Frontier: First Encounters
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|Frontier: First Encounters|
Cover art for Frontier: First Encounters
|Release date(s)||April 16, 1995|
|Genre(s)||Space trading and combat simulator|
|Distribution||3.5 floppy, CD|
Frontier: First Encounters is a computer video game for the IBM PC released on April 16, 1995. It is the sequel to Frontier: Elite II released in 1993, which itself is a sequel to the Elite series of games which debuted on the Acorn BBC Micro computer in 1984. The planned Amiga version of First Encounters was never completed; it had been originally slated for a summer 1995 release for the Amiga 1200, Amiga 4000, and CD32 systems. The game was created by David Braben's company, Frontier Developments, and distributed by GameTek. The game is often referred to by the shortened title of 'FFE'.
Due to a conflict between Braben and the game’s publishers GameTek, the game was shipped early, and as a result was riddled with bugs, such as an auto pilot that crashed. Although it sold well many reviewers were quite contemptuous of the game, seeing it as only half-finished. A patch was eventually released that addressed the vast majority of the bugs.
DOSBox and the unofficial ports do allow the game to be played however.
First Encounters plays much like its immediate predecessor Frontier: the game is a combination of trading, fighting and a variety of other activities like spying, bombing and a variety of other military activities; the combat ratings were also carried over from the previous games. Like Frontier, First Encounters features realistic Newtonian physics, the ability to land on planets, and rival factions for which the player can perform missions, gaining or losing standing accordingly. It has graphics that are an improvement over Frontier (the main differences being Gouraud shading and more extensive use of texture mapping) and, as well as employing the same open-ended gameplay of its predecessors, it also features a storyline concerning an alien race called the Thargoids.
In addition to these now-established tenets of the Elite series, FFE added a new element—journals that report on happenings within the known universe. These were introduced to increase the player’s sense of immersion within the game-world, and to that end the player can even be mentioned within the journals under certain circumstances.
More important than the addition of journals is the introduction of hand-coded missions that added a storyline to further increase the player’s sense of immersion within the Elite universe. Unlike the various military missions which are randomly generated, these were specifically programmed by Frontier Developments and take the player through a linear series of events that starts with the “Wiccan Ware Race” and culminates in “Thargoid Missions” trilogy. Some of these missions can only be completed under specific circumstances, or with specific combat ratings. These missions take place between 3250 (the start-date of the game) and approximately 3255.
Also unique to First Encounters is the ability to earn special ships that are not available to buy. These ships are given as rewards for completing missions; the ships are the Turner-class Argent’s Quest, the Stowmaster-class fighter (which comes with the Argent’s Quest, equipped as the escape pod) and the Thargoid Warship, given to you by the Thargoids at the completion of the “Thargoid Missions”.
Future development of the Elite franchise
- "Lawsuit settled out of court". www.frontier.co.uk through web.archive.org. Archived from the original on 2007-07-02.
- "Profile: Frontier Developments". GameSkank. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- IGN Staff (2001-03-08). "Frontier Reveals Elite 4: One of the greatest of all games makes a return.". IGN.com. Retrieved 2007-09-14.
- Frontier Developments Official Elite Website
- Penn, Gary (1995). "Life, the Universe and First Encounters". PC Gamer (Future Publishing) (18).