Elite: Dangerous

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Elite: Dangerous
EliteDangerous Logo2.png
Developer(s) Frontier Developments
Publisher(s) Frontier Developments
Director(s) David Braben
Producer(s) Michael Brookes[1]
Designer(s) Sandro Sammarco, Dan Davies, Tom Kewell[1][2]
Programmer(s) Mark Allen, Igor Terentjev[1]
Artist(s) John Laws, Simon Brewer, John Roberts, Josh Atack, James Avery, John Kelly[1]
Composer(s) Erasmus Talbot[3]
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, OS X, Xbox One, PlayStation 4[4]
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
  • WW 16 December 2014[5]
OS X
  • WW 12 May 2015
Xbox One
  • WW 15 June 2015 (Game Preview)
PlayStation 4
  • TBA
Genre(s) Space trading and combat, first-person shooter in a later expansion[6]
Mode(s) Single-player, multiplayer

Elite: Dangerous is a space adventure, trading, and combat simulator that is the fourth release in the Elite video game series. Piloting a spaceship, the player explores a realistic 1:1 scale open world galaxy based on the real Milky Way, with the gameplay being open-ended. The game is the first in the series to attempt to feature massively multiplayer gameplay, with players' actions affecting the narrative story of the game's persistent universe, while also retaining single player options. It is the sequel to Frontier: First Encounters,[7] 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, the developer began its Kickstarter campaign in November 2012. Pre-release test versions of the game had been available to backers since December 2013, and the final game was released for Windows on 16 December 2014,[5] with the OS X version later released on 12 May 2015. A "preview" version of the game for Xbox One was later released via the Xbox Game Preview Program on 15 June 2015 during Microsoft's briefing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015,[8][9] with a PlayStation 4 version potentially coming later after the timed exclusivity deal for Xbox One expires. Elite Dangerous supports virtual reality devices such as the Oculus Rift.[10] By the end of April 2015, Elite Dangerous had sold over 500,000 copies, with Frontier Developments expected to generate £22 million from sales.[11]

Gameplay[edit]

Orbital station near a habitable planet. This image shows one of the many planets and solar system space stations, where the player can dock for ship upgrades, missions or trading. The image shows the player spaceship approaching the space station and starting communication to get docking permissions.

Elite: Dangerous retains the basic premise of previous games - players start with a spaceship and a small amount of money and have to make their own way in an open galaxy, furthering themselves either legally or illegally, through trading, bounty-hunting, piracy and assassination.[12]

The game is the first in the series to feature online multiplayer, with players having access to a massively multiplayer persistent world, as well as an online-only single player mode.[13] Open Play gameplay is similar to EvE Online in that many actions which would be considered griefing in other multiplayer games are generally permitted here, so long as a valid roleplaying reason is attached. Examples include (but are not limited to) stealing from other players, extortion, and blocking off star systems via blockade or similar means.[14] However, some actions, like "mob mentality" persecution, abusing exploits (such as "combat logging") and cursing are still not allowed,[15][16] and could eventually result in a shadow ban, meaning to lose access to the main server.[17]

The player is able to explore the game's galaxy of some 400 billion star systems,[18] complete with planets and moons that rotate and orbit in real-time, resulting in dynamic day/night cycles.[19] Around 150,000 of the game's star systems are taken from real-world astronomical data,[20] while the remainder are procedurally generated according to scientific models.[20] Throughout the galaxy, the player is able to dock with space stations and outposts to trade goods, purchase new spacecraft, re-arm their ship, effect repairs and to seek or complete missions from text-based station "bulletin boards".[21] The player may also find cargo or encounter other ships while in flight by investigating 'Unidentified Signal Sources'.

Setting[edit]

Elite: Dangerous is currently set in the year 3301 and started from 3300 in 2014 and has been running in sync with UTC +1286 years, around 45 years after Frontier: First Encounters, the previous game in the series.[7][22][23]

Factions[edit]

There are three major factions, the Empire, the Federation, and the Alliance.[24] Patch 1.3, which launched in June 2015,[25] featured the Power Play extension, for competitive galaxy-wide faction challenges. Players can now pick from various in-game factions and contribute by completing mission goals and earn various rewards. The outcome determines faction powers, territorial control, and what each faction does next.[26]

Player status and rank[edit]

There are three player status, for combat, exploration and trading, depending on accomplishments. On March 15, 2015, the first player reached triple elite status, the highest status, and won £10,000.[27] Certain status or rank can grant access to a number of systems which require a permit. Benefits of some systems include ship discount prices.[28]

Development[edit]

Elite: Dangerous was developed using Frontier Development's own in-house COBRA game development engine.[29] Frontier had been working on the game as a "skunk-works" background activity for some time prior to its Kickstarter launch,[30] with other projects being prioritised.[31]

On 14 November 2014, one month before launch, David Braben announced the removal of the game's offline single player mode, the developers having decided that they could not deliver an acceptable offline-only experience based on the original design.[32][33] The Windows version of the game was released on 16 December 2014.[5]

On 4 March 2015, Microsoft announced at the Game Developers Conference that Elite: Dangerous would be released on Xbox One.[34] A version is also planned for PlayStation 4.[35] On 2 April 2015, the game was made available on Steam and that it supports cross buy between the Windows version and the Mac version.[36]

Funding[edit]

At the 2011 Game Developers Conference, following a presentation on the development of the original Elite, Braben was asked in a Q&A session if Elite 4 was still on the drawing board. He replied "yes, it would be a tragedy for it not to be."[37] The project had difficulty in attracting sufficient funding, which Braben had attributed to the traditional publishing model, which he saw as being biased against games with no recent comparable predecessors.[38]

Braben had previously discussed crowdfunding as a possible solution in April 2012.[39] Public fundraising commenced in November 2012 using the Kickstarter website,[40] the campaign lasting 60 days, with the aim being to raise £1.25m[41] and deliver a finished game by March 2014.[42] Braben described the campaign as a way of "test-marketing the concept to verify there is broader interest in such a game", in addition to raising the funds.[31]

Following the end of the Kickstarter, further public funding was sought through the developer's UK website, via PayPal.[41] By April 2014, £1.7m had been raised,[43] and Braben had reacquired the legal rights to the Elite franchise.[44] Although the game's original total development budget had been £8 million, by September 2014 this had, in Braben's words, "grown by quite a lot".[45]

Testing phase[edit]

A playable alpha version of the game was released to certain Kickstarter backers in December 2013.[46][47] In May 2014, the game entered the first phase of its beta test, focusing primarily on testing the systems and servers with a greater number of players.[48] A pre-release "gamma" build was released to backers three weeks before launch, to give them a head start on other players.[49] On 2 April 2015, the beta Mac version went live, accessible to all backers.[50]

Future updates[edit]

A native Mac OS X version was released in May 2015.[51] Although there are no plans for a Linux version of the game, Braben has stated, "There is no reason why COBRA cannot run on Linux, running through OpenGL."[52] On 5 March 2015, Frontier confirmed at GDC that work was underway on bringing the game to Xbox One consoles, with David Braben later confirming via Twitter that the Xbox One version would be a timed exclusive and that game would eventually also be released on PlayStation 4.[53] A "preview" version of the game for Xbox One was later released via the Xbox Game Preview Program on 15 June 2015 during Microsoft's briefing at the Electronic Entertainment Expo 2015.[8][9]

On August 5, 2015 during Gamescom Frontier announced Elite Dangerous: Horizons, a second season of expansions due to arrive "Holiday 2015" and extend into 2016. The initial release of this new season will feature seamless planetary landings on airless worlds and will allow you to explore the surface of these worlds in an Surface Recon Vehicle (SRV).[54]

Although no official 'roadmap' has been published, further proposed updates to gameplay include seamless planetary landing on atmospheric worlds, and first person perspective[6][55] exploration outside of the player's ship, including walking around space stations, walking around ships, spacewalking, and boarding other ships.[6] Multi-crew ships[56][57] have also been mentioned by the developers as desirable.[57][58][59]

Braben has said that Thargoids, the warlike, insectoid aliens from the original games, would make an appearance in some capacity.[60] Mission objectives introduced in May 2015, about ancient specimens fueled speculation of the coming introduction of the Thargoid species.[61]

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings 80.75%[63]
Metacritic 80/100[62]
Review scores
Publication Score
Eurogamer 8/10[64]
GamesRadar 4/5 stars[66]
IGN 7.4/10[68]
PC Gamer (UK) 86/100[65]
Metro 7/10[67]

Elite: Dangerous received an aggregated score of 80.75% on GameRankings based on 24 reviews,[63] and 80/100 on Metacritic based on 52 critics.[62]

Chris Thursten of PC Gamer rated the game 86/100, considering it to be "potentially a classic", depending on Frontier's ability to build on the "broad but somewhat shallow foundations" of the released version. Thursten described the gameplay experience as "exhilarating excitement, matched by nothing else this year, contrasted with moments of emptiness, frustration, and boredom".[65] Dan Whitehead of Eurogamer gave the game 8/10 and considered it to be "probably the most immersive and compelling recreation of deep space ever seen in gaming", while finding some of the gameplay repetitive.[64] Andy Kelly of GamesRadar gave the game 4/5, calling it a "compelling space sandbox" and a "welcome return" of the Elite franchise, but felt that the game at launch was "missing a lot of important features, especially when it comes to multiplayer".[66] Roger Hargreaves of the Metro gave it 7/10, describing the game as a "solid start" that had yet to fulfil its potential.[67] Reviewing the game for IGN, Rob Zacny called it "one of the most enthralling and evocative space combat and trade sim games I've ever played" and "also one of the most boring", seeing the balance of "brief, intense emotional peaks and long, shallow valleys of boredom" as "fundamental to Elite's identity".[69]

The announcement of the removal of the offline mode on 14 November 2014 was met by a number of complaints from customers, with some saying they had backed the game on the understanding that it would feature offline play and others that there had been no prior warning of removal during the whole of the preceding development period.[32][70]

Frontier offered refunds to customers who had pre-ordered the game without playing it,[71] and said that those who had already played the game, in alpha or beta form, would not be eligible for refunds.[72][73] Later, Braben speaking for the company announced that refunds would be judged on a "case-by-case" basis.[71][74][75]

Reviewing a later version of the game in April 2015, after playing the game since launch, Lee Hutchinson from Ars Technica described Dangerous as "so damn good that it transcends its problems".[76]

Awards[edit]

Elite: Dangerous won the Game Developers Choice Award 2015 for best audience.[77]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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  2. ^ Wesley Yin-Poole. "Powerplay update makes Elite: Dangerous a lot more interesting". EuroGamer.net. Retrieved 8 May 2015. 
  3. ^ "Elite: Dangerous composer announced". Frontier. 
  4. ^ "Elite: Dangerous is Coming to PS4, Braben Clarifies". Gamespot.com. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 27 June 2015. 
  5. ^ a b c "Elite: Dangerous release date set for next month". PC Gamer. 7 November 2014. Retrieved 7 November 2014. 
  6. ^ a b c PC Games (18 August 2014). "Elite: Dangerous | Gameplay + David Braben interview". YouTube. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  7. ^ a b "Elite: Dangerous Gameplay Demo - IGN Live: Gamescom 2014 - Sequel". 
  8. ^ a b "Guest Blog: Gary Richards Xbox One Producer - Elite: Dangerous Community Site". elitedangerous.com. 
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  10. ^ Jamie Feltham (16 December 2014). "Frontier developments launches elite: dangerous with oculus rift support". VRFocus. 
  11. ^ Cambridge News (28 April 2015). "Frontier's Elite Dangerous earnings boost Cambridge Index". 
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  13. ^ Royce, Brianna (16 December 2014). "Elite: Dangerous' launch-day roundup". Joystick. Retrieved 17 December 2014. 
  14. ^ "Merchant Marines Launch Operation Papercut". 24 April 2015. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
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  16. ^ Sammarco, Sandro (27 January 2015). ""Combat Logging": Update". Frontier Developments. Retrieved 26 April 2015. 
  17. ^ Brookes, Michael (7 May 2015). "Dev Update - 07.05.2015". Frontier Developments. 
  18. ^ "Elite: Dangerous Newsletter #36". Frontier Developments. 15 August 2014. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  19. ^ "GameStar - Elite: Dangerous - Gameplay + David Braben interview - 1:1 scale". 
  20. ^ a b Parkin, Simon (9 July 2014). "The Video Game That Maps the Galaxy". The New Yorker. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
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  22. ^ "Elite: Dangerous: the David Braben interview". 26 September 2014. Retrieved 14 November 2014. 
  23. ^ "Fiction Diary #5". 
  24. ^ IGN. "Factions". IGN. 
  25. ^ Lewis, Edward. "Powerplay launches today". Frontier Development Official Forums. Retrieved 5 June 2015. 
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  28. ^ Wolf, Fenris (28 March 2015). "Permits – access required". Frontier. 
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  34. ^ Tuttle, Will (4 March 2015). "Phil Spencer Announces Developer Tools to Bring Games to Billions". Xbox Wire. Microsoft. Retrieved 4 March 2015. 
  35. ^ Crossley, Rob (5 March 2015). "Elite: Dangerous is Coming to PS4". gamespot.com. Retrieved 5 May 2015. 
  36. ^ Hall, Charlie (2 April 2015). "Elite: Dangerous makes a surprise jump to Steam, offers crossbuy between Mac and PC". Polygon. Retrieved 3 April 2015. 
  37. ^ Braben, David (2011). "Classic game postmortem". GDC Vault. Retrieved 2011-11-09. 
  38. ^ "David Braben: Publisher model prevented development of new Elite". incgamers.com. 2012-12-20. 
  39. ^ "BAFTA Games Question Time: Crowdfunding". 2012-04-16. Retrieved 2014-07-20. 
  40. ^ "Kickstarter in the UK". 2012-10-10. 
  41. ^ a b Cellan-Jones, Rory (2012-11-06). "Elite reborn". BBC News (BBC). Retrieved 2012-11-06. 
  42. ^ Makuch, Eddie (6 November 2012). "Elite returns on Kickstarter". GameSpot. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  43. ^ Sentinel, Stoke. "David Elks: Gaming industry is worth the investment". Stoke Sentinel. Retrieved 25 April 2014. 
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  46. ^ Ivan, Tom (10 April 2014). "Elite Dangerous premium beta costs £100". CVG. Retrieved 9 July 2014. 
  47. ^ Phillips, Tom (12 December 2013). "Elite: Dangerous combat now playable if you're a £200 alpha backer". Eurogamer. Retrieved 8 July 2014. 
  48. ^ "Elite: Dangerous "Premium Beta" now available at a $150 price tag". PC Gamer. 2014-05-30. Retrieved 2014-06-20. 
  49. ^ "Elite: Dangerous Release Date Announced". Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
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  53. ^ "Elite: Dangerous confirmed for Xbox One". EuroGamer.net. 5 March 2015. Retrieved 16 March 2015. 
  54. ^ "Announcing Elite Dangerous: Horizons". community.elitedangerous.com. 5 August 2015. Retrieved 14 August 2015. 
  55. ^ "Live Chat: Elite brains David Braben OBE answers YOUR Qs". The Register. 13 June 2013. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  56. ^ GameCentral (19 June 2014). "Elite: Dangerous hands-on preview and interview – 'the nearest game to Elite is GTA' | Metro News". Metro.co.uk. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
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  59. ^ GameSpot (12 June 2014). "Elite: Dangerous Stage Demo - E3 2014". YouTube. Retrieved 21 August 2014. 
  60. ^ "Elite: Dangerous will have 100 billion star systems, plus Thargoids — Braben reveals what's next". pcgamesn.com. Retrieved 10 January 2013. 
  61. ^ Savage, Phil (5 May 2015). "Elite: Dangerous community analyses mysterious 'Unknown Artefact'". PCGamer. 
  62. ^ a b "Elite: Dangerous for PC Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  63. ^ a b "Elite: Dangerous". GameRankings. Retrieved 7 May 2015. 
  64. ^ a b "Eurogamer review". Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  65. ^ a b Thursten, Chris (23 December 2014). "Elite: Dangerous review". PC Gamer. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  66. ^ a b Kelly, Andy (18 December 2014). "Elite: Dangerous review". GamesRadar. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  67. ^ a b Hargreaves, Roger (5 January 2015). "Elite: Dangerous review – Han Solo simulator". The Metro. Retrieved 6 January 2015. 
  68. ^ "IGN review". Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  69. ^ "WORKING OVERTIME". IGN.com. Retrieved 13 January 2015. 
  70. ^ "Elite fans protest over losing offline mode". Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  71. ^ a b "Elite: Dangerous, David Braben and a scale model Cobra MK III". Eurogamer.net. Retrieved 21 December 2014. 
  72. ^ "Elite: Dangerous Creator Reassessing Refund Refusal". gamespot.com. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  73. ^ "Online-Only Elite: Dangerous Sparks Refund Backlash". gamespot.com. Retrieved 4 January 2015. 
  74. ^ "Frontier Developments Details Who Can Get a Refund for 'Elite Dangerous'". GamePolitics.com. 
  75. ^ Grayson, Nathan (9 December 2014). "Despite Player Outcry, Elite: Dangerous Will Remain Always Online". Kotaku. Retrieved 19 December 2014. 
  76. ^ "Review: Elite: Dangerous is the best damn spaceship game I’ve ever played". ArsTechnica. 5 April 2015. 
  77. ^ "Hearthstone and Elite: Dangerous Won Game Developers Choice Awards". 2p. 5 March 2015. 

External links[edit]