Does the most accurate simulation of the Milky Way ever made make for a great space game?
Elite: Dangerous has lofty ambitions, but then again, which game doesn’t? We were promised a game that would simulate our Milky Way in its entirety, star for star, every planet that we know off (and the billions that we don’t know off), asteroid belts, and other stellar bodies and this much has been realised in spectacular fashion. Unfortunately, we were also promised a thriving, persistent game world with player interaction, warring factions and an immersive experience and this, sadly, is still quite a ways from seeing the light of day. Keeping this in mind, we’ll get this much out of the way in the very beginning; despite any statements to the contrary (from the developers and fans alike), Elite: Dangerous is far from complete.
Behold, a galaxy!
The Milky Way is by far and away the only thing that really exists in this game and is also the star (all puns intended) of the show. The game is gorgeous to behold and the first few hours (after you learn the ropes) will most probably be spent in eliciting many an ooh and an aah on beholding the wonder of a star in its full glory, or the dying light from a brown dwarf and more. If you’re really lucky, or know the star charts inside out, you might even stumble across a miniature black-hole, a spinning neutron star, a twin-star system and other such astronomical marvels and oddities.
It’s these first few hours that really draw you into Elite’s game world. The joy of piloting a responsive spacecraft, learning to dock at your first station, your first encounter with a pirate, your first profitable trade run, your first successful bounty; it’s these baby steps that are the most fun. It’s also these baby steps that trigger off your imagination and you start imagining scenarios where you and your buddies form your own little pirate flotilla and haunt the trade routes, or join up with the Federal Navy and keep those pesky pirates at bay and more. Once you really start playing the game you realise that those baby steps are really all there is to it. You’ll just be encountering the same phenomena and running those very same trade routes again and again and again, the only difference being that now you’re in a bigger ship. This is the one fatal flaw in the game, a lack of depth.
Highway to hell or a stairway to heaven?
Elite is supposed to let you “blaze your own trail”, but all it really offers you is a choice of five careers, trader, bounty hunter, pirate, explorer and miner (be sure to check out the feature for more information). By far the most profitable career is that of the trader, earning you upwards of a million credits per hour as opposed to the measly 100,000 to 300,000 per hour that you’ll earn in other professions, subject to your skill and luck of course.
This is a game that will work best only when it’s brought to life by its community and as it stands, that community isn’t being given the chance to thrive because the features to facilitate that thriving are yet to be implemented fully. That said, the community that exists is absolutely determined to make the most of the game has to offer. One just has to browse through Elite’s subreddit (/EliteDangerous) to find gems like this http://dgit.in/1xxnElC. For now, you really do have to “blaze your own trail”. There will be frustrations, but you will also experience some of the most joyous moments of your gaming career.
Given a year or two, Elite: Dangerous might be THE online world to haunt, but right now, it’s just the most accurate simulation of the Milky Way that you can experience on your PC today. However, if you’re even remotely interested in space sims, do not pass up on Elite.
Be the first to leave a review.
Mad "r4gs" Zombie
Deposited on this planet sometime in the late 1980s, this being was quick to discover the joys of binge-gaming and has long since mastered the art of the 16-hour game session, and evolved to survive on a minimum of food.