Quick test to see if this copied right. Sorry to all who get notified.
Credit to u/mb34i for writing this and compiling links.
Goals in this game include:
Make some money. Any activity pays relatively well, but pretty much all of them scale up with the capabilities of your ship, so you won't make a lot of money if your ship is still the Sidewinder. Upgrade to better ships. "Better" is relative to the activity; "better" for trading is just "more cargo space", whereas "better" for combat is better everything (armor, shields, weapons, engines, etc.). As a result of this, some activities are very cheap to achieve, others are more expensive as you'll have to have a lot of expensive "better" gear in your ship to succeed.Gain elite rank in one of [exploration, trading, or combat]. Explo and trading are the easier ones. Elite gives you the permit to enter Shinrarta Dezhra and land at the Jameson Memorial station, which has all ships and all modules for sale at a discount. There is one other station that has this, Brestla - I Sola Prospect, but all ships and modules are at a markup, so you pay for the convenience.Gain naval ranks with the Federation of Earth and the Empire of Achenar so you can unlock their "military" ships and gain permits to enter their military star systems and their capital areas (Solar System, Achenar). The other empire, the Alliance of Independents, doesn't have ranks, and their ships aren't restricted access.Gather some engineering materials and unlock the Engineers. This is the "crafting system" that was introduced in the Horizons DLC. Each module in your ship that you modify gains up to 40% improved performance beyond the best A-rated, and overall a ship that has fully modded modules compounds their bonuses to some 2.4x (double) performance for the ship overall. Engineers are worth pursuing once you're mid-game (flying medium ships, with already maxed A-rated gear).Unlock special modules and weapons. Rail guns, plasma accelerators, guardian gauss cannons, etc. These require engineering mats too, sometimes in large quantities. You'll need these better weapons to be competitive in PVP or to fight the aliens that humanity is at war with - the Thargoids, who are immune to normal weapons, and do damage that requires special protections.Sign up with the Powers (That Be) and become their mercenary, to unlock ranks and gain access to their special weapons and modules, some of them are pretty good.Join a player squadron and help them with their goals. You can look through the official forums recruitment section, or on Reddit look through r/elitesquadrons and r/elitewings (for quick pick-up groups).Optionally, add your names to the map. The galaxy is huge, and hasn't been fully explored; you can find star systems that nobody's seen as close as 5000 - 7000 light-years from the bubble of human civilization, and if you're the first to scan and report your astro data to the governments (any station), your names will go on the map as "Discovered By: CMDR X" for all to see.
Here's some newbie guides and useful game-related sites.
And here's 0 to 100 million credits in 10 hours with trading.
Welcome to the game!