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Review in Progress #1 - Pre-Flight Check

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My canopy shatters and the cabin depressurizies. I can see the glassy material shooting out with my precious air. Computer, always helpful, warns me that I have 10 minutes until oxygen deplition.

It won't matter. I'll be dead in moments. Here come the laser bolts...

30 years ago when I was but a toddler, David Braben and Ian Bell brought out Elite. Some time after that when I was still very young I watched my uncle play it and I was utterly enraptured. Having grown up on science fiction and found out about a game where I could be in space? Glory.

Naturally he wouldn't let me play. I wouldn't have either. However once again David Braben came to the rescue and released Frontier: Elite II. Finally I had my chance! My own Amiga, my own chance to ply the trade amongst the stars.

The background is important because it frames how I dealt with Elite: Dangerous. You see I played a little bit, did some missions. Enjoyed myself. Then shock and horror, I was introduced to the credit cheat and so as a young boy set about cheating with a will. Biggest ship? Yes please. Best weapons? Of course! Cargo? You bet.

Crew? ... Bugger.

My Wingmen are legends. They are Gods. They are so much better at this than me. My beam laser goes where I want! Pity I'm not even in range. This isn't the place for the timid. I need to get closer... I need to get up close and lay into the target.... I NEED NOT TO CRASH INTO HIM

Fast forward the intervening 21 years to last week. Elite: Dangerous officially launched. Is there a credit bug? I doubt it. Is there the wormhole bug? I have no idea yet.... but I hope so. Where my first exposure to Elite was wide eyed wonder and my first experiences with it amounted to a lack of foresight, I decided I was going to take this easy. Work my way into the experience. Learn. Do it right.

Clearly I haven't grown up as much as I though. Why? Well I was pointed at the player created and compiled Pilots Guide.  It's huge! Like... huge. So I jumped in. Full of vim and vigour. Convinced I was going to be able to do this. After all I'm a huge sci fi fan. I'm a fan of Elite. How bad could it be?

Permission? Got that. Lined up with the station? Ehhh... good enough for government work. Take it slow and easy. Don't panic. Don't make them launch the cops. For the love of all that is holy, don't linger in the airlock. We just need to get through this bit and we can ....try.. landing... oh God.

Maturity won out. After all there was that button marked tutorial.... maybe I'd just peek. Confirm I know what I know and that that is that I am awesome. You know, maybe that player guide wasn't as crazy at it seemed at first blush. Why? Enter into the tutorial and each mission comes with a helpful link that'll send you to YouTube and more flight training. It makes sense. Pitch, yaw, lining up, physics. It all gets complicated quickly if you just leap in. So... come on. We're mature... watch the video. Oh hey there's six of them!

Of course I didn't watch the video. So naturally those floaty canisters were hard. Really. I should have learned. I should have remembered the impatient child I was so many years ago and apparently still am.

Ultimately I think this approach to Elite: Dangerous was the best for me. I had to learn. I had to accept that this isn't a childs game, despite playing the previous incarnation as a child. I had to learn that space is complicated, that sometimes you need to remember more than one command. I had to learn that in space, no one asks you to press X to pay respects.

This time I have him. Computer is complaining about the shields but I don't care. All power to the weapons. My lasers are pumping out bolts as fast as they can. This time he made the mistake. He let me take the hits while I lined up. Engines are in reverse. He's trying to close the distance but it won't matter. Three... two... one... and there he goes. Sweet oblivion.

If you're coming into Elite: Dangerous, the first time is don't make the willful mistakes I did. This is less of a game and more of an experience. There's nothing wrong with preparation. There's nothing wrong with going through the tutorial or stopping to read a guide. In fact I know I need to sit down and do some preperation before the next jump. Not because it's hard, but because I expect better of myself. I'm suppposed to be a pilot in the Elite universe, not an idiot without a clue. With practice I got it. Practice finally let me balance my subsystems, finally helped me take down that Sidewinder.

It's a good thing too. I am not going to be out taking down pirates. I am not going to be collecting bounties. Not yet anyway. There's other personal hurdles for me. Where am I going to be? Out there.

Frameshift Drive Charging. We're already in Supercruise and life looks good. Autopilot? Ha. This is human work, not computer. I'm almost lined up with my destination. A new star, a new destination. As soon as we're charged, it's Hyperspace.


There's what... 400 billion star systems to explore? There's going to be danger out there. There's going to be things to see, things to trade and things that probably need some nice hot laser death. Elite: Dangerous is all grown up and back out amongst the stars. More importantly I think I am too. This isn't nostalgia keeping me excited any more... it's genuine thrill all of its own. A whole galaxy ahead of me.. all I have to do is be good enough to survive it. The tutorial puts me through a pre-flight check once. It's cute. Clever even. I've done my own.

There's plenty more of Elite: Dangerous to review in parts. There's plenty more to come to grips with. Grip...

I need a flight stick. I'm a pilot.


Guest Writer