidewinder. And you start with a small amount of money that´ll help you in the beginning.
And that´s where the real game starts. From the first moment all possibilities are open. You can equip your ship with basic weapons and become a bounty hunter, or become a trader (which at the beginning might be a bit tiring and slow with a Sidewinder, since it can´t carry a lot of cargo), do missions and slowly earn money or try to become a pirate. Everything, I repeat, everything is possible if you put dedication in it.
So, what can you do?
Elite: Dangerous has 6 main professions which a player might dedicate to to earn money, to have fun or simply to spend some time, and which don´t require previous experience or special skills. And as I said before, it’s not necessary to always do the same. You can change profession whenever you want by simply stopping to do one thing and doing another.
Trader:Probably the best paid profession of the game, and also the profession that stimulates the game’s economy. It may not be the most exciting or fastest profession, especially at the beginning of the game with ships that can´t carry a lot of cargo or do large space jumps (Hyperspace), but it is definitely the one that gives the most revenue and the one that draws more satisfying smiles than any other, when the cargo is sold and large amounts of credits are received. But it´s not an easy profession! You have to analyze the market at different stations, search good routes between them and be careful with pirates, who always feel like attacking traders that discarded defenses and weapons to be able to carry more cargo.
Smuggler: If you like the idea of the trader but you don´t like to be legal, maybe smuggler is for you. They are two very similar professions, but being a smuggler includes some extra dangers to have in mind. To be a smuggler you buy certain goods (drugs, alcohol, weapons, etc) at some stations that are forbidden in other stations, and are sold at the black market of those. The most complicated part is entering the stations with the illegal goods, since there are always security vessels patrolling the area which will scan you when you approach the station. You have to try to enter the station without being seen and scanned.
Miner: If lots of working hours in front of rocky asteroid walls seems nice to you, be a miner. It can be very lonely if you are in a system with no other players, since as a miner there is not a lot of action. You travel to the resource extraction sites, you scan asteroids until you find the element or resource you want to extract and get to work. Sometimes you need the same amount of time to find the right asteroid as to extract the resources, and if you’re unlucky, you extract everything the rock has to offer and your cargo is just at about 90%-99%, which means you have to search for a new rock if you want to go back filled. But, the revenue you earn can be very high, depending on what resource you extract, and in what quantity. But be careful with the pirates! It is usual to find them around the resource extraction sites since mining ships usually don´t carry weapons, and sometimes not even shields, being easy targets!
Bounty Hunter: My personal favorite. Attack other space ships, destroy them, and get paid for it. It is a job you can do from the start if you master your ship’s handling and that is at the same time fun and dangerous. You can find ships with bounties at resource extraction sites (mostly pirates and smugglers), around the Nav Beacons (sometimes it´s hard to find someone there because they´re places where ships just pass by) or at unidentified signal sources. In my experience the highest bounties are earned at resource extraction sites, where the ships to fight are normally not the smallest and you must be careful. Once tired of killing, or out of ammunition you flight back to the station to collect the bounties.
Pirate: They have always existed, everywhere. Centuries ago on our seas, nowadays on the Internet, and in Elite: Dangerous in space. And you also can become one. Possibly the most complicated profession in the game. As a pirate you´ll scan other ships, and try to steal their goods. Some ships will defend themselves, other not. Once acquired (stolen) the goods they have to be sold, which means docking at a station without being detected, scanned and destroyed by security vessels. You also have to be careful to not simply destroy the ships, since you´ll become an assassin and have a harder time entering stations.
Explorer: This profession can become the only thing you do, or something you always do on the side. It consists of scanning systems (planets, stars, or anything “scannable” you cross in space) that have not been scanned. All this information will be saved and can be sold at the stations. I personally do it as a side task while doing other things or when I get bored through my travels. If I see a few planets fairly close together that have not been scanned, I fly by and do it. The data can´t be sold at stations within 20 light years from it´s source.
Missions from space stations: Apart from the above mentioned professions, you´ll find missions at the stations. They usually don´t give huge rewards but they do help a lot specially at the beginning while learning how to control your ship and earning some money. There are missions that´ll ask you to take a message to another station, others will ask you to bring or take slaves or illegal goods; some others are assassination missions that will ask you to kill specific targets. You´ll also find mercenary missions which will send you to fight at conflict zones or warzones helping a specific faction and where you will find a big amount of allied and enemy ships fighting. The rewards per destroyed ship being a mercenary are not really high, while the danger of being destroyed is.
The universe of Elite: Dangerous
The universe of Elite: Dangerous is alive. It is in constant change an the players are the ones that trigger this change. Markets fluctuate and constantly change depending on what players buy or sell. Politics play a big role in the game, where we can find 3 major factions, up to 5 minor factions per system and finally the so called Powers:
Major Factions: The three big factions sharing the Galaxy. Federation, Empire and Alliance. Doing missions or carrying out professions in systems controlled by these factions you can increase your reputation and ranks with each of them (or all at the same time). Apart from these three, there is a fourth faction called Pilots Federation, which oversees the majority of actions taken by privately-owned ships but does not interfere in politics. Usually pilots in this faction are hired as mercenaries.
Minor Factions: Small factions that share a system. You can find up to 5 of these factions in a single system and some of them will support any of the major factions or either be anarchist or independent. You can also increase your reputation with these factions by doing missions or joining them in battle against the other factions.
Powers: (implemented the 5th of June 2015) Individuals or organizations that can be allied with any of the major factions (as senators for example) and control a number of systems that can vary between a few and hundreds. This Powers want to expand their territories, conquer and control, and you can help them doing specific tasks.
And the other players?
They exist, don´t worry. Elite: Dangerous has 400 Billion star systems, which sometimes makes it possible to not encounter a single real player in hours. But you can search friends, add them to your list and you can gather to play together. You can even join other players and do together, cooperatively, tasks such as trading, resource extraction, bounty hunting, etc. This is done creating groups called Wings. Up to 4 players can join a Wing and they don´t necessarily have to to the same. While one or two are traders or miners, the others can play the role of protection against pirates. Some advantages of the Wings are:
The cargo can be transferred between ships, and attacking a ship in your Wing wont put a bounty on you (which is useful because in combat sometimes its possible to hit the wrong ship if it crosses the line of fire).
If one or more players in a Wing sell their cargo at a station, the other players will receive a reward from the stations for the protection of the traders.
Players of the Wing will receive an equal share of the bounty if they help in the destruction of a wanted ship.
All players in the Wing will receive the exploration data of the others if they are in the same system as the player that does the scan.
Elite: Dangerous is amazing.
In conclusion, if you like space ships, stars, the universe… If you like any of this (or all!), Elite: Dangerous is for you. And if you need some more motivation, maybe these images and videos will convince you!