We’ve had over a month to shoot, trade and explore our way through the massive universe of Elite Dangerous, and we can’t help but feel impressed. However, as beautiful and exotic as the world may be, it’s also one of the most complicated to hit digital stores in recent years. With that in mind, we sent our most talented Commanders to gather must-have information for every newcomer looking to make his or her mark in the Universe.

Training Modules

We highly recommend that you play through at least the first two single player training simulations in the game. These two simulations will introduce you to using your radar, locking onto targets, deploying your Hardpoints and fighting moving and stationary targets. 

Once you’ve completed at least the first two of these training modules, it’s time to head into the black unknown.

Solo, Open Play or Group

Players have three modes when they load up Elite: Dangerous. They can play in a Solo world, which includes only the player and NPCs. In addition, they can launch into Open Play, a mode that features NPCs and other Commanders. Finally, the third option is to join or create a Group world, which will include the player, NPCs and Commanders in the Private Group. 

No matter which mode you choose, the in-game economy remains the same, changing and shifting as players trade, explore and pillage throughout the massive universe.

Understanding the UI

Once you’ve chosen your play mode and launch into the game, it’s time to get accustomed to the various aspects of your ship’s UI. 

Center Dashboard

First let’s take a look at the center heads up display. This area contains some of the most vital information for your ship, and you should pay attention to everything on this dashboard whenever you’re playing.

The upper area of the HUD contains your Communications and Information panels. The communications panel displays all chat messages, whether they are sent by NPCs or players. The information panel contains information such as ship scans, updates about your ship including landing gear notifications, and so on. This area will also warn you if ships lock on or deploy their Hardpoints.

The far left area contains information about the place you’re in at the present time, as well as basic information about any targets you may be locked onto. To the right of that you’ll find your goal tracker, a small circular area with arrows that let you align your ship in the correct course to reach your target location. Anytime you lock onto a station or location it will appear here. If the circle that represents your target is lit up, it is located in front of you. Conversely, a greyed out circle means the target is behind you. This area will only appear on your dashboard when you have a location selected as a target.

In the middle of your dashboard you’ll find the radar scanner, which will help you keep track of anything within your ship’s sensor range. Just to the left of this you’ll find the heat level indicator. Below the radar are a series of lines with a bold line, which indicates the range of your sensors. 

If you look just to the right of the radar you’ll locate your speed indicator. This small area has four points of important information. First, the small lit up area along the left side of the speed indicator is your ideal turn speed. This is the speed you’ll want to be traveling to make the most efficient turns when in combat, or trying to maneuver into starports.

Second, the small indicator on the right side of the throttle bar is the current level of power pushed to your engines. This is the maximum speed at which you can travel unless you change the power settings of your ship. Lastly, the bar which spans from side to side on the throttle bar is the requested speed. It is the speed that you instructed your ship to go, and of course the bars inside the speed indicator are the ship’s speed. As you change your speed, you will notice the bars inside the throttle bar light up or grow dim as you travel through space.

Continuing to the right, you’ll notice a 3D image of your ship. This is where you can keep track of your ship’s Hull Integrity and shield level. Further to the right of this you’ll see the Power Level controls, which you can use to customize which ship systems receive the most and least amounts of power.

The final section of the center dashboard includes your WANTED indicator, as well as indicators that will advise you whether or not your Landing Gear or Cargo Scoop are extended. There is also a small indicator that will light up when you are Mass Locked, which means you are unable to use your ship’s Frame Shift Drive to move into SuperCruise or jump to another system.

The Left Panel

The left panel is one of your most used tools. This panel includes your Navigation tab, Transactions tab, Contacts, Sub-targets, and target’s Cargo information.

The Navigation tab is the area you’ll use the most. This area will allow you to open up your Galaxy Map, your System Map and choose from a list of nearby sectors, stations or systems. It also allows you to lock onto things like Resource Extraction Sites, Nav Beacons and Unidentified Signal Sources.

The Transactions tab allows you to keep up with information pertaining to contracts that you pick up from the Bulletin Board while docked at starports and space stations. This area will also allow you to back out of and delete any contracts that might have expired.

The Contacts tab is the area where you’ll see everything in your ship’s sensor range that can be seen on radar. This area allows you to fine tune your search for NPCs or Cargo, and also allows you to interact with things like starports and space stations to request docking privileges.

The Sub-target and Cargo tabs are active when you’re locked onto an applicable player or NPC controlled ship. The Sub-target tab allows you to fine tune your aim, and choose the exact ship system you want to shoot at. The Cargo tab allows you to take a look at whatever Cargo the target ship has on board. These tabs are especially useful when pursuing a career as a Pirate or Bounty Hunter.

The Right Panel

The right panel of your ship’s UI will change as you upgrade and move to higher tier ships, however the base tabs will remain the same. This area contains the Status, Modules, Fire Groups, Cargo and Functions tabs – all of which are important things to keep in check as you travel across the galaxy.

The Status tab contains your current rank in Combat, Trade and Explorer. It also includes your Balance, your Rebuy Cost (the cost to rebuy your ship should it be destroyed), Local Bounty information and Local Reputation. Furthermore, it includes a complete breakdown of your Reputation level with every faction you’ve encountered in the game.

The Modules tab is the heart of your ship. This is the area where you can fine tune which systems are active, which systems you can do without and which systems you can’t stand to give up. While it is recommended to not disable any ship systems, sometimes you will need to tweak this area to get the most of your ship’s Power Supply.

The Fire Groups tab is where you’ll designate which Hardpoints are grouped together. This grouping will decide what keys need to be pressed to activate them, as well as what keys you’ll need to fire. This tab will become extremely useful if you choose to become a Bounty Hunter or Pirate, as you’ll find yourself needing several different types of Fire Groups when pursuing your targets.

The Cargo tab on the right panel is all about your ship’s cargo bay. This area also includes information about any minerals you might pick up if you choose to be a miner, and also allows you to keep an eye on how much cargo space you have left, and what is taking up that space.

The final tab of the right panel controls your ship’s functions. Here you can toggle the Ship Lights, see what Faction you’re currently supporting, deploy your Landing Gear, Cargo Scoop or activate ship settings like Silent Running, Flight Assist, Rotational Correction and choose your weapons mode. You can also toggle options such as crime reporting, orbit lines, preflight checks and change your interface brightness.

Onward and Away

Now that you know your way around the UI, it’s time to head out into the stars and begin your life as a Commander of your own space ship. Welcome to the stars Commander. Good luck and Godspeed.

For more Elite Dangerous, read Prima's Beginner and Advanced tips features.