Combat is one of the four pilot ranks in Elite Dangerous: Horizons. You can climb Elite’s combat ranks by amassing spaceship kills, which earns you variable experience points depending on the ship pilot ranks you destroy. It’s as simple as that, but destroying bucket loads of ships to climb combat ranks isn’t necessarily easy. Here are a few Elite Dangerous: Horizons combat tips for fighter pilots that might help you blow up spaceships.
1. Equip Beam Lasers
There are three thermal weapon types in Elite Dangerous: Horizons that are strong against spaceship shields. As breaking ships’ shields is crucial to destroying them, you’ve got to have some laser weapons equipped to get anywhere as a combat pilot. The Beam Laser is the strongest of the three main thermal weapon types, which rips through shields. So, equip your spaceship with the best Beam Lasers you can.
However, don’t equip turret Beam Lasers to your ship. Semi-independent turrent lasers that automatically fire have less damage output and quickly drain thermal weapon energy. So, stick with Beam Lasers of the gimballed or fixed variety.
2. Go bounty hunting
Bounty hunting around Nav Beacons in medium or high-security star systems is a good way to boost combat rank faster. When you go bounty hunting, you’re targeting and destroying wanted ships, which can be found in large numbers around Nav Beacons. The good thing about bounty hunting is that you’ll have security force ships on your side. When you start shooting at a wanted target, security ships will usually open fire on it to. Security ship support makes it somewhat less risky and easier to engage and destroy ships than when on your own. Furthermore, you can amass lots of credits with bounty vouchers received for wanted ships you help destroy.
If you want even more bounty-hunting support, try joining a squadron. Then you can do some bounty hunting with your real-player squadron ships shooting at the same wanted targets. You’ll also have more fun playing with real players that you can chat with.
3. Pip up your shield
Your spaceship includes a pip indicator that shows your ship’s power distribution for system (SYM), engine (ENG), and weapons (WEP). You can assign more or less power to system (shield), engine, and weapons by pressing the arrow keys at the bottom of your keyboard (not the ones on the numeric keypad). For combat purposes, it’s recommended that you pip up up your system shield for most of your skirmishes by pressing the left arrow button. Pipping your system shield up by four will effectively make it last twice as long, which will give you a somewhat better chance of surviving a battle.
Some players might be tempted to pip up weapons in combat. Doing so will enable your thermal weapons (lasers) to recharge more quickly. However, pipping up weapons doesn’t strengthen them. It’s more important to pip up the system shield.
4. Turn on Night Vision
It’s not always easy to see small and distant enemy spaceships in the darkness of space. Turning your ship’s Night Vision mode on helps. That mode adds light green highlighting to objects and terrain, which makes small spaceships more visible. To turn on Night Vision, press the Shift + D hotkey and select the Ship tab. Then toggle the Night Vision setting on.
5. Equip Seeking Missile Racks
Although Beam Lasers tear down shields, they don’t do so much hull damage. As such, it’s a good idea to equip your ship with additional kinetic weapons that inflict greater hull damage than thermal alternatives.
Missile racks are the highest-damage kinetic weapons in Elite Dangerous that can obliterate most ships pretty sharpish. Therefore, they’re among the best kinetic armaments. You can equip your ship with Dumbfire or Seeker Missile Racks, which lock targets. Although Dumbfire Missile Racks have slightly stronger missiles, it’s much easier to hit targets with seekers. The better shot accuracy you’ll get with seeker missiles will ensure you do more damage with them.
Seeker Missile Racks can indeed be countered by Chaff Launchers and ECMs (Electronic Countermeasures). However, I have seldom encountered any PVE ships with Chaff Launchers and ECMs equipped. More player-controlled ships might have Chaff Launchers. So, seeking missiles might not be quite so effective in player vs. player combat.
6. Find your armaments with Elite & Dangerous Roguey
When you’re searching for a specific weapon or shield to add to your spaceship, you don’t need to fly between countless docking stations to find one with an Outfitting service that sells it. Instead, open the Equipment page on the Elite & Dangerous Roguey website. There you can select to search for a specific weapon. The Elite & Dangerous Roguey site will display a list of nearby stations for a specified star system that stocks the weapon your after.
7. Get an Anaconda
The Anaconda is one of the best combat spaceships in Elite Dangerous. That’s a formidable combat ship primarily because of its eight hardpoint slots for weapons. It’s one of the few spaceships that can equip the highest class four armaments. With a class six shield to boot, the Anaconda also has strong protection. So, flying an Anaconda will give you a real edge in combat.
However, the Anaconda is among the most pricey ships in Elite Dangerous at 146,969,450 credits. If that ship is out of your price range, Python is a cheaper alternative spaceship worth noting. With three large and two medium hardpoints and the same class six shield, the Python can hold its own against the Anaconda. At 56,978,180 credits, the Python is somewhat more affordable.
Yet, the Python will still be somewhat beyond the budgets of new Elite players. The Viper MkIII is a recommended budget combat ship for beginner players. That’s a small and agile ship that packs in four weapon hardpoints and a slightly stronger shield for its class. You can snap up a Viper MkIII for just 142,931 credits, and it’s a good combat ship to get started with. However, you’ll need a Python or Anaconda for serious PvP combat.
8. Don’t neglect your ship’s shield
Your ship’s shield is more important than its weapons for Elite Dangerous combat. When your shield is up, you are effectively invincible. When your shield goes down, however, it can be game over pretty sharpish. It can be nigh-on suicidal for a combat pilot to fly into high-intensity combat zones with a weak shield.
With that in mind, make sure you invest heavily in upgrading your ship’s Shield Generator to a more durable one. A new ship will usually have a shield with an E rating that’s the weakest of its category. Make sure you upgrade that Shield Generator to one with an A rating as soon as you can.
Don’t stop at upgrading just the Shield Generator. You can further increase your ship’s shield strength by adding Shield Boosters to its Utility Mounts. In addition, equip your ship with a Shield Cell Bank that repairs damaged shields that are still up when activated.
The above Elite Dangerous: Horizons combat tips will give you a better chance of reaching the coveted elite combat rank. Now you can go and bonk some heads in the Milky Way!