Thoughts on Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter 4 Changes

Frontier Developments recently confirmed the scope of the exploration changes coming to Elite: Dangerous Beyond – Chapter 4. Frontier invited me to their offices, along with 16 other community members and content creators, to see the exploration changes in action. We also got to see the rest of the content coming in Q4 of this year. While some of it is still unannounced and therefore under NDA, I’d like to take this time to share some of the details of what’s to come and some thoughts on the new features and changes.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Roadmap

What’s Coming in Beyond Chapter 4

So far, Frontier Developments has confirmed a revamp to their lighting model across the entire game, along with some pretty extensive changes to their existing exploration and mining systems. They also shared the upcoming “Codex” back at Frontier Expo last October. Frontier said these systems would tie quite neatly together, and improve the quality of life for players who engaged in these activities.

However, the devs have given very little information about how the changes would work up until very recently.

Upcoming Exploration Changes – The Discovery Scanner

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 4

Frontier confirmed that the exploration system was getting a complete overhaul in Q4. You can read that on their forum. This was something they hadn’t gone into too much detail about until a few weeks ago during a dev livestream on their YouTube channel. To understand the extent of these updates, we first need to cover how exactly exploration works at the moment.

Right now, players jump into a system and use their Discovery Scanner (or D-Scanner) to scan the system for stellar bodies. By default, players only see the primary star. Assuming players have an Advanced Discovery Scanner equipped, which has unlimited range, all stellar bodies in that star system will then pop-up on the system map. Players can then target each stellar body and scan them with their default ship scanner to get additional information. Players also get their name on any undiscovered bodies this way. This also nets them some credits (more if they have a detailed surface scanner equipped). And…that’s pretty much it. It’s a relaxing experience, but there’s not much to it. Many members of the Elite community find it quite boring.

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 4 - Exploration Changes

The new system, however, adds more “gameplay” to the experience. Players will now use their D-Scanner to locate planets by investigating patterns and signals on a new Analysis Mode. This will involve narrowing your search down to specific areas and matching patterns to locate specific types of bodies. As you start to recognize patterns, you might decide only certain ones are worth chasing down for the planet or body on the other end.

Upcoming Exploration Changes – The Detailed Surface Scanner

Anyone who was primarily exploring in Elite: Dangerous would always have a Detailed Surface Scanner equipped. This module gives enhanced information about a body, including what materials exist, whether it’s terraformable, and other details. It also had the added side effect of providing extra credits when handing in the data at the end of your trip. However, it was mostly just point and fly in a direction, let your scan finish once you were close enough, then move on.

The new system takes the Detailed Surface Scanner and adds the ability to instead map planets. In this system, players will be able to launch probes from their DSS and map the surface. They can also use the mass and gravity of the planet to sort of slingshot probes around the opposite side, without having to fly around manually. It’s a really interesting, scientifically semi-accurate system. Players can also refill their probes through synthesis, though the recipe hasn’t been fully decided yet.

This also adds a new tag on stellar bodies called “first mapped by”. This will mean players can either get their name on an object by being the first to scan it or by being the first to map it. Or both, if you’re either determined or lucky.

Thoughts on the New Exploration Changes

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 4 - Exploration Changes

As a career explorer, I was really excited to see the exploration changes. The screenshots Frontier shared on their livestream and the details they gave already sounded like the system was exactly the way it should have been from the beginning. However, we did see the system in action at the Frontier offices. After that, I was pretty sold.

The new D-Scan system is much more engaging. I initially thought it might be too complicated, especially for newer players but it seems to be fairly intuitive. Locating the patterns is a simple but fun mini-game. It’ll be interesting to see how easily players can filter out less valuable planets to avoid having to scan down everything individually, even if it’s worth very little.

The new probes are probably the most exciting part of this. There’s an element of skill in launching the probes around the planet using its mass and gravity to predict the right angle. The sound of the probes activating is also incredibly satisfying. This also was shown to tie very nicely into the new mining system. Launching probes at planetary rings reveals hot spots that might be worth investigating for mining. My only concern is whether they’ll get the balance right for how many probes are stored in the scanner, and its synthesis recipe. Frontier is still working these out.

Upcoming Mining Changes

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 4 - Mining Changes

Frontier announced a mining overhaul last year during Frontier Expo. This was another welcome change, as mining is an area of the game that the community often feels is boring or has been somewhat overlooked. A lot of players feel like it’s a punishment to have to mine in order to unlock engineers.

So far we know that the mining tools and modules were getting a bit of an update. They also discussed “hot spots” and the ability to blow open an asteroid for big rewards.

The goal of the update to mining is to improve rewards, whilst simultaneously making mining a more engaging, if more dangerous, experience for players.

Thoughts on the Mining Changes

We got to see the mining update in action as well. The new miner’s toolkit opens up a few different ways for players to mine asteroids. It’s also tied in quite nicely with the new scanning system introduced for exploration. Players can still mine the current way, but there are additional tools that they will want to use for different purposes.

One thing we were all looking forward to was seeing an asteroid being blown open. This was something Frontier had suggested was coming before, and they showed it off in their offices during our visit. It’s a visceral experience. The asteroid shatters, exposing rewards within as debris floats off into space. The sound design team has, once again, outdone themselves. During the demonstration, I jokingly exclaimed, “Well, I’m a miner now.” I was only half joking.

The new system is a little more complicated than the existing mining experience, but it is again very intuitive. There are visual cues that lead players to make the right decisions for which tools to use and how. It definitely makes mining a lot more exciting and engaging than its current iteration.

Thoughts on Other Announced Changes

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 4 - Squadrons

We also got to see the lighting overhaul, the Codex, and the Squadron system. While I can’t go into too much detail about how each system looks or works until Frontier has officially announced them, I can give some thoughts based on what we got exposed to. The lighting overhaul is fairly self-explanatory, so I won’t go into detail on that. However, the other two features are a bit more detailed.

The Codex was initially described as a tool for explorers to be able to track where they’ve been and what discoveries they’ve made. They also mentioned there may be other information about things that might exist out in the black. However, it appears that there’s been a lot more thought put into this. Once again Frontier has been aiming at adding a feature to unify many disparate aspects of the game. The Codex essentially provides a kind of central hub. I feel it’ll be useful to a lot of different kinds of players.

Squadrons are effectively guilds or corporations, depending on which game you’ve come from. They add a lot of much-needed social features to the game, especially with Frontier repeatedly trying to encourage players to move towards Open Play. The Squadron system brings a lot of ways for players to communicate and show allegiance within the game. There are obviously some things missing, such as the Fleet Carriers which were announced in Frontier Expo and have now been delayed. Overall, though, it looks like they’re putting a lot of thought into the system. There will be more information on these as the developer livestreams come out soon.

But What About the Unannounced Stuff?

Frontier’s Executive Producer, Adam Woods, showed us some features that have yet to be announced or detailed anywhere. While none of us can go into too much detail on these due to the NDA, it’s worth noting that more is coming. The recent 3.2 update was a bit lackluster with updates, and the community was getting a bit jaded. Frontier has definitely added a lot more changes to the way a lot of basic game features work.

horizons update 2.4

It’s also worth mentioning that we didn’t see everything coming in Chapter 4. We certainly didn’t see any lore-related updates, which may or may not come with the update. It’s safe to assume there will probably be some additions to the Guardian or Thargoid storylines. However, what will come with this update remains to be seen. Frontier didn’t mention anything, and it’s quite possible this was because they like those updates to be a bit of a surprise. Of course, it may be that they don’t add any lore updates this time around. Either way, we’ll have to wait and see.

Closing Thoughts

Frontier Developments has had a rocky few months with Elite: Dangerous as far as community sentiment has been concerned. Whilst the majority of players are pretty satisfied, there have definitely been some dissenting voices on the forum and various social channels. This is particularly true of recent patches and the Gnosis community event. That, plus the fact that they’ve dialed back the ice planets and fleet carriers that were due to come in Chapter 4, had some players questioning what was going on.

After what they’ve announced for Chapter 4, and what we saw during our presentation, it’s safe to say this is the biggest update of the year for Elite. In fact, there’s a lot more content coming with the update than Frontier originally announced. This is even despite them pushing back two of the bigger features. While a lot of that content is intended to tidy up existing features and link them together more intuitively, there’s a lot of new things to play with. I’ll cautiously say miners and explorers are going to be pretty happy with the changes. We may even see more players venturing into those two areas very soon.

What are you most looking forward to in Chapter 4? Let us know in the comments below, and feel free to ask any questions about what I saw. I will answer what I can.

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Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 Coming August 28th

The screen went dark and a foreboding, pulsating beat thrummed in the background. A cold blue light, machinery, and a date. Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3, coming August 28th. Frontier confirmed the release date with a teaser trailer during their weekly Thursday livestream on YouTube. More information will follow next week during Gamescom.

However, what could the teaser trailer be showing us?

Definitely Guardians

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 - Definitely Guardians

There’s been a bit of speculation already on what the teaser trailer shows. Some players wondered if it was a new breed of Thargoid, the alien race currently plaguing the galaxy. But that blue color is definitely more in line with Guardian tech. For the past few updates, we’ve been visiting Guardian sites and gathering blueprints and materials to build weapons and other modules. All of these have been blue in color, so it seems logical to assume that’s the direction Frontier is going.

The Guardians, as far as everyone knows, are an extinct race of humanoids. Extinct, you say? Excuse me while I put on my tinfoil hat. There’s not actually any physical evidence of extinction: no remains, no mass graves, minimal wreckage. Just some abandoned structures and technology. And for all we know, the sites we’ve found have the Guardian equivalent of a “Gone Fishin’” sign. While we’ve been pressing all the buttons and shooting all the sentinels, who knows who may have been taking notice. After all, why leave your site defended if you’re not planning on reclaiming it? Arguably the sentinels are AI and could just be acting out ancient orders in perpetuity, but even so.

Could we be seeing the return of Guardians?

 

What Could That Be in the Trailer?

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 - Guardians

Whatever it is, it’s big. My guess is either a Guardian megaship or possibly a Guardian station. Either way we can expect further interactions with Guardian AI. We might even see some additional technology for players to unlock and use on their ships. It would be especially exciting if we found a smaller, pilotable Guardian ship that players could take over.

Alternatively, could it be something like a gate? There are still vast swaths of space that are unreachable due to distance, or due to permit-locked systems being in the middle. Having a Guardian gate would be far too tempting for most commanders, and we’d definitely see someone trying to make their way through to whatever was on the other side.

One thing is certain, however. If we do see a return of the Guardians, they probably won’t be too friendly.

Speculation Time

 

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 - Not Thargoids

I’m going to need you all to put your tinfoil hats on for this part. I’ve been saying since the beginning that I don’t feel like Thargoids are the big bad that everyone thinks they are. They don’t attack unprovoked (provoking, to them, includes being shot at, crashed into, or stared at too closely for too long). If you’re carrying their tech, they will shoot you. They’ve attacked stations and ground sites, yes, but how much of this has been because of Aegis, the company manufacturing anti-Thargoid weaponry?

Also, how does Aegis know ahead of time that ground sites are going to be attacked? In the latest patch, sound logs at these sites talk of a mysterious person warning them to get out. Lo and behold, shortly after, Thargoid ships show up and blow the building into space dust. There’s also a response team ready suspiciously quickly, as if Aegis is orchestrating these attacks for research.

Now, what if the Guardians show up? They’ll “help” us against the Thargoids, but I don’t imagine they’ll be too pleased about us desecrating their ruins and stealing their tech, blowing up their sentinels in the meantime. I would love for the Guardians to be a bigger, badder threat than the Thargoids. It’d be amazing for humanity to be stuck in an intense power struggle with two angry alien races, and for us to feel once again like we don’t really belong out in the dark reaches of space.

 

What Else Could Be Coming in Chapter 3?

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 - New Ships?

Chapter 3 has been heralded as a “small update”. It was one of the two smaller content releases announced at Frontier Expo 2017. We’ve had three new ships released this year: the Chieftain, Challenger, and the Krait. It doesn’t seem likely that we’ll see another new ship this patch, however it is worth noting that some discerning commanders spotted a potential leak on the Frontier store a little while ago. Two ships named the “Alliance Crusader” and the “Krait Phantom” were listed briefly as ships in the store’s filter, but were swiftly removed. I don’t think they’ll come this patch, so soon after the Krait and Challenger were released. However, it does sound like we have two new ship variants to look forward to soon.

It’s most likely, based on how quickly this patch is coming out after the last one, that we’ll see some big movements in the story. A lore update, perhaps some new locations to visit in-game, and a threat of things to come. We may even see some new unlockable tech to work towards.

The big update, however, is coming in Q4. We’ll see major changes to exploration, some much prettier planetary surfaces, and a huge mining overhaul. More information on the Q4 update can be found in our article here.

 

More Speculation – Frontier Expo?

The community has been positively clamoring for another Frontier Expo after the event last year was so well received. Frontier has been tight-lipped about it, but all signs pointed to “not this year.” They confirmed it would happen again, just not when. So when we heard there was a “special announcement” at the beginning of the livestream yesterday, we all thought of the expo. And there is good reason for that.

In the Galnet articles on the Elite: Dangerous website, there is mention of two companies creating personal computing technology. The article ends referencing a “technology expo in October.” October was when the last Frontier Expo was held, so it seems logical that this is a potential reference to an upcoming event.

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 - Frontier Expo?

To top it all off, community manager Ed Lewis showed up on stream to make the announcement wearing a Frontier Expo 2017 shirt. Was this just a coincidence, or will they announce next week that we’ll be having another event this year? It seems like they’ve left it a little late to announce, if so, but the community would be thrilled to have another exclusive event for announcements of the coming year.

 

Closing Thoughts

Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3

Very little information has been released, but it has been confirmed that Elite: Dangerous Beyond Chapter 3 is coming on Tuesday, August 28th. We will get a lot more information around Gamescom time, despite Frontier not having a booth. Perhaps we’ll also get a more complete trailer then too.

What are you hoping for in 3.2? Let us know in the comments below!

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Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter 2 Reveals Release Date and New Content

Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter 2 has received an official release date. Players have been eagerly awaiting the next update in this year’s line of Beyond content releases and Frontier confirmed on Thursday that Beyond Chapter 2 will be available to play on Thursday, June 28th. They’ve also announced some of the content that will be available. You can watch the teaser trailer here.

We have a new ship (possibly two?) to look forward to, along with expanded wing missions, additional settlement interactions, and more Thargoid encounters.

New ship – the Alliance Challenger

In Beyond Chapter 1, Frontier introduced the Alliance Chieftain. It was the first of the official Alliance ships, and proved to be quite popular despite the fact that it struggled a little to find its purpose in the game. The Chieftain didn’t excel at combat when compared with other combat ships, but it was fun to fly, and many players (including me!) loved its appearance.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Chapter 2 - Alliance Challenger

Screenshot courtesy of Frontier Developments

Now, we get a chance to try flying a Chieftain variant: the Alliance Challenger. This ship was not announced at Frontier Expo last year, and is completely new to all of us. Frontier has confirmed that it’s going to be more of a frontline combatant, meaning we’re likely to see it be more useful in combat than the Chieftain. It has significantly stronger armor than the Chieftain, which would certainly make a huge difference to the original ship.

Judging by an image released by Frontier, it appears the Challenger looks very similar to its sister ship. However, there are some obvious differences: the back engines are set higher, and there are winglets that resemble the Eagle’s wings on the side. It looks a little beefier and more aggressive.

New ship – the Krait

Now, this is mostly speculation. However, the Krait was announced in Frontier Expo, and we saw some in-progress concept artwork. While Frontier hasn’t confirmed the Krait will be released with this update, there are a few things that point towards the Krait’s impending release.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Chapter 2 - Krait

The release teaser trailer shows a ship with engines that resemble the Krait’s artwork. No other ship in the game has engines quite like this, and the Challenger’s engines are completely different. The trailer’s description also says, “The third Elite Dangerous season continues with the release of its second chapter, featuring new ships, new Thargoid encounters and additional gameplay content.” This clearly mentions “ships”, plural. While this conflicts with the official tweet that only mentions one new ship, it certainly wouldn’t be surprising for Frontier to release both.

We knew from the first time they published their timeline that there would be new ships in the smaller content releases between Q1 and Q4, so we expected the Krait to be released in either Chapter 2 or 3. There’s a lot of additional Krait speculation in a Reddit thread by CMDR Mini_Watto.The Krait is a ship many members of the Elite community are familiar with. It featured in previous Elite games, and while it wasn’t a great ship, it is iconic. Hopefully we’ll get to fly it soon.

New Wing Missions

Wing missions were introduced in force in Beyond Chapter 1 earlier this year. The missions mostly focused on delivery, assassination, or massacre contracts. With Chapter 2, players are going to be able to also accept wing missions that focus on mining.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Chapter 2 - Wing Missions

These will likely play out much like the delivery missions, with contracts requiring players to deliver a certain number of mined ore. This may also help lead into the upcoming mining changes. As mentioned in our Elite Dangerous: Beyond – Part 2 article, there’s a mining overhaul coming in Q4 this year.

Perhaps Frontier will use the new wing missions to add flavor to the upcoming mining overhaul. We already know that there will be a “toolkit” for miners that will make finding resources easier, as well as a more “Wild West” approach to mining in the future. We’d love to see a lead-in to that as early as the Chapter 2 update, or at least hints on what we can expect.

New Installation Interactions

Players will now be able to interact with space installations. This was something that was first added in Chapter 1 for the megaships. Now, players will be able to scan the installations, hack turrets, gain data from comms arrays, and steal commodities and engineering materials from the cargo bays.

These interactions add a little more depth to the universe, and we’d love to see this system expanded upon. The hacking in particular could be added to other areas, such as hacking additional parts of settlements and megaships. It’s confirmed players will be able to disable turrets that are “defending other potential hackable points”.

Expanded Thargoid Encounters

The Thargoid threat is getting much closer to home, and they’re ramping up the attacks. There will be new Scouts which interact with each other through buffing mechanics. In the trailer, it appears we have a few different colors, which may signify what their role in combat will be.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Chapter 2 - Thargoid Scouts

It’s also worth noting that in the trailer, the Thargoid Scouts whizz past an earthlike world, which appears to be populated. Could it be Earth itself? Are the Thargoids in Sol? It’s hard to tell from the video, though the article on PC Gamer does feature a screenshot (not a still from the video) that implies this is a different earthlike. Perhaps they’re from two different encounters. Either way, it’s clear the Thargoids are well and truly headed our way.

Improved Guardian Weapons at the Tech Broker

We’ve been able to build new weapons using Guardian technology since early this year. Players will now be able to create larger variants of the weapons we already have. These weapons will require blueprints and materials gathered from the Guardian sites.

The weapons themselves can be used in combat against Thargoids or other players or NPCs. The choice remains up to the player, though they’re certainly going to be helpful if the Thargoid presence becomes more potent.

Other Potential Content?

At the bottom of Frontier’s forum post, they’ve stated simply:

Redacted
* * * ERROR * * *

What does this mean? Frontier has been excellent at teasing elements of the Thargoid storyline in similar ways before. Will we encounter a new type of enemy, much more formidable than before? Often, when you’re about to encounter a boss in a game, players will be given a large amount of ammunition and health packs to help them out. We’re just saying, it seems awfully convenient that we’re being given bigger weapons and a new, tankier variant of the ship that people thought was specifically for fighting Thargoids before…

It’s also worth mentioning that Twitch streamer Malic_VR had an interesting encounter recently whilst investigating the Thargoid threat. You can watch the clip here on Twitch.

Closing Thoughts

Elite Dangerous: Beyond Chapter 2 is due for release on Thursday, June 28th. We can expect a full changelog a little closer to the time, most likely the same week of release. However, we may see some additional teasing in the next few weeks leading up to the launch.

What are you looking forward to with this Elite: Dangerous update? Let us know in the comments below!

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What We Have to Look Forward to in Elite Dangerous Beyond 2018 – Part 1

Earlier this year at Frontier Expo, Frontier Developments announced what’s coming for Elite: Dangerous in 2018. Now that we’re nearing the end of 2017, commanders are starting to look forward to the next year. What do we have to look forward to in 2018? Let’s take a look at the Elite Dangerous Beyond updates that are coming in the new year.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Roadmap

The Beyond update is huge, so I’ve split the discussion into two parts. In this article, we’ll talk specifically about what’s coming in Q1 and some thoughts on those updates. We’ll break down the Q4 updates and the smaller content updates in a later piece.

Elite Dangerous Beyond – What Is It?

Frontier announced that the new content will be called “Beyond” (or 2.4 and Beyond), and will effectively be a new season of updates. It’ll be free for anyone who owns the Horizons season pass, which is exciting news. Elite Dangerous Beyond will contain four updates in total. Two updates will be larger content releases, during Q1 and Q4 of next year. There will also be two smaller content releases in between, but these two don’t have specific release dates.

Zac Antonaci also stated that additional premium content will be introduced in the future as well. Anyone who owns a lifetime expansion pass will get this content for free, but other commanders will have to pick it up separately. There’s little information on this additional premium content currently, but hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Q1 Updates

The Q1 patch will obviously be arriving sometime between January and March 2018. It’ll contain quite a few new features (including two long-awaited new ships), as well as some quality of life improvements. We’ll break this update down now with what we know so far.

New Ships – Krait and Chieftain

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Ship Krait

Two new ships have been announced: the Krait, and the Chieftain. The Krait is an old design from the original Elite games. The Chieftain is the first of some new designs for the Alliance. This is a welcome addition as the Alliance faction has never had any ships for players to work towards. A lot of players have avoided ranking up with Alliance because there’s no inherent reward, unlike the Empire and Federation ranks which allow commanders to purchase specific ships.

The Krait was originally a small fighter in the previous Elite games. In Elite: Dangerous, it seems to be a medium ship, with at least two medium guns and a fighter bay. However, this is just speculation. If the ship is indeed medium, it’ll likely have more weapons. It could also end up being a lot smaller than we expect instead (perhaps around Cobra/Viper sized).

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Ship Chieftain

The Chieftain is a completely new design not based on any previous Elite ships. It’s the first of the Alliance ships, which are also apparently all brand new designs. It’s an interesting looking ship, though what its role will be remains to be seen. There’s a lot of back and forth on the forums about what size the Chieftain could end up being, but I’d estimate it’ll be medium or large rather than the smaller sizes some community members are guessing. It looks to have anywhere up to four to six hardpoints, as well as three crew seats in the cockpit.

Speculation on the New Elite Ships

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Chieftain Multicrew

The community is doing a lot of speculation on what roles the new ships could fill right now. Both the Krait and the Chieftain look to be multicrew compatible due to the number of seats in their cockpit. The Chieftain, in particular, we’ve specifically seen three individual seats, and the Krait seems to have three parts to its cockpit, implying there are three seats there as well. This would put them at most likely medium-sized, rather than small.

In previous Elite games, the Krait was popular with pirates. This would mean possibly giving it the internals to allow it to be formidable at bullying other ships into dropping cargo using limpets and such, but not necessarily a beast in combat. It’d be great to see more additions for piracy in Elite: Dangerous as it’s not a super common player role, but it’s definitely an interesting one.

The Chieftain, on the other hand, looks quite beefy. With the three crew slots and the potential for many weapons, it could play into the improvements to missions and multiplayer elements that Frontier is going for. While the missions are being tweaked to add new wing missions, there’s no reason that multicrew couldn’t fit there too. Multicrew is a great feature, but it’s definitely one that needs a bit of work. Maybe we could see some hardpoints that would suit being turreted weapons more, allowing for crewmates to play a big role in the ship.

New Guardians Weaponry

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Weapons

The Guardians are an apparently extinct alien race (I say “apparently”, because who knows with Elite?). Throughout the last year, commanders have discovered Guardian ruins with relics and data packages containing their history and lore. In Elite Dangerous Beyond, we’ll be developing some new Guardian technology, including weapons. The weapons look fantastic already.

The big question, however, is what these weapons are for. Initially, we theorized that the Guardian tech could be used against the Thargoids. However, we now have our AX weapons to fit the same role. They even used Guardian tech to build the AX weapons. What could we use the Guardian weapons for, then? It’s possible they’ll end up being a new tier of weaponry to be used in the escalating conflict with the Thargoids.

It’s worth noting that Guardian weapons tended to be biological in nature. They’ve also met the Thargoids before. Will they be on our side, either in life or from beyond the grave, in the ongoing conflict?

Personal Narrative and Improved Missions

Something players have been wanting for a long time: a personal story they can follow and engage with. Frontier has confirmed a personal narrative, mostly related to the Guardians, will be coming in Q1 and is something we can look forward to. This could mean commanders will have an easier time of tracking the ongoing stories and experiences, such as the Thargoids and Guardians storylines, rather than having to do it out of game. The feature also ties in with the technology we mentioned above: players will be able to unlock new equipment through the personal narrative.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Personal Narrative & Guardians

I’d love to see Frontier add more ways to engage with the lore and the story. If the personal narrative feature can fit within that, excellent. At the moment, players can go about their business in space without even knowing that there’s a Thargoid conflict going on. A lot of people find out about things by reading Reddit or the forums. If there was a better way for players to find out about and track the ongoing story, that’d be fantastic. Frontier is also adding some improvements to Gal-net to help with this. We’ll talk about those in a moment.

Missions will also get a bit of an update. As we mentioned above, there are some improved wing missions to tackle with friends. Whilst Elite is often a fantastic solo experience, it really comes alive when you play with other commanders. Adding new reasons for players to wing up together and take on a common mission is definitely a step in the right direction.

Planetary Improvements

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Planetary Improvements

Planets often look very beige at the moment. However, in Beyond, Frontier is revisiting planetary shaders and colors. They’re revamping how planets look. This isn’t just going to affect the colors, but also the amount of detail that can be seen. As a career explorer, I’m pretty excited, as at the moment exploration can feel a bit samey.

In Q1 we should start seeing a wider variety of surfaces within planet types, making the galaxy feel more “alive” and interesting to look at.

Other Improvements and Updates

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Gal-Net Update

A few other things are coming as well. As mentioned above, we’ll see changes to the way Gal-Net works. This should hopefully make it more likely for players to actually engage with it as a source of information and news. For example, there will be a text-to-speech feature, allowing players to listen to Gal-Net news articles while they fly about the galaxy. No longer will commanders have to stop and read articles, they can listen while they fly.

Engineers are changing too: each time you engineer a module, you’ll now be guaranteed to get an improvement rather than it being completely random. At the moment, commanders might get offered a worse “upgrade” than the one they already had equipped. This will finally be a thing of the past. This is both good and bad: it’s great for the more casual pilot, but for those who are into PvP, it’s going to make the environment even more competitive. It’s already difficult to get into PvP without engineering your ship, but in Q1 it will pretty much become a requirement.

Frontier is also adding improvements to trade data. This will make trading more structured, giving players the ability to research what they want to trade within the game rather than having to rely on online resources for all of the information. Hand-in-hand with this is the new crime and punishment updates. Traders and other more peaceful commanders are often prime targets for ganking and griefing. Authorities will now be better equipped to deal with troublemakers, and we hope to see additional changes in the future. This is not to discourage people from attacking traders or other peaceful ships, but to have realistic and reasonable consequences for taking aggressive actions against an innocent commander.

Elite Dangerous Future Update Wishlist

With all of the new features coming both in the first update of the year and later, it’s an exciting time for Elite players. However, there are still a few features I’d love to see developed further, and some new additions that would be great for the game’s future. Here are some things I’d love to see developed in the coming updates.

Reasons for Explorers to Land on Planets

Commanders will see updates to planets in Q1. At the end of the year, we’ll also have some very impressive changes to planet surfaces. There are a few other great things coming for explorers in Q4 which we’ll talk about in a future article, but it’s still an area that could use some work.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Reason for Explorers to Land

I’d love to have a reason, as an explorer, to land on planets. For example, in Mass Effect 2 you could scan planets and get alerts for anomalies on the surface. This feature kind of exists in Elite, but wouldn’t it be great if you were out in the black and scanned a random moon only to be told that an anomaly had been detected? You could fly around the planet searching for the point of interest, the way we already do. Once you’ve detected it, you could land and find something interesting that no one has found before because it’s on the surface of an undiscovered world.

This could be any number of things. We could find crashed ships like we can already find on planet surfaces, or ways to develop the ongoing alien storyline. Or, perhaps Frontier could add new PoIs. It would be really interesting to find a stranded explorer vessel, who’s run out of fuel or damaged their ship, and you have to help them in some way.

Improvements to Crime and Punishment

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Feature Wishlist

Frontier is already adding an improvement to crime and punishment within the Elite: Dangerous universe during the Q1 updates. We’ll see the authority ships getting a bit of a buff. However, at the moment a lot of players avoid Open Play due to the fear of getting ganked or griefed. Regardless of how you define those words – whether it’s any kind of PvP on an unwilling participant or only PvP where the player is actually harassed repeatedly – most people can agree that there aren’t really sufficient protections in place.

I’d love to see players be genuinely afraid to go into Anarchy systems because there’s no police presence. The first time I entered an Anarchy system, I thought I was going to be blown up on the spot. The stations with their red lights and pirate logos made me genuinely think bad things were going to happen to me there. But they’re not really all that scary. If Anarchy systems were to be avoided, that’d add an interesting layer of depth.

On top of that, having the authorities be something to be feared, even by the most experienced PvPer, would be fantastic. Players with “Report Crimes Against Me” turned on should feel safer in higher security space. I don’t think it should go as far as Concord in EVE. This felt a little too intense, but it should be something to give so-called “griefers” pause before unleashing hell. Maybe when a player with the report function turned on gets interdicted in high security space, nearby authorities in supercruise swarm on the location to help. This gives the attacking player a few minutes to either pirate their target or kill them, if that’s their goal, but if the authorities show up they’re going to have to run or be shot.

A Reason to Fly Smaller Ships

One thing EVE did do right, in my opinion, is giving smaller ships a role in combat. I often flew smaller ships because they were faster and could get in under the guns of a larger ship. Also, they could be used as a “tackle”. This means holding a ship in place and preventing it from warping away so that your bigger, badder friends could come in and back you up. We often did this as a PvP corporation, and I’d love to see smaller ships in Elite have a purpose.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Feature Wishlist

Right now, small ships feel a bit like a stepping stone on the way to bigger, better things. Most commanders seem to fly one of the larger ships in PvP. While player skill is much more important in Elite, it does feel a bit like smaller ships are just made for playing at the beginning and then moving on. I’d love to see more ways for a small ship to contribute, perhaps to wing gameplay.

Some members of the community complain about the grind. This is because they always feel like they’re working towards an end goal of a big ship. What if they had less of a reason to do that, and more reason to stop and admire the scenery on the way? By that, I mean what if they had more of a reason to go back to their Viper, or their Eagle, or even their Sidewinder?

Closing Thoughts

Frontier has always said they have a pipeline of many years of updates in mind. It’s exciting to see some major changes coming to the game next year. Even better, they’re free for Horizons owners. We have a lot to look forward to in Q1, and even more throughout the rest of the year.

If you’d like to watch the full announcement, you can find the Frontier Expo presentation here.

What are you most looking forward to in Q1 of Elite Dangerous Beyond? Let us know in the comments below!

The post What We Have to Look Forward to in Elite Dangerous Beyond 2018 – Part 1 appeared first on MMOGames.com.