What is Elite: Dangerous and where it's going

As many here are interested in space games and some are confused about it- I think it’s a good idea to actually have some clarity.

The main selling point for a space game is for many to actually HAVE some sort of recreated space in it.
Elite does that and pushed the boundaries of what can be achieved in space games by going straight up the whole ten yards and actually give players the closest rendition of our galaxy in a 1:1 scale.

No other games ever pulled off or even tried it before… or better two did. Elite II: Frontier and Elite III: First encounter. Given the age of home computing at the time shortcut had to be taken and hard choices made.

Still- in Elite II: Frontier there was a whole galaxy in a single density floppy disk. The shortcuts I refer are the limitations of computing in the '90.
32bit machines, limited graphical power, internet connections only for a very limited public and so on.

From the get-go Elite:Dangerous was created with one scope only finally putting a real sized galaxy full of wonders at the hands of players.
A custom made engine dedicated to space (64bit from initial design), expandable and affordable (it could even now render not only in 4K but it could go way over that! Plus being developed in house has clear implication for future-proofing)- iterative design from a studio that has been developing consistently software for a long time with a leader that has drive, capacity and the skill to deliver but to be recognized even out of the field- Do you know Raspberry Pi and the foundation? Well thank this guy too! :slight_smile:

But that’s not jut it- following the development of Elite was emotional and gratifying as from the beginning the idea of iterative design was an obvious choice.
Modesty, care and careful choices have been the corner stones of Elite: Dangerous development.

As such the Alpha stage was lauded as one of the best ever released in software design

The beta stage went a bit longer than expected but eventually Elite launched the year it was promised the way it was promised- that is limited. In a certain way it was exactly a newer version of Elite (1984)- no planetary landings, no walking, not much beside a beautifully rendered, enormous space, and solid flight mechanics. Here’s were iterative design comes into play.
Frontier knew it was impossible to release in two years (2012-2014) a complete space game- and willing to take no shortcuts this time they decided to take time.

I don’t want to list a chronology of Elite development but in two years it reached a state were it’s really hard, even for me, to downplay the accomplishments.
From the sound design that’s absolutely (you’ll pardon the pun) stellar, to the GUI that’s a pure joy to use - no matter what control scheme you prefer - to the gorgeous graphics… what’s not to like?

There were wobbly moments where the infrastructures creaked under the weight- but everything held and year after year more content (both free and paid DLC) is released.

One of the news of the latest is that Frontier requested what the players wanted as Quality Of Life improvements and taking notes of what players feel is important.


So far a LOT in player driven questions have been answered with on-point software updates like more filter for the galaxy map, routes that are memorized between gaming sessions, more granular keybindings…

There’s more to uncover but there’s even more to come.
Obsidian Ant is always a vital part of the Elite Community so in the meanwhile look at this

As hinted by Frontier and as logically as it can be inferred FPS is soon to come.

More info here


and here


And for all of those that think a galaxy is boring compared to handcrafted planetoids- just look at these
Taken in game and usually untouched.


If you have questions directly related to Elite Dangerous I promise I’ll all in my power to answer as honestly as I can- let’s just try to keep this thread on this point and let it not devolve on debates.

I’m pretty sure the internet is filled enough with those.


…and you haven’t even touched on the "mysterious objects.*

I participated in the Beta and loved it. For a while there I played a ton of ED and got myself a Python. As you say - the flight modelling and combat was great, and the sound was stunning. The visuals as you say were amazing.

But in time it got repetitive, trading was hard to really fathom, and well… I just fell off the horse and have never gotten back on. My sense at the time was that the core assets - graphics, universe, combat, sound, were brilliant, but that what was wrapped around them was lacklustre and in need of a ton of work.

Nothing in Powerplay, in light of all the community feedback, felt compelling enough to get back on the ED horse. Engineers was much the same. Much of the gameplay read as heavy ‘grind’, requiring the sort of hours I just couldn’t really rationalise with a young family.

My conclusions from the outside looking in is that a great deal of their recent gameplay additions are more like MMO material than something that would placate someone like me who revels in more of the single player experience.

Of course getting totally hooked on FSX and P3D amongst other distractions hasn’t helped with any thoughts that maybe I need to check ED out again.

You’re not wrong. ED is good, but extremely repetitive. If you’re into PVP or just constant fighting against AI, then I’m sure that’s more than enough. But for guys who enjoy the single-player type play and are looking for more than just repetitive tasks, it lacks for sure.

And the huge event(s) they have require so much time investment due to scale that it’s not really reasonable to expect to just drop in here and there and be able to participate. At least I don’t feel it is.

For single player I consider it sort of a role playing game. You have to commit to exploring what it offers as it is true to that 80’s Elite ‘harshness’ that expects the player to not be guided or helped. It is a sandbox that needs a bit of commitment, which makes it unusual. Braben actually kept the feel of the earlier games and it polarizes people a bit because it is quite opinionated compared to today’s games.

Mining, smuggling, piracy are all better in MP but you have to like its capitalist feudal mindset and self-drive quest for money/ships/adventure.

It actually reminds me a bit of how non-flight sim people see stuff like DCS or XP10, as in ‘Why would you fly for 6 hours - that’s crazy!’. For people that like it they struggle to see why others don’t see it like they do.


I take your point re attitudes, the problem is that in order to improve in Elite you have to play a lot. You can be semi-proficient and enjoy flight swimming just playing occasionally. You can just play every now and then and be involved in ED. Too much to know and keep up on, in my opinion. Still a great game it just suffers from grind.

I agree with a lot with what everyone is saying, but i have to throw on some disagreements for additional chat-ography.

Flight modelling… not so great. In general its of a consistent standard but i preferred it back on beta when there wasn’t a cap on top end speed. I understand why they did it but i think they missed a trick. The problem they faced could have easily been solved by taking a leaf out of evochron mercenaries book.

But that small portion aside. Take the larger ships, anaconda plus. Its like watching a star trek movie where these behemoth ships with massive size seem to be oblivious to the laws of physics and structural integrity. They have amazing dexterity in space and must be made of “ohmygodiamstrong-antium” in order to not rip themselves apart. I really don’t understand this. Giving larger ships more believable turn rates would solve a lot of elites balance problems.

add to this the ai seem to present a different set of flight characteristics than humans. They can pull off manoeuvres and speed changes i simply cant replicate. I understand they needed to up the ability of the AI, but not at the extent of giving them non human flight ability. But its not over the top, but its noticeable.

But the flight model is overall good with a few minor detractors that detracts from the immersion a little.

As for single player lacking and boring, i can’t disagree any more. Its the perfect sandbox. Sure i grant you in todays gaming structure, we have been fed a plethora of dumb games that hold your hand. They tell you where to go, tell you how to handle a problem even put flashy lights over objects that may be of value to you… I cant help but think that we have become accustomed to this style of gaming even to some degree.

But we have been given a sandbox… a really big sanbox, a whole galaxy to be honest. A whole galaxy where at current exploration values would take over 1000 years for it to be uncovered in its entirety.

But where is that gameplay. There is a lot more than you think, if you are willing to use your own imagination. David B has said in an interview that he was really surprised by comments of not much depth but yet there are strings of quests that no one has even commenced after years of play.

I think there is so much depth here. From the feeling of loneliness of space, especially on a planets surface when your ship has been sent away and there is so much to see and explore. The myraid of gravity and surface types that make drivng on different planets unique experiences.

I think i feel this way as i don’t shoehorn myself into a specific category. I will try fighting, then exploring, then space missions, then surface work and exploring, then do smuggling, bounty hunting, then basic trading.

I only think this game is boring if you dedicate yourself to the grind. In that lies the boredom. I know guys that had the game as long as me and they did nothing but the grind. They wanted the biggest baddest ship as soon as possible and did nothing except calculate their max credits per hour and played to that. Did they get that anaconda quick, sure… but did they get bored, miss out on a host of gameplay and fun… certainly did. They quickly shelved the game due to boredom.

But lets take away from all that is above… what other gameplay is there. The answer is “Whatever your heart desires”

Lets take a clan called the Fuel Rats. They devised a clan of space fairing captains who get together and rescue stranded players thousands of light years from help. You as a player can call on them at anytime and anywhere and they will coordinate a host of ships to daisy chain fuel to you or supplies to get you going.

Quite basically, i think Elite, whilst like every game, has a few rough edges but also is one of the greatest sandboxes i have ever seen. There is more gameplay here than you can really poke a stick at and i really can’t justify any comment that says there is no substance here.

Its time to take our shackles off and use our imagination and intelligence. You don’t need your hand held and the elite universe is a wonderful (if you like space) place to do it in.


I really like your post.
Actually your post does more to convince me to buy the game and try myself than all those official videos and articles and other YT vids I have seen yet.
I am still a bit reluctant because of my memories of the old Elite games, and to be honest the planetary gameplay STILL looks kinda boring to me (all the planets I’Ve seen look empty. Some beautiful landscape, but empty nonetheless.)
EDIT: Just to clarify: My definition of boring may be a bit different than others’. To me Soccer Manager games are boring while DCSW and history lessons are not.

But you really do a great job in selling this. Might get it when it is on sale. Even if it is just to show @komemiute (thanks for the thread btw, you have some facts there that I really missed until now) that I am not a hater against this game. :slight_smile:
I just guess I’ll need one of y’all to show me around and not get killed the first day. :smiley:

I think the planets (aside from the vista’s) can indeed appear boring. Realistic planetoid sizes can put you in the middle of nowhere. But I have to say driving down some mountains kilometres high has proven a deadly challenge.

A part of the boredom of the planets can be attributed to 2 main things.

  1. Only non atmospheric planetoids are available to visit. Hopefully in the future we will see planets with atmospheres to provide an amazing visa.

  2. (and this is what I think the main problem with boredom lies) Planetary surface work won’t net you an income that rivals the standard practices. Therefore anyone trying to credit crunch will get bored very quickly instead of taking it for what it is.

The next patch seems to be laying the foundations towards a possible slow introduction to an FPS side of game play but how that will develop is only a guess.

If you are interested then I would whole heartedly recommend purchasing on a sale and also visit on YouTube for a guy called Obsidian Ant. He has a great channel that covers stories updates and also speculates on the future of the game.

There’s a thread on reddit now complaining about the gameplay. I thought it had a good coupple of points. https://np.reddit.com/r/EliteDangerous/comments/57st6y/stop_with_your_muh_immersion_crap/

I have to say Bogusheadbox really hit the nail on the head with his posts. I like ED. Sure, there are some things that need fleshing out and further developed but it is really a fun get-away from reality. The one thing I don’t care for or wish they’d change is the way the piloting of ships is done. I would like better, more realistic space flight model physics and I would prefer to control my ship like I used to do in the submarine simulation Silent Hunter and/or Dangerous Waters.

By this I mean I as the commander/owner move around to different stations on my space ship, ordering crew to do things with their stations, i.e. navigation, weapons, planetary orbit etc., docking. I could take control of a station when needed, piloting, navigation. The navigation would be a lot like when you set things up Kerbal Space Program, figure out your burn etc. You guys know what I mean. I think that would be a much more immersive experience in terms of running and maintaining a space ship than what is done now. The rest as Bogusheadbox has said is a wonderful sandbox in which my spaceship would travel.

It wouldn’t be Elite though if you controlled your ship in that way. I spent many, many hours in my youth playing the original Elite.

I have to admit, that even though I was a Kickstarter supporter and have purchased Horizons, I have spent very little time with ED. It just hasn’t grabbed me for some reason.


That’s because it doesn’t have any hands modelled

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(groan) :slight_smile:

@PaulRix I know what you mean, but I had a bit of a second-wind in Elite with the Rift. It’s got good enough that the maps can be worked within it, and it is one of the best VR games out there now.

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Yeah Elite is one of the few games I’ve had a chance to try with my new Oculus and it’s truly amazing in VR!

The sense of scale and presence when you’re landing or in a turning fight, turned some of my boring ships where in 2D Trackir4 I always felt that the cockpit glass seemed small and hard to see through a small window during a turning fight, into siting in the cockpit of a winnebago windshield with a great view since you can lean in to get a better angle during a turning fight and keep that position easily without your eyes tiring from having to look to the side with TrackIR. Best VR game so far.

As far as criticism, I got in during the beta and was very disappointed to see them release with such a basic shallow mission system which I quickly got bored of and caused me to park the game since there wasn’t much worth doing other than bounty hunting. I just recently returned to it a few weeks ago after hearing about the crashed Thargoid ship, and found that the game and especially the mission and reputation system is alot more enjoyable now with various non bounty hunting ways to make good money and they added faces to the missions and ATC dialogue that makes it alot more fun immersive.

I racked about 60 hrs the last couple of weeks having fun, and about 5h yesterday in VR, really enjoying it and looking forward to what ED has in store for us.

As a very unhappy backer for the first year, I’m glad I returned and they made me eat crow, it will just keep getting better from here.


I have 100+ hours in ED and its the most played game in my steam library.

I absolutely love the sound design. Every ship sounds different and environmental sounds are surprisingly vivid for a space game.

Cockpits and UI are great as well.

I’m not a big fan of exterior ship design. Some surely look nice put there are too many “pancake” clones for my taste :wink:

While the game is an exceptional sandbox with lots of different things to do, each of these things leaves a slightly shallow impression.
Take the mission board as an example: there are dozens of mission types / quests you can choose from. But once you have completed one of these missions, you know exactly what to expect the next time you select a mission of the same type. I guess this is what others mean when calling the gameplay repetitive or MMO-like.

What I really miss is the feeling of making an impact when completing a mission. My reputation and rank increase a little and there might be some effects on the background simulation (BGS), i.e. the space station might get into a “boom” state which increases profits when trading goods. But I’m still anonymous and I receive no sense of appreciation.

You shouldn’t expect a Wing Commander or X-Wing like experience with a story which makes you the master of the universe. In Elite you will always be John Doe. You can do two things to stand out in the community: play the grind game and unlock content other players don’t have the time or patience for. Or do some outside the box thinking like the aforementioned Fuel Rats example.

I’m not sure if you could ever implement a story driven approach to this game. Maybe as a separate game mode completely decoupled from the current MMO-like game modes.

To end on a positive note: I really like Elite Dangerous as you can dive into a different universe (pun intended). It manages to transport a unique atmosphere. Also I really like Frontier Development’s iterative approach. They accomplish to deliver a game that is enjoyable while maintaining lots of potential for future enhancements. I’m sure they have ambitions for more features and I’m looking forward to the next seasons.


If you want to make a difference, have you tried power play?

For those that are not in the know. Power play is where you pledge allegiance to one faction member and influence systems to convert the local populace to support that faction. This has a direct result on a particular system. I.e. a system is pledged to a power play and under a booming economy. By your actions you can plunge that system into civil war, degrade its trade and system mechanics and if not checked you can convert that system to your power and watch the economy boom once again (for your houses benefit)

This has bonuses and of course negatives. Each power faction offers you goodies or bonuses based on your faction standing (the more you help your faction, the higher your standing).

There are some interesting mechanics at work here. You can’t just colonise any bit of space without planning. A faction needs resources to keep systems in check.

If you join a faction and get a ranking, you can be hunted by other players who are pledged to other factions. You can of course leave a faction at any time, but depending on your status you may have a cooling down period or be branded as a defector where you can have a bounty on your head placed by the faction you left.

You can check each factions progress by looking at the “bubble” in the galaxy map

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Some more info on Graphical Advancements with 2.2 Guardians Release.


Yeah… like these?