Elite: Dangerous Beginners Tips– Getting Started in the Dark of Space

Get a head-start in your new life as a pilot with these quick tips.


Space is a cold, dark place. In Elite: Dangerous, being a pilot is about more than just jumping from system to system and following a linear campaign. You choose who and what you are. Whether you choose to be a trader, a pirate or even a mercenary, there are some very important things that every pilot should know before heading into the dark unknown.

How to Handle Your ship

Knowing how to correctly handle your spacecraft is the difference between life and death in Elite: Dangerous. Whether you’re trying to land, soar into combat or try to outrun a pirate ship, use of your secondary thrusters can be a game-changer. First, let’s take a quick look at what each thruster does and the buttons you need to press in order to use them.

R activates your upward thrusters, pushing your ship vertically. Pressing the F key activates your downward thrusters, sending your ship downward. Pressing Q and E move your ship to the left and the right, respectively.

These secondary thrusters play an important role in navigating through space. Whether you are trying to make a quick turn or aligning your ship for that perfect space station entry, using your secondary thrusters will keep your ship flying.

Super Cruise 101

Over-shooting your destination is more easily done than not in Elite: Dangerous. There is, however, one simple thing you can do to cut back on such occurrences, and allow you to save time in each trade run.

When in Super Cruise, aligning your thruster speed with the blue indicators turns on auto-speed, a setting that automatically slows your ship down as you near your targeted destination. There is also a second step to this, but we promise it isn’t that challenging. All that is left to do now is line your ship’s trajectory with your destination and enjoy the view as your ship’s A.I. takes over and slows you down for re-entry into normal space. When your speed reaches a certain point, your screen will show an indicator telling you that it is now safe to exit Super Cruise. Simply press the J key on your keyboard and prepare for entry into normal space.

Being a Successful Trader

While you can do numerous things to make a living in the world of Elite: Dangerous, one of the most common is to simply become a trader. Being a trader isn’t nearly as boring as it sounds. It actually takes a good bit of thinking on your part, as well as some quick reactions for those times when you run into pirates.

One of the first things to remember is that cargo is very important. You can’t make money by simply going into the Commodities Market and buying. Sure, you might get lucky every now and then, but in the long run you’re going to end up breaking the bank, which isn’t something you want to do. Research is a very important part to any trade. 

First, you need to find a commodity with Medium to High supply at the station you are docked at. Then you should check your Galactic map to see which Stations in your jump range offer decent prices for that commodity. You can check this by going into your Galaxy Map and heading over to your VIEW tab. 

Next, make sure you select the Commodity you are looking for. For this instance, we want to sell H.E. Suits, so we select them in the Technology dropdown. Through this, we can see that a station in the Dahan system is within our jump range, and they will purchase our H.E. Suits for a decent price. Now we can stock up on H.E. Suits (our current ship, The Sidewinder, can only hold four units) and head out to make a few easy bucks.

Taking on Side Missions From the Bulletin Board

While you can create and find your own trade routes, there are also other options that will allow you to increase your bank account. One such item is the Bulletin Board. 

The Bulletin Board contains different missions that vary from combat to trade, and each station has a different set of missions available for pilots. These missions are only available for certain amounts of time before they expire, so keep that in mind when selecting one, and be sure you have enough time to complete it before logging out. 

Another thing to keep in mind is the jump distance required if you attempt a trade mission. Be sure that your ship can safely jump to your destination, otherwise you’ll end up stranded in space with no fuel and limited oxygen.

Bettering Your Ship

Whether looking to buy a nice shiny new ship or simply deck out your current one, upgrading is a vital part of being a successful pilot in Elite Dangerous. Piracy is real, combat is tough and you want your ship to be as prepared as possible. That is where Shipyards and Outfitting come in handy. 

In the Outfitting menu, you can purchase upgrades for your current ship. These upgrades range from new weapons (or hardpoints) to stronger hulls that’ll keep you alive longer. We recommend upgrading your weapons first, as having increased firepower will help you win the fight against pirates, and save you from a silent and cold death in space.

Shipyards are another matter, with each station boasting different options and prices for new ships. Don’t simply buy a new Hauler at the station you’re docked at. Give it a little time and find a good price; when you have to add on insurance, you’ll be thankful for the extra few thousand credits you saved.

Now that you mastered the basics, read Prima’s Elite Dangerous Advanced tips where we discuss bounty hunting and pirating! 

About the Author

Prima Games Staff

The staff at Prima Games.