Elite: Dangerous Alpha/Beta (Charlie, Delta?) Thoughts

A few weeks ago I told you about Star Citizen, and mentioned this, the other huge, open-universe, space sim that was crowd funded and looking to take all of your time and monies.

While both games have some impressive (and ancient) pedigree, and cover similar topics… and genres… and play mechanics…

OK, on paper they’re the same game. But so far they’re shaping up to be rather different. Also, Elite’s current beta form actually has a fair amount of playable game in it, a good year (decade?) before Star Citizen does.

Instead of babbling on about what it is, if you’re the only PC gamer to have never heard of Elite, here’s the trailer:

As I mentioned in my Star Citizen article, the spaceflight feel in Elite is spot on, though a lot of this likely has to do with being unable to remap the controls in SC. Space is big, and as far as I can tell, everything is pretty manual. You “warp” to a new system, but then you have to navigate yourself to where you need to go in the system itself. It’s slow, but immersive. Overall the graphics are fantastic (more on this later).

Even without a tutorial, it’s fairly easy to figure out what you need to do, and how, to get to places, do missions, and so on. I hope there are a few training missions to start out when the full game ships.

Combat is definitely more sim than arcade, as it should be. Since in the beta you’re presumably starting with an entry level ship, don’t try to take on more than one enemy at a time.

But for a real taste of how awesome this could be. Check out the process of something as “mundane” as docking:

RIGHT!?!? Seriously, it’s so ridiculously fun to do something as simple as docking your ship. Most space sims, since the beginning you either approach and you get a cut/loading screen, or you communicate with the station first, then you get the obligatory cut/loading screen. Not only is there no loading screen between station and space, but you actually fly into the station, look around, and then land! Awesome.

I also want very much to try this:

A few thoughts

I understand that Elite has a specific “look,” borne of the days of wireframe graphics. But I don’t have any nostalgia to Elite (my first space sim was Space Rogue). So to me, the ship designs are rather… boring. Sorry. I’m sure I’ll get flak for that.

Though admittedly, the capital ships look incredible. As do the space stations. Even more impressive, the inside of the space stations look incredible. Has there been a game that has detailed space station interiors? A few had textured boxes you could enter, but nothing like what Elite is showing. I mean if you didn’t find that docking video awesome, I don’t know why you’re still reading this.

Since it’s going to be a while before we see Star Citizen in any real form (Arena Commander notwithstanding), I’ll happily play Elite.

I’m also looking forward to trying Elite on an Oculus Rift. More on that, soon...

You can get access to the beta now for $75 by pre-ordering the game. If you’re itching for SC, this is an easy $75 to spend.

gunhed's picture

I am very nostalgic about the original. I can still remember buying the first issue of ZZAP!64 with a review of Firebird's new Elite game. The first time I played it 12 hours of my life just vanished. If Elite Dangerous is even half of the original we are in for a real treat !