Image Credit: Elite: Dangerous
Elite: Dangerous is a game that has a lot of people very excited, including a few here in the office; (you can also read our reviews of other titles that got us excited here). The latest in a critically acclaimed dynasty of space simulators, Elite: Dangerous is a game based in a vast galaxy populated with hundreds of players, all vying for success through trading, combat and exploration. It is also slated to be one of the first games to be fully integrated with the Oculus Rift upon its initial release. Here’s all the key details on the release date, price, features and gameplay of Elite: Dangerous.
Elite: Dangerous release date and platform information
Elite: Dangerous is slated for a Windows release in the fourth quarter of 2014, so we’re expecting it round November or December given the fairly massive amount of work that’s going into this game. For Mac users, the OSX port will be arriving three months after initial release.
The possibility of a further release on current-gen consoles is also being discussed, with creator David Braben saying “we would be stupid not to”.
Elite: Dangerous Beta information
While you’ll have to wait a few months for a full, finished release of Elite: Dangerous, you can get access to the Beta version right now. It’s been operational since July, and although some features from the full game are missing or incomplete, Frontier Developments has the space travel, combat and trading mechanics virtually fully-implemented. There are also some basic missions available, and a selection of ships from the final game.
The Beta unfortunately only supports Windows, however, and progress in it will not be carried over to the final game.
Elite: Dangerous price
Beta access is priced at £50, which as well as allowing you entry to the Beta also nets you a copy of the Mercenary Edition of Elite: Dangerous on release.
Elite: Dangerous Mercenary Edition comes with bonus content such as an in-game Eagle fighter ship, custom paint jobs, a ‘day one’ decal and concept art, and is available to pre-order now for £35, while the initial release version (sans bonus content) will be priced at £39.99.
Elite: Dangerous features
One of the most exciting elements at play in Elite: Dangerous is the day-one support for the Oculus Rift on the game’s initial release. This puts players directly in the cockpit of their starfighter (or cargo ship, if you’re a boring nerd), and is supposedly the best use of the technology to date, according to critics.
The multi-dimensional nature of the combat means that the head-tracking is utilized to its full capacity, allowing the pilot to visually follow enemies behind, above and even below them.
Another point of pride for the developers is the scientific accuracy of the game; Elite Dangerous is set to feature a fully-realistic 1:1 scale recreation of the Milky Way, complete with around 100 billion star systems and 400 billion stars. These systems are partially based on existing celestial formations, and partially procedurally generated from existing scientific data and theories.
The developers have also included more unusual cosmic phenomena, such as black holes, supernovas and binary solar systems, combining with the existing planetary physics to create ‘vista points’ where players can witness particularly spectacular astrological events, like the sun rising behind Mars.
Elite: Dangerous gameplay
At present, Elite: Dangerous’ gameplay is based solely on ship-based activities such as trading, exploration and combat, with the initial release to continue that pattern. However, Frontier Developments have confirmed that future major updates will include foot-based, out-of-ship activities such as FPS combat, space station exploration and planetary vehicle driving.
They have also confirmed the upcoming ability to seamlessly, free-form enter a planet’s atmosphere, flying through fully populated 1:1 scale cities and performing manual landings.
As part of the developers’ commitment to realism, the space-flight is based on Newtonian physics. However, Braben has said that the combat will heavily feature a ‘fly-by-wire’ flight control system in order to allow for more interesting dogfights.
To accommodate travel over the vast distances of space, the game incorporates two travel modes; the sci-fi staple that is the Hyperspace Drive to allow for long-distance jumps, and a ‘supercruise’ mode for free-form manual flight within star systems. This mode will be affected by planetary physics, and also allows for combat maneuvers to intercept other players.
Elite: Dangerous is built with MMO gameplay in mind with a vast galactic economy similar to EVE: Online, and a world that supposedly reacts to and is shaped by player actions. However, for those without an adequate internet connection, or who simply don’t wish to interact with other spacefarers, there is an offline single-player mode also available.
Although there are some RPG-like elements built into the game, it is devoid of classes, levels and skill points; a pilot’s skill in combat is based solely on their individual ability and the quality of their ship and equipment.
You also have total freedom in choosing your role and playstyle – you can spend a while amassing riches as a pirate, only to give it all up and put your ill-gotten gains to work as a trader, or start off as an honest bounty hunter, before being swayed to illegal smuggling by the lure of wealth.
Elite: Dangerous story
While much of the game will simply be trading, fighting or tooling around the galaxy in a space hot-rod according to the player’s whim, there will be a dedicated storyline, told through dynamic, procedurally generated events and developer-injected missions, in which the Thargoids from previous games will make a return.
Additionally, it is highly possible that the developers are hoping that players will organically create their own stories, as has been repeatedly seen in EVE: Online with stories like the player who started his own bank and then embezzled the hell out of it, or the player who got scammed out of a $10,000 capital ship.
The beta has already produced a few stories like this: our personal favourite is the smuggler who got a hold full of illegal cargo past a station’s defences by simply shutting off all his systems and coasting in on pure inertia. Han Solo, eat your heart out.