So when I was last updating this blog, Elite Dangerous was still in beta. Those days are long gone now as the game is now over 2 years old.
Its been really interesting to see the game grow and develop over that time. Especially in comparison to other games in the genre, which have often promised a lot, but failed to deliver. Elite, by comparison, seems to prefer putting tech in place, in a way that some might find disappointing at first, but then slowly improving that over time. Its a sensible way of working, trying to manage expectations, but also keep big changes to the game manageable without over-promising anything. Possibly the only time this has lapsed that comes to mind, was the original idea of an expansion giving us 4 content updates over a year. While the initial year of the game gave us this, the expansions in the second year (under the banner of Horizons) showed how complicated those changes could be, and deadlines were often pushed back.
Being fair though, a simple point release in an expansion has included feature changes many other games would consider a whole expansion in and of themselves, so giving us fewer a year just means we’re getting higher quality changes. And its pretty big jumps as well, be it planetary landings, crafting in the form of the Engineers, or the upcoming multi-crew updates.
As for the game itself, the sandbox nature is really what’s dragged me in. Some weeks I’ll spend time doing missions, landing on planets to attack ground bases. Sometimes its bounty hunting in asteroid fields, or taking on groups of passengers on a tour of significant places in the galaxy. And other times I jump into my trusty explorer ship and just head out to see the sights myself.
And the evolving universe has been a great part of the fun. When Jacques Station was lost, only to be found by another player weeks later, it sparked the effort known as “Colonia” establishing another area of civilised space closer to the galactic core. Or when the alien crash sites and ruins were discovered teasing the eventual appearance of alien races.
The game does end up coming under the criticisms that all games do over the course of their lives. But out of them “there’s nothing to do” is the one that never holds up for me. Indeed its far better to approach Elite as a simulation rather than a game. There’s no end-game to it. You just find something you enjoy, and then do it. And if that gets dull, switch things up for a while.
With the upcoming release of v2.3, we’re finally getting the ability to define our player avatars, and multicrew features, allowing us to team up on a single ship, which promises to bring a whole new aspect to the game.
And then there’s those aliens…