Frontier took to the stage at the first-ever Frontier Expo in London in late-2018 and announced the upcoming season of updates headed to Elite Dangerous, dubbed Beyond. But while Horizons introduced brand-new mechanics to the space sim, Beyond is all about fixing long-time complaints from Elite Dangerous players.

The updates are set to drop throughout 2018, and here’s where we outline everything we know about Elite Dangerous Beyond, including a release date schedule and what you should expect from each chapter of the update.  

Elite Dangerous Beyond release date rumours

Elite Dangerous Beyond is split into different chapters, all set for release over the next 12 months or so depending on developmental delays.

Chapter One was the first to be announced, and following a successful open beta test for all ED gamers, Frontier announced that the update would be available for all PC, PS4 and Xbox One players on 27 February 2018. Subsequently, Frontier has launched the update for all players across all platforms, allowing gamers to get stuck into the latest Beyond action. 

Chapter Two and Chapter Three should both appear in mid-2018, and will act as small content drops to tide gamers over until the biggest release, Chapter Four, which is due out in Q4 2018.

We’ll update this section with the latest news as soon as we receive it so check back soon.

How much does Elite Dangerous Beyond cost?

The good news is that the entire Beyond season of content is going to be available completely free of charge to all owners of Elite Dangerous and the Horizons DLC across PS4, Xbox One and PC.

The reason for the charitable offer from Frontier is because the Beyond season of updates is focused on bringing in long-requested quality of life improvements to the core game, rather than bringing big new additions to the universe like with Horizons.  

Elite Dangerous Beyond gameplay and feature news

Chapter One

So, what is included in the first Beyond content drop? The flagship feature of Chapter One introduces the Chieftain ship, a new Alliance ship designed by Lakon Spaceways that is said to be “more manoeuvrable than ships of similar size and weight, and […] can more than hold its own in a fight” according to Frontier.

Beyond that, Chapter One is said to bring much-requested changes to the games core mechanics, including enhancements to the Engineering system, an overhaul of mission rewards and major changes to the Crime and Punishment system.

One such change is the introduction of the Advance Tactical Response unit, specifically to hunt down repeat offenders, while the 'Hot Ships' functionality attaches crimes to gamers' spacecraft and makes them easier to identify to the authorities. 

Oh, and at long last, Chapter One introduces proper Wing missions that can be tackled by a fleet of up to four Commanders and offer shared rewards upon completion.

Chapter Two

Chapter two is set to be the first of two minor updates released between the two bigger updates – chapter one and chapter four. It’s said to feature new weapons and other changes including new missions, scenarios and more, though details are fairly light at the moment. Expect to hear more once Chapter One has been finalised and released!

Chapter Three

Like Chapter Two, Chapter Three is set to be a relatively minor update compared to Chapter One and Four, featuring new ships, weapons and other improvements.

Chapter Four

Chapter Four is set to be the largest of the updates, and is set to be released during Q4 2018. According to Frontier, one of the big additions will be Squadrons, a new in-game structure for player groups. It allows players to manage membership, hierarchy and more, as well as buying Fleet Carriers to serve as mobile bases.

In terms of visual improvements, the game is set to receive an improved Lighting Model. This is said to benefit visuals both in space and on planetary surfaces. Speaking of planetary surfaces, there will be improvements to planetary environments and ambient effects to enhance fog, vapour, planetary phenomena, volumetric effects and more.

Essentially, exploring planets in Chapter Four should be much more rewarding than it is at the moment.  

It’ll also include improvements to mining gameplay, in particular, the way that resources are detected and extracted. There is said to be much more choice with the new system, with a range of modules and capabilities available at your fingertips. You’ll be able to crack open asteroids and see what’s inside too!

Arguably the headline feature of the entire Beyond updates is overhauled Exploration mechanics. There will be a new Codex to log personal discoveries and provide encyclopedia-esque information about topics, planets and more. There will also be much more to discover, with Frontier teasing new phenomena and anomalies to discover in deep space. And finally, there will be more activities and tools focused on exploring and discovering weird and wonderful things throughout the universe.

We expect to hear more about each content drop over the coming months, so head back soon to find out more about what’s on offer in Elite Dangerous: Beyond.