Early Game

A Few Words for New Pilots

‘Never fly without a rebuy, and… bring a towel.’

A note of caution: Whilst E:D is a living game, it grows rather slowly, like a pine tree on the Siberian steppe. If you are of an impatient bent, and aren’t content playing extended periods solo, we advise not climbing into this cockpit, CMDR. If you are not put off by this, then please do read on!

At the outset, game progression involves amassing the credits to move up to better ships. The Early game draws to a close as you try out diverse activities, build skills in those areas and then begin tailoring your ships to specific tasks. In the mid-game, you will master some elements of play, and continue to rank up whilst also hopefully experiencing some memorable emergent gameplay moments. By Late game, you will end up with a fleet of ships with each one suited to a purpose and then go on to likely debate yourself as to whether your ship collection would be better housed in a vast mobile fleet carrier. But that is for later. Much later.

Beyond fresh early-game encounters, long-term absorbing experiences from the game will likely come from either setting your own goals, or taking part in some of the diverse multiplayer activities, perhaps joining a squadron, mentoring or role-playing. The Fatherhood advocates avoiding imposing a ‘grind’ on yourself by trying to ‘mainline’ the game content—that’s what life often offers up after all. Striving to achieve the end-game content—ships and engineering mainly—as fast as possible may lead to burn-out. We feel your time with the game will be more compelling, more rewarding if you let things come in the course of play.

With 100 hours plus invested, the game starts to truly shine and you may hear others utter the phrase: “There’s a frood who really knows where his towel is.”

Just Starting Out

Three Quick Tips for making early progress:

Don’t play just the first tutorial. Look under the Training section. The on-boarding experience for new-players has been drastically improved in current releases of the game. This training sandbox is always available to hone your skills, so use it.

Start with the mission board, to ease in with a low-risk approach to game, but be selective in the mission types taken on, as many are poorly balanced. Be sure to check in-system arrival distances (in ls).

Encrypted Data Delivery or Data Courier missions are a good starter. The digital data needs to be shipped from one station to another, and doesn’t take up any cargo space. You can take on up to 20 jobs at a time, if available. Should your ship be destroyed en-route, you will not lose the data or fail the mission, making it a low-risk affair. Stick to systems from the same factions to increase faction reputation and unlock the ability to take higher-value missions.

After you’ve made a decent amount of credits, you can remain as a courier, or begin to expand your fleet and buy and outfit a more specialized ship. Piloting either a passenger-carrying, combat or exploration ship, you can start having some fun across a range of activities such as bounty hunting, mining, exploring deep space etc.

Play how you want. The important thing to remember is there is no right way to play E:D, there are however, more efficient strategies to help you advance and make strides across the galaxy. The following provide just a taster of the main roles you can take starting-out, but each receives a dedicated chapter later in this codex.

Paths to Glory

Passenger-transit, Exploration, Trading or Combat?

One or more of these mainstream paths are all open to be pursued from the early-game and are just a taste of the vast range of opportunities open to the novice CMDR:

Passenger Rescue or Tourism Missions

Tour Operator and passenger rescue roles are lucrative and can build superpower reputation fast. See Robigo Mines Passenger Missions chapter.

Remember: Bigger ship = more profit, but large ships restrict you to Starports L Pads, so no Outposts so:

Upgrade ship as you go to make more. Type-6 (M) -> Python (M) -> Anaconda (L) is a sound, common ship sequence amongst others. Remember squadron members get access to tuned ship-builds at the Fatherhood Shipyard.


Exploration of the galaxy is perhaps the unique offer of E:D.

With a peerless ship-handling model and a 1:1 simulation of the milky way, the game lends itself to the serene pacing of long-haul travel punctuated by the excitement of unique discoveries with music/spoken-word audio/friends along for the journey to various galactic nebula. See The “Real” Codex, Find Amazing Sights Easily. The exploration chapter later expands on this, but one key tip when starting-out:
Never go exploring without a detailed surface scanner and the best fuel scoop you can buy. A heat sink for emergencies is recommended.


A mainstay of gameplay that grows in scope and scale from the early game with increasing risk/reward on offer from large hauls.

With a large ship, cargo-hauling is one of the most lucrative careers in E:D. If you stay as a hauler, the rhythm of the game will be slower than other activities. Many CMDRs find this very satisfying when paired with consumption of podcasts/audio-books or ‘second-screen’ media outside the game.

The in-game economy evolves as part of the background simulation (BGS), so to generate good returns as a merchant, use an online tool such as Inara Market to find the best trade loops near your location.
Capacity dictates profits, so work your way up to a Type-6, then Keelback, Type-7, and finally Type-9. Remember squadron members get access to tailored trading ship-builds and more at the Fatherhood Shipyard. Strip them down and upgrade your FSD as far as possible. Carrying Cargo decreases your jump range significantly. It might not seem significant, but an extra half a light year of jump range can shave off many jumps for a long-range trade.

! Permits are needed in order to be able to travel to certain star systems, that can be earned by reputation building with the system-controlling faction.

! Be wary of pirates, in laden ships it can be difficult or impossible to avoid interdiction. Learn to jump away quickly enough with the superbly deadpan Git Gud Guide to Trading in Open.


Fun, risky, and more profitable since re-balanced. For a low-risk start, shadow the system security force ships in a High-Intensity Resource Extraction Zone (High RES) and land at least one shot on a ‘wanted‘ target under-fire to earn the kill bounty.  See the Combat and Mercenary Work chapter for more.

Worthwhile credit-wise since November 2020 when Bounty Voucher values were increased by between four and ten times their original values in a balancing pass and especially so when flying in a wing.

A Kill Warrant Scanner will maximize potential bounty gains. In Anarchy (unpopulated) systems it is required to scan ships, else all targets will come up Clean. However in default form its impractical in use, as its scanning cone is very narrow before Engineering. Engineered Fast scans brings time down to 2s.

PvE Combat Missions are worthwhile if you’re already doing that activity or if you can find a region to Mission-stack. Mission-stacking means being rewarded more than once for each kill—or assisted-kill—as long as they are from different factions. See PVE missions systems – to list systems that give pirate massacre missions in only one ‘Target‘ system. Stacking then adds multiple rewards on top of getting the bounty voucher for the kills. For further explainers—including an AFK PVE Combat Meta—and some examples see under Combat and Mercenary Work.

Earning Credits Early on

A Rapid ascent from humble beginnings

Earning Credits in the Early Game. For Earning Solo in a nutshell: Once you leave the starter Area:- Follow the “Road to Riches” and then do “Robigo mines passenger missions” (Video)

‘Road to Riches’

Follow the “Road to Riches” exploration route with a Detailed Surface Scanner. Water and Earth-Like Worlds Ammonia Planets are a good chunk of change, in fact anything ‘Terraformable.’ With a little patience you can easily make upward of a 100M Cr with a 100 system scanning loop. Outfitting note: The Detailed Surface Scanner, used to map planets is equipment you won’t have access to until after you leave the beginner area.

⁞⁞⁞ ED-Scout Plugin. Profitable Scanning for Explorers … ⁞⁞⁞

ED-Scout. If you are on PC and using E:D Market Connector(ED:MC) or similar to link up to an external BGS website, then the ED-Scout plugin is strongly recommended for explorers. It is companion app to simplify finding unexplored worlds. Whilst there is no guarantee that the system you’re about to leap into is definitely new, it certainly improves the chances. The tool shows high-value systems along the currently plotted Nav Route to quickly show you some profitable scanning targets within range (along the lines of the road to riches but with less typing).

‘Robigo mines passenger missions’

“Robigo mines passenger missions” – This is the big-earner. Take a Python and turn it into a stripped down flying passenger cabin suite and head to Robigo Mines. Be sure to explore along the way though! Once you hand in your Exploration data you’ll get enough Rep so that you’ll unlock the good Passenger Missions to “Sirrius Atmospherics.” Grab every passenger mission you can from all three factions destined for Sirrius Atmospherics and ONLY Sirrius Atmospherics.  

⁞⁞⁞ Robigo mines passenger missions. Make 60-120 mill/h Cr … ⁞⁞⁞

Sirius Atmospherics Sothis – from Robigo Mines:

  1. Max your ship with Business and Economy Passenger Cabins. You won’t need cabins bigger than 16
  2. Supercruise assist module is a plus, so that you can shuttle hands-off and can use the high-speed approach trick knowing the module will assist with pulling you out of supercruise at your destination.
  3. You can run this without a shield or fuel scoop. A decent Python with 23 ly jump will make the trip in 3 jumps, outfitted with one each of the following passenger cabins: Economy comprising 32+16+8+4 cabins, 16 Business + one 12 First Class + one 6 First Class. No shields, no scoop, no Guardian FSD booster – all stripped for max passenger capacity.
  4. Choose only the Sirius Atmospherics mission destination—as it’s closest, it has the highest payout/hr taking into account travel-time.
  5. Set a course for Sothis: Your goal is Sothis A 5, specifically the Sirius Atmospherics beacon on the far side of the planet. Your first time there, you need to be within 1,000 ls for the beacon to appear in your navigation panel. Once you’ve locked in your approach to the beacon, drop out of supercruise when you’re within range and immediately target the beacon. You’ll get mission update messages when done. Set a return course back to Robigo Mines again and leave.
  6. You will soon ally with the factions if selecting reputation++ as your main reward, then Credits. Once allied, higher-value missions are offered to you.
  7. Just quietly ignore any passenger request message. DO NOT REFUSE the request to avoid lowering your reputation.
  8. To protect passenger privacy, as soon as you get the ‘SCAN DETECTED’ alert — pop a heat sink.
  9. On completion, choose the Grade 5 Encoded Data and Manufactured Materials as reward options.
  10. As you visit the tourist beacon each time, you will increase your explorer rank around ~1% per trip.

expect 12-24 million per trip, or over 120million per hour with an optimally outfitted python