Many years ago, a university colleague brought to my attention this little game that in its entirety fit on one 640kb floppy disk. The game, Elite II was my first foray into space sim genre of gaming. Despite the graphics capabilities of the day it was every bit enjoyable. This however was the 2nd installment of the series, the first – Elite – was published in 1984. 31 years later, Elite is BACK AGAIN, only this time, it is DANGEROUS!
It has always been dangerous, but this time it is also really beautiful, not to mention big. How big? Milky Way big…400 billion star systems big. David Braben and his team have re-created our very own galaxy in 1:1 scale. All the stars you see in the night sky are there. The constellations are there, the deep space objects are there, all for you to explore.
Some may know you as an ally; others will call you a pirate, a bounty hunter, a smuggler, an explorer, an assassin, a hero… Fly alone or with friends, fight for a cause or go it alone; your actions change the galaxy around you in an ever unfolding story.
The game is completely open to play how you want to play it. You can play solo or online, either way your actions will count towards shaping the future of the galaxy. I’ve spent majority of my time flying solo sometimes in open play (in the hope to encounter other players – hopefully not pirates). Even though you fly solo and only ever encounter AI ships you still need to be connected online, as you will still have an impact on markets and the state of the system/galaxy. Playing solo though means less network traffic, and when the servers are having issues, in open play this can lead to lag. And you don’t want lag…specially not when trying to dock, one second you’re entering the dock, the next second you’re in several pieces. When encountering lag in critical phases of flight best thing to do is stop all engines and wait for an improvement before carrying on. If there’s no improvement, try switching to solo play.
I caught up with an old mate and he took me through setting up a ship for mining and mining itself. This was a lot of fun, mostly because mining is quite relaxing, even though we did have some unwanted AI scumbags company we promptly disposed of. But for the most part, it’s just about having a cuppa, a chat and picking up some ore to trade to get the next cool ship or perhaps some new gear for the current one. One of the nicest places to mine is in the rings of a planet, especially close to sunset or sunrise.
One of the cool things about the online component is the communications, there’s the old text chat window, but the awesome factor is in the in game voice chat. The voice chat audio sounds really cool, like it would on a real shortwave radio, with crackles and beeps here and there, just fantastic. Really adds to the immersion. No, I’m not at my desk in my pajamas with a cup of hot coco, I’m a weathered old space cowboy 100 light years from earth cracking rocks with a big ass laser, chewing the fat with an old mate.
If mining is too boring, and to be honest, there’s only so much I can handle in a day, you can go run missions for the local factions and increase your standings with them and improve the lives of the people of that particular system. Missions vary from courier, cargo, mining, trafficking illegal goods, bounty hunting and recovering lost property. If none of those float your Sidewinder, you can rig out your ship for exploration and go exploring the galaxy. Data on systems you explored can be traded for credits, so as well as the thrill of going into the unknown (and there are some cool star systems out there) you also get rewarded so any repairs and fuel costs are more than compensated for. In addition, if you’re the first to explore a particular system, when people enter/view the system after you, under the system name there will be the added caption, “First discovered by <your pilot name>”
Having been released only a few months ago, the game is still in its infancy, with new builds coming out every month or so with added features and fixes.
In the next build (v1.2) we’re expecting to see improvements to multi-player aspect where people can form groups referred to as Wings. This feature will enable people to group together and better coordinate their efforts as a group by being able to fly together, get status information on each other, get information on your Wing mans targets and ability to follow each other in and out of Frameshift flight a lot easier.
Down the track there is also talk of docking on planets, something that we had in the old Elite II, and has sadly been missing from this one since launch, for me at least. My only other disappointment so far has been the lack of external cameras. However, there are promises of continued development and improvements throughout the life of this release, which is great. Not often you see that in a title that is not subscription based.
Start your Elite Dangerous journey today.