Back In The SaddleIt has been a fair old while since I talked about Elite: Dangerous on here, it's true. That's not to say I haven't been playing. Well, it kinda is - I haven't played that much - but it has undergone a bit of a renaissance recently and I've been enjoying some teaming up with Mike.
Looking At RocksThe first and most significant change is what they've done to Mining. Now I had a go at mining before with the old system and it was pretty standard fare - find asteroid, fire lasers at asteroid, scoop up bits that get chipped off, refine them, sell them. Job done.
The new mining system is so much more in depth than that. It's a game in its own right. First, the finding of the asteroid has been made more interesting. Not amazingly more interesting but certainly more involved. The new scanner stuff - from the system 'honk' to the detailed scanner to the surface scanner and finally the Pulse Wave Scanner - is a lot more engaging.
Then the actual mining itself has a lot more detail. You can still do the mining laser thing, although that remains as dull as dishwater. Instead, the idea is that you find an asteroid that looks interesting by using the Pulse Wave Scanner. This shows up resource-rich asteroids as bright yellow. Next, you fire a Prospector Limpet Drone at the target rock which will give you a detailed breakdown of what it's made up of and how you can extract the good stuff.
There are three ways resources are attached to an asteroid - surface deposits, subsurface deposits and core - each requiring a different system. The Abrasion Blaster will chip off surface deposits, the Subsurface Displacement Missile will drill in to dig out subsurface deposits and the Seismic Charge is what you need to get at the juicy core.
It's the core mining that's the good bit. Once you've found an asteroid with a suitable core, you have to fire Seismic Charges into the fissures. Doing so starts a timer, at the end of which, all charges will explode. Too few charges and the asteroid doesn't split apart. Too many and it explodes too violently, destroying most of the resources. Get it in the sweet spot though...
The explosion is very satisfying - Attack Of The Clones levels of satisfying. This then blasts out a whole bunch of resources and leaves a few surface deposits on the resulting asteroid chunks for you to chip off at your leisure.
Obviously, certain resources are worth more than others. You can pick up missions asking for specific minerals or metals or even things like water, which you can refine from the different types of asteroids. But what you really want to be doing is looking for Low Temperature Diamonds or Void Opals. These are so wildly more valuable than anything else, they're pretty much the be-all and end-all of mining. Once we were kitted out properly, Mike and I would set up camp in viable resource hotspots and load up on these things. Void Opals can sell for up to 1.6m per unit and our Asps would hold around 90 and take about an hour or so to fill. That's a lot of money. More money than anything else in the game. Now, in theory, these resource sites will deplete and we're just in the literal gold rush part of the timeline, but still... it feels a bit broken.
Not to worry because after a few evenings of this, we had enough money for our fully loaded Anacondas.
(There's a whole other story here about an expedition we embarked on to a Guardian Site, but I'll save that for another time).
The Big OneFrom the start, I've always wanted an Anaconda. Well, I also want an Imperial Cutter, but grinding the faction is going to take a while longer yet.
I picked one up at a bit of a discount, gave it a fresh lick of paint and proceeded to upgrade the internal components. FSD, Power Plant, Distributor, bulkheads, etc. All top rated. Thrusters too, although that really doesn't seem to make a difference as yet - still handles like a brick. Some turret-mounted Burst Lasers and Multicannons with a fixed Plasma Accelerator for chunking down big targets. Plus a fighter bay so that my crewmember has something to do.
|New ship. Who dis?|
It's worth noting that the area around the Engineer's system is absolutely riddled with other players, presumably all doing the same thing as me. Now normally this would be cause for concern as I've only just got this ship so the last thing I want to happen is for some rando to jump be and blow it up. But now I'm an in Anaconda so I assume that even the hardiest PvPer will think twice about engaging. Yeah. That's right. I'm a badass in my bigass ship.
The only real issue was queuing for one of the only landing pads large enough to accommodate said ship...
The Engineer I'm really interested in, a Ms Farseer, deals with both the FSD and the Thrusters. But for that one we need Meta Alloys.
The Search For Stuff
Finding Meta Alloys is a case of looking up online where they can be bought. It turns out there's only really one place, it's a long way away and it's still a rare spawn even then.
So here's a thing.
Elite: Dangerous is dense. There's a shit-ton of stuff in the game that you can do. What it's really bad at doing is making you aware that you can do it - or, more specifically, where you can do it. That's where the community comes in. Sites like Inara will let you know where resources or commodities or modules can be found and this stuff is just so phenomenally useful, you just have to use it.
Personally, I feel a bit dirty, but unless this stuff becomes a bit more discoverable in game, that's the way to do it.
Anyhow, on with the adventure!
The system with the Meta Alloys is called Maia and, at full chat would take a whopping 32 jumps to reach. That's with the 'Conda's A-rated FSD and a jump range of 17ly - no slouch. I settled down for the long haul.
With a full tank, the 'Conda can do about 5-6 max range jumps before needing to refuel. Generally, after the Guardian Site run, my approach with long trips is to do a quick loop of each scoopable star to keep everything topped up rather than wait to get low and do one, big scoop. But with the 'Conda, it's a bit of a pain. The Asp would gracefully arc around the star at speed and gorge itself in one, sweet move.
The 'Conda, on the other hand, does not.
That's right - this bastard has a turning circle larger than a fucking sun.
Anyhow, the routine became, jump in, honk, skim the sun for a tiny amount and jump on to the next. In one system, the honk revealed a whole bunch of bodies, so I decided to settle in for a more detailed scan - makes the system exploration data a bit more valuable when I get to my destination, see?
Popping into the Detailed System Scanner and I start tagging everything. The lower end of the spectrum is where you generally find Signal Sources, so I tend to ignore them and just focus on the planets and asteroid clusters. But this time there was a Signal Source a little further up the spectrum. A Non-Human Signal Source to be precise. Never seen one of those before - Thargoids* perhaps?
Whilst tooling around in my Krait MKII with Mike, we'd dropped into Signal Sources rated as Threat 4 and been soundly defeated - usually by a single Anaconda. So it was with a sense of mild alarm when I checked the rating to discover that it was a 6! That's a lot of nope, right there. There were more too, going all the way up to a 7. I began to wonder whether or not I was in danger when I discovered a Non-Human Signal Source (Threat 3). That sounds do-able. I mean, I'm in my 'Conda, right?
Okay, I'm in the arse-end of nowhere and light years away from civilisation but seriously considering jumping into this alien zone where I'll meet... who knows what. Yeah, what the hell.
You Cocky Cock
Drop in, two contacts, both hostile - they look like little scout ships or drones or something. Launch the fighter and pop the hardpoints. Tell my guy to fill his boots and shoot whatever he wants. Targetting the ships was simple enough... but they fritz your scanner up so you don't get any information about shields or hull or anything. No matter - time to start shooting!
And that's just what they do - weird little red blobs that I've never seen before.
I start getting messages about penetrating rounds perhaps? My shields appear to be holding but my hull is taking a bit of damage. Not too much, but it's still a bit of a concern. Still, I can only assume I'm giving as good as I'm getting and, sure enough, one of the vessels goes pop. I turn my attention to the other and pretty soon it's gone the same way. Shields are still fine, hull's at about 73%. Fighter's reporting all clear so I tell him to get back on board. Then he blows up. Huh?
Not to worry. I deploy a Collection Limpet to scoop up these weird alien materials then bring up the next system en route. Jump.
Arriving at the next system and I get a message that I'm taking caustic damage. Everything's still sparking a bit. Okay, that's fine. I assume it's just a DoT and it'll wear off soon enough. Next jump.
The warning's still there. Hull's at about 65% now. If I can just high-tail it to my destination, I'll get it all fixed up there. Jump again.
It's about now I realise that I'm down to a single jump's worth of fuel and the previous, current and next stars on my route are all un-scoopable.
A quick Google to find out what sort of star I should be looking for and I find one that's thankfully within range. It's a bit of a backtrack, but I've got no choice. Jump in and start the tedious loop through the corona. Hull's still ticking down, but I need the fuel. Fully loaded, I decide to see if there's anything I can do about the hull damage.
More Googling** and it turns out that I can either fit some kind of decontamination module, visit a repair station or... get my hull temperature up to around 200%.
Well, that certainly sounds very safe*** and, seeing as how it's the only viable option and all, I head back to the star.
Normally, I try and keep my hull temperature lower than about 80%, even when scooping. Anything more than that and you start getting some very alarming messages. During long trips, the small amount of module damage that you take from overheating can really start to bite you - reducing your jump range or scooping efficiency and stuff - so it's really worth keeping an eye on it. And yet here I was, voluntarily cooking my ship.
The smoke filled the cockpit. Warning lights flashed and buzzers buzzed. The temperature crept up - as did my hull damage. Heat at 120%. 130. Then the modules started failing. First, the life support - I now had 6-7 minutes of air in the cockpit. Then the cargo hatch - unceremoniously dumping my remaining Collector Limpets plus whatever interesting alien artifact things I'd collected into the sun. Temperature at 140% and rising. Hull at 45% and falling.
Finally, I get the message: 'Caustic Damage Removed'. I give it the beans, dump a heatsink and roll away from the star. When the dust settles and my modules come back online, my hull is just over 40%.
Back On Track
I now turned my attention to reaching Maia in what now passed for one piece. I re-programmed the route to be 'most efficient' rather than 'quickest'. It increased the remaining jumps up to about 19, but it also looked like I'd have enough fuel to do the whole thing without stopping. I also made my mind up to not scan anything else (other than the obligatory honk) and certainly not to jump into any Non-Human Signal Sources.
Eventually, I arrived at Maia, headed straight for the nearest station and docked****. Another bit of googling revealed that the Meta Alloys were actually planetside, so out I went. Landing at the settlement was easy and there they were - a single unit of Meta Alloys. Just what I was after! Great success! Cut, print, we're done.
Idly, I checked out the missions tab...
Wetworks mission offering 18(!) Meta Alloys as payment. That sounds... good? I mean, if nothing else, I can bring some back for Mike so he doesn't have to make this trip, right? The rating of the mission was Dangerous, which is above my ranking, but I've done that level of stuff before and now, just to reiterate, I was in the big ship.
Hmm. Wetworks missions are illegal. Looks like I'm going to be picking up some fines in that system. No matter - this is the arse end of nowhere after all and I'm not sure I'm going to be coming back. Signed up.
Jumped to the target system. Kill 6 civilians.
Ah well. In for a penny and all that. A spot of scanning revealed a Mission Signal Source (Threat 2) and off I go. Drop in on a convoy of 6 vessels - from a Sidewinder to a Diamondback and Asp. Shouldn't be a problem. Launch the fighter and line up behind the Diamondback. Things start exploding - he's dropping mines - and he breaks formation to make a run for it.
Now the 'Conda is a beast. It has lots of firepower, but, it turns out, not quite enough to take out a Diamondback before it can jump away... Gutted.
Turn my attention to the Sidewinder. That's a different story. He pops pretty quickly, although still manages to get quite far away before he does so. That's a 5k bounty on my head for murder right there. Whoops.
The rest of the ships disperse and jump back into supercruise to find another mission source.
This pattern repeats itself. Jump in, take down one or two little ships before the others jump out. One time I didn't even manage to take down one of them before they high-tailed it.
Now it was starting to get interesting - a Bounty Hunter turned up in a Chieftain and thought he'd have a go. Funnily enough, this was much better - a target that wanted to stick around. He came close to dropping my shields, but a well-timed Shield Cell took care of that and pretty soon he was so much space dust. Apparently, he also counted as a Civilian, which took my tally to the six I needed. Result!
Back to Maia and cash everything in for the alloys.
So that's that. All that remains is to make my way back to the world and hand over my ill-gotten gains to Ms Farseer. Perhaps even pay a visit to The Blaster and swap out my Incendiary Rounds for Caustic ones?
Oh, and Google where to find something called an Interstellar Factor to pay off this bounty before things get really out of hand...
*'Thargoid' is probably the single funniest word Leanne has ever heard, judging by her reaction.
** I really wish this shit was called out more in game, although, thanks to the alien nature of my current predicament, I'm okay with it.
*** Not actually safe at all.
**** Docking an Anaconda is considerably trickier than an Asp. The ship is really big and it feels like it barely fits. Also, the cockpit is offset towards the top of the ship, meaning that you have to position yourself like you're about to scrape your head along the top of the mail slot.