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Everything Coming to Commanders in 2018

Ed Orr Posted:
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The impending threat of alien invasion, or maybe just utter annihilation, looms heavy on the horizon for players of Elite Dangerous. The Thargoids came back to the fore this year and during the keynote speech at Frontier Expo 2017, we found out that this is just the start of the action.

During an extensive reveal, the ongoing focus on narrative was highlighted as one of the key points of interest for the Elite Dangerous developers as they unveiled 2018’s Beyond update. The Thargoid threat will continue to roll towards its seemingly inevitable conclusion as Elite pushes past the Horizons update. First quarter 2018 will bring an initial batch of narrative updates to players as well as several new features. These include a number of ongoing community goals and several new additions to the game’s personal narrative.

While there is not much more detail about these personal narrative changes it is safe to say that the Thargoid threat will continue to be a present danger, and Frontier promised to reveal more about the alien menace and their relationship with the Guardians. As a central component of the Beyond roadmap, additional narrative scenario’s will be added to Elite during two more planned drops, later in 2018. Each of these two intermediate updates will also include new missions, potential new tech, weapons, and new ships that will expand the game’s spiraling space opera.

As the danger of space travel becomes far more prevalent in the current climate, ship designs will naturally evolve and the Chieftain is a prime example of this. The first of two new ships that caused quite a stir at Frontier Expo, the Chieftain is the result of a Lakon Spaceways and Alliance partnership. It reflects the need for a ship that can still zip through space but serve a more utilitarian role when space pirates and rogue asteroids are the least of your worries. While the Chieftain reflects form and function of changing times, the Krait is a glance back to days of old and welcome return of a beloved design. While we did not get full technical specifics, the Krait continues to feature its classic configuration with a blisteringly overpowered engine perched on the rear and an abundance of weaponry strapped to the hull. Both these ships were just some of the ships slated to arrive as part of the Beyond roadmap.

While players zip around the galaxy looking for trouble in a range modern and classic spacecraft, they will benefit from a change to the existing Galnet news system. While it is incredibly important, the Galnet news system has, until now, could turn into some pretty heavy reading for players trying to get up to speed on developments. Galnet Audio is an upgrade which will keep the Elite population up to date with the latest news in a massive galaxy the easy way. Soon you will just relax and unwind to the soothing synthesized voice of the Galnet announcer, or keep up to date while out investigating some asteroids.

Mining those asteroids should also get much more rewarding in Beyond. Frontier confirmed that by the end of 2018 resource detection and extraction will be dramatically improved by a larger set of tools, turning mining from a hit or miss opportunity into something nearer to wild west prospecting. It’s not only the chance of striking it rich that drags explorers out to the furthest reaches of the Milky Way, however. The plethora of new planetary textures, as well as updates to ambient vapor and fog effects, were just a few of the graphical improvements that should make exploring planetary bodies a much more interesting in 2018.

The final big announcement of Frontier Expo 2017 was a direct response to community feedback and one of the biggest changes in community building that Elite has seen in years. Looking suspiciously like guilds, Squadrons are a brand new organizational unit that will allow groups of players to take on anything waiting in deep space. They will bring a range of tools to manage membership, improved communication channels between members and their very own fleet carriers. These massive mobile bases will allow players to launch raids against the toughest defenses, or explore the coldest corners of the cosmos, with the ability to refuel, re arm, re spawn, and act as a mobile base of operations. This is a particularly large step for Elite Dangerous. For any game that relies on its own population to drive much of the story, emergent player behavior is critical. Giving players the tools to organize in much larger groups could result in the Thargoid war spiraling off towards epic proportions, given the correct situation.

The only way to check out these features is to stop staring up at the stars and get up get chasing some asteroids. Everything that Frontier revealed as part of the Beyond roadmap is completely free to players with the current Horizons 2.4 game. If you were thinking about getting into Elite Dangerous then now is probably the best time, before things get really interesting.


Ed Orr