Bounty Hunting in Elite Dangerous is a very profitable way to earn credits and expand your arsenal, but it’s also dangerous and can be tough to do. It’s also the requirement of many missions, in which your goal is to take out various pirates and the such in either that system or a competing system. Therefore, it’s good to understand how Resource Extraction Sites work.

Now, Resource Extraction Sites have a lot of woo surrounding them, in the sense that there is a lot misinformation or wrong assumptions on how they operate and what they are in the vast huge world that is Elite Dangerous. To really understand RES, you must first understand that they’re an instanced zone where, when the first player joins, NPCs are then spawned. One set of NPCs are miners, who will instantly begin mining away at the nearby rocks. Pirates will spawn, often at the same time, and begin systematically searching the cargo holds of all nearby ships. Finally, internal security forces (the unaligned enforcers of the system) will spawn (in non-hazardous spawns) as well to do patrols, scanning ships for bounties.

RES are broken into low-intensity, regular, and high-intensity, with the hazardous moniker to denote that security forces will not respond to a crime in the sector. Hazardous zones are for players who don’t want to deal with NPCs coming in and farming their pirates, whereas non-hazardous zones for players who either want the NPCs around to help them take out pirates, or to let the NPCs engage pirates and tank, an especially sound strategy for new players wanting to earn credits fast.

Each of these groups of NPCs generally all follow the same basic protocol. Miners, once spawned, will mine the highest income rock near them. They will then mine until they get a full cargo, then depart, with another miner often coming to replace them. Miners leaving is rare, but you’ll see it sometimes. They will usually spawn with some minerals in their hold.

Pirates, once spawned, scan every ship (including you) to see the value of its hold. If you have something valuable for them to steal, they’ll engage you, otherwise, they’ll move through until they get to a miner that has a sufficient cargo hold for them to engage. Once they engage the miner, the security forces will often begin heading in that area (as a crime has happened) on non-hazardous RES. Otherwise, the miner and the pirate will fight it out.

This cycle continues, forever, until the instance either bugs out (this has happened to me where it goes completely stale) or you engage supercruise and there is no other player in the zone, or you log off and there is no other player in the zone. Once this occurs, the instance despawns, and when you log back in, you’ll get a fresh instance with new faces.

To properly bounty hunt, you must not engage anyone until you’ve affirmed that they’ve got a bounty or not. This just basically involves having them targeted and then waiting for your ship to scan them. A red WANTED will appear if they’re good to attack. Otherwise, they’re civilians, and you’ll get a bounty if you engage them. Likewise, after you get on friendly terms with the locals, the security forces will often be colored green, to help you avoid accidentally attacking them.

Once you see their wanted status, simply blast them away, then return to a local station to get your bounty rewards. If you use a kill-warrant scanner, you’ll often find additional bounties both locally in other systems. These are randomly generated.

Various ships have different bounties on them and spawns for ships can vary. If you find that the game is spawning only eagles and sidewinders, log off or engage supercruise, this will reset the system and allow you to reenter it. Although realistically, from my research on the subject, spawns are very much random and you’re likely to get a wide assortment of ships.

You can earn anything from 100,000 credits to about 3 to 5 million credits (assuming Power Play bonuses) an hour through bounty hunting. Farming non-hazardous RES will result in lots of pirates being defeated by security forces, but you’ll be able to take tougher hazards assuming something big like an Anaconda doesn’t target you (which it could). Hazardous RES are great for non-stop pirate farming, and for criminals, it’s the best place to attack miners.

Interestingly enough, there isn’t much reason to mine in either type of RES, as the pirates will be an ongoing problem. You can mine anywhere within the rings of a planet, and pirates are much less likely to come after you or even spawn 50 KM away from the RES beacon.

If you’re wondering what the best loadout is for fighting pirates, there is a lot of personal preference, but generally gimballed weapons help remove the fatigue of trying to aim, and any tanky combat oriented ship works well. Heavy on the shields, like the Imperial Courier, works very well, but ultimately I’ve found the vulture with 2 beam lasers to be the absolute best configuration so far.

That’s about all there is to RES and bounty hunting! The only thing left is to find a good spot – that’s up to you, there is a variety of spots but I’ve generally found most good RES’s to be near a station or outpost where you can repair and refuel real quick.


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Last Updated: Mar 14, 2016

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Get in the bush with David "Xerin" Piner as he leverages his spectacular insanity to ask the serious questions such as is Master Yi and Illidan the same person? What's for dinner? What are ways to elevate your gaming experience? David's column, Respawn, is updated near daily with some of the coolest things you'll read online, while David tackles ways to improve the game experience across the board with various hype guides to cool games.

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