by Marko Susimetsä
previewed on PC
The World is Changing (cntd)
Also the ships and available upgrades have changed in some ways from one instalment to the next and, here, Elite: Dangerous is no exception: you will be able to customise your ship in many ways from different kinds of thrusters, weapons systems and miscellaneous equipment (passenger cabins, ECM systems etc.) all the way to its colour scheme.
Aside from technology, it is naturally the inhabitants that matter. The original Elite had a multitude of alien species inhabiting the worlds in addition to a species called Thargoids who were in an all-out war against the other species. The sequels ignored the aliens almost completely, aside from a reference to Thargoids in the third game. Elite: Dangerous will also ignore the alien species at least at first. David Braben has said that there will be several varieties of humans, but they will mostly vary due to the gravity of the planets where they live on, but no alien species as such. Thargoids, however, may be making an appearance and I would personally not be surprised if some later expansion introduced a First Contact kind of event with other new species. In any case, a 100 billion star systems will hold many secrets for the explorers to discover!
Fighting and Realistic Physics
For many Elite fans, this is the question that matters the most. The original Elite had aeroplane style controls (roll and pitch), while the sequels opted for Newtonian flight: yaw and pitch with the need to first overcome your speed in one direction if you wanted to turn to a new heading. Both approaches have their fans. Elite: Dangerous is attempting to find middle ground and make the combat both fun and entertaining while still using Newtonian physics. But nothing is set in stone yet and it remains to be seen if the game allows you to retain velocity in one direction while facing into another, or if we will be flying aeroplanes in space instead (I hope not).
In battles, the ships will have shield technology protecting them from incoming fire. Small ships will have a single shield generator, while larger ships will require two or more protecting various areas, making it possible for an attacker to wear down a single section of the shield and then fly underneath the rest of the shields to fire at the ship itself.
Other than that, the universe will be based on pretty realistic physics. David Braben had promised that the only fantastical element will be the travel speed (hyperspace). The galaxy will have realistic features, such as comets, Kuiper belt, Oort cloud, pulsars, black holes and perhaps even protoplanets and protosystems. The developers are also eager to simulate binary star systems like Beta Lyrae where the stars are so close to each other that one of them is pulling hot gasses from the other, forming an accretion disk. All of these should produce staggeringly beautiful sights for the enjoyment of explorers and regular tourists.
A Long Wait
The Kickstarter for Elite: Dangerous ended Friday last week and it simultaneously set the record for highest Kickstarter goal (£1.25M) to be successfully funded, showing the dedication of the fans, especially given that the average pledge per backer was £61 – much higher than other recent game Kickstarters have received. Now that the funding has been confirmed, Frontier Developments will spend year 2013 making the game. The alpha and beta access, as well as the final release are promised to happen in 2014. It will truly be a long wait for all of us.