Duration: 36 Days, Distance: 26.9K LY from Sol, Hull Integrity: 95%
As I mentioned last time, stage two was more an exercise in doing the light years, doing a lot of honking and jumping, after the great sightseeing of stage one. I had hopes stage three would offer more and I’d come back around to enjoying the wonders of the open world galaxy.
It certainly did that. I’ve seen wondrous nebula, one of the best I’ve seen so far in the game, a number of black holes with exotic names and travelled to the top of the galaxy. I’ve also reached the galactic core, a place most people in the game haven’t reach and completed close to half of the Distant Worlds expedition.
The Blue World Bonanza
The wonders began with the journey to way point nine. I have no idea how it happened, whether it was totally random or if I hit a region of space that had characteristics that are known and repeatable, but every other system seemed to bring me a new world capable of supporting carbon-based life.
I encountered 4 Earth-like Words and 12 water worlds on the route. Then if you throw in the systems that contained neutron stars it becomes a ridiculously profitable journey.
I’m also revising whether I’ll get to Elite Exploration on the expedition. After some discussion at way point ten it seems it’s highly likely I’ll get to Elite just through consistently jumping and honking never mind detailed scanning of the valuable stellar objects. I’m hoping this will be the case it will be a nice reward for the trip.
Nebula and Black Holes
The base camp at way point nine is the launch point to see a couple of points of interest: The Wisterial Nebula and The Great Annihilator. These are both about black holes, as the Wisteria Nebula has one within it and The Great Annihilator is one of the big black holes outside of Sagittarius A* itself.
You can get bored of nebula, but then something like the Wisteria Nebula comes along. It is simply amazing, the nebula and the black hole combining to create something unique tens of thousands of light years away from Sol. As can be seen from the above images the distortion and gravitational ‘pull’ of the black hole create unique effects within the nebula and it’s a stunning bright blue.
The Great Annihilator was okay, but as I’ve said before I have a bit of a problem with black holes: they all look the bloody same. This is what’s holding me back from getting too excited about seeing Sagittarius A* as none of the black holes I’ve seen have overly impressed me so far in terms of how the stellar objects are represented in the game.
The Galactic Core!
The arrival at Sagittarius A* is a big deal. The voyage to the black whole at the centre of the galaxy is a trip not many who play Elite make. In itself, the journey so far would be a worthwhile trip, never mind continuing on past it and over to the other, far side, of the galaxy.
I had it as one of my exit points. A point at which I could be happy with what I had achieved if the expedition was proving hard to maintain. Thankfully, this is not the case, and I’m pretty sure at this point I’m going to complete the whole expedition.
Sagittarius A* doesn’t look that different from any other black hole, but it’s size is ridiculously impressive. All the other black holes have allowed me to get within kilometers before dropping out at their exclusion zone. Sagittarius A* is massive even 65 light seconds out, it’s that big.
There is only one disappointing element of me reaching the galactic core and it’s that I missed the epic, spontaneous meet-up at the black hole itself. There was nothing planned but seemingly 90-minutes after I logged off some people decided to meet up and then drag more and more people into the instance.
The result of that experiment is the video above, it’s awesome. They managed to get over 50 ships in the same instance when the believed limit is 32 or less? They did some formation stuff in front of the black hole and then did Elite’s biggest, synchronised jump. The synchronised jump is a killer as doing that sort of things is usually reduced due to numbers, but this one is worthy of a scene from Battlestar Galactica.
The Top of The Galaxy
I’ve done this sort of thing before, plotted a route ‘upwards’ and just kept on going until I could get no further. The aim being to allow you to hover thousands of light years above the galactic plane and look down upon the galaxy. It was fun when I did it last time but there is more potential doing it from the core.
While there is an optional fleet trip to do this I did it on my own ahead of time as I just wanted to give it a go and I had the time. It was pretty amazing, sitting so high above everything and looking down. Well worth doing.
The Elite Dangerous Star Map
I’ve also began using a new tool associated with the game. I started using it a few weeks back, but just never got around to mentioning it. I’d heard the mysterious EDSM mentioned a few times but never bothered looking into it.
EDSM stands for Elite Dangerous Star Map and it’s an example of the pretty funky things that communities of games like Elite put together.
EDSM is essentially an online database that takes the flight logs of the various players and does stuff with them. I’m not fully sure what the entirety of what it does is but it’s proving useful at a practical level as a undertake the expedition. I’ve been submitting my flight logs to the database for most of February and also using the local client. I started using the local client as it can sync data to the online database, but it’s proved useful as a tool.
The stats on the expedition with EDSM are interesting, though it’s not necessarily comprehensive as many a pilot may not be logging their data. As can be seen on this screen, the number of participants has dropped as the expedition has got further out. At the core, which is STUEMEAE KM-W C1-342, only 28% of the participants have made it that far, but allegedly only 67% actually reached the original launch point.
I’m also on the list of participants, at number 306. This has me listed as being 40% through the expedition. This is about right and where the majority of the fleet should be. I notice there are quite a few return early statuses on the roster.
I’ve found the client useful to get back to systems I’ve left behind. This happens when I’m not concentrating and I jump out of a system with valuable planets I should be doing a detailed scan on. The client allows me to see all my previous jumps so I can backtrack and do the scanning. It’s saved me a number of lost Water and Earth-like worlds being left behind.
Onwards To The Other Side
Having reached Sagittarius A*, and the end of stage three of the expedition, it’s now highly likely that the only thing that would stop me completing the expedition would be a real life disaster or an in game disaster (like suffering significant hull damage or a catastrophic crash). Even if I suffered major hull damage at this point there is an argument to say I should limp on to Beagle Point and then explode back if the return journey isn’t survivable.
This is exciting and just re-affirms how great the whole endeavour is. There is no way I’d have undertaken the journey to the galactic sore as a solo activity, never mind the ridiculous journey to the other side. The Distant Worlds expedition continues to be an interesting journey, open world experiment and social activity, probably at a strange but right time in my life.
The question of what to do once Beagle Point is reached is now becoming an ever more serious question. Even if I do the most basic of things and fly back, that in itself is a significant endeavour.