My Love/Hate Relationship with Elite: Dangerous

I’m a space opera junkie.  Give me starships, interstellar governments, and complex politics any day of the week.  So when I discovered that Elite: Dangerous now had a Mac client, and that my computer is more than capable of running it, I snapped it up.  After all, a game that is basically a simulation of being a starship pilot, where you can do pretty much whatever you want, is right up my alley.

In ED, there are three major governments, and they each have their strengths and weaknesses.  There’s not a ton of story in the game, at least not that players are railroaded down–much of the plotline happens in the background, and you can get yourself involved as much or as little as you like.

The strength of ED is that, literally, you can do anything you want–and can afford to do.  It’s a simulation, so you need to work your way up from the basic ship you get in the beginning.  I’ve earned enough to get a few ships, but my crowning glory was my Type 6 freighter.  It’s got a ton of cargo space, which I’ve been using to build up credits by trading rare goods across the galaxy.

In a lot of games, you can have a freighter that handles like a fighter and is well-nigh indestructible.  Not so in ED.  Now, on the one hand, I love this–My fighter flies like a demon and has amazingly powerful guns, while my freighter handles like a pregnant yak, and her guns are not terribly useful in a fight.  In short, she’s a freighter, not a fighter.  On the other hand, I hate that, because it leads to things like what happened to me last night.

I was running the Lave-Coquim trade route.  I’d filled my hold with all sorts of valuable, rare cargo, and I was in the Coquim system, 20 light-seconds from the station on which I was going to sell it all for a nice profit, which would go towards buying a better fighter down the road.

And that’s when an NPC, computer-controlled pirate interdicted me (by which I mean he pulled me out of “FTL”) and destroyed me.  In 15 seconds.

That difficulty curve drives me insane.

I had enough in my accounts to replace the ship, but the cargo, and the 1.5 hours of work it took to get all that cargo?  Gone, along with several million credits of profit.  Which, OK, it’s a video game, who cares?  But still.  Games affect us, or we wouldn’t play them, right? The thrill of doing something right in a game is real, but so is the dejection when the game nails you to the wall.

But right now, I can’t say if I’ll start the trade route over, or jump in a fighter and go kill some bad guys for bounties. And a little stress relief.


Published by Michael R. Johnston

Father of an eighth grader, high school English teacher, writer. Fifty years old and feeling almost every bit of it on some days, and not a bit of it on others. Based in Sacramento, California, USA

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