Last week, we took a look at No Man’s Sky, an upcoming PS4 space simulator featuring a virtually limitless universe and emphasizing exploration—a game that Sony hopes will become a key selling point for their next-gen consoles on release. This week (at our readers’ behest and because, well, it also looks pretty damn cool), we highlight Elite: Dangerous, an equally ambitious space trading and combat simulator poised to offer similar freedoms and open-ended universes as No Man’s Sky, only sooner and with its own unique stylings.
The Elite franchise is well-steeped in gaming tradition. The original Elite launched back in 1984 and found especial popularity in the UK, in many ways paving the way for the space trading genre and laying the foundation for mainstream use of procedural generation—a process that generates environments and events randomly and in real-time, ensuring a unique gameplay experience each time you play. Creator David Braben modernizes this process in Elite: Dangerous; gamers will be able to play through a complete, scaled version of our galaxy containing all known star systems, and several procedurally generated unknowns, as well—establishing a massive scale for the game. In fact, rumor has it that traveling to the center of the galaxy is a months-long endeavor.
Elite: Dangerous promises to be many things, based basically on your gameplay whims. If you wish to play as a humble trader, you can. If you want to become a space pirate, you can do that too. Bounty hunter? Check. Assassin? Ditto. Haphazard, aimless space exploration more your speed? The game’s got you covered in spades. Hands-on previews indicate an experience not unlike that of CCP Games’ EVE Online — a persistent MMO universe in which battles, factions, teams, resources, and economies are driven entirely by player participation. While ideally, we’re sure Braben would like Elite to be considerably more accessible than EVE, it’s an impressive model to aspire to, and hopefully surpass. The current beta bears out the success of gameplay mechanics such as trading and bounty hunting, as well as flight. It sounds like combat could use a bit of a tweak, especially for those players wishing to solo their way across the universe and not be accosted by hundreds of hostile players along the way, but there’s still a lot of time left before launch to work out the kinks.
Another reason to be excited for Elite: Dangerous? It showed off a seamless and reportedly spectacular VR experience alongside the Oculus Rift at E3 a few weeks ago. The cockpit effect sounds incredibly convincing, and let’s face it—space simulation is one of those genres pretty much tailor-made to support and show off virtual reality.
If you’re interested in testing out the current beta build (and all others going forward), you can buy in here for a cool $150 USD. This includes lifetime access to the game and all future expansions and DLC content. The price will, of course, drop with future beta releases—developer Frontier Developments has set a bit of a high price curve in order to keep a level playing field for their Kickstarter backers. Elite: Dangerous is scheduled to launch for PC toward the end of 2014.
In other gaming news this week, the number of women in game development is on the rise, Evolve was named game of E3, and Bioware made known their first gay party member in Dragon Age: Inquisition. Read on!
- In news-we-thought-was-so-ridiculous-it-couldn’t-be-true-but-it-actually-was, a Hearthstone tournament in Finland is being universally panned for including a rule limiting participation to only male gamers. Tournament organizers quickly shifted blame to the International e-Sports Federation (IeSF), who in turn tried to justify their decision by claiming that holding female-only tournaments served to promote female gaming.
- Related: the International e-Sports Federation is an actual thing that exists.
- Better news. In 2009, the percentage of women in game development was a paltry 11.5%. Five years later in 2014, that percentage has nearly doubled to 22%. Steps in the right direction…
- The Sims 4 is set to launch on Sept 2 for PC. Hands up, those of you who immediately had the urge to Google the top 10 ways to torture and torment your creations.
- Play as Godzilla; smash your way through a bunch of cities. That’s Bandai Namco’s pitch for the latest Godzilla game, and frankly, we’re sold. It launches in Japan for PS3 this winter, but hopefully it’ll find its way into the Americas eventually.
- Legendary Nintendo developer Shigeru Miyamoto feels that Nintendo games tend to defy mainstream gaming categorization to such an extent that they warrant their own genre—the “Nintendo genre”.
- Developer extraordinaire Cliff Bleszinski, better known amongst gaming circles by his online handle, cliffyb, is returning to game creation. Bleszinski, best known for his work on the original Unreal games and as the creator of the Gears of War franchise, unexpectedly left developer Epic Games nearly two years ago to go on a sabbatical, of sorts, but appears to be ready to return to the industry.
- Bayonetta 2 hasn’t even launched yet, but game director Yusuke Hashimoto already has designs on Bayonetta 3, and would be perfectly happy to keep the franchise Nintendo-exclusive.
- Evolve was officially named the best game of E3. Plenty of candidates, no doubt, but Evolve’s gameplay demo makes a pretty good argument.
- Finally, we learned this week that Dragon Age: Inquisition will feature Bioware’s first gay party member—Dorian, a rebellious mage viewed as an outcast in his order.