Elite Dangerous is a space simulator in which you play as a single player or in a group, a ship captain. You can take on missions from other players, or take on missions from within the game, by yourself. You can fly a variety of ships, from the humble trader to the luxurious capital ship, and each ship has their own characteristics and weaknesses. So, how does it play?

Frontier Developments just finished their second big update for Elite Dangerous, yet smaller than the first. The main focus of ED:O was the addition of the main storyline and side stories, which are all extremely well done. There are also a number of other changes, including the introduction of the Espresso machine and multiple new missions. There’s also a new faction, the Lave Alliance, which takes the place of the Thargoids. The update includes a new ship, the Viper MkIV, and a new fighter, the Thunderchild.

I recently purchased the demo version of Elite Dangerous in the hopes that it would be a fun distraction from the real world. I didn’t know what to expect, but I picked the game up anyway because it was on sale on Steam. I was prepared to be disappointed, but I wasn’t. I’ve been playing a lot of Elite Dangerous, and it has become a near constant companion. I’m surprised at how quickly I’ve picked up the basics of the game, and how much I’ve enjoyed it.

word-image-6367 The 3rd. June 2020, Frontier Developments has made an announcement that has fans of the Elite franchise hoping for new features. After decades of confining pilots to the cockpits of various Earth ships and rovers, the latest iteration of Elite (Dangerous) has released a stunning expansion that allows pilots to navigate the surface of planets, the interior of space stations, and various settlements and debris. The Odyssey DLC will not only add new visuals, sounds and systems to the existing game, but will also change the airscapes, add first-person shooter missions and integrate with the BGS (background simulation) system. As readers know, Odyssey came out on the PC platform in May 2021 (console users will have to wait until the fall) and has generated a lot of excitement – as well as discontent – in the community. Although the public alpha testing phase lasted only a few weeks, Frontier has assured us that the game is ready for release. I didn’t participate in the testing phase like Chris from MOP, and although I usually give new drops a few weeks to get used to them, the temptation to get off my spaceship proved too great. I made the dangerous decision to join Odyssey on day one. word-image-6368 After hitting the Odyssey button, I was treated to an introductory video in which an astronaut lands on the planet and looks at the horizon with wonder and excitement at the possibilities that lie ahead. The camera has pulled back. Was it a stutter? The camera moved back even further. The stutterer repeated. Throughout the opening clip, in which the soothing little astronaut eventually eclipses the word Odyssey, the stuttering occurs at regular intervals, accompanied by the sound of the hard drive metronome. Now my system of play is no longer anemic. I built it last year with an i7 processor and an NVIDIA 2080 Super GPU. Yet Frontier has found a way to make my hard drive a bottleneck for playing the opening video of its expensive expansion. Of course this is a minor annoyance in the grand scheme of things, but it is – the first impression of paying customers. In the past, studios have gone to great lengths to captivate players in the first few minutes of a game to capture their attention and keep them curious. This lack of concern for first impressions was somewhat disconcerting. After the introduction video, I jumped right into the Odyssey tutorial. That’s it! I thought so. Elite Dangerous is famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) for having no guidelines for old and new players. But when I got my first manual, I was greeted with cryptic advice: Press ? ? to continue. Knowing the ins and outs of Elite Dangerous’s key system, I figured this was because new key sets aren’t assigned along the way. So each time I was prompted, I had to pause the action, enter the parameters and assign a new key for the action I needed to perform to skip the tutorial. I later learned that this error was very specific to my case. This only affected players with an existing commander and custom key combinations who did not participate in the alpha test. At the time, however, I was concerned that a new player faced with these cryptic clues would be completely confused. At this point, I decided to give Frontier a few days to release a patch, since it was clear that the DLC was suffering from the predictable difficulties of mass distribution. word-image-6369 When I was at 3307 again, I decided to try out the feature that is the cream of the Odyssey crop – the roving. But first, I had something to do. I ordered my pilot to disembark and made my first tour of the ship’s hangar, taking screenshots of my ship from every angle. I have to admit that while we could still see the outside of our ship in camera mode, it was a very different experience walking around in first person mode. This made the craft more tangible. Honestly, the view from this angle was breathtaking. Then I took the turbolift to the station concourse, enjoying the subtle touch of the buzzing doors and elevator music. Once in the lobby, I talked to many NPCs, most of whom chided me for rejecting quests with risk level 4, until I finally found someone who offered the seemingly more reasonable risk level 2. I had already bought a battle suit and a weapon, but they were all at level 1. Finding nothing below threat level 2, I returned to my ship, took a seat in the captain’s chair, and unhooked the Idiosyncrasy TFS in preparation for the adventures ahead. word-image-6370 Since the concept of fast travel does not exist in Elite Dangerous, it may take several minutes to reach your destination. If your target is on the surface of a planet, it may take 5-10 minutes to select the correct planet, fly to it, find the surface facility (or crash site), get into orbit, and finally land near the target. Add to that the time it would take to reach the galaxy in question. So when I inevitably failed in my first mission – because , of course, I failed in my first mission – I was a little sad when I heard that I had to go back to the space station that issued the mission to tryagain. Needless to say, I was not happy that the 10-minute trip ended in a 15-second fight that led to my untimely death. Despite the obvious emphasis on FPS combat in Odyssey, I decided instead to return to an activity I really enjoy in Elite Dangerous: Exploration. I was a little hesitant to go deep, knowing that my research suit was of minimal quality, but my squadron mates assured me that a level 1 Artemis suit would be sufficient for any normal research activity. So I left, away from the bubble of civilization, with the intention of taking my first steps on the planet’s surface, experiencing some of those new planetary technologies Frontier talks about, and maybe even discovering some new life forms along the way. word-image-6371 As much as I was disheartened by the ground mission in Odyssey, I was excited by the new aspects of exploration. Thanks to my ship’s improved surface scanner, I can now find planets with biological life forms. Once discovered, the planet’s heat map can be used to search for these life forms (if it works, which is about half the time). The next level is more difficult: the explorers must descend to the surface of the planet and try to study the life forms there. (One would think that a ship capable of detecting the existence of biological life forms at thousands of light-seconds away should have some help in scanning the surface at close range, but perhaps this is a request for improvement.) After the target is found, players must put on a new scout suit and leave the ship. Usually you will be rewarded by being the first explorer to set foot on the planet. Finally, a biological specimen must be approached and scanned with a handheld device to add that life form to the player’s codex. Overall, I think the Odyssey updates have made the test much more interesting. Instead of the cycle of humming/scanning/jumping/flooding/replaying, I spend more time in a particular galaxy and pick planets with interesting features and life forms. The improved system map is also welcome, as we can now zoom in on a planet that’s been full spectrum scanned (FSS) to see if it’s a nicely colored body or just a chunk of ice. Are there areas for improvement? Absolutely. I would like to see a better surface scan and help locating geological formations. The addition of an animal life form on planets with suitable atmospheres would be exciting. Also, now there’s a little quirk: I find abandoned power sources and outposts on planets far beyond where humans are supposed to exist. Even in the systems I supposedly discovered first, similar settlements sometimes occur. I can only assume this is a mistake, otherwise the darkness of the room would have become much greater. word-image-2264 We always knew that Odyssey would be an ambitious project for Frontier. The community can continue to debate whether the scope of work was overly ambitious, whether the construction was sloppy, or whether the comments were taken into account. What I see from 30,000 feet is a pretty solid base that can still be honed. Will they make it? I think so, and I look forward to seeing how the new features eventually improve. The universe is vast and the MMO industry is working to fill the space between the stars: sci-fi MMORPGs! Join the Stick and Rudder MOP team for regular forays into all the great space and star MMOs currently on everyone’s lips. word-image-2265 ViewThe latest build of #EliteDangerous has been released, and while it does not contain any major new features, it does have quite a few tweaks and new features. It is also a good opportunity to update you on the latest from developer Frontier Developments …. Read more about elite dangerous xbox and let us know what you think.

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