Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Byte: Elite: Dangerous - Your Dream Ship, Part 3: Orca to Anaconda

If you've been reading the other two parts of this guide - here and here, if you missed them - today I'm going to deal with the big beasts of the Elite: Dangerous pantheon of ships. As before, assume finding upgrades is no problem and that money is no restriction, either. We'll start with the trickiest ship to find a role for, the Orca.
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Orca - Role: Combat Zone/RES Tank
Why is it tricky to find a role for the Orca? Well, it's billed as a passenger ship, and Frontier haven't put in the passenger modules or missions yet, so it's difficult to really see why you'd go about flying one at the moment. No doubt I'll come back to this ship once the passenger mechanics have been added to the game, but I had a think and tried to find a niche for it. My initial thoughts were for it to be a sightseeing ship, but even pared back to the bone, you're only getting 18 light years of jump range from it; not really enough to visit distant nebulae. So that's not going to work. Right now, the only possible role I can see for an Orca is acting as a 'Tank' with a Wing of smaller fighters in a combat zone or RES. Stick on board high damage, high aggro weapons, attract the attention of something big, like an Anaconda or a Python, let your A-rated shields and upgraded hull soak up the damage, while your little friends do the real damage. Alternatively, just wait until Frontier put out the passenger modules...
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Fer-de-Lance - Role: Space Bastard
The only real flaw with the Fer-de-Lance is a relative lack of FSD range, meaning that you've realistically got to stick to civilised space. 'Civilised', of course, is a relative term, because that's where all the pirates, criminal gangs, squabbling factions and defenseless traders are. This specification gives you options. You could swap out the hull reinforcement packages for a couple of cargo racks if you wanted to indulge in a bit of piracy, but the FdL is better suited to dealing damage than scooping cargo. If you're going to do that kind of thing, it's better to have a Wingmate on standby to scoop everything up, while you intimidate the target into space-pooping out their cargo with your hideously powerful weapon loadout. Otherwise, as long as you stay within a couple of jumps of a space station, you could use this spec to bounty hunt in resource sites, assassinate high value targets or simply clean up a star system of Wanted pilots while pootling around in SuperCruise. A good ship, then - but I still think it's overpriced for what it is.
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Python - Role: Pirate Lord
Seriously, no-one in their right mind is going to mess with you if you're flying this. To keep the power requirements down, I've had to sacrifice the beam weaponry, so despite the decent jump range and the fuel scoop, you won't be able to stray too far off the beaten track, because you're going to have to reload your cannons quite a lot - but as discussed earlier, all the best targets are in core space, anyway. This spec should also handle PVP quite well, though you would probably want to swap out the cargo racks for hull reinforcements if you intend on taking on a Wing of player-flown Vultures. I like the Python a lot, as it's big, powerful and versatile. Personally, this probably isn't how I'd kit it out myself, (I'd fly a more multi-purpose loadout like this), but if you're the kind of player who'd rather be notorious than famous, the Python is ship for you.
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Type 9 Heavy - Role: Combat Zone Gunship
A cargo-hauling Space Cow spec would have been too obvious. Based on the assumption that you want to have fun, rather than just make huge virtual piles of virtual money, try turning the Type 9 into a mobile fortress. You will, of course, want to bring friends to those high intensity combat zones, but decked out like this, you could do some serious damage and still make a lot of money in community goal combat zones, where you have to scoop up cargo from destroyed convoys. Just be careful trying to deliver those illicit goods into the station! The Type 9 doesn't make the best smuggling ship...
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Anaconda - Role: Thargoid Hunter
If you've made the 500 to 1000 MCr required to seriously kit out an Anaconda, undoubtedly you don't need advice from me. However, if the Anaconda is a distant dream for you (and it is for me right now, because I don't want to spent a few weeks trading in dull cargo boxes to grind up the cash), here's a potential role you might want to consider for your Anaconda, in that distant future: Thargoid and alien artefact hunter... I would put fairly decent money on Frontier reintroducing the Thargoids in a future expansion pack. I also imagine that once planetary landings become a reality, we'll be able to go searching/surveying planetary surfaces for interesting tchotchkes left behind by long-dead alien civilisations. Which I also imagine would be worth a considerable amount of money in human colonised space. So you're going to want cargo space. You're going to want a decent fuel scoop and field maintenance module. You're going to want a decent hyperspace range to get out into those unexplored hinterlands. And you're going to want some pretty bloody powerful weapons, just in case you stumble across a Thargoid warship. The large gimballed beams will handle just about any challenge posed to you by human pilots, allowing you to conserve that precious plasma and multicannon ammo for close encounters. When I do eventually return to the welcoming bosom of Annie, this is how I'll kit her out. Because I know one thing... If I were to meet an angry Thargoid, I wouldn't want to be flying anything else!
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