Reissue of one of the old greats, crowd-funded, with the install from hell.
It is Elite, and it is back. For me, its been a game I have been waiting for very long time. Since Elite 3 aka Frontier: First Encounters I have been dreaming about modern, up to date take on Elite universe. When Kickstarter was announced, I was both skeptical and inspired. We pulled trough, despite nay sayers, and long period development started. I didn’t know what to expect, as FD has shown lot of concepts and even working code, but still it was very early. But FD continued to press on and soon we got a lot of concept art, ideas about how ships will work, how stations will look like, how background simulation will affect our lives. And then year ago Alpha landed – which was very nice surprise, as it soon supported TrackIR and Oculus Rift.
During testing period there’s have been high and lows. Despite all this FD kept communicate to us and collecting feedback and with each release they showed us that they care and they listen. Saying that this, despite lack of coverage, is co-project with community is understatement. Something else which has to be said is the installation process. When letting this thing install, it said it would take several hours to install, I expected nothing less due to my slow internet and the game being in its first version, so I left on overnight. I woke in the morning to ‘error’ with the whole download shutting down instantly. It took me 9 whole hours to install it, with 12 attempts at installing, with the second to last getting to 98.8% before having an error, which is enough to tear my hair out. If it was an installation that meant I couldn’t do anything else while installing it, I would be furious, but whatever. I began to blame my computer for this, but after a long trawl through some forums, found that almost everyone encountered the exa problem.
Now, we have Elite: Dangerous 1.0. First is to understand that this game will follow classic evolution of MMO – FD has already features lined up for post release. But how 1.0 holds up to scrutiny of the long-term fan as me?
I will start with issues, as most likely if you read this whole, you are interested in those. Game is slow and long – it’s hard to gain any short-term investment without getting your feet wet with all mechanics. They are quite complex (although there are more hardcore games in space sim genre out there), and lot of design decisions take some time to get hold on and understand why they are important. So while you can certainly jump into game and trash opponent’s ships in few minutes, it takes some time to get to that point, as combat is exciting, yet again takes time to master.
Co-op is possible, but also takes time to understand concepts around them. Improved way to do co-op is planned as first update post release early next year. Comms are very good in my opinion – text and voice comms are working with friends no matter of location, with rest of people they are local for system. There are ideas of station chat to be implemented in future.
Game’s professions are mostly fleshed out for introductory gameplay – trading is managed by background simulation, so milk runs are limited to certain extent, rare goods are something you can take far, far away and find someone to pay for it – it’s price will go up further you go. Trading goods aren’t actually something random, it is weaved heavily in background sim and can have a lot of different effects (like having famine and civil war in Sol system). Mining can be seen as boring, but I enjoyed every minute of it – you just can’t press button and be done with, you have to actively scan and catch pieces of rock when they are blown off by mining laser. Bounty hunting and piracy requires a lot of actual skill, and there are actual military missions too. Assassination, courer…you can do a lot of things in Elite universe – as always.
Missions is very important element in ED too – this is sometimes only way how to gain first capital to invest into new weapons or repay your insurance debt, sometimes they are very funny ones, and sometimes they are very important for your break – faction reputation is very big part of background sim AND your development of character.