Elite Dangerous – Beta 1 Thoughts

I was just a kid when I first played “Elite”. I have fond memories of it, rushing home from school everyday, forgetting homework, and just sat myself down in front of the computer and then flying off into space.

30 years later, the same creator that made “Elite”, gives us “Elite Dangerous“. At the core, it’s still the 1984 game Elite, but updated with modern graphics and multiplayer capability.

By no means does that make Elite Dangerous an “MMO”. It’s more like a single-player game with a multiplayer capability. Much like Neverwinter Nights, or even older games like Baldurs Gate or Icewind Dale – they are primarily Single Player games but with multiplayer modes.

Thus, there won’t be the usual MMO staple – players killing other players every place you go for example. The online world is designed to be “drop-in-drop-out”. That means you can easily switch from playing the single-player game to the online mode, and everything will seem transparent to you – the only additions you would notice is just the human players, that’s all. The game world would still be the same. That ton of Gold you saw earlier will still be the same price in that system (unless players have suddenly dumped alot of Gold there and prices become lower due to more supply).

The background economy is working, and it does get affected by Player Actions, but not significantly like in X series universes. I dare say it works even better than most of X’s games, because you can actually see the effect your trade runs (as well as other players’ trade runs) have on the economy right before your eyes.

This is because the game designed, even in Single Player mode, to draw game data from their servers. You can choose NOT to do this too – for example when you’re travelling and it may cost you money to keep an internet connection alive.

Elite is also not X, not Eve, not anything else. It has unique gameplay mechanics not found anywhere else and it is therefore, not a game for everybody. For example – having the “best ship” and the “best weapons” doesn’t make you invincible. It just means it takes more hits to kill you. A skilled player in the default tiny ship with that “peashooter” can, and probably will, kill you before you manage to kill him.

Thus, this game is based very much on SKILL rather than STATS. So don’t think about trying to cheat by grinding offline in solo mode to get the best gear before you go back online. You can do it of course, but it won’t help much against truly skilled pilots. Also, having the best weapons doesn’t do you a bit of good if you can’t shoot too. You yourself MUST have some skills in the first place. It’s not a game about button mashing and spamming your “abilities”. There is also no “builds”, because your skills are not the same as another player’s skills. He might be good at using lasers, but you’re better at using bullets. What works for him won’t work for you. If you copy his “build” (ie his ship loadout), you’d die horrible deaths many times over because you just can’t do the things he can with that gear.

Another example – a skilled player in a trading ship, generally recognised as a ship with so-so armour but lousy weapons, can easily kill pirates who try to plunder him, even if the pirates were in “good” ships.

That said, the game direction is not even PvP in the first place. In general, 99% of the time online, people are actually co-operatiing with other people. They run missions together, share trade tips, or just generally chat about nothing. If you see a big Anaconda (think – warship) lumbering along towards you, don’t panic. 99% of the time it’s just a player coming along to say HELLO!, not to shoot you.

Right now, Elite Dangerous is in beta. Many features are not in, or not working right yet. However, whatever is already there,  works well and is actually addictive. Many people have said they’ve lost sleep over the game, every one just wants to do “1 more mission” or “one more trade run” and can’t put it down.

And it’s only a beta.

Can’t wait for it to be a finished product!


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  • John

    Interesting 🙂