How to start Guide

Guide by Moorhuhn (updated by Forlon 07/2018)

As someone suggested a small startup-guide, I try to do one from my personal point of view...


Prior doing anything other: do the training missions (updated in 2.2!) and take a close look at key-bindings! Flying into stations can be on start really challenging ... smile.png . I highly recommend a joystick, btw...

Forlon's comment: playing ED with "only" keyboard+mouse is clearly possible; it can suprisingly offer even more precise control over your ship as other controllers (especially when you will want fly "FAOff" (flight assistant switched off), but it will need more time to get used to it. Disadvantage is much less immersion when compared with joystick/hotas.


Some terms specific for Elite Dangerous are generally abbreviated, so it's nice to have an overview:

  • CZ - Combat Zone (may be H-CZ or L-CZ for Hight intensity and Low intensity)
  • Cx - Class x weapon (1-4, may be CxG or CxF for gimballed or fixed)
  • DBS - DiamondBack Scout
  • DBE or DBX - DiamondBack Explorer
  • ED - Elite Dangerous
  • FA - Flight Assist
  • FED - local authority
  • FSD - FrameShift Drive
  • KWS - Kill Warrant Scanner_
  • RES - Resource Extraction Site (may be H-RES or L-RES for Hight intensity and Low intensity)
  • USS - Unidentified Signal Source (more types)
  • SC - SuperCruise
  • SCB - Shield Cell Bank
  • SB - Shield Booster
  • PD - Point defence

Game mode and starting area

Before you will leave for the first time the starting base, you should be aware about some basic facts: each commanders in ED have at disposal three game modes which are "Open", "Private group" and "Solo", and can FREELY switch between them (anytime via game main menu) how it suit his needs. For "Open" play you should know, that between players does not exist any given enagagement rules except game EULA. This means (simplified version), that highly skilled player can randomly attack and destroy your starting ship just for the lulz. This threat is real and if you will stay in starting area in open mode for longer time, you will learn this lesson first hand rather sooner as later. To avoid this "starting experience" you have two verified choices:

Choice number one (for Open play mode) is do immediatelly more system jumps away (any direction, ED space is huge ... ) from starting area and only there start slowly looking around. Can be also good idea avoid stay in Anarchy systems on start, because in these systems you cannot count with local FED (NPCs) help. This choice is my personal favourite because only in open you have chance for really unexpected encounters. You can learn alot from players interactions (both good and bad) and if you will stay at beginning out of "busy" areas (i.e. starting systems, community goals systems, systems with engineers), you will have very low chances meet these really "bad" cmdrs.

Your choice number two is use another play mode (as "Open") and there you will meet no one ("Solo") or if was chosen "Private group" only players which were accepted into that given private group. Imo these choices seriously limits ED enjoyment/experience, but different players have different tastes. It is only your call commander, no one have rights to critize your choice and/or dictate you the way (game mode) which you like use the most.

WARNING: in every game play mode you will meet NPCs! ... and they can also attack you (especially if you will carry some cargo)!

INFO: On ship scanner have NPCs solid icons (◼ retracted, ▲ deployed weapons), players outlined! ( ⃞ _retracted, △ deployed weapons). Is good to know that on very-low graphic settigs will be icons solid also for cmdrs, which can be only distinguished by the prefix "Cmdr" and contact list ...

Which missions?

The starting Sidewinder is a nearly useless ship, so forget normal trading/mining/bounty-hunting immediately. You want missions from bulletin board - but pick carefully: Learn the meaning of icons. Avoid missions where cargo is sought and you have to find it (at some stations or by shooting some other ships or by cruising to "USS - unidentified signal sources"), as the sidewinder is just not fitted for such things (not mentioning that you do not have at this point enough knowledge/flying skills). Searching loot includes dropping at USS where can be pirates. Shooting other ships - good luck in Sidewinder! Do hauling jobs where they give you the cargo (or messages delivery jobs, mainly from "boom" state factions, which not need ship cargo space at all!) and you have to deliver it somewhere or smuggling-jobs (same as before, the ones where they give you the cargo).

Is also good to know, that your reputation with systems factions will determine amount and quality (read as payment height) of missions. For start can be good idea make yourself allied (while doing small cheap delivery missions) for criminal factions which can offer you nicely paid smuggling missions.

More missions now offers except payment also special commodities and micro-materials which can be later used (is requiered have Horizons season pass!) for Engineers (about them later, in short they can make ship equipment better).

INFO: you can accept more than one mission at a time!

TIP: get early Type-6 Transporter is very good choice for smaller cargo hauling and also doing missions. The money invested will return very quickly to you.

TIP: Map of the galaxy have filter (new) for commodities which works for all visited systems. It can be very well used for all missions where is needed find certain cargo without the need to use external databases.

Finding a way

Prior accepting a mission, check if you can reach the system they want you to go! There are two ways how to do that:

  • From Cockpit: hit "1" (for left panel) and go into the "navigation" tab (by pressing "q/e"). With "w/s/a/d" you can navigate within a tab. At navigation tab, you can scroll down the list of possible targets within your current jump-range (sorted by distance) until the system you want to travel comes up. Hit "space" two times to lock it into your flight-computer. Done. Later, when reached your target system, you have to bring up navigation-tab again and select the station you are heading to as new target.

    WARNING: current jump-range is not the same as when cargo is full!

  • From Maps: same as before, but in navigation tab, select "galaxy map" and search your destination. There is a slider-bar at bottom-left, allowing you to see your jump-range when laden. Now select the system and plot a route directly (via icon) or open system map for your target system and choose station directly as target and plot route.
  • If you jump into destination system where you should finish mission and there you do not have "destination base" in contacts, search your contact list for "nav beacon" (is always located close to central sun) and drop there from supercruise (SC). Use again left HUD (tab contacts), chose object "Nav beacon" and turn your ship towards this object. You will see that this object is being scanned and once it will be done (need few seconds), you will have all info about local objects (bases, planets etc.) into your ship navigation computer. This method can be later used also for reveal position of some missions targets!

First SuperCruise/Jump

After leaving station, you find a compass left side of your radar containing a dot/circle. Circle=target behind, dot=target in front. Fly away from station until "mass lock" is disengaged, then hit "j" and point ship direction of target. If target is in same system, you go to SC (super-cruise) and have to slow down when reaching target, pressing "j" again to drop out of SC near station. If target is in another system, you'll jump to the biggest mass in that system (sun) and come out in SC. Select your target station and fly there, slow down in time and drop out of SC. From 7.5km afar, you can get landing clearance (important!) by the left panel --> contacts --> station --> request docking. fit through the slot, find your place and don't forget landing-gear. Go to bulletin board and finish your mission.

What to do if smuggling?

Basically the same as with standard-trade, but you must avoid getting scanned (it have a negative impact on reputation with system leading faction and in case you will want later do long-range smuggling also partially los of profit). Outposts usually do not have patrol ships (only ships can scan you!) so there is not problem with scans (beware rare military outposts!), but patrol ships at bigger station tend to do it near the station and when passing the base entrance gate. Here comes "speed" into play (see Starting and Landing below). Some players still advice use silent running, but if police NPCs ship will see you, he will be able scan you no matter how much "cold" you ship will be! Silent running is only supplementary choice, speed is guaranteed success. Standalone chapter are planetary bases which I recommend avoid on start due high scanning risk ... you better should learn first how to dock fast on surface landing pads before try smuggle there.

  • General advice: It is recommended to not smuggle in systems where the controlling faction is the one that you want to continue to be friendly/allied with. If you will do this ... well, you was warned beforehand.

  • Starting: raise landing-gear and increase your ship speed (up to "speeding limit" 100km/h) before approach base entry gate. Then use boost and on maximum speed (all 4 pips in engines) move away from base as fast as possible. At 7-10km from station chose you destination and jump away.

  • Landing: stay 8-10km away from station and use your ship lateral thrusters to allign yourself directly to the base entance gate, full speed + boost, at 7,5km request docking!!!, before entrance gate put all four pips into shields and you can also release landing gear (it will slow down your ship quickly and you will avoid hard-hitting base rear wall) and go inside. Once you're inside (few meters away from mail-slot) head little up or down (to avoid patrol ships scan from outside) and search for your landing pad.

  • Visiting USS and other zones with contraband loaded: Don't do this, you can be scanned very quickly by FEDs, fined and your reputation with faction controlling system will drop.

  • When smuggle, please use right hud panel and switch off "Report crimes" ... you really do not want local FED support with contraband loaded smile.png.

  • Scanning of your ship has started: (with contraband loaded) Scanning needs few seconds to be succesfully finished. If you are able in that time leave the scanning ship sensors range (3 km), his scan will fail. Four pips in engines, trust, optionally silent running, in small and fast ship like is Cobra_MK III you can easily avoid being scanned.

Doing smuggling is one way how you can made more moneys in short time and buy for example a Cobra_Mk III, which is a great ship which can be fitted for nearly all purposes. Equipment always has the same value, so you don't loose credits_ when switching it. However, not every equipment is sold anywhere, but you have choice to totally reconfigure your ship for different purposes. If you trade a ship in order to get a new one, you'll get 90% of ship and internal costs.

But I want to fight!

For the hotter tempered, there is a way to make credits_ when fighting even in the Sidewinder:

  • install a KWS (optional) to increase you income; you have to assign it to a weapon-group and do the scan by hand. It shows, if target has bounty in other systems and allows safely attack him (new in ED 3.0).
  • find a RES (they are located in rings of planets or asteroids) and drop out of SC there. there should be wanted targets showing up regularly. Scan them with KWS and wait for the FEDs to attack them. Or fly where you see laser-fire and look who the FEDs are shooting at. You need to land the last shot on target in order to get the bounty. A well timed shot can let your Sidewinder kill an Anaconda!
  • Same can be made at USS, as sometimes pirates are there, too... (just try avoid fire untill local FED forces arrive to scene)
  • Make sure your cargo is empty - else the pirates WILL choose you as target!

TIP: The distribution of energy between shields, thrusters and weapons is one from crucial skills in fight in ED. For example allocate four "pips" into the shields will significantly increase shields strength, and into thrusters the ship speed and maneuverability.

Turn rate and being interdicted

Ship has best turn rate in the blue area of speedometer. So when you navigate (e.g. into a station) try to stay in that range. If someone tries to interdict you in SC, set thruster_ into the blue range and try to stay with the escape-vector. NPCs are usually relatively easy to evade. If they manage to drop you out of SC and you don't want to fight, set power to engines (max) and shield (rest) and boost out of range of guns without turning much. Keep running until FSD is up again and disappear in SC.

TIP: After interdiction try to quickly turn against your attacker, use your engines boost and quickly pass behind him. During this maneuver use a heat sink (he may lose a lock to your ship). Then when he will turn too and start firing on you, do use a chaff (it will confuse gimballed weapons), and try to use lateral thruster and do a small corkscrew untill you will be able "high-wake". IF you will lose a shield, immediately use "silent running", four pips into engines, drop heatsink. Proper use of this tactics can significantly limit or completely avoid damage to your ship. Attempt to escape, while you will be flying your ship in one line (and be an easy target), is good way to the "rebuy" screen.

What ship comes next?

just want to point to few ships which I find resonable, but that is of course personal:

  • Explorer: HaulerUnlink. It has a stunning jumprange for such a cheap ship.
  • Cargo & Mission runner: Type-6 Transporter, cheap, nice amount of cargo, can dock at outposts. My personal favourite (Forlon) if you want "non-combat" start in ED.
  • Allrounder: Cobra_Mk III. Has range, has cargo, can fight, many internal slots, only two utility slots.
  • Fighter/Smuggler: DBS (Diamondback Scout). Has agility, has small profile when facing enemy, runs cold, lacks internal slots, four utility slots
  • Explorer: DBX (Diamondback Explorer). This ship have extreme jump range, is very cheap, runs cold and have enough internals to be perfect exploration vessel.
  • Fighter: Viper Mk III. It is very good ship for everyone who will want start in ED with fight.

Viper Mk III setup (cheap ship, PvE combat)

In window to the right is shown "A" equipped Viper (an cheap small combat ship) for first more intensive combat (PvE) testing. The insurance for this ship is really low and you should be able to easily pay it, in case of failure. Direct link to external ship builder ( is here. You can save part of money with cheaper parts, but buy a new ship without enough cash to fully upgrade it (and insurance at least x3 reserve) is really not recommended.

You can easily try to do your own modifications and immediately see how will change jump-range (related to ship modules weight and used FSD), ship modules energy needs (vs your ship Power Plant and set priorities for modules), ship speed, the cost of equipment, insurance etc.

Priorities for this build are set a such way, that if your ship powerplant have failure (can happen when it will be damaged in fight), it still will allow you fly and offer a chance to get ship away (ideally jump to another system, so called "high-wake") from immediate danger. During that time (powerplant failure) you will be only on reserve oxygen_ and also your radar will be switched off, but it is much better as completely motionless ship which do not have enough energy to cover energy needs for modules at priority 1. You can be really surprised how the chance to stay in motion for few more additional seconds can change the outcome ... it can be often the difference between the succesfull escape and the rebuy screen.

... hope that helps a bit to whom may be concerned... gamer4.gif... and if you will want read few more tips about a way how to progress with a new commander (ED 3.1.3), then look on Karina's Journal.

Edit: Last Updated 25/07/2018 by Forlon