Space, the infinite void of darkness full of discovery and unknown. Some call space the final frontier then start a five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations then end up with tribbles. These are not the voyages of the Starship Enterprise but rather the story of one person’s adventure in Elite Dangerous.
Elite Dangerous is an open world space adventure where you are the commander of your own personal spaceship. Your mission: to explore the vast reaches of the galaxy. You are given the freedom to choose how you wish to experience the universe of Elite Dangerous. You could choose to be a space pirate and steal cargo, be a trader and gather a fortune or be a bounty hunter. There are numerous career choices and your only limitation is what your ship can handle. No matter how you spend your time in Elite Dangerous you will most likely find yourself lost and confused early on in both a positive and negative way.
My journey in Elite Dangerous began in the training section learning the basics of flight in space. I was greeted by a female voice over the radio of my ship that gave me a limited flight tutorial.The flight controls were easy to understand as left stick is used for pitch and roll while the right stick is used for yaw and vertical thrust. I had difficulties with the thrust and reverse being mapped to R1 and L1 when your weapons are mapped to R2 and L2 which led to me opening fire in several spaceports by accident on multiple occasions. The next part of training introduced the Frame Shift Drive, a device which allows for quicker travel inside of star systems at a speed called Supercruise, and is the number one cause of me overshooting my destinations. Activating the Frame Shift Drive can be done once you are clear of any planets or space stations for safety reasons. You can activate it in a single press of the triangle button.
Dropping out of Supercruise is a challenge. As you approach a destination of your choice you will need to slowly decrease speed and wait for an alert telling you to drop out of Supercruise or you will overshoot your destination. I managed to overshoot my destination about 70% of the time.. While Supercruise is great for getting around a star system there is a Hyperspace Jump that is used to get from one star system to the next. Using the Hyperspace Jump is fairly straightforward, requiring only that you lock the destination in your ship’s computer, line the ship up with the target destination, then charge the Hyperspace Jump and after a brief moment you are greeted to a new star system.
After flight training I was given the opportunity to test my skills in space combat. As awesome as it may sound it really came down to scanning the other ship to see if there is a bounty on the pilot and then shooting him down. I found the most difficult part of the space combat was keeping my target in view which often led to turning around in large loops or slowing down to make a tighter turn. Space combat might be more thrilling in a group but any combat I encountered was either overwhelming or lasted too long depending on how many enemies I was facing.
After the training I felt I was ready to begin my journey through Elite Dangerous. There are two game modes you can select. The first one is online with other players and the other is online solo play. I started with the solo play so I could have an easier time starting out and reduce the chance of hostile encounters. After taking note of the area I was in, I decided to check out the stations I was near to find one with a mission that paid a decent amount and could easily be completed with less than the starting gear. I quickly found a mission that required me to deliver data to another station that was two star systems away which also meant my cargo hull remained free for gathering materials as data is not physical storage. After a few hyper jumps I arrived at my location, delivered the data, got a similar mission, and repeated the the process until I felt I had enough funds to buy a new ship and upgrades. I found the process of delivering data and physical goods easy to make quick money in the early game as the later harder missions taught me how costly ship management can be.
Once I had enough funds to move away from the starting ship I bought a faster one that had more upgradable firepower but less cargo space. I felt a need to get more enjoyment out of Elite Dangerous and wanted to get into more combat situations but this ultimately led to problems I never expected. In my first true space combat situation my ship shut down when I attempted to fire my weapons, leaving me without shields, power, or life support. After that colossal failure, and half an hour of internet research, I learned my ship has module priority settings to adjust what systems get more power while anything over that would cause an overload and shutdown. After about an hour of trying to understand that I gave up and bought a better power supply for the ship to get back into space.
While there is a large galaxy to explore I found my journey constantly impeded by various requirements to take on missions or to even map out a path to a location. Time after time I would see a high paying mission asking me to do the same thing I had been doing since day one just to get restricted by my ship’s computer not being able to map out a path. I found it frustrating encountering these missions just to be denied by something as simple as mapping a path or not having enough credibility with certain factions. This is a partial reason I ended up moving from station to station in search of better jobs but it also led to discovering wreckage of other ships to gather materials I could later sell for profit.
While Elite Dangerous is fairly solid in terms of gameplay it still has some problems. I had various objectives not load in some of the training missions but those were easily fixed by reloading the training session. Unlike the training, the full game is not forgiving as you cannot simply reload a save in an online game. At one point I took two missions that were identical and when I arrived at the location I no longer had them for unknown reasons. This meant I would miss out on gaining funds for much needed upgrades and wasted fuel making multiple hyper jumps across the galaxy. I also experienced a handful of crashes during my space travels. Most of the crashes would mean just restarting Elite Dangerous and finding yourself back at the last spaceport you left but I had one very hard crash.
I had managed to find a Federation outpost with a different design than others I encountered and I was having trouble finding the entrance. After a good five minutes I thought it just had smaller entrances, I don’t know how I came to this conclusion, but chaos ensued which led to my ship breaking through the physical boundaries causing all kinds of havoc with the game’s physics engine as my ship became intertwined with the station and a void of nothingness simultaneously. This actually crashed the game, then my PS4 Pro crashed trying to close Elite Dangerous leaving me with the only option of removing power from the system. I recommend never crashing your ship into a large structure as it will cause a bad time for all parties involved.
I felt Elite Dangerous was a fun experience and I will give it more of my time in the future, but I believe it is overwhelming at times with the controls and ship options. There is so much I still have not experienced and probably even more that I’ll never know about. I feel that Elite Dangerous is a unique experience that is not for everyone but if you’re willing to learn everything and stick with it for a long time you will get more enjoyment than expected.
Review Copy Provided By Frontier