First off, thank you for your interest in PvP. It’s neither an exaggeration to say that we’re the smallest sub-community of Elite Dangerous, nor that it’s the most challenging career in the game; it can literally take you years to learn. That being said: it’s an incredibly rewarding career as it can and will push your flying skills like no other.
In Elite Dangerous all player activity in some way has an effect on the game others are playing. Regardless of game mode, the Background Simulation pits players who are supporting factions and powers against each other; usually mediated through Player vs. Environment (PvE) activity.
Styles of Play
Player vs. Player combat (PvP) refers to any conflict resolved by intentionally causing the surrender, retreat or destruction of another human player from the same in-space instance.
If you’ve ever wanted to dive into PvP but had no idea where to start then this guide will give you tips on how to build your first PvP ship, the different types of PvP and where to go to find your first fights. This guide will also connect you to Discord servers belonging to veteran PvP pilots, help you find and organize fights, and get advice for flying and ship builds.
So PvP is essentially the same as ganking, right? If you’ve spent a modest amount of time on the forums this is probably the opinion that some come to hold of this career choice. In fact, there are many different types of PvP, each with their own unique skill sets and communities. The four main types of PvP can be broken down into:
- Ganking—where players seek imbalanced fights with opponents that often aren’t looking to engage in PvP. Often these pilots are seeking easy kills where the risk of death is not presented to the player being targeted.
- Piracy—the use of various gameplay mechanics or social ploys to coerce or trick a mark out of goods to then be sold or traded for a profit.
- Organic—where either acting individually or with a wing, you are in supercruise looking for fights with like-minded individuals.
- Organized—where you meet up at an agreed-upon area to fight. Often encouraged are balanced capabilities in opposing wings.
This guide is focused on Organic and Organized PvP. Ganking and Piracy—as explicitly outlaw or lawless activities—may be explained in a later guide.
Most people see the pinnacle of combat through the lens of PvE efficiency: parading a giant Corvette or Cutter with gimballed multi-cannons and beam lasers. However, this is a surefire way to eat a continuous 50 million credit rebuy if you’re new to PvP.
For your first PvP ship, most veterans will recommend a Fer-de-Lance (FDL) fitted with Prismatic shields, five shield boosters, and a modest jump range for ‘Organic’ PvP.
You could also try a “tournament fit” 2D frame-shift drive (FSD) and a stripped-down fuel tank for an extra one or two m/s speed, which you may see in Organized PvP.
These builds are about as beginner-friendly as you can get in PvP. There are no shield cell banks to worry about, it’s easy to manage heat, has decent damage per second (DPS) output, a versatile weapon choice and a good solid health pool that will keep you alive and making mistakes much longer than many other builds.
There are several places you can go to for your first fights. For Organic PvP:
- Shinrarta Dezhra is the main hotspot to find fights, although you do need at least one Elite rank in either Combat, Trade or Exploration to access there.
- Deciat can be a popular hangout for Gankers, so that’s not a bad spot to find fights if you can’t access Shinrarta.
- If there is an active Community Goal (CG) system then that will also be popular. Community Goals are time-sensitive, narrative-based missions custom set by Frontier Developments. They focus on player activity in a specific system for the duration. Usually, they will feature trade, bounty hunting or conflict zones and draw a lot of interest from PvPers due to the high population density.
- Some systems relevant to Power Play can also be occasional hotspots. Connecting to Power Play groups would be the best way to find out where those are and when they’re active.
If there are opposing wings in supercruise, you’ll probably want a wing yourself, to avoid being killed quickly for a limited learning experience. Depending on the disposition of other combatants, you may be able to ask for a 1v1 instead of taking on a whole wing.
Often, people try to outdo the damage output of their opponents by simply dropping more pilots into the fight for cheap kills. Try to avoid this: you really want to be pushing your skills by fighting on even terms as much as you can. You learn very little by pushing for 8v2 fights where the sheer weight of numbers makes up for poor technique and weak builds.
For Organized PvP, there are two main Discord servers that are currently the best places to find fights:
- Most days you can find PvP’ers hanging out in San Tu, the home system of the ‘PVP Hub’. The channels here allow you to register for fights with others in the same system. San Tu boasts some dense icy rings to fight in, a Coriolis Starport within a couple of light seconds to respawn at, and is only a few jumps away from Shinrarta Dezhra.
- There’s also the ‘Elite Community Combat Events’ (ECCE) Discord, which hosts a number of different weekly and the occasional spotlight PvP events. The regular events include Screaming Eagles Sparring in San Tu, Wizards of Aus in G 141-21, and Scenic Fight Night which is hosted at various scenic locations around the Bubble.
Scenic Fight Night showcases some of the most spectacular places to blow up in the bubble – such as this event which was held in Diso.
Which to Choose?
Personally, I feel Organized PvP is an easier route to learning if you’re brand new to PvP. It’s more structured, and the teams will be balanced so that you’re not up against PvP veterans on your own. The opportunity to fly with experienced PvP’ers without getting blown up in the first four minutes is generally the best way to find space to learn.
Organic PvP can be kind of a crapshoot. Sometimes you’ll be up against another brand-new PvP’er, sometimes you’ll be fighting someone who could take out your entire wing by themselves. If you’re new, you usually don’t know the opponents well enough to tell whether or not it’s a fight you should be taking in the first place.
The best way to gauge if you’re fighting the correct skill level pilots or not is that you should have a win-to-loss ratio of about 1 to 1. When you are brand new you’ll probably be losing quite a bit more than half but that’s okay, as long as you’re having fun and trying to take away something from each fight.
There are several Discords I recommend using for advice on flying, but I typically tell people to start with the ‘Galactic Combat Initiative’ (GCI). In GCI, you can post videos of your fights and ask for critique from experienced PvP pilots and eventually give advice yourself once you’ve learned a fair bit.
It will inevitably be a much steeper learning curve than anything else you’ve done in Elite up until this point. Just be open to learning, acknowledge that PvP is fundamentally different from PvE combat and keep a level head. You’ll be out there fighting with the pros soon enough.