This past weekend was not the first time I have attended a developer’s convention, but Frontier Expo 2017 was one of only a very few times when I have been able to attend the first one of its kind. Last weekend, I got to witness the birth of Frontier Developments’ fan convention, held in London, UK. At 1500 attendees, it may have been a relatively small gathering compared to conventions like PAX or other more established cons, but it was still great. In fact, it offered fans a few firsts of their own! Besides your classic meeting-and-greeting, game announcements with reveals, and after parties (including live entertainment by Jim Guthrie, the musician who created the Planet Coaster music), folks got to try their hand at the studio’s really old games on their original equipment in the Frontier Developments museum.
Even more than that, attendees got to meet and listen to world-renowned experts in the fields of paleontology and astrobiology. Not because these would sell the game, but just because they are subjects of interest to fans. How many studios have offered that?
Now there were understandably a few bumps and learning experiences in this first endeavor, but in all, I say the inaugural FX2017 was a resounding success! It was easily the most chill convention experience I have ever had, and I look forward to next year’s show (and hanging out with the space loach more!). Let’s dig in!
Elite Dangerous’ David Braben has a big spread in Rolling Stone’s Glixel blog this week, and it’s a fun read as he zips around discussing Trappist-1, Roman slavery, Star Wars, ant society, Shakespeare, Ursula Le Guin, computer science jobs, and the future of humanity. It’s a whirlwind, but he does eventually get around to talking about Elite itself, admitting that while the game will never achieve “perfection,” it’s “definitely approaching” his ideal space game, as “accurate as we can possibly make it.”
“When we first greenlit Elite: Dangerous, there were no other major space games since Freelancer,” he says. “Now, there are dozens. So, I think we’ve succeeded. We’ve brought the genre back to life. And we’ve proven there’s quite a lot of demand for this sort of game. Yes, it’s niche, but it’s quite a big niche. And we’ve got [Star Citizen’s] Chris Roberts coming along now, and so many other games that look interesting. No Man’s Sky, even.”
He also argues that free-to-play is a “challenge” to online communities and instancing in MMOs.
For a good long while, it seemed as though Elite Dangerous players were all alone in their gigantic galaxy playground. Then came the discovery of alien remnants and evidence of life, suggesting that the devs had more up their sleeve. But little did players know that first contact was about to become second contact with one of the franchise’s most notorious enemies.
Frontier announced this week that with Horizons 2.4, the Thargoids would arrive in the game after a long absence from the series. The truly alien race that hails from an ammonia world made its debut in the original 1984 game as a threat that players encountered and had to overcome.
The Return update is coming in Q3 2017 and will bring the Thargoids and their eight-sided spaceships into the modern era with story events and inevitable battles. The dev team cautions players that if they fail to stand up to the aliens, they could see the galaxy slowly consumed by the Thargoids.
“What happens next will be decided by every Elite Dangerous player,” said Frontier CEO David Braben. Check out The Return trailers after the jump!
Call it “Sitting in Cockpits.”
No longer will your in-game representation in Elite Dangerous be a mere hunk of space metal with a flaking coat of paint. With Horizons Update 2.3: The Commanders today, all players will be able to create their own avatars to counter the loneliness of space exploration with a humanizing touch.
The avatar will be used extensively in the game, as players will be able to see their creation in the cockpit and have their likeness show up on-screen when chatting with others. If that’s not enough to make you feel chummy, then hook yourself up with one of the new multi-crew ships that allow several friends to join you in your adventures.
Other patch changes include ship names, ID plates, vanity cameras, and asteroid bases. Frontier CEO David Braben fielded a lot of questions about the update and the future of Elite Dangerous in a recent Reddit AMA, just in case you wanted to glean more information. For the rest of us, check out the commander creator feature after the jump!
Frontier is hyping Elite Dangerous’ expected Q2 PS4 release at this year’s PAX East (colon still MIA, sorry), complete with confirmed HOTAS support. Frontier’s David Braben has a long video out today introducing the game’s highlights to newcomers, discussing the feel of the lore and the future-fantasy of space exploration more than mechanics (definitely catch his description of free-wheeling space wagon trains with their “slightly cowboy free-for-all” aesthetic).
There’s a trailer too — it’s all down below for your eyeballs!
Frontier Entertainment (Planet Coaster, Elite Dangerous) is brewing up something new in its game labs — but what could it be?
Gamasutra reports that the studio briefly announced to the London Stock Exchange it had secured the rights to an unnamed, well-known, and “enduring” movie franchise for its next title.
“We have chosen to license this particular IP to work with as our third franchise, because we believe we can create something very special,” said Frontier Developments Chief Executive David Braben. “It is creatively stimulating, already has a high worldwide profile, and is a perfect match for our expertise.”
Any thoughts as to what this may be? Lets start a Massively OP pool in the comments!
Elite Dangerous is coming to the PlayStation 4 — and while it is not bringing its lost colon, it’s bringing everything else. Frontier CEO David Braben announced the news early this morning.
“It is great to come to PlayStation. When Elite Dangerous arrives on PlayStation 4 next year, we’re bringing the full game with everything in our ‘Horizons’ season of expansions included, so not only can you fly your ship, but you can carry an ‘SRV’ – Surface Recon Vehicle – in your hold, and charge around the surfaces of planets and moons at up to 100mph, finding materials, attacking bases, or seeking out hidden secret things with your friends.”
While there aren’t many details just yet, Braben does say that the team is “making full use of the PS4 system and the unique features of the PS4 and PS4 Pro to deliver an experience unlike any other on the console, with features tailored to the DualShock 4 controller” specifically. Oh yeah, and it’s launching Q2 2017.
This week in MMO crowdfunding news, Elite Dangerous’ massive Guardians expansion went live this week, introducing new features to the space epic including multi-person crewing, NPC ferrying, new planetary discoverables, and a much improved map. Frontier’s David Braben sat for a Reddit AMA during the week as well, addressing everything from exploration to multiplayer. “Yes, it is a multiplayer game,” he wrote. “We are conscious that different people want to play in different ways and we want to support that. Personally I prefer PvE and co-op multiplayer, but that is mainly because I’m a bit rubbish on PvP. Many players have come across me in the depths of space, and I really like it that most would rather chat than kill me.”
- Shroud of the Avatar updated with Release 35 right on schedule! Expect improvements for the Path of Love, better cooking mechanics, and a rework for roving encounters.
- Project Gorgon’s latest update implemented a Halloween “loot extravaganza,” tweaked combat, and “wide-spread changes to abilities and treasure effects.”
- Hero’s Song will keep its promise to launch its backer alpha in October; it goes live on Halloween.
- Gloria Victis made plans for female toons (stay tuned for our in-depth look at the game!).
- And keep an eye on Antraxx, whose Kickstarter is due to wrap up on November 1st.
Read on for more on what’s up with MMO crowdfunding this week and the roundup of all the crowdfunded MMOs we’ve got our eye on!
Frontier has a bundle of new Elite Dangerous videos out in honor of Gamescom.
First up is the newest pair: a look at the upcoming Port Variant, a gorgeous space station rotating and keeping all those parks in place thanks to simulated gravity.
During last night’s streams, the studio also demoed The Beluga starship and the new route plotting system. (Space map junkies, you’re going to love that one.) And finally, there’s an interview with David Braben himself. We’ve rounded up the goodies below!
Frontier has just announced the beta for Elite: Dangerous 2.1, better known as The Engineers, will open for beta access players the week of May 8th. We learned back in March that the launch had been delayed at least six weeks to “push the quality up,” as David Braben put it, but we didn’t have a clearer date until today.
“The Engineers (2.1) is the second major release in the Elite Dangerous: Horizons season of expansions that started with Planetary Landings. The Engineers adds Loot and Crafting and the eponymous Engineers themselves as the headliner features, but also delivers a massive number of new gameplay elements. Through the engineers, you will be able to improve and upgrade the stats on every module of your ship, and add rare, experimental effects to your weapons for some special outcomes. We’ll be showing more of these weapons in the coming newsletters, but here’s one example of the abilities that you can implement.”
Frontier has also announced that the 1.6 patch will be made available to everyone, not just Horizons owners, and will enter beta at the same time. Newsletters outlining more of the company’s plans are promised over the next three weeks.
Financial documents released by Frontier yesterday were scooped up by eagle-eyed Redditors because they frame a revenue shift against a delay in the full and final release of Elite: Dangerous’s Horizons season and the 2.1 Engineers launch.
“Frontier Developments […] announces that following a review of the development of the next stage of Elite Dangerous: Horizons (‘EDH’), the Board of Frontier has determined that this will take place after the end of the current financial year, being 31 May 2016. As previously announced, EDH was initially released in ‘early access’ in December 2015. Coming out of ‘early access’ was originally expected to take place during April 2016, coinciding with the planned launch of EDH’s next expansion, The Engineers. However, this – along with associated revenues – will now take place in the first half of the next financial year. Therefore, second half revenues will be substantially below prior expectations.”
Frontier boss David Braben showed up in person on Reddit to assuage player fears. “What it means is that 2.1 is pushed out by around 6 weeks,” he says. “This is to push the quality up, which is a good thing for the game. It’s ready when it’s ready. It does mean you’ll have to wait a bit longer, but it will be worth the wait.”
Frontier’s Michael Brooks says that the Engineers patch still has no release date “that we’re talking about just yet.”
Elite: Dangerous is busy celebrating the launch of Horizons this week, but if you’ve never played before, you could probably use some training, and that’s exactly what Frontier has on deck in the latest newsletter. The studio has pubbed four “pilot training” videos to introduce players to the new season, covering everything from landing to settlements.
David Braben also says Merry Christmas, discusses the game’s pricing model, and commends rival Star Citizen.
Landing on planets seems to be ‘the new black’ as they might say in marketing circles… You can do it now anywhere on the surface of countless 1:1 scale simulated planetary surfaces in Elite Dangerous: Horizons and landing is coming in the future in No Man’s Sky, Star Citizen (as I heard just now – a major new future feature they announced last night), Infinity: Battlescape and many others. This is a great thing, as open world space games have now truly come back with a bang, and I look forwards to playing them – and also huge congratulations to Chris and the team for raising $100M for Star Citizen! What both Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous are trying to do is very hard indeed. Both games are incredibly ambitious. I am proud and excited about what we are doing, but what they are doing is ambitious too, and I am looking forward to playing Star Citizen when it is finished. What we are both doing is new; we are trailblazing. The scope of both is vast and quite different, and neither have been done before, so there is no right answer for either of the approaches. It is frustrating to see some of the criticism of Star Citizen online. We should applaud when someone tries something that is hard, that hasn’t been done, not discourage them.
Hear, hear. The training vids are below.
Elite: Dangerous’ Horizons – specifically, the 1.5 ships update – is set for launch today. Horizons is considered the next season for the game’s original version, which launched a year ago. That makes today’s launch, Planetary Landings, the first expansion of this second season. Got all that? Good.
Frontier’s devs are busily streaming in honor of the launch, and David Braben submitted himself to the whims of a Reddit AMA early this morning, confirming galaxy map bookmarks for 2.2, a community site revamp to better connect players seeking groups, Powerplay improvements, and more.
You can purchase the base game plus Horizons bundled for $59.99 US on the official site. Check out the launch trailer below.