Elite: Dangerous Released – and some vitriol…

James Young · December 19, 2014

A couple of days ago, Elite: Dangerous was finally released.  I’m an original Kickstarter backer and Premium Beta player of ED, and have been playing it off an on during its entire development period.

Now, so you understand why I’m going to sound sour against Elite but also excited, you’ll need to understand where I’m coming from.  Way back during the original Kickstarter drive in late 2012, the following was posted, and this made the difference between me biding my time and paying my money;

However it will be possible to have a single player game without connecting to the galaxy server. You won’t get the features of the evolving galaxy (although we will investigate minimising those differences) and you probably won’t be able to sync between server and non-server (again we’ll investigate).

Why do I care so much?  Well, I live in Australia.  Australians suffer from poor bandwidth, high latency, and our timezone generally causes us to always get hit with maintenance outages during our primetime.

On the upside, we have large numbers of Australian ladies with Aussie accents.  But we also have crocodiles.  And sharks.  And snakes.  And spiders.  And box jellyfish.  And blue-ring octopus.  And scorpions.  And venomous plants.  And shells that shoot harpoons at you.  It’s a tradeoff.

Also, I work full-time and I have a family.  The ability to pause is critical to me - real life comes first.  So, the promise that Elite would have an offline single-player option really made the deal for me, and I paid my money.

Let’s fast forward to one month before official release.  We’re informed that ED will not have an offline single-player option.  Oh, and by the way, if you’re an Alpha/Beta backer who has played the Beta, no refunds.

Whoops.  I’m told in the last ~5% of the development cycle that I’m not getting the features I paid for.  Oh yeah, and I can’t get my money back because I dared to use the skeleton product and file bug reports.  Oh yeah, and have maintenance downtimes for patches in the middle of evening primetime.

Sorry!  Thanks for the support!

Needless to say, I’m very sore about this.  I’m angry at Frontier for pulling what amounts to a bait-and-switch, and hiding behind technicalities to get out of what was fundamentally fraud.  You might call it shrewd business, I call it professional dishonesty.

Now, with that aside.  Elite’s a good game.  Well, it’s a shell of a good game.  Graphics are great, mechanics are good, and it shows promise.  However there’s a lot of depth missing.  That will improve with time.  Docking is simply awesome.  Trade and exploration is functional, and the solar systems are beautiful (if a bit samey after a while).  There’s a plethora of bugs and balance issues right now.  They get visceral combat right in a way that X3 doesn’t.  But they get empire-building and trade wrong in a way that X3 doesn’t.

So, if you want a space game, used to play the original Elite, and would like to see something new (btw, it’s incredible on the Oculus Rift), Elite’s a good buy.  But don’t expect it to keep you busy for extensive periods right now - the depth is lacking.  And don’t expect any offline or pausable modes.  If you want those things, X3AP may be a better fit.

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