Rob Lake reviews Elite Dangerous: Fleet Carriers…
Over the past couple of weeks I have been fortunate enough to take part in the second beta test for the Fleet Carrier update that is coming soon to space-faring sim Elite Dangerous. Whilst not a review in the traditional sense this is a run down of what you can expect when the vessel comes to Elite Dangerous in June 2020.
The Drake-Class Carrier – more commonly known as “Fleet Carrier” is the newest creation of the in-game Brewer Corporation and it is the corporation’s first foray into ship building. The carrier is the largest and most expensive ship that’s currently available in Elite Dangerous and costs an eye watering 5,000,000,000 Credits. However this is just the base amount and coupled with buying optional services such as a Shipyard and Maintenance bays then you can easily add a few more zeroes to the original number.
The Drake-Class Carrier is quite rightly classified as a Capital Class ship. This means that it behaves slightly different to the normal ships that players get to pilot. Pilots are currently restricted to owning one fleet carrier and they do not pilot it directly like a conventional ship. Each Carrier possesses 16 total landing pads: 8 large, 4 medium, and 4 small. The owner controls the docking permissions, and can restrict who may dock. This can be based on a number of factors such as Fleet membership and whether the player has an active wanted level on their ship. The vessels also come with a staggering total cargo capacity of 25,000 tonnes, which is used to store commodities and accommodate the optional infrastructure that can be acquired. Defensively a Fleet Carrier also comes equipped with 20 defence turret emplacements to ward off any would be attackers, although they can not be destroyed.
Like other Capital Class ships the Fleet Carrier comes equipped with a Capital Class Frame Shift drive. It has a maximum jump range of 500LY and has a 1000 tonne Tritium fuel capacity. The Carrier can jump to any system available and owners can schedule a jump any time they wish providing they have the resources required.
Jumps can be plotted through both the System Map and the Galaxy Map and doing both have different outcomes. If you plot a course via the System Map you can select a planet in the System as the destination. However if the Galaxy Map is used then the Carrier will arrive at a random location within the system. Once the owner schedules a jump, there is a 15-minute buildup period immediately preceding the jump, followed by a 5-minute cool down period after the jump completes. During the buildup period, the Fleet Carrier broadcasts a system-wide announcement notifying local pilots of the imminent jump, and a signal source appears in the destination system to mark where the Fleet Carrier will arrive. This is handy for Pilots who maybe docked to the Carrier from being whisked up to 500LY from their home system. Each jump the vessel makes also administers small wear and tear to the vessel which incures an additional maintenance fee of 1000 credits which also contributes towards the overall running costs of the Carrier.
Fleet Carriers have a weekly upkeep cost starting at 5 million credits which then raises up to 25 million for a fully modified Carrier. This is paid for weekly out of the owners available credits or via tariffs put in place for the available services. If the owner falls behind with the upkeep payments and their Fleet Carrier accrues 250 million credits of debt then the Carrier will be marked for decommissioning and will ultimately be scrapped. Owners can also voluntary decommission their Carrier and can do so via the management menu. Once a Carrier enters it’s “pending decommissioned” status, the owner then has between one to two weeks to settle the vessels affairs and transfer any stored components from the vessel. Other players who have items in the storage bays will also be notified of the pending decommissioned status and will be able to retrieve their belongings. If an owner has their vessel decommissioned they are not barred from buying another Fleet Carrier and can do so straight away if they wish.
So as mentioned above, a Fleet Carrier can be equipped with optional services which can contribute to the vessels upkeep. These come in the form of:
- Redemption Office
- Universal Cartography
- Secure Warehouse
Any new services that owners wish to install onto their vessel can be purchased via the Carrier Administration service and these can be found a certain stations. Once a service has been activated it will become active straight away and will incur full running costs from the get go. Also its worth noting that the Carrier itself also has to be within the same system for services to be brought. Carrier Administration can also be used to sell off modules and restock existing services.
With the right set of tariffs in place and with the Fleet Carrier positioned in a populated system there is no reason that the ship couldn’t essentially pay for its self.
Its sadly not possible to purchase the Carrier from any system. A Starport that supports the Fleet Carrier can be identified via a Carrier Construction Dock that is always stationed a few kilometers away. Once purchased the Carrier will be placed within the system ready for deployment.
The introduction of the Drake-Class Carrierbrings a much needed fresh idea to the Elite Dangerous world. The sight of dropping out of Witch-Space (Hyperspace) right into the path of one of these gargantuan vessels is a thing of wonder. Whilst the purchase cost will already out price most Pilots (myself included), large groups such as the Fuel Rats will benefit exponentially from have one or two Carriers within their possession. Whilst the Drake-Class Carrier isn’t a vessel designed for combat it doesn’t need to be. With other vessels already filling that combat role.
The Fleet Carrier will be coming to Elite Dangerous 9th June and does not require purchase of the Horizons expansion to access.
+ Giant Spaceship!
+ With the right set-up you could make a lot of credits.
– Cost already out prices the casual player.
-Not enough purchase locations.
Reviewed on Xbox One X (also available for PS4 and PC).
Beta access was provided by the publisher.