Released on: December 16 2014 (PC), October 6 2015 (Mac, Xbox One), June 27 2017 (Playstation 4)
Available Platforms: PC, Mac, Xbox One, Playstation 4
Price: $39.99 CDN ($29.99 US) [Base Game], $39.99 CDN ($29.99 US) Extra for the Horizons Expansion
Space… the final frontier, an ever-expanding universe full of secrets waiting to discover. Unfortunately, with the sheer size of our galaxy, it is highly unlikely we will ever fully discover it. That is where Elite Dangerous comes in. Being a space simulator, Elite Dangerous promises to allow players to explore the galaxy and all it holds. With a galaxy-sized promise to keep, is Elite Dangerous worthy of going where no one has gone before?
There is not much to Elite Dangerous’ story. The player assumes the role of a commander tasked with exploring the great unknown that is the Milky Way galaxy. While the game’s story is short and sweet, the experiences the player can have are near limitless. The player can decide to go bounty hunting, stopping space criminals and bringing them to justice… or to their grave. Players can also go mining for minerals or just go as far as their spaceship will take them to explore new places. What I like about Elite Dangerous is that with so many possibilities, it is easy for players to share unique experiences and discoveries.
Elite Dangerous’ visuals are magnificent. I have never been to space, so seeing the colossal celestial being that is a star for the first time is mind-blowing. There are even different kinds of stars too. The White Dwarfs are gorgeous and dangerous. Get too close, and the ship starts to overheat. Stars also have their solar system, with planets that have either their moon or space stations. The distance that the player has to travel to get to one of those is difficult to quantify.
One polarizing aspect to Elite Dangerous is its gameplay. Elite Dangerous has one of the steepest learning curves I have ever come across. I would easily compare learning how to pilot a virtual spaceship to learning how to driving. Getting acclimated to piloting a spacecraft is extremely satisfying… until it involves. Combat is another area the player needs to learn if they are to survive the dangers of space, and I haven’t even gotten into mining yet. It will take a lot of time for the player to get used to Elite Dangerous’ controls. Thankfully, the developers have implemented a few aids to help players adjust. They recently added a docking computer that lands the ship for the player. Automatic landing is a godsend, as it is one of the most frustrating parts of the game for new players to learn. When the player does learn how to maneuver their ship, it becomes second nature. It even becomes relaxing to cruise through space, searching for the next point of interest. With enough practice and patience, piloting becomes intuitive.
Elite Dangerous has tons of space stations for the players to discover. Each space station belongs to a faction that may, or may not, control the surrounding area. The player can choose to take on missions from each faction’s representative. If they succeed, the player will earn money and become more friendly with that faction. Missions have a time limit, however. In some cases, if the player fails the mission, they will receive a fine. Paying off a fine is a matter of getting to a station in the associated system. To take on missions, players need to be at a high enough rank and be on good enough terms with the faction, along with having the appropriate cargo space or equipment depending on the mission. Players can spend the credits they earn on bigger and better ships, weapons, equipment, and even land vehicles (if they have the Horizons expansion). Space stations also allow the player to restock on fuel and ammunition, and they can repair the player’s ship too. When buying a ship, the player has the option to insure their ship if it gets destroyed. I would highly recommend readers insure their ship, as Elite Dangerous will replace insured ships in the event they get destroyed. There is no telling what the player will find out there, so being prepared is critical. One of my favorite things to do in Elite Dangerous is to take delivery requests, as it gives me a reason to explore different sections of the galaxy. With how big Elite Dangerous’ galaxy is, there is just as much content. So much content it’s staggering. I have at least fifteen hours into Elite Dangerous, and I haven’t even scratched the surface of what it has to offer.
One minor complaint I have with Elite Dangerous is how much content not available to players who don’t have the Horizons expansion. Creating your commander? Horizons is required. Planet exploration? Land vehicles are only available to Horizons players. If the player wants to customize their ship to the fullest extent, they will need to buy premium currency. Yep, Elite Dangerous has microtransactions. While the important stuff is available using credits (in-game currency), it is annoying to see all of the things I could buy if I had some premium currency.
The biggest issue with Elite Dangerous is the learning curve mentioned earlier, and how much there is to keep in mind. The user interface is complex, and referring to the different panels itself takes some acclimation. If the player can get over the complexity of Elite Dangerous’ controls, then there is no issue. For the rest, though, it is enough to keep them from experiencing the wonders of virtual space. While Elite Dangerous has made great strides in making things simpler for players to control, it is still challenging to get past that initial hurdle. I have invested a few hours into just learning how to play Elite Dangerous. A steep learning curve isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it does require a lot of patience.
Despite Elite Dangerous being an incredible experience, it isn’t easy for me to recommend to everyone. Gorgeous visuals, exciting places to visit, and a relaxing atmosphere are what will attract players to Elite Dangerous. The steep learning curve, the overwhelming amount of content, and the sheer vastness of space might deter others. Elite Dangerous is a unique experience that I would recommend to those with the patience to learn its intricacies, but not to those looking for a less involved game.