Oh, Cobra Mk. III, icon of my childhood and versatile chariot of the stars, why do you hate me so?
An early goal I’d set myself was to get into the signature ship of the original Elite. In Elite: Dangerous terms, it offers a solid platform to experiment with a variety of playstyles: bounty hunting, trading, exploration – it can do it all. But ever since I bought one, I’ve had nothing but bad luck, leading me further and further into debt.
Admittedly, it started with a degree of over-exuberance on my part. After making my purchase and spending far too much of my remaining credit balance on pimping it out, I was eager to get out on its maiden voyage and test out my shiny new Cobra Mk. III.
With a complacency undeserved by my pitiful piloting skills, I performed my usual high-speed launch from within a space station: a quick vertical blast to clear the launch-pad, engines gunned to max, landing gear up and the turbo hit to shoot through the letterbox-shaped exit like a rocket. But wait a moment? That exit looks awfully black. I still don’t know what kind of ship I had the head-on collision with, but judging by my almost instant explosion, it was far bigger than me.
|Sharp-eyed observers will notice this isn’t a Cobra cockpit, but you get the idea.|
Having had to take out a loan to avoid finding myself back in a lowly Sidewinder, my second Cobra outing started off well. After flying to the nearest planetary belt and finding a busy extraction point filled with miners, police ships and the occasional troublemaker, I started to really get the hang of combat (or so I thought). Sidewinder after sidewinder fell to my pulse lasers, while my inability to hit the side of barn with my fancy new cannon perhaps gave me a hint that I wasn’t quite the killing machine I’d begun to think I was. It was a hint I chose to ignore. The first Cobra pilot with a price on his head soon educated me otherwise. Scratch another Cobra (and thousands in uncollected bounty rewards).
A new Cobra required new prey. After swapping out the cumbersome cannon for a pair of gimbled multicannons, I returned to the asteroid belt and warmed up on a few Sidewinders, much happier with my ship’s ordnance.
Then, I stumbled across a pair of gigantic Anacondas whose misdemeanors had already drawn the attention of the local enforcement patrol. As the bulky vessels lumbered through the belt, smaller ships nippling at them like piranhas, I decided to get in on the action. Tearing toward them with all guns blazing, I watched as their shields just shrugged.
I did manage to get a couple of good salvoes into my target before my screen suddenly filled with a criss-cross of laser fire, all coming straight at me! How many guns on those things? Enough to rip my shields away in seconds, it seemed. Nose bloodied, I did a quick about-turn and managed to get out of range to lick my wounds.
|Also not an actual shot of the action described, but mashing the screenshot button just wasn’t a priority. Sorry.|
At this point, the sensible thing would have been to find somewhere to dock and repair and that was initially my intention, until my ship’s computer announced ‘target shields depleted’. How could I resist a siren call like that?
I dived back into the fray and unleashed the full fury of all my pop guns. The combined damage of my attack and several others slowly whittled away at the Anaconda’s hull. The giant vessel changed course, heading deeper into the asteroid field in an attempt to escape. With its hull integrity down to nearly 50% I suddenly found myself the focus of its fire again.
At that point I suspected things were about to end badly for me when the Anaconda suddenly ploughed straight into an asteroid whilst under my fire. The sight of the glorious explosion and the blackened Anaconda hull fragmenting into pieces and spiralling away was made all the sweeter by the announcement that the kill had earned me 58,000 credits, over twenty times the kind of bounty I was used to (and far more than I had in my account).
This was the one time I didn’t allow my hubris to get the better of me (I briefly considered taking on the second Anaconda) and immediately returned to a station to capitalise on my good fortune.
My good luck didn’t last.
I have since lost at least three Cobras, variously to:
- A security vessel flying straight through my line of fire as I bore down on a kill, quickly seeing me eviscerated by the irate copper and his colleagues. That’s entrapment!
- A panicked attempt to dock while being scanned with illegal cargo on board (why is it ‘stolen’ if I found it laying around in space? What about salvage rights?), resulting in me bouncing around inside the docking bay before getting hosed by the sprinkler system of doom.
- An anti-climactic end to an epic (read: hilariously inept slow-boat circling) engagement between me and another Cobra pilot which was going to the wire until he decided to commit seppuku on my windscreen, sending us both into oblivion.
I still love my Cobra though, even if it’s propelling me to bankruptcy.
|Put some clothes on love! (Still not a relevant screenshot, aside from the fact that on one disastrous launch attempt this was where I ended up.)|
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