Frontier Developments is adding a beginner’s zone to Elite Dangerous. The April update, besides including some quality-of-life features such as an easier to use docking computer and a better autopilot during supercruise, will come with enhancements to the new player experience. For freshman pilots, Elite Dangerous can be a bit of a bear, and it’s hoped that changes like a safe beginner’s zone and an in-game handbook will allow newbies the opportunity to get a better grip on the game before being thrown in with the space wolves. The safety area will give players time to earn their first rank before pushing them out to open space.
The baby play zone update will launch on April 23rd for all platforms.
Is Elite Dangerous headed to war? Last week, players of Elite Dangerous were stunned when alien ships began showing up in the galaxy. Some pilots cruising in secluded sectors of space found their ships temporarily disabled while ominous alien ships scanned them before shooting into the void. It was a surprise to most fans because Frontier’s space sim MMO has featured only humans, with rare evidence of a long-gone alien presence. Longtime fans of the Elite games assumed the alien artifacts belonged to the Thargoids from previous games in the series, but up until last week’s encounters, the remnants were harmless Easter Eggs.
Aliens in a previously human-only galaxy would be scary enough by themselves, but the latest update for Elite Dangerous features a rather distressing (or exciting) increase in the galaxy’s military power. Some trading ships have had their hull strength doubled. Attack craft have been given additional component slots. The Viper, the ubiquitous fighting ship, now has increased maneuverability. Although aliens aren’t mentioned in the patch notes, it seems obvious that humanity is gearing up for something.
If you’re playing Frontier Developments’ Elite: Dangerous on a PC that’s behind the power curve, you’re going to be passed by soon. David Braben, CEO and founder of Frontier, warned players that the studio will likely be dropping support for 32-bit systems and graphic cards still using DirectX 10. According to Braben, their data shows that very few players of Elite: Dangerous would be negatively impacted by the shift to higher-end systems.
“As you know, we support leading edge technology like 4K, 8K, VR, and with things like compute shaders in Horizons we really push the boundaries overall, but there are restrictions with Win32 – particularly the amount of memory we can address at one time – and with DX10 in terms of requiring an alternative rendering solution in our code.”
The Steam Hardware Survey supports the idea that the majority of gamers use 64-bit systems with DirectX 10 (or better) video cards, but it’s not a direct measurement of the full Elite: Dangerous audience. David Braben went on to say that the support change would likely not take place for at least six months and that the studio is open to feedback regarding the decision. Time to go shopping for new PC parts, space cowboy!
Elite: Dangerous revealed some heretofore unknown features of their upcoming Horizons expansion, and it looks like the game will be doing things Star Citizen has been promising for a while. According to Frontier Developments, Elite Dangerous: Horizons will add planetary landings, ship-launched fighters, cooperative crew modes, and a Commander Creator to render in-game human avatars. Updates to the main game will add new flyable ships, more enemies to fight, and a CQC mode that will concentrate on competitive team matches separate from the campaign. Elite Dangerous: Horizons will launch on PC later this year.
Way over on the other side of the open-galaxy space sim arena, Star Citizen tootles along with its $89 million in pledged funds, but Derek Smart continues to be a thorn in the project’s side. Not content to just threaten legal action, Smart had his lawyer draft and file a letter to the developers of Star Citizen accusing them of lying about the state of the game’s development. Roberts Space Industries was quick to respond with their own snark-filled letter letting Derek Smart know exactly where he could go. Smart continued his accusations and raised a new one – that RSI was beginning a round of layoffs to get their ballooning budget under control. While RSI has not officially responded to the latest from Derek Smart, it was confirmed that the ex-RSI people Smart named in his blog did leave the studio for undisclosed reasons.
What does this mean for Star Citizen? Hey, that Elite Dangerous: Horizons expansion looks pretty good.
Factions are coming to Elite: Dangerous. Frontier Developments outlined the upcoming Powerplay initiative in the latest newsletter to players. The feature will add factions to the game that players can join. Each faction, or power, will have goals that they wish to attain and territory to defend. Each week, powers will pay out credits, influence, perks, and other rewards to players in their faction based on performance. The missions and rewards for participating players will reflect the character of their chosen power.
For example, if a major economic Power sends in their traders for a financial takeover against a military powerhouse, the other side may be tasked with piracy missions to destroy or loot their cargo. You can always be a trader or a miner or a pirate for your own ends, but by joining a Power you’ll be afforded special rights and be rewarded for playing the way you already like to play.
The downside of joining a faction? Well, it will be open season on you if you come across a wing of ships on an opposing power. Also, powers don’t take kindly to players that shift loyalty. Leaving a faction may incur penalties like having a bounty set on you from your former group. Powerplay will be included in a free update to Elite: Dangerous.
Elite: Dangerous, the long-awaited spaceship sim from Frontier developments, has launched. You can see the video here in which game designer and studio head David Braben pushes the symbolic big red button to officially release the game. After the crowd-sourcing and lengthy alpha and beta periods, would-be Sidewinder pilots can explore, trade, and fight each other in 400 billion procedurally generated star systems. Become a trader to buy low and sell high. Buy a nicer ship. Supercruise between points of interest and get ambushed by someone with a better ship than yours. Go back to your starter ship and begin again.
Frontier Developments promises that Elite: Dangerous will have plenty of post-launch support. Work on the online shared galaxy will continue to include a dynamically changing storyline and economy. Elite: Dangerous is available from the developer’s online store.