The brain child of David Braben and his team Frontier Developments, Elite dangerous is a sprawling space exploration combat sim that is the sequel to the Frontier Elite that appeared decades ago on Amiga, Mac and PC platforms. Based in the year 3300, Elite will task you to spread your wings, and fly out into the dark unknown and earn a living anyway you see fit.
In this 400 billion star Galaxy of wonders, you can forge your own path forward. From bounty hunting to prospecting in asteroid fields. From trading across vast distances to doing the bidding of factions that turn the cogs of power, the galaxy is your play ground.
Choose from a wide library of ships to call home, then kit each out with weapons and systems from a selection that numbers on the near infinite. In Elite Dangerous anything is possible.
Grow your wealth, grow your reputation, or just go blow shit up, whatever you decide you can do it.
Elite Dangerous is one of the best space based games I have every played, It is mesmerising and captivating, thrilling and addictive.
So read on to find out why this is an absolute must play for all space fairing fans. Then jump in your ship, and join me, out there, in the cosmos.
Galaxy of Wonder
Huge Galaxy to explore
At the heart of Elite Dangerous is an unrivalled simulation of the Milkyway Galaxy’s 400 billion, thats 400,000,000,000, star systems. With each star system on average consisting of 5 planets and countless other smaller bodies there has never been a game world so vast.
Thats a huge amount of game by anybodies’ standards, but Elite being Elite prides itself on creating the most in depth, massive simulation of any space game ever.
When I finally entered the game, got suited and booted, sat down in my new ship. I quickly entered the galaxy map, just to get an idea of the huge nature of the task that lay before me. The galaxy was grand and vast in nature. The number of stars being simulated was totally beyond human comprehension. This digital galaxy that sat twinkling before me contained hundreds of billions of stars. But just saying that doesn’t come close to painting a picture of just how massive a number of stars that is. And I could visit them all.
As said above, each star housed hundreds if not thousands of objects. There was near infinite exploration possibilities at hand.
If you want a better way to visualise how much there is to see, go to any local beach, look at how many grains of sand there are on it, and that is how many little planets, stars, and asteroids you can visit in Elite Dangerous. I’m seriously not kidding. My jaw slacked and landed on my keyboard almost sending me into a death spin into a dock wall. The amount of stuff to see is utterly bonkers, beyond my comprehension.
Additionally, the Galaxy wasn’t just vast but beautiful to behold. Stars belched out iridescent gas to fuel my ships. Planets hugging there host star closely bubbled and roiled in the radiated heat. And conversely, ringed gas giants, glided quietly around dim points of light, their clouds the colour of rainbow, flowed and mingled, spinning, eddying in a dance just above absolute zero. And that’s not to mention the trillions of moons, and the quintillion’s of asteroids that skirt about each lonely star. Each waiting patiently for me, another explorer in a long line of humanity’s greatest, to look upon them for the first time.
Whatever I wanted to do in Elite, whatever way I wished to progress, Elite provided me an opportunity to go forward. To do it my way. No game has ever come close to creating such a sense of overwhelming wonder, the sense that I’m this tiny irrelevant moat of dust being jostled around in a galactic size whirlpool.
Upgrade, Infinite, forever.
Elite offers the largest most vibrant Galaxy every committed to computer game for you to explore. And to help me do that, the traders, space stations and planets all offer a market full of upgrades for tailor made for my chosen ship.
Whether I needed new weapons to blast my foes into space dust, or new mining gear to help gather up space rock there is something for everybody, every play style to help mold the ship of one’s dreams. So let’s take a look at some of the upgrades I found while exploring the Galaxy.
Weapons come in many different types that all have their own inherent strengths and weaknesses. There a literally thousands of different variants that I stumbled across on my trek across the stars. To start with, there are small, medium, large, and huge weapon mounts. Each of which is suited to different sizes or types of ship and the bigger the gun, the more hull melting it can do. Additionally, There are different aiming methods.
Fixed always pointed forward. Gimballed could auto target in a small area. And turreted mounts could turn in any direct to fire on foes. It was great having these options because, I’m going to be honest, I don’t have the best shot with a controller. Gimballed laser cannons were a life saver. And that brings me onto my next point: gun types. There is huge variety in weapon types. I used missiles, mines, lasers, rail guns, plasma guns, ballistic machine guns, ballistic cannons, and that’s just to name a few.
There are hundreds of different types that let me tailor my combat experience.
During my admittedly violent travels though-out the Elite universe, I learnt very quickly how important wrapping a good pair of Shields around my ship was. Get into a firefight without the shimmering gravity wall and my hull often got blasted into molten slag before I could get a shot off. Early on in my travels, my shield would take an age to recharge if damage or a few shots would take it out leaving me vulnerable. Later in the game, I equipped shields that could have let me withstand a supernova. I was indestructible. Especially if I used a little bit of shield management.
FTL drives were imperative for me to make any kind of headway in the Galaxy. They let me jump from star system to star system, without which I would have very quickly found myself stranded. FTL Engines come in all shapes and sizes. Early In the game I was limited to very small engines that would only let me hop 4 or 5 light years in one go. It was not even enough to get out of the local star cluster. But given time and much money, I eventually had a ship equipped with an engine that could jump me 25 light years in one stretching bound opening up the entire galaxy for me to explore.
The Enigmatic Engineers
Introduced in one of the latest updates for Dangerous is the inclusion of the engineers. These special locations were hidden throughout the Galaxy and offered me the chance to create new and exotic weaponry that gave me the edge on my foes. However using the engineer would prove no easy feat. I had to collect a huge amount of different resources from around the Galaxy such as metals and other types of trade goods. These engineers, in a process not unlike alchemy, spun the greatest weapons and upgrades the Galaxy has ever had the miss fortune of being shot by.
But the magic did not stop there. Once a weapon of choice had been created, I was offered the chance to spend more resources to re-role key stats for my upgrade.
For example, I Created a laser with a 2 MW output and I could re-roll the stats to change the power output to see if you could create a more powerful weapon.
These re-rolls change the weapon’s stats within a given range. In this case the range maybe 1.98Mw – 2.5Mw so it would be worth re-rolling as the 2Mw is close to the bottom end of the re-roll range. It’s an ingenues system, simple in its form but means I can get lost in a cycle of forever attempting to eek just another small amount of power from my systems. It’s pure roll-playing bliss.
Elite Dangerous comes with a number of different ships and they fall into three main categories. Lets take a look at them.
Combat S hips
First up we have combat ships. My favourite type of ship, naturally. I can’t play a good space game unless I’m slaughtering other captains by the dozen with my over sized doomsday ray of death. I started off with a pathetic little fighter that goes by the name of the Sidewinder. Now, the Sidewinder isn’t a particularly great ship, in fact, it’s dismal. The comes pack two pea shooters that could punch holes in wet paper, But its your ship, your baby, and your gateway into the more violent side of Elite Dangerous.
At one point I decided to try taking a more docile approach to earning a living in Elite’s dangerous galaxy. But to get into mining, I had to buy a ship that had a large capacity to carry merchandise and raw materials. There were many ships in the Elite vessel library that fell more to the side of logistics than laser shooting. Huge in size and slow to turn, the mining vessels I had the chance to play around with on my tour of the Galaxy handled like a dieing whale on rocky outcropping. But they could hold copious amounts of any mined or traded material that I could find.
The problem was, during my tenure as a Miner, I kept on getting harassed by Pirates, pesky little nats that they were. These would-be thieves, harassed me to try and get me to hand over my haul. Problem is, Mining ships come with two things that pesky little pirates don’t want to mess with. 1: Shields that could hold back the Nile. And 2: Medium turreted weapons that turn nats in paste while I casually keep on mining. It’s great, because as I’m getting ore, I’m also accruing bounty too. Win Win. Keep on attacking me fellas, keep on attacking.
The final ships that I had the chance to get to grips with in Elite Dangerous were the multi role vessels. These are the biggest late game ships that have the adaptability to take on any role. One such ship, the Anaconda, is a beast that at over 150 meters long is one of the biggest ships in the game. It could perform any role I cared to throw at it. If I fancied a session of mining I could kit it out with loads of holds and turrets and I would essentially be a space born floating fortress.
But, when I fancied taking on some bounties, the Anaconda could become a near impregnable multi gunned behemoth that could easily take on 8 or 9 smaller ships without breaking a sweat. If your worried that there is no end game in Elite Dangerous, stop now. Getting your hands on one of these multi million credit ships is going to take you a long long time. So enjoy the journey.
Job For The Boys
Bounty hunting is where I found my joy in Elite Dangerous. Hunting down fugitives and claiming massive amounts of bounty never gets old! Having worked my way up through the ranks, and slaughtered countless foes to get there, I was eventually rewarded by spending copious amounts of cash and time with the mighty Federal Corvette. The Corvette is a massive 165 meter long warship that’s got more guns popping out of its hull that a bee hive has bees.
With my massive capital ship stretching out before me, turrets tracking every moving object that slid into and out of view, I was a bounty accumulating machine. And it is, as far as I’m concerned, the best way of making money in Elite dangerous. And with my hulking brute of a ship laying wast to any enemy that dears to fire upon me, I would rack up huge sums of money that I simply wouldn’t be able to make any other way. Seriously, If you want to money fast and you don’t mind a bit of risk, jump into combat and get rich. Or die tryin’!
Trading for Wins
A slightly more sedentary way to earn money in Elite is was to trade in my guns, and built up my hull space so I could carry as many goods as possible.
By playing the way of a trader, I was stacking the odds in my favour by playing slow and making steady gains. It was not to my liking, as a like to take risks in games. After all, video games are the only place I know where you can die multiple times and keep coming back for more. Apparently you can’t do that in real life. But I could understand why some people would enjoy the slower life over the rough and ready die by the sword bounty hunting.
As a trader, I could lazily jump into my ship, buy commodities while slouched in-front of my on-board computer, and then have my merch automatically loaded by all-to-eager robots. Then it was just a case of finding a destination to sell them at a profit. Rinse and repeat. It’s all very easy stuff.
Yes the odd pirate would bite off more than he could chew and try to take me on, but every ship that can even remotely call itself a cargo vessel comes bristling with strong shields and a set of turrets that will turn any assailant into a cloud of ionised particles.
I could happily warp to systems, cruise to star ports, sell my haul, buy a new lot of goods and repeat the process over and over.
Yes, it does take a long time to make money, risk and reward and all that. But if your a gamer that graves to step into the big black for a slower pace of life, then trading is the way to do it.
When Elite Dangerous first came out on PC many moons ago, mining was a mind numbing, badly designed affair. Let me run you through the basics of how it would worked and how it changed.
When I first decided to start mining, the first thing I had to do was find myself a nice set of asteroids in a quiet corner of the Galaxy. Then I’d take my hulking mining vessel, which has less defence than baby slug, and perched myself next to one of the floating rocks. Next, I fired at the failed comets until they shattered. All very simple so far.
Problem is flying shards of iron and nickle tended to do a lot of damage. Bigger bits even had the unfortunate habit of blowing me up. Caution was obviously needed.
Next up, with shards flying off in all direction, I had to chase down one of them, open my cargo bay doors, and scoop the shard up. If I missed my bay doors, too bad, I blow up.
It was a mess of system that was fraught with danger, and the every tiny shard of worthless Iron had the potential to detonate my hard earned ship like a wet firecracker. Caution was always advised.
And that’s not to mention the ever present menace of pirates who like to send noobs like me to the big black void of death.
And once all is said and done, once I had frayed my nerves and bitten my nails down to the bone, the money I’d made just wasn’t worth it. Compared bounty work where one dead pirate would fetch me an easy 10,000 credits or more, a full tank of iron ore, would bring me in a meagre grand or two.
It was a pointless affair that few people bothered with.
Now with the introduction of the new updates, mining has become enjoyable, almost as enjoyable as – Gasp! – bounty hunting. Instead of having to make death runs by ramming into little bits of asteroid, I could deploy a swarm of drones that buzzed and fluttered about, picking up small chunks of ore and dragging them kicking and screaming into my hold. I could sit there, like a queen ant as my workers did my bidding. I no longer had to go chasing after every little peace myself. No, now I had an army to chase everything down.
And it actually makes it fun. What was a dreary experience, became one of my go-to jobs in Elite Dangerous. Oh, and it helped they increased the amount of cash I got for each unit of ore. But that only played a small part. Honest!
Not for the Faint Hearted
Hard as nails
One thing I have to make clear to all of you who are thinking I like the look of this game is it’s hard. Really, Really hard. And it’s a never ending time sink that will probably be the sole reason that after you have sunk one hundred hour into the game, you are jobless, and living, once more, in the basement of your parents house.
Simply put, Elite Dangerous is harder than a diamond scythe. It will cut you, eat you up, and it will make you question why you play game at all. But the pain, the anguish of playing, is worth it.
Just to give you an idea of the difficulty lets take a look at what should be one of the simplest operations in the game: docking.
If you want a sure fire way of killing yourself nice and quickly in Elite, try approaching a docking station or docking port to quickly. You will, in the most unfortunate way possible, find that sheets of metal crumple just as readily in space as they do under the the influence of gravity. Bounce around like sugar fed child off the landing pad, and other players will be treated to a light show of your vessel popping in space, regurgitating it’s contents. IE you, in to the cold of vacuum of space.
I kid you not. Go slow, very slow, in the presence of the landing pad.
You see, docking early in the game, is performed completely manually. You have absolutely no help what-so-ever. Even if your cack-handed, and your fingers have difficult making analogue sticks do your bidding. Your out of luck, you still have to dock your cumbersome collection of metal parts by yourself.
It’s not until later in the game, and hundreds of thousands of in game credits later, do you get awarded the privilege of turning on an auto pilot. Until that point, you are on your own, and one falls move will end in your vaporisation.
One area that may concern some is, that whatever platform you buy Elite Dangerous on, you will need a constant Internet connection to play it. Whether you rocket around on PC, or casually trade on Xbox and PS4, you’re going to need to be connected to the games servers. Which is a bit of a shame, if you want to play with other people you will need Xbox live or a PSN plus account as with all online games. But even if you want to shoot for the stars in single player mode, that Internet connection is still a perquisite.
It’s the only major negative of a game that is overall stunning to play, inhabit and be a a part of. Having done some digging, it turns out that much of the simulation is carried out server side, simulation that simply could not be calculated on the dated hardware of the PS4 and Xbox. Understandable considering the size and breadth of the galaxy.
A Dead Galaxy
The second problem I can place upon Elite Dangerous is the Galaxy, apart from the players and factions that fill a tiny proportion of the stars, is lifeless. There are no alien’s at war to stumble upon. No massive hulking star ships that have been floating in the cold of space for a million years to discover. No galactic empires that sit dormant waiting to lash out at any that cross paths with it.
No, the Galaxy though full of the inorganic is devoid of the organic. Planets and moons to shinning stars: it is a dead, Barron place. With no life to be found anywhere other than the main starting quadrant.
With 400 billion stars and with the player base having only explored a tiny 2 percent fraction of the stars, I would think there is much left to be discovered.
But alas, that is not so. For example, 2% percent of the stars still amounts to billions of planets visited. Around 8 billion star systems have been scanned and tagged and yet there is still no aliens. Well, apart from the impending Thargoid introduction. There is nothing, not even a hint at a fallen civilization, no cites left to be ravaged by dust and interstellar radiation. No network left to be disintegrated by times pulverizing fist. No, there is nothing to discover out there.
It’s a shame because I never felt like I was captain James T Kirk discovering new worlds and new civilization.
Instead it felt like I was playing in somebody else’s playground where there were very strict rules of play; though very fun rules in all fairness. There is never a feeling that a chance encounter is around the next star system. No hope of that hopeful alliance. No, it’s just you, other players and faction ships. Nothing else.
Yes the Thargoids will be introduced, they have already had certain little tid-bits thrown in to the Galaxy already. But it feels like the Thargoids are being hand placed by the developers instead of being discovered, teased out of the cosmos by the player base.
The future of Elite Dangerous looks as bight as many of the stars that fill it’s sprawling Galaxy. With the release of the game on PS4, and the inclusion of the Horizons Expansion, Elite has moved into new territories as it always has done over its 4 years lifespan before moving from PC to console.
Now with all of Horizons addons almost complete and out in the wild, Braben and his space sim gang will look to move on to creating the next big chapter in this space saga. By buying into Elite, you’re essentially guaranteeing that your game will be upgraded with new and exiting features for the foreseeable future.
With the thargoid Expansion due in time, VR implementation of PSVR, and on foot shooting sections planed for the future. Elite is a game that keep on giving and giving. And you get all this, and thousands of hours of gameplay for such a meagre price. I don’t think any game, ever, has offered such huge, unabashedly variety and value. Apart from the original Elite games of course.
I must admit, I am a bit of a sci-fi geek. I love Star Trek, I put up with Star Wars. I even like a bit of Stargate. But in all my time of playing games, of jumping into the cockpit in Freespace 2, in sliding around in the amazing Freelancer, no game has ever reproduced what I suspect is the wonderful feeling of being ‘out there.’ Out in space, the vast infinite black that is a canvas for you to paint your story, your life in space.
No game has ever come close to pure emotion inducing brilliance of Elite dangerous’ exploration. From the very first time you spin your FTL drive Up and punch it to warp, to the unforgettable spectacle of 100 ships dancing about in a battle for supremacy, it never lets you go.
Elite Dangerous has created a place to live out our wildest space born fantasies. When I sit down, pick up my controller, and slide into my digital cockpit, I am in that universe. I am transported to 33rd century where factions vie for power and great evil stirs in the darkness.
Yes it has it’s issues like any other game, it is insanely hard to start your travels, with every wall, every asteroid a possible encounter with death. And having to be connected to the Internet is just wrong.
But there is so much here. So much potential to suck your life up and place you in a new one, a new one of space ship lasers and rockets. A new life, 1 thousand years in the future, where the Galaxy is literally your play ground.
Elite Dangerous is a game like no other, it’s ambition is as vast as a mountain, yet it scales it’s own heights to peer down upon us, showing us the way forward.
It’s a stunning game. Bear with the hardship, have a solid Internet connection, sink the hours in, and you will be rewarded with a game experience that is matched by no other.
-Huge Galaxy to roam around in
-Loads of ships to buy
-Lot to explore and see
-Driving around on planets is fun
-Commander system is great
-Ship combat is incredibly satisfying
-Jumping to warp has to be one of my personal favourite moments in gaming history
-Huge selection of weapons and add ons for your ship
-Great well worked co-operative multiplayer
-Rebalanced reward system means quicker to get cash to upgrade.
-Fantastic variety of missions
-Emergent gameplay and story telling.
-Game take a lot of time to play effectively
-Extremely hard at first
-Galaxy is a little lifeless
-You need an Internet connection to play
I recommend Elite Dangerous as a Must buy for all fans of space games. However if you don’t like hard games, you may want to Try It first.