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    Elite: Dangerous,Review

    Spaceships, lasers, black holes, huge burning suns, and a little over four hundred billion places to visit and explore. Developer Frontier has done a frankly incredible job of creating an authentic, engrossing and pure space simulation that evokes wonder in its scale and ambition even for fully-grown adults. Dangerous frequently delivers some of the best moments going hell, this sits among the finest spaces game ever made but for all this scope and all of its glorious instances, there’s still a lot of nothing in its world. Elite still has a long journey ahead.

    It is, at its very core, a game about journeys. Short ones, long ones, even longer ones. memorable ones and forgettable ones, too. The start of each player’s personal journey is an intriguing but altogether unfriendly first few hours that slowly unfolds into a wondrous experience that few other games can match. The lengthy intro stages set the scene and tone. Elite: Dangerous wants you to have fun in its colossal persistent galaxy, but it wants you to work for it.

    Crash course
    Every new pilot is given a Sidewinder, the game’s introductory ship, and 1,000 credits. That monetary boost is essentially worth nothing in the overall economy, where a single ships can cost hundreds of millions of credits, and the Sidey itself is very limited. Its firepower is miniscule, with only a few armoured hardpoints open for customisation, and it lacks the cargo space and hyperjump capabilities to make it a decent option for budding entrepreneurial space-traders or ambitious explorers. however, it still has its merits. most of all, it’s small and manoeuvres well and this is a very good thing as Elite’s controls take a little while to grasp and much longer to master.
    “It wants you to have fun In Its colossal persIstent galaxy, but It wants you to work for It”
    The first step to truly earning your wings is understanding the three different stages of ship velocity when you’re bombing around. at its slowest, your ship can travel around at up to a few hundred kilometres per hour. This is where the majority of the game’s activities docking with stations, fighting other ships, and similar undertakings occur, and where flight is at its most exciting. But getting anywhere of real distance  in this manner would take decades to hundreds of years in Elite’s 1:1 recreation of our milky Way, so it’s necessary to use Supercruise to navigate between planets and stars in the same system. Supercruise allows you to ferry across massive distances in a relatively short amount of time, as well as chase bounty hunts and scan systems for cartographic data. But it’s fairly uneventful and quickly becomes routine. Finally you’ve got your Frameshift Drive, which sends you into the more traditional idea of hyperspace, allowing quick, visually impressive traversal between different star systems that doesn’t take hundreds to thousands (or millions) of years as it would at conventional speeds.

    Flight up my life
    Elite makes even the most mundane of movements feel satisfying and tangible. Ship personalisation hasn’t really been implemented yet the current paint jobs which can be bought for real money on the game’s online store are pretty pointless but the act of just piloting yours feels like a great personal undertaking in its own right. You learn to respect the crafts you’re in control of, and in a sense this sums up Dangerous entirely it succeeds so well as a simulation because everything you do in-game is done via your cockpit. Every mission, every kill, every discovery and every bitter defeat is made from this one isolated seat surrounded by black nothingness, strictly limited to a first-person perspective. Frontier has done an amazing job of making you feel so involved without you ever leaving the constraints of a glass canopy. 

    Look to your left-hand side holographic display and you’ll see all your navigational information: the galaxy and system maps, which detail trade routes, and the positions of stars, planets, stations and more within each individual system. These are beautiful in themselves just zoom down onto the centre of the milky Way galaxy and stare in complete awe at the indescribable number of different orbs, each a different colour, size and age. You can go to all of them, providing you can put in the man-hours/days/weeks to get there.
    “you feel so Involved wIthout ever leavIng the constraInts of your glass canopy”
    Look to the right-hand holographic display and you’ll see even more details: information on your rankings in the game’s three main trees of progression combat, trading and exploration as well as your current cargo, bounty information, any refinery capabilities you have for mining, and more. You can also tweak your power outputs by turning off certain parts of your ship. Want to remain unseen on scanners? Flick off your weapons, shields and any other components generating energy and keep your heat gauge as low as possible, boosting the engines only the slightest amount and using silent running mode to keep things icy cool. Discovered that your onboard weaponry is too much for your ship’s power couplings to control without malfunctioning? Turn off all your weapons until you can dock at a nearby star station and install a more powerful set of interior components. This is risky, especially in lawless areas of space, but sometimes it’s just got to be done if you want to get the hell out of dodge.

    Hot seat
    There’s a lot to consider when manoeuvring around the in-cockpit menus or around space itself, but control is always considered and can be customised to fit to how you want to play. after binning off the complicated and unwieldy mouse and keyboard controls, we opted for an Xbox 360 pad, which is perfectly serviceable for the basic controls, but lacks the amount of buttons needed for more complex commands. We eventually upgraded to the Saitek X52 joystick, which is modelled in-game.
    This shift in control changed the game entirely, and it added an extra strand of personal connection to the ships we were piloting. Not only do more control options become immediately accessible to you, but combat is more exciting and your dexterity is vastly improved. The sooner you can settle into a rhythm when controlling your ship, the better.

    For all its intricate inputs and cool flight options, Dangerous often balances on a knife edge between ecstatic wonder and routine boredom. Frontier has filled the space with interesting things to do while keeping a sense of authenticity, and Elite goes a long way to making sure that whenever you are doing nothing, there are still amazing sights to see. It’s made even more beautiful because it feels so pure, with real theories and observable science at its core: the idea that you can visit a star that exists in our night sky, and it would look like it does in the game. admire a gigantic ringed Orbis station as it slowly rotates in front of a red behemoth; gawp at the trillions upon trillions of individual bits of rock in the ring structure of a colossal gas giant; exit Frameshift and see a blindingly bright white dwarf for the first time; witness the mind-bending effects of gravitational lensing a key identifier of the existence of a nearby black hole as many players have already done. all of this is awe-inspiring, even if it is surrounded by a fair amount of repetition.
    “It never dIverts Its focus from beIng a fantastIc sImulatIon In pursuIt of mega explosIons”
    As for those unfriendly first hours? They’re imbalanced. The game is inherently systemic, relying on a venn diagram of combat options, a constantly evolving economy and an ever-widening circle of discoveries but only eventually. 

    Learning cliff
    As bounty hunting, exploring and mining are expensive to get set up in, trading simple goods is the only real way to get your foot on the property ladder. It works in two ways, but both of them are tricky to begin with. You can identify trade routes by analysing the Galaxy map, or you can check the bulletin boards in star ports. These boards are where you can pick up the most profitable missions, but a lot of them cannot be accepted by new players. Prerequisites have to be met to accept certain tasks, and these can vary from having a cargo hold of a minimum size, to being trusted by a particular faction. It’s tough to learn, and it’s one thing understanding that you can’t store all 24 orders of non-lethal weapons in your Sidewinder’s small cargo hold, but it’s another thing entirely learning how Elite’s complicated and often obscured notoriety system works.

    Dangerous often becomes a victim of its own complexity, occasionally coming across as wanting to be purposefully inaccessible for new players. There are now tutorials for newcomers to get the basics, but the imbalance of the game’s first few hours is to the detriment of the experience it precedes, which puts great interlinking gameplay mechanics at the forefront of what happens.

    Climb that relatively short but steep introductory hill, earn your first 100,000 credits, and you’re set for a much more interesting game. Buy a hauler and continue those trade runs, except this time you can begin to capitalise on ferrying rare goods, identifying profitable commodities that’ll net you tidy profits. Pick up a couple of gimballed pulse lasers, a missile rack or some rat-tat-tat multi cannons and set out on my First Bounty hunt these chases can take anywhere from ten minutes to a few hours, depending on the score, but they almost always result in brilliant emergent moments. a few times we’d identify our target after searching across multiple star systems, only to have a tense laser-to-laser dogfight near a gigantic burning sun. If you’re not quick about killing your mark, this increases the chance they’ll escape to a nearby star system, and it’s then up to you to use your Wake Scanner (if you have one) to scan the energy pulse left behind by their jump to hyperspace. Using that scanned data you can follow them to where they’ve gone to hide in order to finish the job. It’s thrilling and frequently nail-biting stuff, especially when you’re up against much more challenging ships like the truly daunting anaconda.

    Mining can be equally tense. Extraction zones are small pockets of asteroids where valuable minerals can be lasered off and refined. It’s long, relatively badly paid work unless you can find a source of rare metals, but ships congregate in dense packs, and it’s common to see fights break out as greedy criminals pick on the smaller ships. There were a few great chases through asteroid fields, as we hunted down easy targets who had bounties on their heads. It becomes like a scene from Star Wars (the original trilogy, obviously) as you navigate through the infinite spread of rock and ice, chasing down your prey. If you’re a seasoned pilot behind the stick you can also use cargo hatch limpets to burst open their back doors, freeing whatever goodies they’ve been mining. Once you’ve blown your opponent to smithereens, you can pick up the pieces for a tidy but illegal sale on the black market.

    Trail blazer
    These moments are truly special. Dangerous never diverts its focus from being a fantastic sim in the pursuit of mega explosions and michael Bay madness even when that rigid adherence to simulation causes moments of nothing or repetitive routine.

    It’s slow, considered, and occassionally boring, but there’s always purpose. You’re always chasing the next upgrade, or the ship you want, or the massive red giant you’ve spotted on the galaxy map and have to travel 500 light-years to get to. Where Elite needs work is in terms of how it develops as you progress. Earning yourself a new craft means you’ll just do the same thing in greater measure in pursuit of the next shiny ship. Finding a particularly impressive star is magnificent, but then what happens? Not much. There’s tons of political intrigue, but all of the game’s ‘narrative’ is confined to in-station bulletin boards. It feels like you’re trying to make plot threads from notes on a map, rather than a real sequence of events that unfold as you commit deeds, heroic or otherwise.

    Elite: Dangerous is not finished and, even as Frontier continue to update it, may never be. What you get when you buy right now is a wondrous simulation of discovery that feels truly ambitious arguably overly so in its depiction of space on a truly galactic scale. having something this ambitious is rare, though, and all its current shortcomings are fixable the imbalanced starting stages, the repetitive nature of each of the game’s activities, and its almost nonexistent co-operative multiplayer features make for a game that needs more depth, but the magic and soul are most definitely there.

    During the time we’ve spent playing Elite we’ve enjoyed some of the most enthralling moments we’ve experienced in the last few years, as well as some of the most uneventful. But our personal stories have been made truly unforgettable by prolonged flashes of brilliance from a landmark game.


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