I’ve purchased my fourth ship. After a bit of deliberation of what to buy next I decided to dabble in some combat, especially if I can do it in a wing with my brother and nephew. I had a look at the various combat ships, discounted the expensive ones for the experiment, and ended up buying the Diamondback Scout. Since then I’ve been involved in three sessions within asteroid fields hunting down wanted pilots: two in a wing and one solo.
The Diamondback Scout isn’t perfect, it’s got weak shields. It probably does work for the way I’m playing though. It’s got could weapon coverage, it’s ridiculously agile so I can keep things on target. It is also known as a ‘Combat Scout’, so this means despite being geared up for engaging the enemy it keeps a healthy jump range. Some of these fighter craft have a jump ranges under 10 when unladen, this makes it very difficult and frustrating to get anywhere. This would annoy me. I’ve got multiple ships so I have to travel to and from stations to swap ships. I also can’t see myself farming one location, I’d like to mix it up and do missions and bounties with my ‘combat ship’, which means travelling.
I’ve enjoyed the combat so far, it reminds me of X-Wing and TIE Fighter, which is officially a good thing. It’s even more funky than those games as the ships in Elite fly more like the vessels out of Babylong 5, in that you’re not flying like you’re in a World War II fighter. As an example, the key with the Diamondback Scout, due to its agility, is to literally ‘reverse’ and ‘forward’ thrust and pivot around things to keep then in front of you. It’s quite exciting when you pull it off and get extended multi-canon time filling your enemy full of lead Battlestar Galactica style. The pulse lasers are cool, but there is something about pumping out those canons.
This means I’m now enjoying trading and combat in Elite, which opens up the various ways of playing the game such as hunting wanted pilots in extraction zones, taking on bounties and hunting specific pilots down and engaging in the various Powerplay expansion stuff which I’ve not really figured out but undoubtedly involves direct combat or the chance of it.
One problem is it becomes apparent that having multiple ships is a pain, more specifically multiple ships for different purposes. The problem is you have to put ships not being used into storage. The location of that storage is set. It basically ends up being where you purchased your last ship. So, the Sidwinder is where I bought the Hauler, the Hauler is where I bought the Cobra and the Cobra is where I bought the Diamondback Scout and so on. If you want to swap ships you have to travel to the space station. This is particularly bad when people jump on Elite for some combat action and your in another ship which has to fly to a space station to swap ships and then that ship has to fly to the location your friends are at. Even if the location you do your combat doesn’t change, it doesn’t help you as you have to fly away from it to swap back!
I’ve done some consolidation and got my main two ships at the same space station now, but that ‘travel tax’ on swapping activities is a real barrier.
The other thing that occurred to me as this frustration kicked in? Exploring is pretty much an all or nothing activity. If you jump into your chosen exploration vessel and set off on a 1000 light year plus journey into the unknown coming back to engage in some Wing-based combat sessions isn’t an option at all. Obviously, but a bit disappointing. The only way you could get around that is to have two copies of the game. The other option is if the game allowed you to have multiple pilots, ideally sharing a bank account, then one could be off exploring and the other could focus on trading and combat.
This makes exploring a big choice to make. It also means I’m still not sure what ship to buy next so I may concentrate on getting the Cobra and Diamondback Scout perfect for a bit. A part of me still wants an ASP Explorer and to set off across the map, but I suspect the romance of that doesn’t meet the reality.