After picking up Elite Dangerous on release day I wasn’t really sure what I would be in for. I knew what the game was about and what it entailed but I had refrained from reading too much about it in case I read something that put me off buying it.

You see, Elite Dangerous is the space game I have always wanted but I did not know it until I had played it for some time and managed to climb it’s fairly steep learning curve.

I have always loved science fiction and space, my favourite movies and TV shows involve some sort of space flight. The idea of travelling through the vastness of space, discovering new planets and alien creatures has always mesmerised me.

I used to watch Star Trek The Next Generation and Voyager and imagine I was a member of the crew, getting to fly through space faster than light looking out the ship window at the amazingly beautiful sites of brightly coloured nebulas and planets.

I tried to live that fantasy with No Man’s Sky when that came out, but that just did not cut it. Thankfully, I now have Elite Dangerous to fulfill my wildest space adventuring dreams.

Elite Dangerous space

Elite Dangerous is vast and stunningly beautiful

Elite Dangerous is a massive game, seriously vast. You’ve probably played some open world games, Elite Dangerous is open galaxy.

The sheer scope of Elite Dangerous though is not without its downside. The game, I felt, is very difficult to get into at first.

I completed a few of the training missions, which you should definitely do if you’re just starting with the game, they will teach you the basics of flight controls and combat which are essential.

It wasn’t until I started the game proper that I realised I did not have a clue what I was supposed to be doing. I started off on solo mode, thinking that would make my first steps a bit easier as I wouldn’t be encountering any other players, only NPC’s. I thought this would be the easiest way to start learning a bit about the game. Ease myself in without worrying about someone blowing my ship to pieces.

There I was, thrown into the games starting system with not a clue what to do. I knew I had to do missions but where did I get them from? From what I could tell, the game does very little to point you in the right direction when you are first starting out.

It wasn’t until after some Google searching, and if you’re just starting with Elite Dangerous, there will be a lot of Google searching and watching of YouTube videos, I found where to go to get missions.

Missions can be found in the Mission Board at any space port or station, when you are in a system you can locate these by going to your left panel and looking under destinations or by going to the system map.

There is a wealth of varying mission types available from simple delivery and salvage missions to assassinations. Some missions will not be available right away, some require you to have reached a certain rank or some may have certain requirements like having an SRV.

Undertaking the easier missions is a good start, missions like Black Box recovery or data delivery missions will get you a nice amount of credits, the in-game currency, early on. unfortunately there is a bit of a learning curve to even undertake these simpler missions.

Recovery missions usually have you travelling to a specified star system, when you are at the system though it is not obvious what your next step should be. It wasn’t for me at least., but this is where google searching comes in.

When you arrive at the system your first port of call is usually the Nav Beacon, this will update the mission with the location of the item you are looking for, usually around a planet or other celestial body.

Again though this is wear Elite Dangerous’s learning curve can be a bit daunting, you have to know how to locate the Nav Beacon and then travel to it where you have to adjust your speed as you get close so you can successfully disengage from supercruise to get close to the thing. Then there is scanning the beacon.

Elite Dangerous navigation beacon

Figuring out how to scan Navigation Beacons can be tricky at first

It is not entirely obvious how to scan the beacon at first, sometimes mission messages will appear in your top panel which will give you some instructions, the message will tell you to get close to the beacon to scan it but you have probably got it selected as a target. I have found that you need to deselect it as a target and then locate it floating through space and hit X to select it so it highlights it with angle brackets (< >) around it as shown in the image above.

Your ship will then start to scan the nav beacon and your mission target will be updated under the Transactions menu in the left panel.

This is where Elite Dangerous can become a bit boring. Once you’ve travelled to the mission target, usually a planet, you have to fly around the planet to locate the Unidentified Signal Source which is the thing you need for your mission. Sometimes you can come across it quickly, other times though I have found myself flying around a planet for 20 minutes or more trying to locate it.

Once you do locate it you will hear an audible message and the target will be highlighted in blue. If you are doing a Black Box salvage mission you then need to locate the Black Box and scoop it up with your cargo scoop to retrieve it. Again though it is not entirely obvious how to do this and getting used to collecting things with the cargo scoop does take a bit of skill and practice.

Once you have figured out all the steps you need to take to complete a mission and once you have developed your skills at collecting things with the cargo scoop the simpler missions do get a lot easier. I felt a great deal of satisfaction at completing my first couple of missions and turning them in for my hard-earned credits.

There is a great deal of different missions available, I have only scratched the surface of whats on offer. Some missions will have you locating an NPC who is flying in a particular system so you can collect data or some other item from them. Missions like this really made me feel as if I was playing a sci-fi space movie.

Elite Dangerous mining screenshot

Mining missions are the missions that I found to be most boring and frustrating at first, although once you figure out what items you need and where you need to go to mine for your particular material completing a mining mission felt like a great accomplishment.

Elite Dangerous will take a bit of time to get used to, to learn all the different little things that you need to know to make life much easier. Once I had figured a few things out that’s when I became hooked.

As well as the multitude of missions and other activities you can do in Elite Dangerous the game also offers many visual delights. From fiery stars to glowing nebulas, flying through space in Elite Dangerous is simply awe-inspiring and flying around some huge space station trying to find the entrance is simply amazing.

I would highly recommend Elite Dangerous, even with the fairly steep learning curve, once you have things figured out that’s when the game really shines, like the brightest star in the night sky.

With a pretty much to scale galaxy to explore the possibilities of many a great space adventure are endless, couple that with a tremendous variety of different missions, trading and no doubt countless other activities to participate in you’ll be playing this game for years to come.

The PSF Verdict

A massive game which is difficult to get to grips with at first but once you do it is extremely rewarding and enjoyable.
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