Will Elite Dangerous prevail as one of the top space exploration games?

Thursday, July 5, 2018 | By | Add a Comment

Will Elite Dangerous prevail as one of the top space exploration games?

Elite Dangerous is an incredible game that will be celebrating its 4th anniversary this coming December after its release in 2014.  It is my hope that most of my audience who are gamers, know about this game by now.  If not, I will give a brief introduction.

Elite Dangerous is an online-only space adventure, trading, and combat simulation video game developed and published by Frontier Developments.  Piloting a spaceship, the player explores a realistic 1:1 scale open world galaxy based on the real Milky Way, with the gameplay being open-ended.  The game is the first in the series to attempt to feature massively multiplayer gameplay, with players’ actions affecting the narrative story of the game’s persistent universe, while also retaining single player options.

This game, unlike Star Citizen, is an actual playable game that delivers.  It has substance and you can actually play the game with your hard earned money instead of waiting for something that may or may not come through, and you may die before actually playing the fully produced game….if it does become an actual real playable game….who knows?  And for a lot of people out there, they are even saying to themselves at this point….who cares?  And I ABSOLUTELY agree with them, even though I’ve already paid for the pledge and some nice ships to go along with it.  But, in a world with nothing else to do but wait for Benjamin Franklin’s space exploration game show pony to rule the universe, then of course who would want to be the “hated” one who missed the only the thing that everybody wants and is waiting to do.

But in the meantime, I can actually play and ENJOY, Elite Dangerous.  And maybe even in time, ENJOY it more or watch it just annihilate Star Citizen altogether.  Who knows?

Elite Dangerous has a truly huge scope and Frontier has ambitious development plans. During an interview at Lavecon 2015, David Braben stated to have a clear intention of a 10 year development plan.  This includes smaller free updates, paid major updates and expansions. Frontier uses an iterative approach. This means gradually build upon features to expand and improve it. Here’s an overview of planned updates and expansions.

Season 1

The first season added various new features and content.  It was released after Elite Dangerous launched on December 16, 2014 through 2015.  Additions included:

  • Community Goals
  • Wings
  • Powerplay
  • CQC
  • Ships update added many new ships
  • Mission System and new mission types
  • Module storage
  • Beautiful station interiors
  • New navigation filters
  • Ship transfer

Season 2 – Horizons

Elite Dangerous: Horizons is the second season of expansions for Elite Dangerous.  It introduced a variety of new features and gameplay content.  Horizons v2.0 was released on PC on the 15th of December 2015.  Subsequent major updates were released in 2016 and 2017.  Additions included:

  • Planetary Landings on airless planets and moons
  • Engineers
  • Guardians
  • Thargoids
  • SRV
  • Ship Launched Fighters
  • Passenger transport
  • Holo-Me
  • Multicrew
  • Megaships
  • Camera Suite

For detailed information about this season see the Horizons page.

Season 3 – Beyond

Elite Dangerous: Beyond is the third season of expansions planned for Elite Dangerous through the year of 2018.  The main focus is core gameplay, existing features, quality of life and other improvements.  This is free for all Horizons owners.  New features will be added too.  Additions included:

  • New ships: Chieftain, Krait
  • New weapons
  • GalNet Audio: text-to-audio feature
  • Wing Missions
  • Planet tech improvements: Planetary Visual Improvements
  • Revised trade data
  • Engineers improvements
  • Material Trader
  • Technology Broker
  • Crime & Punishment improvements: Notoriety, Advanced Tactical Response, Detention Centres
  • Megaship interaction improvements
  • New Guardian tech and a personal narrative
  • New missions and scenarios
  • Improved Lighting Model
  • Squadrons
  • Fleet Carrier
  • Mining gameplay improvements
  • Exploration gameplay improvements
  • Codex

For detailed information about this season of updates see the Beyond page.

Season 4

There are no announcements yet about the fourth season. The release date is in 2019.

Frontier will shift from the paid expansion model to major premium DLC that can be purchased. So rather than buying an expansion with multiple updates, you can purchase major updates separately.

This is the typical scenario in today’s win or lose kickstarter game industry and developers working with companies outside the game industry, companies that have their own policies on financing and crediting.

There are rumors that it will be the first editions of atmospheric landings, space legs and maybe giant executive controlled capital ships. It’s expected that procedural generation and interior modules will be used for ship interiors. This can also be used for procedural cities and atmospheric planets.


The expansions will include significant new features such as seamless freeform (manual pitch/yaw/roll) atmospheric flight and landings (atmospheric landings) and on-foot and out-of-ship activities such as FPS combat, walking around and boarding ships, walking in stations and walking and driving vehicles on entire 1:1 scale populated living planets (procedural cities) with multi-player crew and player executive controlled capital ships.

Frontier intends to release small, free updates after launch.  Expansions that include significant new features and content will have to be purchased.

These updates and expansions include:

  • Landing / driving / prospecting on airless rocky planets, moons & asteroids- this was added with Elite Dangerous: Horizons.
  • Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships. – see Space Legs.
  • Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports
  • Accessing richly detailed planetary surfaces – see Atmospheric Landings and Procedural Cities.
  • Availability of giant ‘executive control’ ships to players. – see Capital Ships.

The competition is on between Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous….who will win?

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