Elite Dangerous: Review Of The Game
Elite: Dangerous is a space simulation.
In it, you assume the role of captain in space, in command of a spacecraft. You have 1,000 space dollars and all the space you need to explore. Are you going to make a fortune firing evil spacemen?
Or are you trying to cut out money by firing space rocks? You may be able to find wealth in the sale of rare space products. Or maybe you can reach the deepest depths of space itself, seeking useful and widely sought-after knowledge on the "what exactly is space" topic.
Elite: A Giant Spacey Sandbox is risky. The game's playing field includes our world as a whole, every star, and planet and nebula and moon we know about, plus billions of procedurally generated ones on top.
You are locked into the cabin of the most simple runaround ship in the game, the Sidewinder, and then left to your own devices effectively.
If you do, first is up to you completely. There are three abilities to rate in discovery, fighting, and trade. So if Elite: Dangerous aims to talk about, it's literally to succeed the best you can within these boundaries in this world.
In certain ways, the simulation of space is brilliantly accurate and yet unafraid compromised in others.
There are tons of rooms for starters. Each celestial body in Elite: Risky is the right physical distance away because flying within a device from planet to planet involves riding for multiple minutes per jaunt at superluminal speeds, as your destination expands from pale blue dot to screen-filling gas giant, or twinkling star to hot plasma inferno roaring ball.
Although when getting somewhere takes ages, traveling feels necessary.
Flying through Elite systems
Risky leaves you somewhat in awe of the reach and size of the worlds between which you are traveling, a feat assisted by a creaking, groaning soundscape of rocketing frameshift drives and churning engines of space. Your ears will imagine that you are in a rusty old boat that violates many physics laws only to deliver the next star with a load of vegetables.
The fidelity and precision, and slickness of the most simple acts in Elite: Dangerous sell the concept of space travel visually as well. Flying around is enjoyable.
However, when it gets to how ships handle themselves in normal flight, science takes a bit of a pause. Spaceships in Elite: Risky flying like aircraft, pitching, and yawing at set turning speeds, using steady thrust to propel themselves around.
It's almost necessary to have a joystick or at least an analog stick. And though you will mosey comfortably between worlds at hundreds of times the speed of light, while you have a peak speed of only a few hundred meters per second under natural propulsion, enough to have Newton spinning in his grave (with an absolute rotational velocity around the exact center of mass of his corpse, knowing that man).
But these peculiar mechanics of spaceflight result in even more exciting action, converting long-range jousting battles into close and brutal dogfights in which the adversary, cartwheeling, and spiraling through space like WW2 fighter aces, must be out-turned and out-maneuvered.
When one vessel can be more agile than another, the skills of the ship mean that much more, and the purposefully incorrect mechanics eventually produces the foundation of Elite: Dangerous's most advanced career path: fighting and damaging other ships in order to make explosions in space.
In comparison, everybody knows that Newtonian physics is for nerds.
There are a number of different types of space stations scattered over the galaxy and scattered around the numerous star systems. This is where you're going to find bulletin boards that produce a range of different task styles.
This ranges from the simple, such as shipping a quantity of cargo to a location, to the more risky and entangled, such as using its last known location to track down an NPC in space.
Not too many of these tasks to be found when published. From the start, you will see them replicated, with a couple of the words switched around. And, invariably, when you are on the road to completing a task target, you will find an NPC that will propose an alternate result.
For a higher payout, send the freight to another place. Call off the search for a bigger reward in return. On this space bow, you soon see all the procedurally generated strings.
This is not to say that it isn't satisfying to embrace and complete these missions. Early in the game, it's utterly compelling to grind up enough credits to upgrade from your standard Sidewinder.
It's fun to buy the first new ship and gaze around its new and polished interior, as is hearing the all-new engine noises that the thing makes.
Meanwhile, increasing your cargo capacity to hold more things sounds like a commercial-brained pilot's worthwhile progression, and adding more weapons on would also make any player feel better. A gratifying one is a slow loop of saving and updating your ship.
However, after a few hundred hours, development plateaus, and depending on the Elite style of play: Risky will become almost as boring as it should be correct to move cargo between rocks in space.
They barely adjust or grow when you best prepare yourself to take them out no matter which of the feasible career options you choose-trading, digging, researching, shooting good guys, shooting bad guys.
You can accept the same missions in a larger or more gun-added ship and receive the same credits with more zeros at the top.
When you drop out of hyperspace again and again to see the same handful of star forms resting in a marginally different arrangement to the ones you just left behind, even discovery yields diminishing returns.
After a bit, you don't sound like you're going into the vacuum-like an alien Francis Drake anymore, but like you're trapped inside a solar system set to shuffle.
All of this grinding and grinding as you fling through space is mottled by collisions with pirates (at least in the more risky systems), as well as the occasional sporadic "unidentified signal source" found hanging in space. But even these, showing themselves to only ever be a handful of scripted forms of encounter, continue to replay.
Often you're going to meet a dealer; sometimes, it's going to be random freight or those mysteriously pootling NPC ships around in the center of nowhere.
And it takes too much precious time to arrive at these unpredictable signs, sometimes entire minutes of just pointing the crosshairs at the signal and holding on the brakes.
Much, far too many like the Elite: Looking at a destination as it passes with excruciating slowness is a dangerous encounter. And realizing you've spent your time doing it requires too much.
You are too rarely rewarded for taking these detours, and the biggest reward in Elite is too often: it's risky literally because the game didn't waste any more time than it required.
Other structures exist, and bits are set here, trying to redeem ones. Battles featuring hundreds of individual NPCs and capital ships are beautiful to watch, and the battle against AI is wise enough to resist unnecessarily piling on you in these circumstances.
You can recognize the enemy ships that you know you can handle and fight those guys, somehow avoiding the bigger baddies with the scarier weapons.
However, Elite: Dangerous can be converted in a year's time if the creator will continue to upgrade at the rate they handled, leading up to release.
Yet they're going to have a great task of incorporating individuality and humanity into their world.
You remember how there are houses and towns and roads in the Pixar film Vehicles, but no humans? Yeah, imagine that, except there's no talking about fewer vehicles and cars, and cars look sad because it's still quiet. This is how isolated Elite: at the time, Risky looks.
But it is stunning, and it is not difficult to ignore the very basic pleasure of flying across it, and all should certainly witness it.
And the sound design of the game alone needs to be kept up to all other developers aiming to lasso a player's consciousness like a big sexy audio cowboy as an industry standard. It's the best sounding game ever.
Elite: A stunning arcade experience is scary, wired into a hollow galaxy, one that is so large and brazen that it might trick you into believing that there is more to see and do than there actually is. Anyway, you'll definitely enjoy it.