What's the current state of Elite: Dangerous? Should I look elsewhere?
September 10, 2018 10:39 AM   Subscribe

I finally have an above-average gaming rig (Dell XPS 8000-series, just arrived last week), and I am in the market for something along the lines of "X-Wing Alliance meets Skyrim": a space sim with an open-world explorationy sandboxy feel. Elite: Dangerous seems gorgeous and seems to be what I want, but…

Elite: Dangerous appears to be an MMO, yet not especially MMO-ish. I'm curious about this, and wondering whether it is in fact the purchase for me.

In particular, much of what I've read about E:D is at least two or three years old, but there are lots of hints of future improvements. Wondering what happened there.

My preferences:
- Flight-style joystick support.
- That feeling of being in the cockpit. (Rules out EVE.)
- Little to none of the MMO bullshit—spammy promotion from the game's creators, people hopping around like frogs on meth—or at least some means of switching off my awareness of it.
- Some means of advancement (of characters, crews, and/or ships)—that does NOT require microtransactions!!!@#!

And of particular concern: does its status as an MMO mean that E:D will eventually become unplayable, once the company gets sold or goes belly-up or decides to cut expenses? And is there a fully-offline equivalent that is similar enough for me (and not too old—like, probably not much older than Skyrim)?
posted by CheesesOfBrazil to Computers & Internet (8 answers total)
To your last point: it probably will be shut down someday, and seems to rely on a connection to central servers for things like the background simulation. If “playable offline forever” is your goal, this is not your game.

I just started playing again, with a small group of acquaintances from a flight sim-centric gaming group. It’s fun with friends, and there are opportunities to work together to earn money quickly (and therefore sidestep some of the really grindy MMO bits) but the individual parts are still pretty much “learn a really simple mini-game mechanic and repeat.” Combat can be fun especially in a wing (up to four players working together) but trade is by far the most lucrative option, and involves a lot of “fly from A to B, maybe win a mini-game to avoid being shot at by pirates along the way.”

The background simulation is probably the most interesting part — a group of players can work together to help a faction gain or lose influence, which can lead to more lucrative missions, lower item costs, etc for people who have good reputation with them in parts of space they control, etc. That’s a pale shadow of EVE though, and is always online (so runs afoul of your “play offline” ask).

You could just do combat, solo, and have a very Privateer/X-Wing experience, but getting to the higher-level combat ships without grinding trade or exploration, or collaborating with people who do grind trade/exploration to get the big payouts, will be hard.
posted by Alterscape at 10:57 AM on September 10, 2018

Off the top of my head:

- Yes, flight style joystick is supported.

- Yup. The game can be played in VR (but doesn't have to be), so the cockpit has to make you feel like you're there.

- There's no MMO bullshit. A bit more detail: You can play in either solo mode or open mode. In solo mode you'll never see another player. In open mode, you'll be playing with other people in a shared gameworld but in my experience I only ever run into other players when we're setting out to do something together intentionally. The galaxy is a big place.

- The progression in the game is raising your ranks in various categories (exploration, combat...ect) to the level of "Dangerous". Also buying new ships. There's no microtransactions that affect gameplay.

- There are cosmetic microtransactions but they're 100% optional and not necessary at all.

The game does require an always-online connection, even for solo mode, so I suppose if Frontier went under, the game would go with it? Or not? The world of online games is tricky.
posted by Snuffman at 10:58 AM on September 10, 2018

Oh, it does totally nail “being in the cockpit” and feels great with my flightsim HOTAS setup. A lot of the stuff you do in the cockpit feels more game-y than sim-y, but if you like X-Wing and the Wing Commander games, it’ll be what you want in that regard. It’s great in VR, too.
posted by Alterscape at 11:00 AM on September 10, 2018

If you are not in a super hurry (since it's not out yet), Rebel Galaxy Outlaws might be worth a look.
posted by juv3nal at 2:15 PM on September 10, 2018 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Elite: Dangerous nails the spaceflight experience, but it's a tricky game to recommend. Whether or not the progression is meaningful depends mostly on how much you enjoy the basic act of flying your ship around and doing whatever it is you're focused on doing. Combat is combat; as you progress, you'll take on more difficult opponents, but the missions don't become meaningfully different. Trade will always just be flying between space stations; your ship will get bigger and your profits per run more obscene, but will always just involve flying between space stations. Exploration is slated to get some additional mechanics later this year, but for the most part just involves jumping from system to system just to see what's there.

That said, there's tons of "progression" available in the form of deciding what you want to do and making it happen. I gave exploration a try by following a popular exploration route that yields a ton of money from selling exploration data and found it enjoyable. So I set for myself the goal of flying out to the farthest reachable system in the galaxy, a trip that requires several thousand hyperspace jumps in each direction. I loved it. Others would probably find it incredibly boring. But the game makes it possible to do that kind of crazy thing.

The game can also be incredibly grindy, especially if you are trying to engineer better modules for your ship. Personally, I hate that aspect and don't much bother with it, but if you want to spend time chasing incremental upgrades to all your ship's systems, you can absolutely do it.
posted by sinfony at 5:44 PM on September 10, 2018

E:D is good. So is No Man's Sky these days, if you'd like something that (optionally) has a bit more of an obvious progression.
posted by wierdo at 4:18 AM on September 11, 2018

Best answer: Have you heard of X3 - Albion Prelude? It's dense and I've never gotten far myself, but I've always heard it described as singleplayer EVE. I've not played EVE.

You can trade or mine or fight, or even command fleets of traders or miners or capital-class vessels with dozens of fighters, although I've never gotten that far to know if it's much good for that.
It's 2011 I think, and an updated version of a 2008 game at that, but it's always satisfied any space flight game desires I've ever had as someone who can't play multiplayer games.

I don't think it's anywhere as flashy as Elite, but it's always seemed to me to have all the necessary aspects of the game for different playstyles.
As far as I can tell it meets all your requirements, might be at least worth having a glance if you haven't heard of it.
The cockpit feel is the one bit I'm unsure of, but it seemed pretty cockpit feely to me but I don't quite know what you mean by that. A bit like being in a WW2 flight Sim? I don't think it's unlike that, if you're flying an interceptor. A kilometre long carrier is very different though.
posted by AnhydrousLove at 6:16 AM on September 11, 2018

Response by poster: Thanks everybody. I had NOT heard of X3, and it complicated my decision! But after lots of hemming and hawing, I decided to bite the E:D bullet (it wasn't as expensive as I feared), and keep X3 in mind as a fallback in case E:D doesn't click with me.

The cockpit feel is the one bit I'm unsure of, but it seemed pretty cockpit feely to me but I don't quite know what you mean by that. A bit like being in a WW2 flight Sim? I don't think it's unlike that, if you're flying an interceptor. A kilometre long carrier is very different though.

I remember controlling an Imperial Star Destroyer with a joystick back in the XWA days, so I'm no stranger to how weird that is! :)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:00 AM on September 12, 2018 [1 favorite]

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