Combat Needs a Buff

And while you're at it, Frontier, increase maintenance costs, refuelling costs and re-painting, etc. - they're ridiculously low. 10 credits to repaint a hull; a few thousand for rearming missiles, etc. Honestly, the pricing of various things in the game are completely unbalanced, and out of touch with what the reality of the situation would probably be!
If Frontier make the game financially challenging for players who've been around for several months and know what they're doing, then the majority of players will never get out of the Freewinder because their income will be eaten up by refuelling, rearming, etc. and the dream of owning a C-rated FSD will be always out of reach.

When I started out shortly after the original release, it took me a few months of play to go from a Sidewinder to an Asp. That's not because earning money was really difficult in 1.1 / 1.2 - it was slower than now, but you could still earn a billion credits in a week if you knew how, and certainly get as far as an Asp in a couple of days - but because I didn't know the optimal ways to earn money. (And as someone who played a lot of FFE and Oolite, I did at least know the basic concepts of the game, how to fly a ship, how to dock, etc. rather than struggling to just go from A to B successfully as a lot of beginners do)





As far as maintenance costs go...
Fuel: you can scoop this for free.
Repairs: you can AFMU and repair limpet these for free (synthesise the limpets)
Restock: you can do this for free with synthesis

High costs for any of them can be bypassed easily ... high costs for repairs/restock can be completely avoided by fitting a decent shield and running away from combat.

Fuel costs are especially difficult to balance - the Sidewinder has a 2t tank, while the Anaconda has a 32t tank. Any per-tonne price that the Anaconda pilot will notice would bankrupt the Sidewinder, while a price that the Sidewinder pilot would notice would be insignificant to the Anaconda. The original 1.0 release had a rule that Anaconda fuel cost several hundred times more per tonne, for no obvious reason - so everyone with a medium or large ship just fit a fuel scoop, and it was abandoned soon after.
 
If Frontier make the game financially challenging for players who've been around for several months and know what they're doing, then the majority of players will never get out of the Freewinder because their income will be eaten up by refuelling, rearming, etc. and the dream of owning a C-rated FSD will be always out of reach.

When I started out shortly after the original release, it took me a few months of play to go from a Sidewinder to an Asp. That's not because earning money was really difficult in 1.1 / 1.2 - it was slower than now, but you could still earn a billion credits in a week if you knew how, and certainly get as far as an Asp in a couple of days - but because I didn't know the optimal ways to earn money. (And as someone who played a lot of FFE and Oolite, I did at least know the basic concepts of the game, how to fly a ship, how to dock, etc. rather than struggling to just go from A to B successfully as a lot of beginners do)





As far as maintenance costs go...
Fuel: you can scoop this for free.
Repairs: you can AFMU and repair limpet these for free (synthesise the limpets)
Restock: you can do this for free with synthesis

High costs for any of them can be bypassed easily ... high costs for repairs/restock can be completely avoided by fitting a decent shield and running away from combat.

Fuel costs are especially difficult to balance - the Sidewinder has a 2t tank, while the Anaconda has a 32t tank. Any per-tonne price that the Anaconda pilot will notice would bankrupt the Sidewinder, while a price that the Sidewinder pilot would notice would be insignificant to the Anaconda. The original 1.0 release had a rule that Anaconda fuel cost several hundred times more per tonne, for no obvious reason - so everyone with a medium or large ship just fit a fuel scoop, and it was abandoned soon after.
Considering how module and ship costs scale much more aggressively than the earning potential of the ship, simply adding in general wear and tear to ship operation and increasing repair bills would do the job if something were to be done to bring the AFMU in line. If the wear and tear could then be mitigated through economical usage, it would also offer additional gameplay beyond simply being an uncontrollable credit drain.

For example, if FSDs suffered between 0 and 1 integrity damage based upon their base fuel usage then it would encourage economical pathfinding to be used for trading, as two jumps that require 40% of the fuel would cause only 0.8 integrity damage compared to a max distance jump that causes a full point of integrity damage. This would mean that larger ships can go longer between maintenance stops because of the higher module integrity, but their much more expensive FSDs mean that each point of integrity is much more expensive to repair - a 7A FSD is 356k per integrity point compared to a 4A's 18k per integrity, meaning that a full jump for a Cutter would cost almost 20x the maintenance fees per jump than a T6; sure, the Cutter might hold 7x the cargo, but having 20x the maintenance costs would add up over time. Meanwhile, a Starterwinder with its 2E FSD only has a cost of 43 credits per integrity, making it effectively free to maintain even for a starter player (an A-rated Cutter would cost almost 8300x the credits per jump!).

This would also encourage the usage of B and C rated modules much more while reducing the viability of D-rated modules (as we all know, A-rated and D-rated modules are used in 99% of scenarios at the moment); B-rated modules could weather long-term usage and their lower costs combined with their integrity helps their cost efficiency in the long run, while C-rated modules remain useful simply due to their lower costs and D-rated modules would take a bit of a hit as their lower integrity would actually become relevant for normal users. E-rated modules would remain practically free to maintain due to their very low costs. Similarly, this would give a new lease of life to the reinforced/shielded engineer mods and make the integrity reducing mods actually matter.

The only thing that might have to be done is to change how AFMU's repair to prevent it being more economical to use them rather than repairing at stations. A simple fix for this would be to change them so they drain their ammunition based on the cost of the module rather than simply the integrity, or even making them use the higher value between integrity point and the value of repairs done. This could also be combined with changing synthesis to only restock a portion of a larger AFMU, making each use of synthesis provide a certain credit value rather than a full refill to prevent larger ships being run without maintenance costs by throwing a load of cheap mats at them.
 
Considering how module and ship costs scale much more aggressively than the earning potential of the ship, simply adding in general wear and tear to ship operation and increasing repair bills would do the job if something were to be done to bring the AFMU in line. If the wear and tear could then be mitigated through economical usage, it would also offer additional gameplay beyond simply being an uncontrollable credit drain.
The big problem there is explorers. Any wear and tear fast enough to be noticeable for miners, high-end traders, etc. is going to take them down pretty quickly.

A shielded 5B FSD as usable on many common exploration hulls, with the double-braced experimental, would give about 300 integrity points ... but in practice once you get below about 70% the malfunctions are going to get really annoying, so about 90 integrity points to play with. You'd probably still get about 40 LY range out of it easily enough on an Asp or Krait that was otherwise stripped down, with Guardian FSD Booster ... probably more like 20LY if you've also B-rated most of the other internals so they don't fall apart either.

So 40*90, you'd get about 3600LY before needing repairs, with the ability to maybe struggle on another 7500 LY if you ran out of AFMU and synthesis materials. A standard 5A with long-range mods+experimental as currently fitted has just short of 100 integrity, so 30 jumps before it needs repairing ... not far at all.

That would be a big change to exploring, certainly - pretty much requiring anyone going any distance to carry an AFMU, an SRV, and a mining laser as backup just to keep their ship operational, and potentially top up supplies at every system with a suitable source of raw materials in case they hit a run of systems without. Not in isolation a bad gameplay design, but it would be extremely tricky to introduce now and would need Support to be very generous with the teleports for the "I logged off after DW2 and now that I'm back my ship is falling apart and I can't fix it" cases.



The other problem with high maintenance costs is that it discourages having fun with ships. At 350,000 credits per long-range jump in a Cutter (plus however much all the other modules cost in maintenance, of course):
- that's basically ignorable for miners. Hundreds of millions worth of mined goods can easily absorb the few jumps needed to get to sell up
- it's not a big problem for combat pilots either, who can just settle in a system with good combat opportunities for a while (though other module costs will get them, of course)
- it's definitely on the painful side for traders. With 700t of cargo they need to make a profit of 500 credits per jump per tonne just to break even. That's possible, but rules out a lot of cargo types as uneconomical.
- it adds up really quickly if you're doing something fun but not money-earning like sightseeing Guardian sites, or reading tourist beacons, or going canyon-racing, or just lounging around on a planet surface chatting.
The result is that Cutters aren't for having fun in, they're for min-maxed money earning and you then fly a Cobra III for having fun.

It also incentivises doing everything in the most boring way possible - with trading, you're losing 500cr/tonne/jump if you go fastest route. But if you go economic route and do ten jumps for every one, you only lose maybe 100cr/tonne/jump - so in exchange for seeing the jump screen ten more times, you get more profit. In exchange for not boosting or even raising the throttle over 25% in supercruise or normal space, you take a lot longer to get to the station but save on wear and tear on drives, power distributor, etc. In exchange for driving around for hours refilling raw materials between trips, you can use an AFMU to cover the repairs instead.

I'm not saying that a game about careful micro-optimising resource levels so that they hold together long enough to do the next bit and get more resources can't be fun - just that Elite Dangerous clearly isn't in the survival genre, and it's far too late to move it to it now.
 
The big problem there is explorers. Any wear and tear fast enough to be noticeable for miners, high-end traders, etc. is going to take them down pretty quickly.

A shielded 5B FSD as usable on many common exploration hulls, with the double-braced experimental, would give about 300 integrity points ... but in practice once you get below about 70% the malfunctions are going to get really annoying, so about 90 integrity points to play with. You'd probably still get about 40 LY range out of it easily enough on an Asp or Krait that was otherwise stripped down, with Guardian FSD Booster ... probably more like 20LY if you've also B-rated most of the other internals so they don't fall apart either.

So 40*90, you'd get about 3600LY before needing repairs, with the ability to maybe struggle on another 7500 LY if you ran out of AFMU and synthesis materials. A standard 5A with long-range mods+experimental as currently fitted has just short of 100 integrity, so 30 jumps before it needs repairing ... not far at all.

That would be a big change to exploring, certainly - pretty much requiring anyone going any distance to carry an AFMU, an SRV, and a mining laser as backup just to keep their ship operational, and potentially top up supplies at every system with a suitable source of raw materials in case they hit a run of systems without. Not in isolation a bad gameplay design, but it would be extremely tricky to introduce now and would need Support to be very generous with the teleports for the "I logged off after DW2 and now that I'm back my ship is falling apart and I can't fix it" cases.



The other problem with high maintenance costs is that it discourages having fun with ships. At 350,000 credits per long-range jump in a Cutter (plus however much all the other modules cost in maintenance, of course):
  • that's basically ignorable for miners. Hundreds of millions worth of mined goods can easily absorb the few jumps needed to get to sell up
  • it's not a big problem for combat pilots either, who can just settle in a system with good combat opportunities for a while (though other module costs will get them, of course)
  • it's definitely on the painful side for traders. With 700t of cargo they need to make a profit of 500 credits per jump per tonne just to break even. That's possible, but rules out a lot of cargo types as uneconomical.
  • it adds up really quickly if you're doing something fun but not money-earning like sightseeing Guardian sites, or reading tourist beacons, or going canyon-racing, or just lounging around on a planet surface chatting.
The result is that Cutters aren't for having fun in, they're for min-maxed money earning and you then fly a Cobra III for having fun.

It also incentivises doing everything in the most boring way possible - with trading, you're losing 500cr/tonne/jump if you go fastest route. But if you go economic route and do ten jumps for every one, you only lose maybe 100cr/tonne/jump - so in exchange for seeing the jump screen ten more times, you get more profit. In exchange for not boosting or even raising the throttle over 25% in supercruise or normal space, you take a lot longer to get to the station but save on wear and tear on drives, power distributor, etc. In exchange for driving around for hours refilling raw materials between trips, you can use an AFMU to cover the repairs instead.

I'm not saying that a game about careful micro-optimising resource levels so that they hold together long enough to do the next bit and get more resources can't be fun - just that Elite Dangerous clearly isn't in the survival genre, and it's far too late to move it to it now.
Explorers would be hit pretty hard, as it would turn long-range exploration into an actual survival game rather than simply tourism. Small journeys would be fine though, with a decent FSD a budding explorer could quite easily head out to a nearby nebula such as the Coal Sack, while further afield Nebulae around the 5000ly mark would be reachable with an AFMU or two. Only super-long distance exploration would require the full "living off the land" playstyle, which would add some much needed difficulty to exploration as it is pretty risk free at the moment.

Existing explorers and their stripped-down AFMUless ships would have to be considered, but that could easily be solved by simply only invoking the changes upon docking at a station to ensure that they aren't stranded. Alternatively, they could simply ask every player when they log in whether they wish to be teleported to the nearest station or whether they are happy with their current load out in the black.

The costs I mentioned were actually relating to the cost of outright buying the module divided by the amount of integrity it has, not necessarily the actual cost of repairing it. I just used that metric because the cost of repairing a module scales based on its buying price, so the buying prices can be used for direct comparisons for running costs. Considering how even the rebuy is only 5% of a module's cost, even an increased repair cost would likely be around 2.5% of the buying price to fully repair a broken module. This would put a Cutter down to 8.9K per jump with an A-rated FSD, which is minor on its own but can add up over time as well as the other modules would contribute additional operating costs. This is also assuming that module costs don't get a wholesale rebalance in the future to account for the ongoing income inflation.

Other professions would obviously draw their maintenance costs from different things gradually decaying during use. As you pointed out, combat has plenty of opportunities for a ship to break down over time as it places huge amounts of stress on almost every module other than the FSD; their FSD might emerge unscathed, but an intensive bout in a CZ might leave your thrusters, distributor, weapons and shield (and maybe other modules too) looking pretty worn out even if your shields never go down. Mining would be an issue, as you don't really do anything intensive that would place stress on the ship systems and core mining even places less stress on limpet controllers and the refinery than traditional mining on top of having completely crazy income rates, the only possible avenue of cost adding would be to make the seismic charges themselves very expensive to rearm; either way, mining needs a serious review on the profit it generates either way.

Ships can be used to have fun, particularly the cheaper ones. High operating costs would mean that players would want to use the smaller, cheaper ships to mess around in rather than their main flagships. If you want to go sightseeing or canyon racing, then do it in a DBX or Eagle rather than your Anaconda (plus, who goes canyon racing in a big ship anyway?). It would encourage players to mothball their flagships, letting their other, more efficient ships shine for the normal duties while the flagships get brought out for big events and tasks that a normal ship wouldn't be capable of doing. It's the same in any economic game, you use the cheap and expendable units/vehicles/tech when messing around and save the expensive stuff for actually getting stuff done. It's just like in real life how Destruction Derbys are a thing, but you will note that they always include a full roster of dirt-cheap cars rather than event organisers sending fancy supercars into the ring.

Elite dangerous, in the early days, used to be a game about economic survival. Every action you took had to be carefully considered regarding the risk/reward and, if you played the cards poorly, you could easily end a 6 hour session with less total wealth than you went in with even when you were trying to earn. Nowadays, you pretty much have to actively go out of your way to lose money.
 
Hum that kind of low on mining I AVG 300 Million per Python load 🤪

I feel the problem is Mining and Exploration pays too high and needs a nerf and Combat is just right. Or at least nerf Mining to what Exploration is and Bump up Combat payouts.

I'm a weirdo that likes the solitude and time in mining and yes, it's WAY over-paid right now or at least the high-value stuff is way too common. I mostly stick to Platinum hotspots and bring in a mix of Platinum, Osmium, and Palladium. Maybe some Gold if I just need to top off the hold. That usually nets me about 2 to 4 million for an hour spent filling up 64 tons. I deliberately stay away from the gold-rush stuff unless I just stumble into it. But that haul feels pretty right for the effort. Hauling in 24 to 50 million a pop seemed 'gamey'. No way anything that rare and in demand could pay that much if we are hauling it in by the hundreds of tons an hour.

Shooting stuff seems a terrible living really, you just have to enjoy the shooting more than wanting to make money.
 
And while you're at it, Frontier, increase maintenance costs, refuelling costs and re-painting, etc. - they're ridiculously low. 10 credits to repaint a hull; a few thousand for rearming missiles, etc. Honestly, the pricing of various things in the game are completely unbalanced, and out of touch with what the reality of the situation would probably be!

I also agree here. Getting your 100 million credit ship torn to shreds costs a couple of 10's of thousands? Come on! It's funny, coming from X3 where the cost to repair was straight up percentage of cost of the ship, this seems like the other end of that pendulum. Getting you but kicked and slipping away should hurt. Needing to repair 60% of your ship should be approaching the rebuy cost. In fact I'd say that after that point it IS a rebuy, just without the loss of cargo and data since you brought the hull back.
 
You could always just spend time doing the activity you enjoy the most, regardless of money.
A fair few people have posted here about being billionaires with nothing to do.
Enjoy the journey.
 
Agree with OP 100%, Combat needs a buff and mission completion requirements / rewards need a fix... badly. Either that or Nerf the hell out of the other professions. Either way, fix missions though please - those are pretty bad.

I don't mind if other professions make more money than combat, that's fine. It just shouldn't be that far out of proportion.
 
Elite dangerous, in the early days, used to be a game about economic survival. Every action you took had to be carefully considered regarding the risk/reward and, if you played the cards poorly, you could easily end a 6 hour session with less total wealth than you went in with even when you were trying to earn. Nowadays, you pretty much have to actively go out of your way to lose money.
How early are we talking here?

The first triple Elite - which will have included a billion in trade profit, among other earnings - was achieved about a month after the 1.0 release.
The NPC AI in 1.0 was pretty terrible and stayed that way for quite a while.
I didn't make money particularly fast [1] in those days, but I never actually lost money on a session (and didn't take a single PvE rebuy until 2.0)

What's changed is not that the game has got easier economically - it has, a little, but only a little - but that you are considerably better at playing it than you were several years ago. But there's no way Frontier can adjust the difficulty to make it permanently challenging for you without making it impossible for beginners to get anywhere


[1] EDIT: and when I say I didn't make money particularly fast, this is from the perspective of someone who's played a lot since the 1.1 release and still only has 3.5 billion in net assets (it helps that I find the big ships not particularly fun to fly). I've never optimised my earnings - and that should be fine, not a sign that I need to multiply my earning rate by ten just to cover operational costs.
 
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How early are we talking here?

The first triple Elite - which will have included a billion in trade profit, among other earnings - was achieved about a month after the 1.0 release.
The NPC AI in 1.0 was pretty terrible and stayed that way for quite a while.
I didn't make money particularly fast in those days, but I never actually lost money on a session (and didn't take a single PvE rebuy until 2.0)

What's changed is not that the game has got easier economically - it has, a little, but only a little - but that you are considerably better at playing it than you were several years ago. But there's no way Frontier can adjust the difficulty to make it permanently challenging for you without making it impossible for beginners to get anywhere
you're trying to employ logic against an argument that basically boils down to "the way other people are enjoying the game doesn't match up with how I want to enjoy the game, so their way of enjoying the game should be made unviable"
 
Actually, I've got an idea. Make mining or hauling anything of significant value EXTREMELY dangerous. Send a bunch of Elite NPC highly engineered pirate ships after those players relentlessly. The only possible way to do those activities would be to wing up with combat pilots and share the wealth (make that possible too). Make it so those Elite NPC's go after those exploration ships for there data after returning from those long exploration trips... that would be awesome!
 
All professions, and all playstyles should be equal. If I don't like mining I shouldn't have to mine. The game should not force me to do things I don't enjoy.
Fortunately, the game isn't forcing you to do anything. IF you want to make as much money as possible in as short a time as possible, the game offers you ways to do that. It offers you mining. But you're not obliged to pursue immediate riches, that's your choice. You're not being forced to go after the most rapid source of money, you're not being forced to go after money at all beyond the most basic needs (which you definitely can cover through combat payments) - it's your choice.

If you don't like mining, don't mine.
 
How am I supposed to Fortify ALD on a mercenary's budget?

Besides, all of these posts saying that I "don't have to mine" are ignoring what is undoubtedly a massive unbalance in the game. There's no denying it, yet for some strange reason, there's a resistance to this fact.
 
Basically what you're all telling me (for the most part) is that "you can accomplish your goals the boring way, or you can accomplish you goals the fun way. It will just take 14x longer."

This trade off between fun and game progression is not good game design, I don't see how you could defend it.
 
Well, I'd be resistant to the notion that all play-styles should be equal.

No, no that's not so at all. Mining is definitely over-the-top right now but there is no reason why every player activity and niche should be equally compensated. I'd be just as opposed to that as I am the gold-rush mining thing going on.
 
I'm not saying they should all pay the same, I'm saying they should pay according to the time and credits invested and risk involved. Perhaps I didn't make that clear.

At least you can see mining is monstrous tho
 
It is.... It breaks the fun of working towards the ships and gear you want if in three days you've hauled in 500,000,000 credits. That's why I almost instantly stopped doing it.

My Kraite is still needing modules? Why? Because the Asp X I bought is paying the bills and I had make some compromises on the fun-gunner. Takes a while at 3M a haul to pay for that armor! It also feels more meaningful if you have to put in some effort and time.

For me anyway.
 
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Elite trade rank does not feel like the accomplishment it should be.

Normally I would be perfectly happy ignoring mining and just shooting stuff in my dirt cheap Viper MkIV. But now I'm trying to fort so LL can get that medal on PS4... Quickly burned through all my funds, and I realized just how much combat pilots are getting shafted compared to miners. There's no way I can compete with other Forters who mine.
 
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