Elite: Which Way is Home?

It’s been three months and eighteen days since we kicked off the Distant Worlds 2 Expedition. Tonight we will stream our final arrival at Beagle Point after a winding journey of around 100,000 light years. We’ll get there and take in the sights. We’ll get some screenshots. I’m sure I’ll wax poetic about the journey also being the destination. Someone will cry. It’ll be great.

Once we arrive, I’ll write a proper post about the expedition. There’s a lot to cover: the journey itself, the community, how it led me to start streaming regularly, what I’ve learned about myself, and more. But that’s not today’s post.

Right now I want to think about what happens the next morning.

Tomorrow, we’ll still be floating there, 65,000+ light years away from Earth, with no clear goal of where to go next. The obvious candidate will be to head home. But after months away from civilization, living in our Party Barge of an Anaconda, existing on resources we find out here in the black… I have to ask: where is home, anyway?

Where will that be? We have four main options. Marvel at this heat map showing the exploration routes of every known commander since the launch of the game. The main “highways” and populated areas become clear.

Exploration map of the Elite: Dangerous galaxy, as of 28 April 2019. Provided by https://edastro.com/mapchart/

I highly recommend going to https://edastro.com/mapcharts/ and watching the video versions of the maps. It’s amazing to watch the galaxy light up as players explore the galaxy, year after year, uncovering more and more as time passes.

The red/yellow “triangle” in the lower center of the map shows the most active areas of the galaxy. The reddest section is The Bubble, also known as the Core Systems. It’s the cradle of humanity. Earth is there.

Follow the line from 11:00 out of the bubble, and you get to the next brightest spot. That’s Colonia. It’s a second bubble, created when a station attempted to jump from the core systems to Beagle Point. Something went wrong, and it landed in a system just outside the galactic core. A new bubble of humanity has begun to expand from that system. There are now approximately 100 settlements in the Colonia area.

If you head due north from the Bubble, you get to the third red spot. That’s Sagittarius A, the great black hole at the center of the Milky Way. There’s one lone station nearby: Explorer’s Anchorage. We built that station as a part of the Distant Worlds 2 expedition! While it isn’t intended to serve as a long-term base of operations for players, it does offer basic services.

Those are three of the four places I feel could be Home, once we reach Beagle Point.

The fourth option isn’t on the map: The Black. Home becomes wherever we are. We don’t worry about getting back to civilization and simply stay out, picking new places to explore. That doesn’t mean we don’t swing by settlements sometimes, but we don’t base from anywhere specific.

Currently, my fleet of ships are based out of Jameson Memorial station, in the Shinrarta Dhezra system, smack in the middle of the bubble. We have easy access to anything and everything there. There are pirates, mining and trading opportunities, plenty of politics and conflicts to get into, and the Thargoids (utterly alien, powerful attackers) are advancing into human territory.

So what do we do?

  1. Go back to the Core Systems. Re-engage with the larger community. Trade, mine, fight. Help attacked stations (rescue missions,) defend against Thargoids, and ferry passengers and cargo. This is territory I know through and through, but for watchers, it offers the most opportunity to experience the full breadth of the game’s options. Exploration is a bit harder, because the area has been well traveled for years. All of our ships are here, and it’s easy to outfit new ones to do whatever we want.
  2. Move my fleet of 19 ships out to Colonia and set up a base of operations there. Colonia offers most of the same services as the Core Systems now. It’s like a well developed town in the Old West: you can find most of what you need, but you’re still on the edge of explored space. There are far fewer players, and no Thargoids. It’s harder to outfit new ships, but it can be done.
  3. Go set up at Explorer’s Anchorage in the Core. We lived here for a couple of weeks during the Expedition. It’s a serviceable home smack in the middle of millions of unexplored systems. There are few to no other players, no alien life, and not a lot to do other than mining and exploring. We won’t easily be able to change ships or get new equipment.
  4. Stay in the Black and keep exploring. Find a target we like, and go to it. Perhaps work our way back to the bubble and change over to a lightweight, fast, dedicated exploration only ship, then set off for the next year. Home is wherever we land each night.

You’ve all traveled enough with me that this journey is as much yours as mine, so I’m leaving the decision to my loyal viewers. Leave me a comment with what you’d like to see us do!

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