To start; I’d like to make it clear that I have no personal, or professional relationship with the developers. I have not received money, or any rewards (Digital, Material, Sexual or otherwise) to give this review. However I do have a personal bias for Frontier Developments, as I have stated in my teaser. Being a massive fan of Frontier: Elite II, I have been waiting for at least a decade for a new game in the series and here it finally is. Yes; I realise this isn’t a Game Reviews site, and it’s just a section within a Hentai community of all places but what can I say, EcchiDreams is pretty diverse, but not at the expense of ethical practices.
Minimum System Requirements are as follows:
- Windows 7
- Quad Core CPU (4 x 2Ghz)
- 4 GB System RAM (more is always better)
DX 10 hardware GPU with 1GB video ram
- Nvidia GTX 260
- ATI 4870HD
- Continuous Internet Connection (Internet = Always On)
With four hundred billion stars, some people will say “But even if I play online, and even if everyone on Earth played and didn’t stick to one system it’d feel empty” but I’d say “Elite Dangerous makes you appreciate the unfathomable vastness of space, where you can explore and may never see human’s ever again, if you so wished and I think to be able to explore gallivant around the Galaxy is a very generous trade off… In my case I’m probably getting a very sweet deal”. There is a sense of pride and wonder when you are exploring a system that potentially no one has ever been in before, and perhaps no one will ever go to. Elite: Dangerous is set in 3301 (34th Century).
Graphically speaking Elite: Dangerous is inspiring, each point of light is an actual star within the universe, unlike the X-Series in which it seems like a fixed image wrapped around your view. Nebulae and even the galactic core gets bigger the closer you travel to them too, which really adds to the all immersion of the game.
As for resolutions, even though there aren’t monitors capable of displaying it the game can be played on 4k, 8k and even 16k resolutions. I personally use 2715x1527 (DSR by Nvidia) on a 1920x1080 screen, ultra settings (of course) and sometimes I get lost in the stunning visuals from time to time. Stars look almost fluid like, and speaking of which - every planet follows a real time orbit which means if you are in orbit of a planet and wait long enough you’ll see Day and Night cycles, and this is true with stations, some of which the planet eclipse’s the systems star which causes night to fall on them. The level of detail and design is absolutely breathtaking when you stop to look at it. I am concerned by the lack of lighting on the dark side of a planet, from cities that you’d expect to see on Earth. But from what I read this morning this will be added into the next update.
Music and sounds is by far where Elite: Dangerous knocks most games I’ve played out of the ballpark. The satisfying “Pop” when a ship explodes, the sounds of the engines (which is different in every ship I have tried so far) to the weapons systems - absolutely amazing. I have included a video of actual game play (my game play) which shows what I am talking about. Although the one thing I do have complaints about here is the quality of VoIP, which leaves a lot to be desired.
Elite: Dangerous features a fully dynamic economy and galaxy. Meaning what we (as players) do, does affect the system or galaxy (if the “thing” is big enough to) in a number of ways. As of yet I’m not sure if this is a good thing or not, as it’s a computer game I suspect an exploit in something is going to unfairly balance something and cause the carefully stacked deck of cards to come crashing down. But this as far as I am aware hasn’t happened yet, so fingers crossed?
Something a lot of people have complained about is the Docking Mechanics, now call me a fanboy but I say “Learn how to fucking dock then” and word of advice; don’t completely trust the Auto Docking Computer either - the one time I took my eyes off of it, was the one time it did something really fucked up and got stuck inside the station’s textures… How the hell it managed that - I have no idea (I wasn’t looking), certainly don’t take your eyes off it when using it with a Lakon Type 6, because that bitch will skid across the docking pad like butter in a frying pan. The Classical music (Blue Danube) is a nice touch and feel like a economically privileged bastard when I’m using it, perhaps the only time I will feel that way.
Controls took a little while to get used to, but once I got used to them they’re almost second nature, although I did change the mouse behaviour and tweaked the A and D keys for rolling to more fit my style of playing, the keys are fully customisable and whilst I haven’t had chance to try it out yet- the 360 controller does work quite well with it although a specialised Joystick and Throttle is supposedly the best way to (and the way in which your character) operate(s) the ship, but I can’t justify paying for one of those when my current set up works just nicely. Unfortunately one complain I have here with the GUI is when Hardpoints are deployed, let’s say I have a beam laser on my primary and missiles on my secondary. Primary is triggered by the left button and secondary is triggered by the right button. So why in Gaben’s name is Primary put on the right of the screen and secondary put on the left? That doesn’t seem very intuitive at all.
Then we get to Gameplay Mechanics… Currently you start off in a small Sidewinder (or Eagle if you got the Beta, like I did - I still don’t condone Pre-Ordering especially after Egosoft’s debacle) and 1,000 credits. You’re in a space station (LHS 3447 for most people, for some reason I stated at LHS 1914) and what you do from there is your business. Start a trading job, do missions, be a courier, pirate, bounty hunter, explorer, asteroid miner, whatever! The World(STRIKE) Galaxy is your oyster. It’s “Level” progression is split into three camps “Combat” “Trade” and “Exploration” of which you can “Progress” the ranks independently. There are also a number of “Super Power” groups such as the Federation, the Empire and the Alliance and countless of smaller groups, organisations, corporations and so on, each with their own missions and such.
The only loading screen I see for the whole game is the one when you go into a game, other than that there aren’t any visible loading screens. We are in the 21st 34th Century - It’s about damn time.
There is currently a serious problem that needs addressing with the Private Group feature in that if the group is split on different servers you can absolutely forget about trying to talk with them, massage them and even see/meet up with them in game. Both/All sides must restart the game just to have a chance of connecting to the same server. This is majorly off putting and at times frustrating, especially when the game decides to move you to a different instance to your friend(s) in mid-game.
What I personally would like to see is spatial anomalies and “Weirdness” that could be backed by science, like newly formed systems, T Tauri type stars in which cloud matter surrounds them, alien races or particle fountains! I understand we’re going for realism here but then… When I checked HDE 226868 it didn’t even have a black hole in the system, let alone a star having it’s mass being “consumed” by one. As for HR 7012 I see no planetary collision, in a game that prides itself on realism with stuff we (As humans) know, this was majorly disappointing and sorely underwhelming, at this point I’m hazarding a guess that Fomalhaut doesn’t have the dust cloud, but I haven’t been there, yet. There are more bones to pick with Blackholes in the game such as time dilation and/or spaghettification, but seeing as I haven’t seen one since Beta/Gamma I have no idea if they’ve improved or not (I haven’t been to HDE 226868 since Gamma either). 'Don’t fuck me around on this, Elite' I'd protest. Other than actually going to them and seeing them myself - I know my stars and shit but basically what I am saying here is this mechanic (Exploring) could do with some work.
Some have asked “Why aren’t there Quasars?” Because there isn’t actually any in our Galaxy (that we know of), so this is accurate. Although fun fact; some scientists believe that we might have one that "comes back to life" when Andromeda and the Milkyway merge in several billion years time.
You can make a fair bit of money off Exploring, but I really didn’t bother until I got an Advanced Scanner. You can sell the exploration data to any (as far as I know) starport for some cash, as long as the explored system is 20LY or more away- fair enough… However I found there was little to no point in it unless you got yourself an Advanced Discovery Scanner, not that I am complaining about this. I think it’s great that there are extra tiers to the Discovery Scanner. Trust me you’ll want one, if your aim is to explore.
Combat is amazing, for me I find that the blue bar on the speedometer is the “Sweet Spot” that allows me to turn faster, and I highly recommend investing in a Kill Warrant Scanner if you’re a bounty hunter, you will not be disappointed. Unfortunately… As you can see in the video this is far from perfect. For example if a Federal Security Service ship nicks you (hits you accidently in combat) there’s no apologies, they’re not wanted, nor do they face repercussions. You hit anything but a target that isn’t “WANTED” and you’re in for it. 200cr fine, which seems reasonable-ish, but the problem is every fucking “Cop” will be after your blood. Yes I suspect my aim might not be good, but come on - when a ship comes up from under you quickly OBVIOUSLY seeing you’re firing then they should expect to get hit… Seems a bit “Entrapment(y)” and "Overkill" to me.
Protip: Resource Extraction Sites are the best place to “Farm” easy kills. If you’re into Piracy you might want to consider this too. I know I am. I highly recommend doing the “Combat Training Demo” before doing any combat. It should also be noted that Resource Extraction Sites are significantly more demanding on the GPU for obvious reasons.
Trade back in Beta used to be pretty awesome, especially with Slopey’s Trade Calculator tool which Frontier Developments seem to not like the use of (as it scraped market data from their servers) as a result we have to use manually updated data. This is fine with me as far as I am concerned - to a degree. You see in Elite: Dangerous there is a number of systems that I’m going to call “Open” about their trade information and such (Systems you don’t have to spend in game Credits in order to obtain the information), these systems should be allowed to be scraped for these calculators… At the very least I’d expect useful information when I buy trade data, as it currently stands it’s useless. Trade as far as I am concerned right now is pretty broken, although I did make 8/9 million off of buying Palladium at Worlidge Terminal at LHS 3447 then selling it at Cleve Hub in Eravate. Its several trips mind, and the way back to Worlidge is pretty time consuming but worth it if you have a Cobra MkIII, with lots of cargo space or a Lakon Type 6, or bigger ship with lots of cargo space. (Free tip there)
There was some controversy a month before release when Frontier Developments announced that there wasn’t going to be an offline mode, this is probably due to the fact that the game is dynamic, and action affect the Galaxy (or portions of) now the gameplay itself is endless server costs and maintenance isn’t and there is a bit of uncertainty as to what will happen. What compacts this problem is the features that will be implemented over time in Expansion Packs which is even more concerning - because I’m sensing “£40 for Expansion Pack”. Some of these features I was under the impression would be included, but eh it is what it is. What it does have going for it is that the Developers are also players of the game, and it’s something they very clearly have a lot of pride in as it can be seen in the next video, it’d definitely seem that there is much for them to do as there is for us (the players to do) and to see this kind of enthusiasm from a dev team on a game… Is heart warming.
Features we can expect to be included in these “Expansion Packs” are apparently:
- Landing / driving / prospecting on airless rocky planets, moons & asteroids
- Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships
- Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports
- Accessing richly detailed planetary surfaces (and even cities)
- Availability of giant ‘executive control’ ships to players
Now I’m already sensing that there is going to be at least one comment saying “Star Citizen is better!” And quite frankly I don’t care, lets set something clear. We haven’t had a decent space simulator to this magnitude and quality in a very long time, certainly not with this generation of computers. But really they have a lot of differences and it’s like comparing Golden Apples, to Golden Oranges; they’re both Golden and Fruit, as well as not very edible (I’d imagine) but that’s it - they’re different. That said if the rumours of StarCitzen’s Pay2Win are overblown or false I might pick up that game too, and review it… Unfortunately; despite its flaws, Elite: Dangerous has me, well and truly hooked. Elite: Dangerous feels like and is pretty much a Work in Progress, but it’s a damn fine Work in Progress and I look forward to the new features and future updates.
I do fear for some aspects of this game’s future, I was a late backer due to money constraints (I couldn’t afford 2x Alpha copies, otherwise I’d of gotten ten) and there is a lot of work that needs to be done in some areas. However this game is fucking awesome, graphically, sounds, immersion, music, it’s hit after hit and in these areas it does feel very well polished. I do like the fact that this game is dynamic, none of those scripted cheap ass endings we saw in Mass Effect 3 and I think I will be playing it for years to come.
The problems with this game are small or are outweighed by positives. I feel most of the things wrong with this game can be fixed, and probably will be fixed at some point. It certainly did better on launch than X-Refail even if comparing those to games is like comparing a Golden Apple to a Kick in the Bollocks.
- Ability to play Solo or Private Group instead of jumping into public.
- Music and Sounds.
- Graphics, obviously.
- Somewhat future proofed with 4k, 8k and 16k graphics and textures.
- Truly Dynamic Economy.
- A truly dynamic galaxy, shaped by the Players actions.
- VR/Oculus Compatible.
- Exceptional attention to detail.
- 400-billion fucking star systems!
- Extremely promising future.
- Absolutely free-ranged.
- Dedicated and passionate staff behind it.
- Bugs with the Private Groups is infuriating.
- Systems that we know of, aren’t accurately portrayed.
- VoIP is dodgy, at best.
- VR/Oculus Compatible (I don’t have one ~envy~)
- Authorities over-react to NPC’s Pilot error.
- Trade Data is useless.
- It’s online only (this is a deal breaker for some).
Well worth your money? If you like this genre of games then hell yes it is.
Please note that this article was originally posted up on January 23rd 2015; we have since redone our articles system and moved the review - which has given it a new "Published Date". Apologies for the inconvenience.