Every once in a while I come across a game that I just can’t help but get excited about. It’s a rarity these days, mainly because I haven’t been paying close attention to many games outside the flight sim world. In fact, the last time I really got excited about a non-flight sim game was Star Wars: The Old Republic, because who doesn’t want to go around the galaxy fighting with lightsabers?
A few days ago I had someone mention offhand that they were spending a lot of time playing the beta of Elite: Dangerous, which I had never heard of. Upon looking it up I was blown away by the ambitious nature of the project, and how completely and utterly cool it is.
First – let me start by mentioning that this is the latest in a series of games that started many, many years ago (I think someone said something like 20 years). I’m a bit surprised that I never knew about these games as they sound cool, and evidently had quite a following. The fact remains, however, that I have no knowledge of those games, so this is my first introduction to the Elite universe.
The game itself has you as the commander of your own spaceship, dropped into a massive universe with a goal of making money and working your way up the ranks to ultimately be considered one of the elite. The universe is open-ended, giving you the freedom to pursue whatever course of action you want. You can be a trader, transporting goods from one part of the galaxy to another – fighting off greedy and vicious pirates out to steal your cargo – or you could turn pirate yourself and attempt to steal from others. Perhaps you’d rather be an assassin or bounty hunter, taking on contracts to make ends meet. Your options are many, and there is no set way to play the game.
The thing that blew me away was the massive scale of what is being built. The game allegedly will boast over 100 billion star systems that you could potentially visit, each of which could have upwards of 100 objects orbiting the stars such as planets, space stations, etc. Through the use of procedural creation they’ve been able to create a massive galaxy (that’s roughly the size of our own, mind you) that you’re able to explore however you want. That’s pretty damn cool.
Cooler still – what you do in the game will have an impact on the larger galaxy. Since it has multiplayer capabilities (persistent, but not massively multiplayer), human players will have the ability of impacting events in the game through their actions. Supporting a given faction in a dispute may result in the downfall of the opposite faction – causing a rise in prices of certain commodities you need. Or supporting an uprising against a government in a particular system that results in the downfall of that government may result in increased pirate activity, impacting vital trade routes. There are a ton of possibilities.
I’ve had the opportunity to play the beta and am not disappointed. It’s loads of fun, and it’s not even complete yet.