So, what about Elite Dangerous?

December 2013 – Early Access / Alpha

I started playing with the first release that supported oculus rift – in fact the support for occulus was what got me to ignore common sense and buy the horrendously priced alpha access.

Just to learn that I had come a few days late, and while I paid as much as some quite highlevel backers, i wouldn’t get any of the benefits they where getting. Tough Luck.

However I hadn’t bought the game because of those benefits, I had bought it because I wanted some space game to go with my oculus rift – and, even though there where a few bugs in that first alpha, that only consisted of what today is the tutorial, I really enjoyed it.

Last Year – Alpha / Beta 

During Alpha and the Beta stages the game grew better and better – once there was a set of systems you could travel between it started feeling like the game I wanted it to be – I started having some awesome dog-fights with other players, and grinded through combat zones and navpoints to supply my pew pew habbits.

Last Year – Gamma / Release

When ED was released last year, I was rather disappointed. Shortly before the launch they had messed up the (reward) balancing, so a combat career didn’t seem feasible, and everyone was just playing “Eurotruck Simulator in Space” which I found rather boring.

You wanted to progress to one of the bigger ships? be prepared of hours of hauling goods.  Exploration, Combat, Resource Harvesting? All of them where do-able, but wouldn’t yield enough to get even to the mid-range ships in a reasonable amount of time.

I had spend most of the time in Alpha / Beta grinding to get to one of the bigger ships (and always come just a few hours of gametime short of it before the next wipe), so again being tied to fly Viper or Eagle (the affordable combat ships), or go space trucking, I decided not to play for a while, hoping for Frontier to actually fix the game and make it a “complete experience” – something ED at that time was not.

Today (Easter 2015)

So, what has changed?

Since the last time I’ve played there have been two free “updates” (1.1: Community Goals and 1.2: Wings), which added a hand full of new features to the game – the first adressing the huge outcry by some, after the launch, about the lack of content.

Community Goals are basically Events where players who get to the location, can join to the Event and then do missions (mostly the same stuff as regular missions), that contribute to the Goal of that event – and by that the players can influence the outcome.

Wings is basically adding “grouping” features as known of any other online game – you have a few friends, you want to fly together and have a shared chat channel, share bounties and sensor data? you can now create a Wing and do this.

You might already have guessed from my choice of words that I’m not totally overwhelmed of excitement about those updates. Well first of all – this is features that should have been in the game from the start, and people where telling ’em that, and second, I might still be a bit annoyed by this Interview where David Braben claims to have released a complete game – totally ignoring that those two updates as well as many features and things (complete ship lineup anyone?) spoken about where not in.

I could go on ranting about the rumours of them working on planetary interaction and walking in stations for the paid expansions now, but I’ll save my breath. Lets rather talk about the good things:

They “fixed” the combat reward balance (and I can’t find it in the Patch Notes).

The rewards for shooting pirates, combat bonds etc. it all feels at about the right amount right now. getting your eagle (the lowest tier of combat ship) from bought to fully-pimped is now rather a task for a day or two, and not several weeks anymore. You will still make credits on a slower rate than a trader in an Lakon 9, but at least it will no be completely ridiculous anymore.

Ok, Ok, there are more factors that improve combat gameplay:

A new ship in the combat lineup: The Vulture – priced at (now reachable) 4mio credits a big brother for the Eagle. This moves the gap between “payable ship” and “ridiculous overpriced ship” a bit further away from the new combat pilot, as he now has the option to go from viper (~300k), to vulture rather than the faction ships ( ~20m, + good standing with the faction) or the python (50m).

Also combat gameplay has improved by having the NPC follow a wing-logic too, which means you can now see a bit more on how many NPC will get angry with you and shoot at you if you go for their wing-buddy.

 

So basically those updates have made combat a playable path again, and by that it seems time to play again.

 

TL;DR:

Liked ED in Alpha/Beta, got bored with Euro-Truck-in-Space in Game/Release. Happy that last update made combat playable again, now playing again.

 

PS: I still think the game is incomplete, but FD is doing a good job with their progress on improving the game to the state where it will be complete, even if they don’t admit the incompleteness.

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