Frontier Developments have announced the next chapter for their immersive Space Sim MMO Elite: Dangerous. Odyssey will be only the second piece of paid DLC to be released after Horizons which started to launch a year after the base game. Elite: Dangerous released in December 2014 and has been a huge success selling several million copies. Garnering a lot of praise for its incredible 1:1 scale version of the Milky Way Galaxy in which players explore, fight and trade. At time of writing I have logged approximately 450 hours of playtime spread from launch to the present day. So, I’ve seen how the game has changed and grown over that time. I’ve also seen the frustrations and weariness of players grow, particularly amongst the friends I play with. The critical question is, will Odyssey rekindle the love and interest of those who have dropped off, as well as catching the eye of new players?
Before I tell you about Odyssey and what it will bring to Elite: Dangerous I feel it is important to look back at the games journey so far. At launch Elite: Dangerous was entirely ship and space based. Horizons, the following year, brought planetary landings (only for planets with no atmosphere), passenger missions, ship launched fighters and allowing players to play together from within a single ship. The Beyond updates, released across 2018, brought long overdue overhauls to core gameplay that had not been seriously updated since the game first launched; like the Crime & Punishment system, the game UI, Exploration and Mining (which I covered previously here). I won’t go into lot’s of detail for each one but it’s safe to say that the game has changed a great deal.The recent updates haven’t been the revolutionary changes that many hoped for to keep things fresh. Even the long vaunted Fleet Carriers, which launched very recently, haven’t been enough to draw me or my friends back into the game. They’ve been a logical iteration on what is already there rather than the refreshing innovation we had hoped for.
The momentum just hasn’t been there in recent years. Elite: Dangerous is a massive game with layers upon layers of systems and content. I’m sure development has been difficult for Frontier, game development is always difficult after all, and since Horizons launched at the end of 2015 all of the DLC has been free. The entire Beyond set of updates was released for free. The fact it was free is one of the reasons why I pushed back a little when my friends complained about this or that. I like Frontier Developments. I enjoy their other games like Planet Coaster, so I would defend them; but I can’t deny I’ve been frustrated by them too. Even the things you would think are a bit easier to implement, like adding more ships, SRV’s (of which there is still only one type) and fighters have been slow to come out. Slow sums it up, it’s the root source of all the frustrations which has now turned into a scepticism that Frontier can deliver with Odyssey.
Details for Odyssey are thin on the ground at the moment, they’ve only just announced it so that is to be expected. Due to launch in “Early 2021” for PC, Xbox and PlayStation, it’s promising a great deal. Not only will players finally be able to explore planets on their own two feet, they’ll be able to engage in new activities and combat as well. Perhaps, it’s also suggested by the blue hue around the planet they land on in the trailer that atmospheres will finally be included. During the PC Gamer Showcase landing on planets with “tenuous atmosphere’s” would be a part of it, probably excluding “earth-like” worlds. A lot more detail is needed and I’m sure Frontier will provide it over the coming months.
Will this be the revolution the game needs to freshen up the experience or will it disappoint? Only time will tell.
The base game is available as part of the Humble Fight for Racial Justice Bundle available for a limited time. Get $1200 worth of games, books and comics for only $30. 100% of which goes to good causes supporting the fight for racial justice.