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Can ‘Space Legs’ Bring Elite: Dangerous Back From The Brink?

Trailer poster for Elite: Dangerous new expansion, Odyssey
Credit: Frontier Development, Elite: Dangerous

Yesterday, Frontier Developments seemingly, accidentally posted an announcement trailer for a new expansion to Elite: Dangerous called Odyssey.

The video only lasted a couple minutes on the official Frontier Developments YouTube channel before it was taken down. Fortunately, anything on the internet stays on the internet. Just ask Rihanna. People online have posted the video to their communities and is now pretty much out there for anyone to watch. The video is currently unlisted on Youtube, but if you want to watch the video, it’s right below here.

The big news isn’t about the announcement trailer for a whole new expansion itself, but one feature in particular that is foremost in the trailer. Space Legs! For years if you’ve played and been in the Elite: Dangerous community for long enough, you will have heard that magical phrase. Elite is a game with unlimited exploration, massive battles and trading on a galactic scale. The one thing that most commanders have dreamed about is not going bigger and bigger. Instead, getting up out of that seat that your stitched into and roaming your ship, looking at the small details, monitors that you can see information on. Maybe even go down onto one of Jupiter’s moons and getting out of your SRV to go and teabag your friend that just crashed into the moons surface.

From the brand new announcement trailer, this is exactly what’s hinted at. Be cautious though. This isn’t an official feature coming to the game announced by the developers themselves. But come on… Two people can be seen getting out of their Sidewinder and walking across the surface of the planet, with weapons in hand. This also suggests that the new expansion will have an First Person Shooter aspect to it.

People standing on a planet with ships behind them in Elite: Dangerous
Credit: Elite Dangerous, Frontier Devlopments

This all sounds great to me as a long time player of Elite, who has put hundreds of hours into trading and exploring Colonia looking for secrets, but is it enough? With the failure to implement Fleet Carriers into the game properly, and delaying the feature. Does the rest of the community have the trust in the developers anymore to deliver a solid game play experience?

Recently, I’ve been playing Star Citizen. Another massive space sim, with an attention to detail that is rarely seen in games. Between having to wait for elevators and being able to see the finest details in clothes, this game has a special place in most space sim fans’ hearts. The problem is, it’s not finished. And with no end in sight, Elite really has an opportunity to win over a huge part of the fan base who want a fully released game that works. With the date at the end of the trailer saying early 2021 for a release.

Over the years, Elite has developed on it’s features and mechanics to make them so easy to use, and most important, interesting to use. You can imagine fans of Star Citizen getting bored from the constant crashes, lack of game play mechanics and near impossible to acquire ships. Elite could slide in there before Star Citizen to give that experience that is complete and full.

There’s mention of new tech to power the worlds you will be able to put your feet down onto. My fear is that if they couldn’t work out how to manage fleet carriers, how are they going to manage this? This is probably what I was talking about when I said trust. Planets are a massive part of Elite – literally. It does seem like the planetary tech that Elite deploys into their game is solid and has been one of the great attractions of the game for years. Billions of planets for you to explore with still billions left untouched. Even some have unexplored alien tech on them to this day, just waiting for us to discover. I have a theory that at some point, Frontier will have to give us strong hints to explore a certain part of space, or even planet. Unless their narrative will just halter. Now, the dream is that you can explore these billions of planets on foot and maybe find secrets you couldn’t in your SRV.

With all this, my hopes are that the team working on the Fleet Carriers were just a tiny fraction of the expansion team. They probably are. And they can deliver on a solid FPS experience. Could this Odyssey expansion bring Elite: Dangerous back from the brink? I think if it’s developed properly, then yes. If they really want to hit it out of the park, maybe include another mind blowing feature into the game, like ship interiors. You could be thinking, wouldn’t this be included in with the space legs? Just like Star Citizen, but they could get around the extra work by not developing ship interiors. Press ‘E’ on your ship, and fade to black, you’re in your ship.

Person with gun held up to eyes, aiming down sights in an space station interior
Credit: CIG, Star Citizen

With games like Star Citizen giving that super detailed experience of walking through your ship and seeing the cargo you just bought, this would be a lack luster expansion in my opinion. Yes, Space Legs are a massive undertaking in coding, modeling, animation, UI, UX, mechanics and everything else, but with Elite being one of the top space sims, you can’t just half ass it. Which sounds a bit harsh, but if you want to believe it or not, the game if failing. The player base has left. Whether it be for games like Star Citizen or even Fornite, which ever they’ve gone to, Frontier need to bring back their players.

Frontier need to develop that full player-on-foot experience. There are games that aren’t even finished yet which have it, at a great quality.