Saturday, January 10, 2015

Byte: Elite: Dangerous - Adder review

Screenshot_0133 Adder
Cost: 87,808Cr (As of v1.00)
Recommended weapon loadout 1 (Trader): x1 C2 Beam Laser (Gimballed) x2 C1 Beam Lasers (Turreted)
Recommended weapon loadout 2 (Explorer): x1 C2 Pulse Laser (Gimballed), x2 C1 Beam Lasers (Fixed)
Recommended weapon loadout 3 (Multi-role): x1 C2 Multi-cannon (Gimballed), x2 C1 Beam Lasers (Fixed)
Recommended modules: Chaff Launcher, Point Defence Turret

Why you should fly it: Essentially, the Adder is a poor man's Cobra Mark III. The Adder provides the player with the cheapest access to a Medium weapon hardpoint, making the ship a halfway house between the Eagle and the Cobra in terms of combat power. It's probably fair to say that the Adder isn't going to win any beauty contests, though the upturned, gullwing wingtips that come into play when you're landing the ship do add a smidgeon of coolness factor. Aesthetically, the Adder is very much a big brother to the Hauler - that is, ugly as sin. Fortunately, the Adder is second only to the Eagle in terms of its combat agility, so while it may not have durability of a Cobra, the combat power of a Viper, nor the sleek profile of an Eagle or Sidewinder, the Adder is still easily capable of handing an Asp's ass back to itself on a silver platter - provided that its pilot is mildly competent. As you can see in the video above, I didn't have too much trouble with that Cobra, and that was with basic weapons and vanilla E-rated thrusters and shields. It's probably not worth kitting one out as a combat vessel, as the money required to give an Adder the chance to compete with Pythons, Imperial Clippers, Federal Dropships and Anacondas for those lucrative asassination contracts would be more wisely invested in a bigger ship. If combat's not your thing and you simply want to use it as a stripped-down cargo shifter, it's a little bit better than a Hauler, as you can cram in 26 tonnes' worth of cargo racks, which might only be a handful more than the Hauler, but the fact that it's faster and more manoeuvrable will not only help you evade those pesky interdictions more easily, but will also speed up your turnaround time as you're docking and launching - all good for improving your profit margin in terms of cargo runs per hour. Another good use for the Adder would be as a mining vessel, as it has enough internal compartments to fit a decent-sized refinery and a few cargo racks, without having to completely sacrifice the ability to defend yourself from those unscrupulous Commanders who like to prey on asteroid grinders.
The stated design purpose of the Adder is to act as entry-tier exploration craft, and in this respect, the Adder is perfectly suited to its job. With an ultimate hyperspace range of between 22 and 25 light years, the Adder is perhaps a little short on hyperspace range to explore outwards towards the real fringes of the galaxy, but will comfortably handle exploratory forays inwards towards the galactic core. I've invested well over 2 million credits in my explori-Adder, most of that simply for the Detailed Surface and Advanced Discovery scanner, which are essential pieces of kit if you're going to make the most out of exploring. The 500 light second range on the Basic Discovery scanner is fine if you're just interested in scanning the system primary and maybe a few objects in the locality of it, but the Intermediate Discovery scanner isn't really worth the money. Over a million credits to just double the scanning range to 1000 light seconds seems a bit steep to me, as if you're a Pokemon Explorer like me (GOTTA SCAN THEM ALL!), you still have to do a lot of scrabbling around trying to find objects using visual parallax against the background stars, which is not something you want to be doing in an Adder. Save up the extra 500,000 credits and go the whole hog to get the Advanced Discovery Scanner - it detects everything in the system and makes the whole process much more straightforward and profitable. Another advantage of the Adder being a smaller ship is that the wear and tear running costs compared to an Asp are far more manageable. Overall, I really like the Adder and will be keeping mine for whenever I'm overcome by the wanderlust to pay a visit to the galactic core and some of the prettier, more easily reachable nebulae. Oh, and another thing - the Adder really sounds great. I love the sound the frame shift drive makes as it's winding down. It perhaps doesn't have the awe-inspiring sense of power and finesse that you get from the Viper, but still - Frontier's sound designers really deserve a lot of credit for giving each ship such a distinct sonic personality. It would have been so easy for them to make every ship sound the same, but each ship does have a unique character, and the Adder's a real charmer, despite the ugly duckling looks.
Why you should ditch it: The relative flimsiness of the hull and slight lack of combat power means that an Adder isn't really the ship you want to be flying if you're bounty hunting, though it is slightly more resilient than an Eagle. It's arguably a stepping stone from the Eagle up to a Viper or Cobra for the nascent bounty hunter and combateer, but there's one massive reason why you should stick with the Eagle if you're going to earn your early cash in combat, and that's the view from the cockpit.
There's no point mincing words here.
It's awful. Terrible. Execrable. Shit.
It's the single worst thing about the Adder. Hang up your TrackIR headset, or take off your Oculus Rift DK2 if you're lucky enough to have one, because in this you won't need it. Unless you like looking at the quality of the workmanship on the bulkheads, that is. This is not a ship to fly if you're claustrophobic. Combat in the Adder is mildly terrifying due to the lack of peripheral vision. You've got very little awareness of the space around you, making it very easy to collect stray ships or asteroids in the middle of a furball in a combat zone or resource gathering site. The greater combat power of the medium hardpoint on the upper hull doesn't entirely compensate for the restricted view, so you're really better off sticking with the Eagle until you can afford a Viper or Cobra. As I alluded to earlier, the poor vision from the cockpit also a disadvantage if you're using the Adder for exploring. If you can't afford an Advanced Discovery Scanner, trying to find distant objects using visual parallax is not easy with such a small view out of the canopy. A Sidewinder or Eagle, with their lovely open-top canopies, are much better for early game exploring, as you're much more likely to be able to pick up those tell-tale movements against the sky if you've got more of it to look at. The Advanced Discovery Scanner negates this disadvantage, of course, but it's not a cheap solution to the problem.
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