I’m going to attempt to connect apples and oranges here. In my final days with Elite Dangerous for CMA, I have actually managed to connect a few mental bridges between it and my time with Star Citizen last month. And, no, it’s not just because both games are sandboxes that are set in space and feature internet spaceships.
At their very core, both games want to simulate the experience of stuff that just isn’t technically feasible right now – namely, civilian-level space travel and the industries that spring up from that advancement. In that aspect, both Star Citizen and Elite Dangerous tickle that simulation nerve that I love the best. They have both taken a lot of time to work out the fictional minutia on how to make that work and make you feel skilled for applying literal rocket science to the act of driving a car. They just happen to arrive to it in different ways.
What I like the most about Star Citizen is that it makes you think about the process of arriving to, get inside of, and firing up your spacecraft. However, it also didn’t really seem to devote a huge amount of time to the flying of said spacecraft, either in terms of navigation or steering. Elite Dangerous, on the other hand, has you take a whole lot of things into consideration before you even lift off, and nearly as many things to consider while you’re in flight such as scooping fuel and scanning systems. Heck, even arriving to a new place requires focus.
Both are enriching and engaging simulation experiences, just in their own unique ways, though the feeling of mastery over the systems in Elite Dangerous was absolutely more rewarding to me personally.
Both of these worlds also feel really well lived-in. The universe of Star Citizen has yet to be written, obviously, but I think of the advertisements for spaceships that have been put together to this point as evidence of some forethought: They strike me as not just a flashy way to siphon money out of supporter wallets but an indication that the companies of the game’s world really have history and presence. In Elite Dangerous, that sense of a full world comes whenever you arrive at a major starport. The little touches like radio commands and billboards on arrival and announcements that boom inside are really immersive.
Finally, the simple joy of flying a ship from point A to point B in both games is unparalleled. I promise, I’m not just saying this because I’m a terrible combat pilot in Elite Dangerous; I just love the sensation of flight and the steps needed to get off the ground.
In Star Citizen, this delight was mostly achieved in the process of manually delivering things from the cargo hold to a drop-off container while also managing approach to a landing pad. In Elite Dangerous, the route plotting metagame, careful mitigation of fuel and cargo space, and even surprises like avoiding interdiction made the otherwise routine task of cargo delivery much more involved. Some might call that busywork, but I call that deftly scratching at the simulation itch.
Are there some things that Star Citizen does better than Elite Dangerous? Sure there are. For one, I really would love if Elite gave us some space legs so we could get up and walk around instead of wearing our ships like a pair of pants. I also would like if Elite had more specialized ships on offer like the purpose-built ones that are currently in Star Citizen… and yes, I am wanting that even after looking at a list of ships currently in the game. Regardless, I found a whole lot to love in both of these games as a simulation game fan.
So yes, these two have some similarities. They both appeal to my sim-loving side quite a bit, especially since they answer the question of how to simulate fake technology in such divergent ways. Star Citizen seems to be focused on the creation of a fantastical world full of beautiful starships and a Wild West style interstellar prairie, while Elite Dangerous is about the hard science and careful planning that’d be required of a ship pilot.
For that reason, I won’t choose one over the other. They both strike my fancy. They both give me that sim gaming smile. Just because there are two games that look to be appealing to a similar type of fan doesn’t mean you can’t be a fan of both of them. That might come off as annoyingly centrist, but frankly I want to live in an MMO world where both of these games can coexist.
That’s mostly because I also don’t want to live in an MMO world where the only option for those who want to simulate living in space with big spaceships is EVE Online.
From sci-fi to high fantasy, we now turn our attention to Elder Scrolls Online thanks to your votes last week. I can’t say I’m surprised by this choice, and I’m extremely eager to get started on my adventure in Tamriel. I’ve also restored my subscription to the game in order to open up my choices for this month’s adventure, so that should make for (hopefully) more interesting choices.
The questions, then, are what to start as and where to start. Race and alliance choices will be left up to me, and I’m definitely open to suggestions on what builds to follow in the comments, but let’s tackle the first part of that question now:
What class should I select in Elder Scrolls Online?
- Dragonknight. Be all burn-y and..um...knightly. (16%, 29 Votes)
- Sorcerer. Spells, spells, spells! And maybe pets. (14%, 26 Votes)
- Nightblade. Be sneaksy and tricksy and stabsy. (15%, 28 Votes)
- Templar. Wield the Light against the darkness! Or heal people, maybe. (21%, 38 Votes)
- Warden. Because bears. (34%, 62 Votes)
Total Voters: 183
As far as where to start, I’ve got Summerset, Morrowind, and the major locations of the vanilla game accessible to me. I’ve played quite a bit of the vanilla regions (particularly Daggerfall), have had some time in Morrowind, and have had no time in Summerset. Don’t let that information steer your desires, though! Tell me where to begin our journey:
What area should I start in?
- Summerset. Be friends with all of the elves. (27%, 48 Votes)
- Morrowind. Help that Vivec guy out. (26%, 45 Votes)
- Aldmeri. Because Khajiit. (14%, 24 Votes)
- Daggerfall. A bit vanilla, but it's comfy. (9%, 15 Votes)
- Ebonheart. Who cares if the three races kinda hate each other? (25%, 43 Votes)
Total Voters: 175
The beginning of February will be the end of these polls: February 1st at 1:00 p.m. EST. Once we’ve started out on class and location, I’ll net a few levels in and then we’ll suss out the kind of build to follow through with. Until then, I hope to see you in the stars of both space sandboxes. Chilling revelation, I know.