You have a ship with virtually no equipment. Take her and trade among the different star systems. You can be safe and trade on razor-thin margins among the safe systems, or take some risks and trade with anarchic systems while watching out for pirates. You can save on fuel costs by buying a fuel scoop and fly near the sun, but again, watch out for pirates! Or be a pirate yourself and raid other ships… Don’t get a bad rep as the police will come after you…
Dock with space stations and do your trades (some may take contraband…) Upgrade your ship with your proceeds with better weapons, shields, and other equipment. With 8 different galaxies, each with HUNDREDS of planets, there are plenty of room for exploration! Can you …
…make your reputation all the way up to "elite"?
Trading is a big part of life in Elite. Lucrative gains can be made by dealing in illegal good and profit is plentiful on feudal worlds if you can get to the space station alive. Pirates wait in groups and will do everything they can to relieve you of your cargo. Speaking of pirating, you can also try your own hand at it but don’t expect the police to turn a blind eye. In this game your legal status is important, though not as imperative as your ranking system. You start out as "HARMLESS" and after a few kills become known as "MOSTLY HARMLESS" right through until you reach ELITE.
The first thing you’ll need is a docking computer. Not only does this play 'The Blue Danube' as you dock, it also saves you having to take your ship in manually and... well, die usually. It's not easy. After that it's a good idea to upgrade the ship – in particular your weapons. Missions crop up every now and then but sadly not often enough. The action can wear thin but the ranking system keeps you interested. Often imitated but yet to be bettered (this includes its sequels – Frontier and Frontier – First Encounters (Amiga/PC)) Elite remains one of the most memorable games ever coded.
If you’ve got the time, patience and imagination, strap yourself into the pilot’s seat, take an ample supply of food and water (you’re not leaving your emulator for a while, buddy) and enjoy yourself.