Welcome to Elite Dangerous. In this game you will learn that space is not only big, but it can also be dangerous. This guide will provide you with the basic information you need to play the game, providing you with key background information, and picking up from where the tutorial leaves off.
To do this, we’ll cover a bunch of essential information first, I’d recommend anyone who is in their early stages of the game read through this. Then we’ll provide advice which is specific to how far you are into the game so you can jump over some of the guide if you are already beyond that point.
Every time you hit “CONTINUE” from the main menu you will be asked what game mode you want to go into. The options presented to you are as follows:
Open Play – The play mode which most players use. Open (as the name suggests) is available for everyone to fly in. Here, you will encounter both NPCs and other players.
Private Group Session – Each player has the ability to create a PG and decide who is allowed to join it. There are many thousands of PGs, most of which have very few members, as a result, most Private Groups are essentially identical to Solo Play. However, they can be useful for groups of players who want to fly together for some activity without the risk of Open.
Solo Play – In this game mode, you will see NPCs just like the other game modes, but you won’t see any other players and they won’t see you. You will still be able to communicate using the System or Squadron comms channels though.
Arena – Close Quarters Combat – this is a separate game mode within Elite totally separated from the rest of the galaxy. Essentially a space deathmatch mode.
Training – Gives you access to all the pre-made training scenarios to help you with the game.
Note that Elite enables players to attack each other at anytime, anywhere in Open Play. So, while most players are friendly, you may sometimes meet some hostile players, they may attack and kill you. Choosing to fly in Open means choosing to take this risk. Attacks like this are very unusual in the new player area, but there are dangerous hotspots in the galaxy (more on this later).
It is common for new players to fly around in Open happily for days, or weeks only seeing friendly players. Then encounter a ganker and get destroyed terrifyingly quickly, we have guides and offer training here to help make sure that this doesn't happen to you. But, if it does, please do not be angry about it. You were up against a vastly more experienced player, who probably has many thousands of hours of gametime behind them. Trust me when I say that Elite is biased to defence, and we can teach you to survive almost any form of attack.
We have a guide for how to fly safely in Open in the NEWP PvP section, and we offer Gank Survival training to both individuals and groups.
Elite Dangerous is set in the distant future of humanity (the 3300’s) and is a 1-to-1 representation of our galaxy. Although there are fictional places in Elite Dangerous, real, known places like the Horse Head Nebula, Crab Nebula, and real stars like Alpha Centauri and Betelgeuse exist in the game.
The galaxy itself is approximately 100,000 Lightyears in diameter, and around 5,000Ly from top to bottom. In that space there are approximately 400,000,000,000 (400 BILLION) stars. Each one at the centre of a unique star system with black holes and planets and moons following real orbital mechanics. Many of them also have life or anomalies to discover, all available to explore. As of the time of writing approximately 0.05% of the stars in the galaxy have been discovered.
If you haven’t already, it’s worth taking a few moments to go to the galaxy map and zoom it all the way out to see the galaxy as a whole. The entire vastness of the Milky Way Galaxy. You can also use the “Powerplay” button to see all of human inhabited space highlighted. It is within that small area of space (generally referred to as “The Bubble”) that the majority of the drama of the game lore occurs.
Elite has a huge wealth of lore and history, which even includes published books. You can find more information about this in the lore section.
There is also a complex political and economic simulation at work which is driven and manipulated by player actions. You can find more information about this part of the game in the NEWP faction section.
Let’s look at your ship and outfitting options. The ships in Elite follow a modular design, allowing you a great deal of flexibility in what modules go into what slots. This allows you to meet the demands of the different types of activity using almost any ship. For example, for combat, modules providing better shields, armour and weapons might be prioritised, while for an explorer, a lightweight craft with good jump range is generally preferred.
There are several different types of modules on every ship:
Hardpoints are where the weapons for your ship are mounted. There are different kinds of weapons in Elite Dangerous and as a result different damage types. Lasers produce thermal damage, projectile weapons produce kinetic damage, and missiles and mines produce explosive damage. The effectiveness of each type of damage depends on the resistances of your target to that damage. Shields by default are more easily damaged by thermal weapons while ship armour is more easily damaged by kinetic damage.
You are also able to put mining tools on your hardpoints so you can mine using them.
Hardpoints come with a variety of different tracking modes. You can buy hardpoints as fixed, with gimballed tracking assist or turreted movement. Turrets are often disregarded as their damage output and tracking is rather niche and is only applicable to use on some builds, it's rather expensive in upgrade costs too. Gimballed is the recommended choice for pilots starting in combat and not comfortable with using fixed weapons.
Utility mounts are where all other equipment external to your ship is installed. These utilities are often used as countermeasures for combat or used to hang useful tools for various other activities like mining, pirating or exploring. Shield boosters help increase your shield strength to make your ship tougher.
Core internals are the main modules that provide the basic functionality to your ships. The power plant, power distributor, frame shift drive, and thrusters are all found in core internals.
You must always have something in each of these slots, ie you can install any power plant in your ship, but it must always have a power plant, it must always have thrusters, etc. Note that this does not apply for all the other module types. the hardpoints, utilities, and optional internals can all be left empty if you choose. Upgrading Core Internal modules are often expensive, but provide big performance improvements.
This is where all the other internal modules go. Everything from cargo racks to a shield generator. You can leave these slots empty, or fill them all with different modules, or fit multiple of some module types like cargo racks.
Optional internals help customize the ship so that it can be designed for a specific activity. Some ships come with military slots which only allows certain modules to be put in those slots.
You will notice that the modules all have a number and a letter. The number indicates the module Class, and the letter indicates the module Rating. Here is what those mean for the optional and core modules (weapons and utilities are a bit different, but the same principles mostly apply):
The Numbers (Module Class)
This indicates the SIZE of the module. The sizes range from 1-8 with each size up being about twice the size of the previous. So a size 2 is twice the size of size 1, a size 3 is twice the size of a size 2 etc. All the way up to size 8 which is 128 times bigger than a size 1.
The Letters This indicates the RATING of the module. Think of this as build quality. These range from A-E as follows:
Typically, the first thing to upgrade on any ship is the Frame Shift Drive. The E-rated ones are terrible, and the low jump range they provide make everything difficult. The starting sidewinder comes with a D-rated one, but other ships are sold with E-rated.
Note you should ALWAYS fit the largest FSD you can fit. ie when you get your first cobra, it comes with a 4E FSD, fitting a 3A one will give you much WORSE jump range, so stick to size 4.
D-rating components on your ship makes your ship lighter, and a lighter ship is able to jump further, and also flies slightly faster.
Once you can afford it, your powerplant should always be A-rated, even for exploration ships.
Most ships will run a mix of A and D modules, usually D-rated sensors and life support.
There are a few basic fundamentals that everyone should know in Elite Dangerous.
For every ship you own, there will be an associated insurance cost, this is 5% of the value of the ship and all the modules fitted to it. Think of this like the excess on your insurance for the ship. This means that in the unfortunate event that your ship gets blown up, the ship can be recovered by buying paying this insurance (excess) cost. This is commonly referred to as the “Rebuy” for your ship.
If your ship is destroyed and you do not enough credits to cover the insurance excess of that ship, you can kiss that ship goodbye. Therefore, never fly a ship on which you cannot cover the insurance price, or “Never Fly Without Rebuy”.
The most efficient way of approaching a space station - head towards at full speed until your "time to destination" indicator (which is just under the distance to destination on your HUD) shows 00:06, then very quickly reduce your throttle to 75% (you can set a quick key for this in settings).
If you get this right, you will find your time to destination stays at 00:06, and you can drop out safely when your speed and distance indicators for your destination are both in the blue. Be warned though that if you leave it too late you won't slow down in time, so practice with 7 seconds first.
The speed at which you can travel in supercruise is limited by the gravity of the nearest body (planet, moon, or star). if you find that you are moving very slowly despite being at full throttle in supercruise, you are probably close to a planet or moon. In order to escape and accelerate, you just need to fly further away from it.
Also note that if you are heading to a destination and the navigation marker for it on your HUD is dashed, this indicates that it is on the far side of a body, and therefore you will need to fly around the body to reach it.
You cannot supercruise between systems, so don’t try. Instead follow these navigation tips:
On the Galaxy Map, make sure you that the "Fastest Routes" option is selected on the route plotter.
To plot a route anywhere, simply enter the name of the system in the search box, and then high the button with three circles joined by two lines to plot a route.
Fuel scoop - if you’re travelling far, make sure you have one so that you can refuel directly from stars along the way. To use it, you just fly near a scoopable star, these are stars of the following types O, B, A, F, G, K, or M (Oh Bother A Friendly Ganker Killed Me).
Many new pilots struggle to gain full control of their ship. The best tip I can give you for this is to get used to using your thrusters. Make sure you have easy access to controls for thrusting in each direction (forwards/backwards, up/down, and left/right) as well as turning on each axis (pitch, roll and yaw).
In any operations where precision is required such as landing, and taking off, you are likely to find it easier to set your main throttle to zero and use the directional thrusters to move your ship.
Combat logging is a known exploit in many MMO’s including Elite. The act of exiting the game forcefully or exit to the main menu to escape damage or death is considered cheating and may result in being excluded from large parts of the game community, and may result in your game account being restricted or banned by the developer.
It can be very frustrating to have your ship destroyed by another player, but we can help you to make sure that this does not happen to you, our NEWP PvP section guide provides a good place to start.
Do not park on a stranger’s fleet carrier. Fleet carriers are not permanent stations, they can jump independently by their owner’s commands at any time. If you logged off and back into the game it is very likely you’ll be jumped to a random location and could get stuck there.
The game begins with your Pilot Evaluation test, launching from Mawson Dock station in the Dromi system. This is essentially a tutorial walking you through the basics of how to operate your ship through a pre-prepared set of steps. Finishing with you jumping to the nearby system Matet and landing at Coelho Station.
Note that both of these systems fall within a set of 10 systems generally referred to as either the Pilots Federation District (by Fdev) or the Noobula (by most of the players). These systems are restricted to only new players to the game, so that more experienced and heavily armed players cannot reach you here. The missions available in this area also generally easier but pay much worse than missions elsewhere.
These systems are marked on the galaxy map with the Pilots Federation symbol.
The first thing you will get once you are safely landed at Coelho is a mission to go back to Mawson dock in Dromi. I would recommend you take this mission as Mawson makes a better base for operations, and it’s 10,000 credits for just flying somewhere.
The first thing I would recommend you do if you are back at Mawson Dock is to go to Outfitting, make a couple upgrades. Replacing your thrusters and distributor with D-rated modules will improve your ship substantially and you can already afford this with the 11,000credits you have to hand.
So, what’s next? the short answer is... Missions.
Go to the mission board in Mawson Dock. You'll see an array of different missions available to you. I'd recommend trying a selection of these, here's a rough order I'd recommend trying them out in.
Delivery and Data Courier - there are always plenty of these going back to Coelho Station in the Matet system. These are worth doing to get your balance up a bit and your equipment upgraded a little before thinking about trying out anything more complex. If you're going to do this, a good first step for this is to buy yourself some more cargo racks in the outfitting screen so that you can carry more at the same time. Then get any cargo loaded up (on the mission screen) and fly to the destination station and drop it off (on the mission screen).
Liberate / Salvage Data Storage - for these you will just have to find a Mission Related USS (Unidentified Signal Source) in supercruise in the target system (it'll be highlighted in blue usually), collect the goods and bring them back.
Interact with Hub Access - use your SRV for these, so make sure you have one on board, find the destination on the planet surface, plot your route to it, and land and take the SRV. Get to the data hub (it looks like a tower) and hold down the fire button on the datalink scanner (make sure it is assigned on the fire groups).
Combat - massacre missions involve killing a set number of pirates, while assassination missions involve killing a particular pirate. The pirates are very low level and often try harder to run away than to kill you unless you have cargo in your hold. So, I'd recommend taking some commodity with you to make sure you retain their attention if you're doing these.
More information on how to perform every different type of mission is available in the NEWP missions guide guide.
It's a big galaxy out there, and while the Noobula offers some useful benefits, it is also very limited. There are only a few ships and modules available, the missions don't pay much, and neither does anything else. So, at some point you are going to want to venture out.
First things first, when should you do this? Whenever you feel that you are ready. Some players spend a few days or even weeks getting their head around the game in the Noobula, while others leave it more or less immediately after the tutorial. Go for it whenever you feel ready, the majority of the galaxy really isn't that dangerous, so don't be nervous about setting out.
Before you leave the Noobula, I would recommend that you put together a ship which is suitable for longer distance journeys. For this purpose, I personally would recommend the Hauler. It's cheap, and jumps further than anything else you can buy in the Noobula, especially with the available outfitting.
Here is an example build, you can buy everything you need for this at Mawson Dock in the Dromi system, and it costs a mere 61,000 credits total: NEWP starting Hauler
However, whatever ship you’re using, make sure you increase your jump range as best you can. You want at least 10ly otherwise you’ll have difficulty reaching many places at all.
I would also recommend checking the jump data section of your galaxy map's route plotter feature to make sure that the navigation jump setting is set to fastest routes instead of economical routes.
Once you have levelled up in any of the disciplines (trade, combat, etc), you will receive a mission called “Explore the Galaxy''. This will pay 100,000 credits to go to a star system nearby, feel free to take this if you would like as it's probably one of the best paying missions you've seen by this point.
Note that from this point onwards, if you land at any station outside the Noobula your Pilots Federation Permit will be revoked immediately and permanently. This means you’ll never be able to return to Dromi, but you’ll probably never want to.
Since you are now going to be travelling as you see fit, it's worth being aware of the risks. This partially depends on which game mode you are playing in, as Open has an additional risk that Solo and Private do not - other players. But lets first address the risks that apply to you no matter what game mode you are in.
Pirates - these can pop up any time you are flying around with cargo (any cargo, yes, even biowaste). They will interdict you, and demand you give them some or all of your cargo. If you do not comply they will attack.
Police - if you are breaking the law (ie carrying illegal cargo) or have any kind of bounty against you (even 100cr) the police will attempt to kill you.
Aliens - The Thargoids are a hostile alien species in Elite, they exist in both the Live and Legacy versions of the game, but are much more of a threat in Live, where there is an all out war in progress. You can see the progress of the war by putting on the Thargoid War Information filter on the galaxy map. The green systems are controlled by Thargoids, and other colours indicate various war states. These systems are extremely dangerous, and any humans ships my be attacked without warning.
With regards to the risk from players. Most of the galaxy is very safe to fly around in Open (or at least not dangerous because of other players) simply due to weight of numbers. With 400,000,000 star systems out there, players can be very spread out, even in the bubble alone, there are over 20,000 populated systems. As a result, most systems have no human players present at any given time. Only a few of those that do contain players actively hunting other players.
So, the overwhelming majority of systems are no more dangerous in Open than Solo. HOWEVER, there are some systems that are ganking hotspots. These are few but very dangerous. If you are entering any of the following systems, make sure you are flying something that can escape attack, and you are prepared to defend yourself (in rough order of risk):
That’s really up to you. Elite is a game which doesn’t tell you where to go or what to do. You set your own direction and objectives.
If you are joining a squadron with friends or others you have met, they may have a home system which they'd suggest you head towards. You are of course also more than welcome to head to the New Pilots Initiative home system – Meliae which is around 100Ly from Dromi.
We picked this system specifically because it offers a lot of benefits for players who are just starting out in the game, so, if you have no other destination in mind, consider heading in our direction.
In any case, feel free to come and join us on our discord. Our server is open to everyone from all across the game community. There you will meet people from every different playstyle, Alien Hunters, Political Strategists, Explorers, Fighters, Miners, Racers and many others besides.
We look forwards to seeing you there.