Elite Dangerous has a wealth of options for the aspiring commander. The plight of traders and miners is one that’s well known in Frontier’s space simulator, and yet the adventures of those who enforce law across the vast emptiness of space are often forgotten. Which is something of a shame because in Elite Dangerous, bounty hunting is one of the most active and enjoyable paths to forge through the Milky Way. Here’s how to be successful at Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous.
Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
The rewards are nothing short of wonderful. Sometimes you’ll only get around 1000CR for a kill, other times a couple of minutes of spirited combat can lead to tens of thousands of delicious credits. Even the thrill of the chase is nothing short of a riveting experience, well worth the adrenaline rush. It’s certainly cheaper than trying to arrange a safari holiday on Mars, especially in this economic climate.
Elite: Dangerous‘ bounty hunting isn’t all smiles and fun-times, though. You’ll not find many friends out in the Milky Way when you spend your days keeping one eye on their Wanted status. Would you eat with someone who was checking your internet history and then using it to slap you in the face? Didn’t think so. In Elite: Dangerous, factions will take a disliking to hearing someone has killed one of their members. You’ll more often than not find yourself making enemies of states rather than friends.
If you don’t care about possibly losing friendship status with a faction because you’ve got a fat wallet full of Elite: Dangerous‘ credit currency, then bounty hunting is definitely the way to go. Time to channel your inner Boba/Dog/Lockdown and hunt your way to some serious bounty.
Successful Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
There’s no Millenium Falcon or Enterprise in the world of Elite: Dangerous. No single hip that can do everything to such a degree of success that it could be described as an outright jack of all trades. For bounty hunting, you’ve really got to outfit a ship for the sole purpose of blowing others out of space.
Thanks to the amount of outfitting options present in Elite: Dangerous, pretty much any ship can be built to do any job. So it’s totally possible to get a Lakon Type-7 kitted out as a bounty hunting boat. Using it purely as a justice-bringing vehicle would do nothing more than re-enact the Titanic’s demise.
Right out of the door, the Sidewinder is a capable ship for use when bounty hunting at the beginning. It’s only got two small hardpoints so there’s not much in the way of weaponry that you can slot onto this early craft but it’ll do when starting out.
Even the insurance costs are low when starting out. It’s quick enough to escape many threats and has the maneuverability to run rings around some of the larger ships you’ll be facing.
It’s far from a long-term option though. Its small stature and overall low quality means the Sidewinder will become obsolete on the spaceways of Elite: Dangerous when bounty hunting within no more than a few hours.
If you love the idea of being in a small craft or don’t want to spend too many credits to get started as a bounty hunter, then the Eagle is a fantastic place to start.
With 3 small hardpoints and plenty of room inside for necessary outfitting options, the Eagle already has the upper hand for starting out as a bounty hunter in Elite: Dangerous over its Sidewinder brother.
Those 3 hardpoints give you the opportunity to attach a pair of basic pulse lasers with a heavy kinetic weapon backing them up. It also moves like a stabbed rat. That being said, the best ships for bounty hunting coming at slightly higher price points.
The Viper. Sweet heavens, now this is a pretty much perfect bounty hunting craft. Even before you take into account everything else this thing is built to be a symphony of death-dealing crescendo.
Why? On its prow you’ll find a quartet of hardpoints (2 small, 2 medium) which can be formed into all sorts of different configurations to take down wanted crooks. More expensive craft may have even larger amounts of hardpoints to which an array of weapons can be fitted, but in the case of the Viper this is a very nimble platform to carry around a handful of Pulse Lasers or even Multi-Cannons.
As you start raking in the cash, you may consider investing in a Cobra. The Cobra is a wonderful all-rounder, capable of absolutely everything if outfitted correctly. For the trader or explorer who wants to do a little bounty hunting on the side, then the Cobra is without a doubt the best choice.
As a career bounty hunter though, the Cobra isn’t perfect. Yes it’s got 4 hardpoints like the aforementioned Viper and yes it has enough internal space for everything you need.
What it lacks is any particular focus. If your intention is to bounty hunt from sun up to sun down, stick with a Viper for that sweet maneuverability. After these ships there’s a bit of a gap before you get to the really big dogs of Elite: Dangerous.
At the higher echelons of cost right now, ships like the Anaconda, Python, and Imperial Clipper/Federal Dropship are powerful adversaries for any opponent to face. They each have a veritable smorgasbord of hardpoints that can be fitted with incredibly powerful turrets or fixed weapons which will take out anything smaller than themselves in seconds.
The Anaconda’s 8 hardpoints are enough to get any bounty hunter’s loins warmed up but aiming for a 50,000,000+ credit Python is a good way to go.
It won’t require endless hours of work to obtain (well, not as endless as the 150 million+ Anaconda) but has 5 hardpoints. There’s 2 mediums and 3 large. That triplet of large hardpoints with a Class 3 Gimballed Pulse Laser on each will decimate anything up to an including an Asp in moments.
Enough of the ship porn now. It’s time to look at what you should be slotting into the shell of your craft for some Elite: Dangerous bounty hunting.
Successful Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
As a bounty hunter in Elite: Dangerous, your first priority should be weapons right? Well sorry to say this but you’re only half correct. Weapon choice is incredibly important but the other components you slot into your ship can make or break your crook-chasing ways.
Utility Mounts are a difficult set of points to get geared correctly. As a bounty hunter, this is mostly up to you and your personal preferences. However, using two in particular is always a good idea for chasing down the big targets.
A Frame Shift Drive Interdictor will allow you to pull those who you’re hunting out of Supercruise and get you into combat with them without having to hang around at Navigation Beacons or in an asteroid field. It takes no more than a few seconds to scan another ship in Elite: Dangerous. Should they flash up as Wanted, you don’t want them slipping away do you?
Pairing this with a Frame Shift Wake Scanner is never a bad idea. When a ship jumps to Supercruise or even to another system in Elite: Dangerous, it will leave a small Frame Shift Wake.
These come in Low and High Energy types. A Low Energy Wake can be scanned by any ship but the big, juicy prizes will almost exclusively leave behind a High Energy Wake. Target the wake then activate your Frame Shift Wake Scanner and you’ll be able to jump right up behind the escaping enemy.
Small fry like Adders or Cobra’s are unlikely to leave these, but the Asps and Lakon Type-7s which often have high bounties attached to them can jump away from combat. Use this to chase them down and blow them into tiny pieces.
A Kill Warrant Scanner is often a good idea too as a ship with a bounty in one system may also have a bounty value on their head from somewhere else. Double the money for the same amount of work, if you don’t mind flying to other systems.
As far as the rest are concerned, it’s pretty much up to you when it comes to Utility Mounts. A Chaff Launcher or Point Defense Turret might buy you a few seconds of free combat but you’re a bounty hunter. Your focus should be targeted purely at chasing down and destroying your targets as quickly as possible, not concerning yourself with staying alive.
That aside, whacking some high quality armor plating and a Shield Generator onto your chosen vehicle of death is pretty much mandatory. A powerful Shield Generator will not only keep you alive, it will cut down those irritating repair overheads and allow you make even more cash for every ne’er-do-well you leave smoking in the ruins of their own petard.
A high quality Shield Generator allows you to shrug off any small arms fire from the smaller craft while providing vital breathing room when facing ships larger than yourself. It’ll also help on that rare occasion when your target outmaneuver’s you and they can get in a few lucky shots.
A powerful Frame Shift Drive and a good set of Thrusters rarely goes amiss when bounty hunting in Elite: Dangerous, same really for a Cargo hold that can be used to scoop up and carry whatever your unfortunate foe may leave behind.
Over all of these though, you should really invest into the best Power Distribution System that you can afford for your chosen craft. These will enable you to charge systems quicker which means only one thing – more laser fire to pump into enemies.
Of course, it also means that you can recharge shields much quicker and your engines should a quick getaway be necessary. Keeping those weapon batteries filled up to fire is your primary concern however, one that should always be heavily monitored.
Okay now we can dig out that subscription to the Milky Way Rifle Association and talk guns.
Successful Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
Without a good set of weapons as a bounty hunter in Elite: Dangerous, you might as well just be asking for trouble. Before you start picking up shiny shooters like a kid in a candy store though there’s a few things you’ll need to consider.
Chief among which is what weapon fitting type you want to use. Weapons can be attached to ships in Elite: Dangerous in three different ways; fixed, gimballed, and turreted.
Fixed weapons are only capable of firing directly forward so they require you to adjust your own position to get a clear shot. Gimballed weapons can self target enemy craft in front of your ship and are often the go-to fitting choice for bounty hunters using a Cobra or Viper.
Turreted weapons are able to target the enemy wherever they are (as long as their in view of the turret) but can be wildly inaccurate at times. These are often the fitting of choice for larger vessels which find turning to face the opponent difficult or have hardpoints on both the bottom and top of their ship (like a Python or Anaconda).
When you’ve decided what fitting you need, then it’s time to actually decide upon what weapon to slot in. Laser weapons use a great deal more energy than projectile weapons so when you’re using those monitoring your power and heat levels becomes quite important.
They don’t have a reload cost or time though, so can work out cheaper in the long run if you don’t mind breaking off every so often to allow your weapon systems to fully recharge.
Pulse Lasers offer a good base to take but the Beam variants are very good at letting out huge amounts of focused damage at the expense of high energy costs. Burst Lasers aren’t particularly shabby but are often eclipsed by their more predictable and pulsing Elite: Dangerous cousins.
Projectile weapons come in a wider range of formats but all follow the same ideal – launching a small metallic round at the enemy to literally rip a hole in the ship. Cannons and Missile Racks are often seen as the big hitters here but there’s much to be said for a pair of multicannons.
Two of these working in unison can throw hundreds of bullets into an enemy in seconds. Multi-cannons also require less lining up as you’re throwing so many bullets at the enemy one or two are bound to make their mark.
Flak Cannon’s shouldn’t be forgotten but they’re best used only at close range due to their rather shotgun-esque nature.
Railguns and the Mother-Of-All-Blasts the Plasma Accelerator of Elite: Dangerous are important but the majority of bounty hunters will rarely find the need to use one.
An Anaconda with a Class 4 Plasma Accelerator however is an awe-inspiring site to behold, capable of ripping a hole through Lakon Type-9 ships with a single shot.
Which configuration you take is up to you. Maybe you want to use 4 Beam Cannons to literally cut your opponent into tiny pieces or the idea of running 3 Multicannons with a Missile Rack to finish off your target gets the juices flowing. Then do that.
This is your journey, so you take it as you choose. There are a few configurations used by the community at large (and by yours truly) that have a fairly consistent success rate.
Since Lasers cost exactly nothing to fire in Elite: Dangerous, using these to take down shields is never a bad idea. It might take a little longer than using that Flak Cannon but that’s being saved for later. When the shields on your opponent are down, warm up any projectile weapons you might have and tear chunks from your target by making use of the higher armor penetration (AP) trait most projectile weapons have. Many players use a pair of Pulse Lasers along with a couple of Multicannons to do just this.
If you’re outright crazy, the idea of getting up close and personal with your bounty might be appealing. Elite: Dangerous may revel in the idea of space being a huge place but that doesn’t mean you’re without options when you just want to hug the enemy to death.
Fit a Viper with 2 powerful Pulse Lasers and 2 Flak Cannons then move towards the opponent. All the way towards them fire your Pulse Lasers and at the last second, start to veer over them and let loose a volley from your Flak Cannons. Your target will be startled, not to mention close to death if you took out their shields in time.
Take the time to experiment with different loadouts to fit your ship, your playstyle, heck even your control scheme. It might have a few misses granted, but when you come across a hit you’ll be set for life in Elite: Dangerous.
The problem now is, where the hell do you go to get some sweet bounty hunting action?
Where to Bounty Hunt
Successful Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
Your ship is ready to roll and the weapons are yearning for the blood of the baddies. The only thing left to do is find someone to kill and collect their juicy bounty. Now there is a mind-numbingly simple answer here and that one is this: everywhere.
No matter where you are you can scan nearly vessels. If they’re wanted, they are yours to kill. Throughout Elite: Dangerous though there are a smattering of places that bounty hunters will always find it worthwhile to hang around in. There’s 4 major locations that you’ll find the Wanted people of Elite: Dangerous to smear onto a nearby moon.
The simplest and easiest way to hunt people down is to hang around at Nav Beacons. These float close to the major star of any inhabited system in Elite: Dangerous.
Their locations are full of non-player character ships zipping into system before setting off to other locations or leaving the area. So many ships come into these beacons that you can be taking out Wanted folks every minute or so. It rarely goes that easily though. Sometimes you’ve got a flood of other commanders flying towards your position in Elite: Dangerous.
Other times, you can be left floating around for minutes with nothing there. If you find yourself stuck with nothing nearby then get the hell back to the actual physical Nav Beacon. It can be found on the Elite: Dangerous contacts tab.
Also, take a look at where you actually are. If you’re chilling out in an area and there’s nothing buzzing by, you may need to get somewhere else. A system with 2 or more stations will have less traffic than somewhere like Sol which has many more locations that traders can use. Traders, it turns out, are naughty little sods.
If a system has some Resource Extraction Sites or Belt Clusters, you can go over there and actively stalk the privateers of Elite: Dangerous – Pirates. Pirates are characters who attack miners or traders for their cargo. They’re always pretty damn bad people so anything in a mining area who isn’t actually mining should be in your sights. Even the miners themselves can be Wanted by authorities.
So fly around and scan everything. One benefit of these areas is that usually you’ll only come across smaller enemy craft more often than not. For starting out or just for a change from the Nav Beacons stalking asteroid fields is fun if nothing else.
For a change of scenery, there’s one more way to grab nefarious villains if you’ve got a Frame Shift Drive Interdictor. Fly in Supercruise around a system between the Nav Beacon and outlying stations. These are the common routes that ships will take and can be a certified gold mine.
It’s actually easier than in Nav Beacons if your ship isn’t very maneuverable because craft won’t deviate form their path or suddenly loop around as often. Target them from the contacts page and if they’re Wanted, swoop in closer behind them to pull their sorry ass from Supercruise and into your grasp.
Unidentified Signal Sources and Frame Shift Interdictions can also be a random but helpful source of bounties in Elite: Dangerous if you’re lucky. Don’t rely on them, however. Only throw yourself into these events if you’re between trips.
There are only three major things a bounty hunter should be concerned about in Elite: Dangerous. First on the list, as stated earlier, is the loss of reputation.
You’ll often find that a craft which is wanted will also belong to a faction close to or even in the system you’re currently hunting in. Killing them even though they have a bounty on their head will lead to a slight drop in favor with the faction they represent so you’re not going to make many friends.
If you’re really concerned about this, after scanning a craft check your Contacts tab and check their faction. If it’s one you like, consider leaving them to go about their business.
The second is one that hopefully no one will do more than once. Biting off more than you can chew in Elite: Dangerous basically means don’t shoot at anything with more guns than you. When you’re dealing with small fry like Cobras, Asps, even Type-7s this isnt that much of a problem.
When you see a wanted pilot though, it’s hard to resist those sweet rewards. Assuming you’re flying a Viper, don’t start trying to blow Pythons or Anacondas out of the sky because they will take one look at your poxy little ship, smirk a little, then blow your ass into so many pieces a jigsaw club would take three months just putting that ill advised tattoo of Snoopy you got to impress your partner back together again.
Bringing up the rear is the simple issue of checking your fire. Make sure what you’re shooting at is Wanted. If they aren’t, then you’re going to find a list of fines longer than the one Stallone racked up in Demolition man coming through the letterbox.
When you’re buzzing around shooting that little Viper who dared wander into your path, keep an eye out for Authority vessels which like to take a look around in Elite: Dangerous. If a stray Multicannon or Pulse Laser shot hits one of them, you’ll be getting a fine and their attention. Just be mindful of what’s flying in the area and you should be, okay? Okay.
Where to Cash In your Bounties
Successful Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous
That’s the killing over. You’ve thrown two bays full of missiles into hapless evil doers and fired off so many laser rounds that even Kraftwerk are jealous. Now it’s time to cash in and make a profit from your efforts. Thankfully, this is the easiest aspect of the whole bounty hunting profession in Elite: Dangerous.
Assuming you have been hanging around in the same system collecting the heads of your enemies, it’s time to fly off to a nearby station and head for the Contacts page. The Local Security Office will have a pleasant amount of credits waiting for you all being well.
Bear in mind, though, that factions aren’t always giving you bounties in the same system, especially if you use a Kill Warrant Scanner. Usually though all of the bounties earned in one system will be collectable from a faction within that system. Just fly over to a corresponding station and boom, you’ve made paper.
If there actually is a sizable bounty for a faction which isn’t in your system, take yourself into the Elite: Dangerous Galaxy Map and have a look for the nearest station that represents that group. Yes, this part of the process can be hard work, but when the money starts rolling in this is more than worth it.
That’s it for the act of bounty hunting in Elite: Dangerous. Do you have any hints or tips for prospective hunters? Then leave them in the comments box down below.
Elite: Dangerouswas released December 16th, 2014 and is available exclusively via Frontier Development’s own website for £39.99/$59.99
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