Elite: Dangerous logo
|Genre(s)||Space trading and combat, MMOG|
Elite: Dangerous is a forthcoming space trading and combat simulator that will be the fourth instalment in the Elite video game series. As with previous games in the series, the player explores an open galaxy in a spaceship, and the gameplay is open-ended. The game will be the first in the series to feature a massively multiplayer gameplay, with players' actions affecting the game's persistent universe. It is the direct successor to Frontier: First Encounters, the third game in the Elite series, released in 1995.
Having been unable to agree to a funding deal with a publisher for many years, and having considered crowdfunding earlier, the developer began their Kickstarter campaign, a few days after Kickstarter went live in the UK. Early-access versions of the game have been playable by backers since December 2013. The full game is expected to be released in the fourth quarter of 2014.
Elite: Dangerous retains the basic premise of previous games - players start with a spaceship and a small amount of money and make their own way in an open galaxy, furthering themselves either legally or illegally, through trading, bounty-hunting, piracy and assassination. Braben has described the game as a mix of the original Elite and the sequels Frontier: Elite II and Frontier: First Encounters, describing it as closer to the sequels in terms of the way that the galaxy is as scientifically accurate as possible, but with the "visceral and seat-of-the-pants" combat of the original Elite.
In Dangerous, the player will be able to explore around 150,000 star systems taken from real-world astronomical data, presented in 1:1 scale. The remainder of the game universe, around four hundred billion stars, planetary systems and moons, will be generated procedurally according to real scientific models.
Updates to the game are expected to allow the player to walk around inside ships and space stations, and space-walk around the exterior of ships to effect repairs. Other planned updates will allow players to board and steal other ships, or operate ships with multiple players, and to explore the entire surfaces of populated, living planets on foot and "have vehicles you can drive around on the surface". Braben added that, as a player, he would like to be able to go big-game hunting on a planet, "chasing big dinosaurs around".
Elite: Dangerous features a massively multiplayer, persistent universe, but also has single player options, here a development video showing Braben dodging enemy fire from a colleague. The actions of players will affect the wider galaxy within the game, such as the type of missions/quests that will generated by the event system. The developers have often noted how the previous games lend themselves naturally to modern online gaming - for example, destroying an innocent ship has always led to a criminal record and to police attention in systems rich enough to afford law enforcement, which would provide a powerful anti-griefing mechanism in a multiplayer game. The developers have also considered allowing players to play within small, trusted groups, so that any in-game encounters are only drawn from that group.
Elite: Dangerous will be set in the year 3300, around 50 years after the events of Frontier: First Encounters, the previous game in the series. The Thargoids, the warlike, insectoid aliens from the original game, are due to make an appearance.
Elite 4 was to be the third sequel to 1984's Elite, a game that David Braben and his former associate, Ian Bell, wrote for the BBC Micro computer, and ported to most other platforms of the day. At the 2011 Game Developers Conference, Braben presented a post-mortem discussing the development of Elite. The final question in the Q&A section asked if Elite 4 was still on the drawing board and he replied "yes, it would be a tragedy for it not to be."
The project, referred to as Elite 4, had difficulty in finding funds, which Braben has attributed to the traditional publishing model, which he sees as being biased against games which have no recent predecessors. In November 2012, Frontier Developments announced that the game was now named Elite: Dangerous, and would be funded via Kickstarter which aimed to raise £1.25m and deliver a game in 18 months, by March 2014. The Kickstarter project remained open for 60 days, and rewards included a digital copy of the game, standard and premium boxed copies, a T-shirt, and access to alpha and beta test versions of the game. Funding was also made possible through the game's website, via PayPal. By April 2014, the campaign had raised £1.7m, and Braben had reacquired the rights to the Elite franchise.
Elite: Dangerous is being developed using Frontier Development's own in-house "Cobra" game development engine. The engine was developed prior to the Kickstarter project. In October 2013, it was announced that the game would officially support the Oculus Rift VR headset.
The game was originally due for delivery on PC in March 2014. A playable alpha version of the game was released to certain Kickstarter backers in December 2013. In May 2014, Frontier Developments announced the fourth phase of Alpha testing was underway for the game. The latest Alpha build offered players a more expanded game world with more scale, scope and depth. On 30 May 2014, Frontier Developments officially launched the "Premium Beta" phase of Elite Dangerous. It incorporated all major features added during the alpha phase and focused primarily on testing the systems and servers with a greater number of players.
In a June 2014 interview Braben was unable to give a specific delivery date for the full game, but said that it would be released in 2014. A newsletter from the developers has given a planned release date for the full game as the fourth quarter of 2014.
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- Elite: Dangerous - Official Website
- Elite: Dangerous - Kickstarter campaign
- Elite: Dangerous - Wikia