Elite: Dangerous has been out now for around 3 years. It’s had a lot happen over the course of it’s life and the developers don’t look to be slowing down any time soon. I’m reviewing this game as it is now, in 2017. I’ve had a nosey around the net, and the majority of reviews are from the early days and might not necessarily remain relevant in the game’s current climate. So, I’m going to review this one right from where I’ve started playing, 3 years on after some of the niggles have been ironed out.
I picked up the Deluxe Edition of the game on the Xbox One. This versions comes with the core game, the Season Pass, the Arena DLC and the Horizons expansion. Ohh, and some redundant liveries for some of the game’s vehicles.
First things first, 10-hours is not a long time in this game.
Seriously, I was astounded to learn that I’d managed to rack up over 10-hours worth of playing time. It felt more like 3-4 hours, and that’s why they call it Elite: Dangerous. It eats up all of your time and that is ‘dangerous’.
God-awful puns aside, this game is huge. Not in terms of space-on-the-hard-drive ‘huge’, but gameplay-wise ‘huge’. It’s effectively an MMORPG set in a to-scale representation of the Milky Way galaxy and there’s a hell of a lot you can do. The world (and by ‘world’ I mean the whole universe of the game) is set in real-time, but 1016 years in the future. When the game was released in 2014, the Elite universe was set in 3030, but today it’s in-game date is 03/05/3033 (that’s the British way of doing a date by the way, the proper way). There is no story in Elite: Dangerous, well at least no specific script to follow. There is an under-arching backbone to things, but you could honestly play this game for well over 30 hours without even touching that type of thing. Basically, there are a few political parties who each expand and fall over the course of time. Because it’s all set in real-time every player’s choices and actions can directly impact the balance of power in the ongoing battle for interstellar conquest and control. This touches and enhances every aspect of the Elite: Dangerous experience over time due to the actions of the real players playing the game. Literally, as you play, your actions, experience and your own story influence a unique connected gaming experience and an evolving narrative that provides ever-changing multiplayer gameplay opportunities.
So, starting the game for the first time is interesting. You begin with only a small starship and a few credits whilst you’re cast out into the world. It’s sink or swim and you need to pick up the controls rather sharpish. I left my first space station like a paraplegic being thrown off a bus without their wheelchair. It was probably just as much of a struggle; I bashed into things and earnt myself a fine within 2-minutes of taking off. There are plenty of video guide tutorials available from the menus and there’s also a training option if you want to try it. Me being the stubborn fool that I am, jumped straight in head first… and landed very much how you would have expected the paraplegic to land on the pavement. I soon picked things up and once mastering the flight controls, I haven’t really looked back. You have to do a fair bit of grinding in your underdog starter ship before you can upgrade to bigger and better things. But then, hopping from place to place, buying and selling small quantities of goods for moderate profits can be a peaceful and relaxing way to spend a few hours here and there.
It’s very much cut-throat galaxy, and people can be out to hurt you. Some of them are NPCs, others are actual players who hunt you down. In my time playing, I’ve never once been shot down by an actual player, and on only one occasion have I been destroyed by an NPC. It was a federal gunship that I fancied my chances against and it made short work of my poxy shields and basic armour. So the likelihood of death is pretty much entirely down to you, and the poor decisions you make.
Man, I’ve made a few. I’ve died twice now by suffocation, and I’m telling you; it’s a grim way to go. I ran out of fuel on both occasions, both by pure naivety. When you run out of juice, obviously your ship begins to shut down. You lose all functionality and manoeuvrability and then whilst you float through space, your life support system packs in. As you can imagine, the oxygen levels diminish and you start to die with “Oxygen levels depleted” the only illuminating light on the ship’s HUD. Death is neither quick nor painless, it takes around 5 minutes in the basic ship. What a riveting experience, helplessly listening to your in-game character choke.
Now that I’ve succesfully lowered the tone of this post, I thin it best we swiflty move on.
Rather than a game, I’d prefer to describe this as a simulator. It’s a space-sim in essence, and although the line between games and simulators is a slim and faded one, there’s no real purpose to Elite: Dangerous. The only objectives you have in this ‘game’ are the ones you set yourself. You need to find your own way, and the experience is one to cherish. The only direction the developers have pushed you in is that of achieving the rank of ‘Elite’, which can be done over time by picking up quests/missions from the various space stations and ports. They’re simple jobs that you’d expect from an RPG game: go here and kill this guy, to here and collect these resources, go here and deliver a message, etc. Once you start ranking up and earning more money, the game continually gets bigger and has more to offer.
I’ve bought a few ships and kitted them out. I’ve spent a small fortune on my latest one but it looks as if it’s ready to battle with the best of them. It’s nimble, has ample firepower to hunt bounties and fend of pirates, whilst there’s enough cargo space to perform courier and mining missions. I’m in a good place right now.
- Expansive, vast and immersive universe, you feel like you’re actually a commander exploring space.
- Real-world with an ever-changing political climate.
- Given free-reign from the off to do whatever you want.
- Still supported by developers, updated regularly with new content.
- Multi-crew mode allows friends to jump into you ship and man the turret whilst you fly around.
- Incredibly time-consuming, but aren’t all games? You can’t have a quick 10-minutes.
- Intimidating to begin with, there’s an awful lot to take in.
- Lack of story or objectives may take its toll and I fear the game will become rather boring before long.
- Exploration can become monotonous once the awesome feeling of jumping to hyperspace wares off.
In all, I’m loving my time with Elite: Dangerous, it allows me to live out all of my childhood fantasies.
Like the rest of the gaming world, I was so excited to try No Man’s Sky when it was first announced, the gameplay and mechanics looked fantastic. As we all know, that dream crumbled and the game was branded a failure due to the over-hype. Elite: Dangerous though has something about it, it’s the game that, for me, fills the void left by No Man’s Sky. Since Elite: Dangerous was released a good two years prior to No Man’s Sky, that makes him the boy in the friendzone who’s always been there waiting for you. Give him a chance.
I’ve got so much more to say about this game, but quite frankly, I can’t be arsed. I’d much rather be playing it than writing about it… which is exactly what I’m going to do. Plus, I’ve got aliens to find!