The pilot ranks in Elite Dangerous offer two primary rewards. The Pilots Federation ranks all pilots in the galaxy on a scale from Harmless to Elite. These in-game ranks can be both bragging rights, and have in-game impact. Earning higher ranks can unlock more powerful ships and weapons, but also tougher missions. Those wishing to stick with the game long-term need to know what to expect.
Each rank is broken down into a category. Certain in-game factions also have ranks attached. Each rank also carries its own insignia, with a unique color that gives you an easy to differentiate each ranking in Elite. Here are the basics of how each activity-based rank works.
Any and all combat activities can give you XP for this job. Random combat encounters count, but as do bounty missions and escorts. Anytime you destroy another ship, you get better at combat. Combat ranks are one of the easiest things to level up in the game. When you’re out and about, you’re sure to get shot at, just get used to shooting back.
Defeating pilots with higher Combat ranks rewards a greater amount of experience. That means it might be a good thing to try taking on tougher foes if you think you can handle it.
- Mostly Harmless
This is the job for the market-minded fan of Capitalism. You can earn ranks and sub-professions in Trader by engaging with the in-game economy. Trader encompasses multiple sub-roles, including Courier, Miner, Passenger Carrier, Salvager, and Smuggler.
Mining missions and rewards also count a bit. So go out and mine some rock, make a profit, and earn Trader ranks. You can also earn XP for these ranks by just making profit on any other trades. Finally, missions involving passengers and other cargo can earn Trader pilot ranks in Elite Dangerous.
- Mostly Penniless
Turning in exploration data gained from scanning stars and planets is the fastest way to gain Explorer ranks. This gives you the opportunity to earn income and gain reputation by making pioneering jumps into unexplored systems and gathering data on planets, stars, points of interest and signal sources within said area.
Exploring within the “bubble” of humanity is a good way to get trained in how to scan, jump and fuel up properly. Any long-term explorer must be an expert at managing their ship and fuel. Getting stuck out in the space boonies with no fuel is a bad time.
Exploring planets with the SRV is also a good way to rank up. Getting further out into the dark reaches of space yields more XP when doing this.
- Mostly Aimless
Mercenary ranks are earned through combat and infiltration On Foot activities. These include the new on-foot missions in settlements on planets, primarily. This is one of two sub-ranks added to the game in the Oddysey expansion.
- Mostly Defenceless
A secondary consideration within this mode of play is CQC ranks. These PvP mode ranks are completely different, and there are 49 in all to earn. Players must take part in the PvP shooter sections to earn XP on these ranks. Players will fly dedicated fighters and small craft around, playing in squad-based deathmatches.
The second of the new careers added in Elite Dangerous‘ Odyssey expansion. Of the other pilot ranks in Elite Dangerous, this one is arguably the most unique. Instead of focusing on trading and combat, you’re building a rep as a researcher. Throughout the both on-foot and pilot missions, you will sometimes encounter foreign samples and other scientific data. The ranks in Exobiologist involve turning this data over to a Vista Genomics facility.
- Mostly Directionless