Elite Dangerous on PS4: First Thoughts

So, this week saw the final release of Elite Dangerous for PS4.  Something that had been hotly anticipated for some time, since the XBox release was confirmed.   Last night I managed to get a (very) quick shot at it, which was also my first exposure to the new tutorials.

I’ve been looking forward to playing this for some time.   I’d been toying with getting a second PC account, if only for an eventual trek to Colonia (the second main location of human colonies, outside of the “bubble” of inhabited space).  One thing I’d been looking forward to was starting from scratch.  My Kickstarter rewards let me start in a Cobra, so the challenge of building up from the basic Sidewinder and 1000 credits was appealing.

For the PS4 version itself, I’ve been impressed so far.   The game feels the same as the PC version, so its familiar enough that way.  The main interest is in controlling it with the Dualshock 4 controller.   I’m used to a joystick, mouse and keyboard combination, so was interested to see in how it fit together on the more restricted controller.   While I haven’t by any stretch played with everything, it feels natural to fly.  The controls work together well, often relying on a combination of a shape button and the d-pad to access particular functions, but its very intuitive with helpful directions appearing if you hold onto a button for a second.

Using the Dualshock’s gyroscopes for head look works really well too.   I’d been concerned about how easy it’d be to control, but its easily toggled on and off with the R3 button, and the default setup is nice to use.   Truth be told it provides an easier way to use headlook than on my current PC setup which involves switching to the mouse.

The interesting thing is getting used to the controls.   Truly, docking a tiny little Sidewinder last night was the scariest docking’s been in some time.  The control setup is very good.  They’ve also made it very customisable.   I just need to get used to playing on a joypad.

(edit: since originally writing this, I’ve played around with the config a bit, and effectively swapping the left and right sticks has helped my flying a lot.  Something I put down to being used to a joystick in my right hand, and throttle in my left.)

Playing the opening of the game was interesting as well, since its been revamped since I previously played.   I played through the first of the tutorial missions, just to get a basic handle on the controls, and it was a far better, more interactive experience than the old basic missions used to be.  Certainly for anyone that’s never played the game before, I think the tutorial missions should be a big help.

It was also interesting to see the changes in the default layout.   Now, I’ve got the deluxe edition with the Horizons expansion pack to allow for surface landings (among other things), so I’m not sure if that’s a factor, but one of the first things I always did in ships was swap out the basic fixed pulse lasers for their gimble-mounted variety.  Largely as I’m an awful shot.   So I was quite surprised to find the Sidewinder already came with them.   It certainly makes getting started that bit easier.

Another surprise was the initial mission you get as a new pilot.   Simply take off, jump to a neighbouring system, dock at the station and then cash in the mission for an easy 10k.   A nice boost to the starting 1k in your balance.   Granted, it immediately makes the cash flow situation a bit easier, but I liked how it also provided a nice carrot for new players, and took them through the basics of plotting a course, jumping to a system, before docking and using the starport services to hand in the mission.   Its a really nice little addition that isn’t too obtrusive if you’re a more seasoned player.

I look forward to playing more on the PS4 over the coming weeks.  The PC is still going to be my main platform, but I’ve set myself an initial goal of getting myself back to the Cobra I started the PC game in, and then fully kitting it out.  Between resource zones, missions and passenger jobs, I reckon this is pretty quickly achievable.   Even better if a community goal happens to pop up in range of my Sidewinder.

Indeed, after a little game time, its obvious that the various balance passes the devs have made to the missions, have boosted the rewards to a much higher level than the last time I was starting out.  Getting into a Cobra Mk III is now obviously pretty quickly achievable.  And from there, the game will really open up as I upgrade the ship, and complete more and more missions.


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