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Ready For My Closeup: Cockpits And VR In Elite: Dangerous

Cockpits. On their own, they’re either boring or phonetically hilarious to 12 year-olds (and maybe John), but attached to spaceships they’re the all-too-thin line between life and death. Space is so cold that no mortal hoodie can stave off its creeping permafrost (also, there is no air), so your on-board base of operations also represents sweet, sweet life itself. The downside? You’re going to be staring at it a whole, whole lot. Frontier’s goal with Elite: Dangerous, then, is to make your cockpit as detailed and functional as possible *cue laughter*. It’ll also be Oculus-Rift-friendly, because it is a game with a first-person viewpoint developed during or after the year 2013.

It looks quite nice, no? A lot of this is in-engine concept work (read: not footage taken from actual player-driven battles), but the UI is looking appropriately functional. That said, if zero-g fluffy dice don’t make the final cut, Elite: Dangerous is dead to me.

I also found it interesting that Frontier mentioned internal damage and the need to manually take care of repairs. Here’s hoping that feature ends up increasing immersion and not just pretzel-fying hands with micromanagement. Amusing as it’d be for the first 15 minutes, I don’t really want to drive the car from Night Rider Turbo through space.

Elite: Dangerous will be out sometime next year. Now that it’s nearly December, I’m realizing that “next year” is just a stone’s throw away from becoming this year, from being able to barrage us with birthdays and new adolescent pop stars and other cackling reminders that time never stops. I am terrified. More pertinently, however, I can’t help but wonder how Elite’s coming along as a complete package. It only pulled in full funding at the start of Soon To Be Ye Olde Year of 2013, and it’s a massively ambitious project. Alpha is apparently kicking off in December. For comparison’s sake, Star Citizen is planning to launch an alpha at the end of next year – and that’s only after assembling individually released components into a greater whole.

So many colossal space games. So much room for doubt. But hey, at least odds are on our side, right? I mean, new ones are popping up every day. Surely at least one of them has to get it right?

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Nathan Grayson

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