Space Whir: Elite Dangerous Beta 3 Out, New Trailer

Frontier have been adamant all along that Elite: Dangerous would be in final form before the end of the year, but floating around its fun-but-feature-sparse galaxy made me think a delay was inevitable. Then beta 2 hit in September, vastly expanded the playable area and added new exploration mechanics. And now beta 3 has just arrived, bringing mining, an even larger galaxy, new ships and much more. Watching the new trailer below, suddenly it seems like this might really happen.

It’s pretty, sure, but I could enjoy this trailer just by closing my eyes and listening to the whirring engines of its different spaceships. This is the closest I get to experiencing ASMR.

Beta 3 adds too mcuh to list, but there are a few standouts such as philanthropy missions; asteroid mining; the ability to scoop fuel from stars to power you on long journeys; the ability to pull other player’s ships out of faster-than-light travel (presumably so you can fight and steal from them); two new kinds of spaceship; an increase in galaxy size to 869,000 cubic light years of playable space; and all these other new features and fixes.

What will this mean for Brendan’s Elite Dangerous diary? New ways for him to get blown up, I bet.

64 Comments

  1. SheffieldSteel says:

    Was I the only person to calculate the cube root of 869,000 after reading this article?

    • Smion says:

      95.4274368152

      • Nate says:

        Apparently not, but you may have been one of only two to then calculate the diagonal.

        • wraithgr says:

          Why would the universe be a cube? Fwiw the diameter of the sphere would be about 118 light years…

          • DrollRemark says:

            The galaxy is definitely more ovoid than spherical. Back to the equations!

  2. Dante80 says:

    Beta3 is another beast altogether, the amount of stuff tweaked or improved on is stupendous really. Some early screenshots..

    link to i.imgur.com
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    And the sound…damn those guys are getting better and better with each release. Even the music is good and fitting to your immediate surroundings/gameplay.

    The release is not without problems though. A fair amount of disconnects for many people, alt+tab does not work properly and some lag induced during stressful gfx scenes. Beta is beta, hope they improve on it soon (they tend to churn out 3 or 4 updates the first two days after release).

    • Zenicetus says:

      The music I can take it or leave it, but the sound design for everything in the game is outstanding. Every ship has a different flavor of engine sound. There is minute attention paid to every small sound in the game. It’s really well done.

      One other thing — there is a laser (beam laser) that actually looks like a laser instead of a projectile weapon. They still dumb it down for distance, but at least it LOOKS like a laser should look… instantaneous on target.

      • hamilcarp says:

        That would be neat if you could shoot them while traveling near the speed of light, so that you could see the beam as it shot of the space gun.

        • Amun says:

          It would look exactly the same though… a beam of light always appears to travel away from you at the speed of light, no matter how fast you’re going.

    • Armante says:

      I’m hearing Win+Tab is the new Alt-Tab. Haven’t tried it yet though.

      Bear in mind that every time they’ve released a beta there have been minor updates following. The turn-around from 2.0 to 2.01 to 2.06 didn’t take long and quickly addressed issues. The team must be working hard! :)

  3. Hex says:

    There seems to be a lot of pollution in this game. No buy for me until there are a range of eco-friendly, emissions-controlled, solar-powered ships to choose from.

    • Trotar says:

      Doesn’t fuel-scooping from stars fall under solar power? :)

      • Armante says:

        How very well put. +1 for you if I could.

        • Contrafibularity says:

          You can/must actually scoop fuel up from stars and gas giants, scooped fuel even has impurities which if you’re unlucky (or desperate) can also damage the ship’s components.

  4. pancakeru says:

    The stars shown in the game are most definitely not 1:1 scale yet. When the footage of the ship flying too close to the star comes up, hes flying around it like its no bigger than a space station.

    I don’t believe an object as big as an average size star big has ever been present in any game I’ve ever seen or played, so if they can actually do it I will be impressed.

    • Trotar says:

      It’s understandable that it is hard to judge the scale when they travel faster then light.

    • Dante80 says:

      The game is in absolute 1:1 scale, and all rulers used are also 1:1 (char, camera, celestial object and other assets). The devs have already confirmed that, and the community was fast to put them to the test and verify what they said via a number of ingame “experiments” (from slow boating towards a planets’ surface to making 24hr long timelapse videos about orbital mechanics in the game)…:D

      This might help a little.

      Judging scale while being in space with no clear frame of reference is difficult to say the least..XD

      • pancakeru says:

        There is a part of the trailer when the player’s ship is not in warpspeed and is just crusing around a star (with the electronics on the controls sparking etc). At a general cruising speed he is moving around that star as if it’s no bigger than a few hundred km’s at most.

        If the stars really are 1:1, then that ‘cruising speed’ is unbelievably fast. Smaller structures like space stations will probably not even be visible at that speed.

        • TheMick says:

          If I may help allay your concerns as a proud beta participant..the portion of video with the fuel scoop shows that the ship is moving at roughly .40c or 40% the speed of light. That particular mode of travel is referred in game as Super cruise, and is intended for sensible travel times within a single star system. You can definitely drop out of super cruise to “normal” speeds measured in meters per second, but attempting to reach locations in that way, without hyper space jumping (interstellar travel) and then super cruising (intra system travel) would definitely see you taking a realistically boring length of time to get there.

          • pancakeru says:

            How close can you get to a star? does it look as massive as a star ought to close up?

        • TheMick says:

          Not sure why I can’t reply to your reply! Anywho, I don’t think you can afford to get much closer to a star than that player does as they scoop. Heat buildup is a concern at that range and too much will fry your hull, until you pop like a kernel of corn. I can’t answer for certain because I haven’t tried the scoop mechanic myself and after hyper jumping to a star I usually high tail it out of there!

    • Hypnotron says:

      @pancakeru: or the near head on collision with the other ship. Talk about hitting a gulf club a million miles and sinking a hole in one! The lack of scale was the most glaring thing I noticed too. It felt small.

      And to be honest, I’m not really thrilled with Star Citizen or Elite Dangerous and the whole free capitalism thing that goes on between bouts of dog fighting.

      When I think of the scifi television and films that I liked over the decades, none of them revolved around capitalism and dog fighting…

      • waltC says:

        “Capitalism” simply amounts to obtaining, producing, or securing goods, products or services that other people are willing to pay for. It’s generally called “trade”, and it’s bottom-up, grass-roots economics. The alternative is a top-down, planned economy that rarely if ever pleases anyone except the planners and must be enforced through the barrel of a gun because if given a choice the citizens in such an economy would abandon it and transform it quickly (a la’ N. Korea, etc.) Are you saying you just don’t like the whole “trade” aspect of the game? Is there, I wonder, any sort of single-player story (as in Star Citizen) that you might find more palatable? Just curious as your comment seems rather heavy-handed for software obviously being made for entertainment purposes.

        This looks like a game, to me, as opposed to some kind of physics simulator about future space travel… Anyway, from what I’ve read, Star Citizen purportedly will offer a fairly robust single-player game…that hopefully will revolve around much more than simply trade. However, there’s no reason that trade in either game cannot be a very interesting, entertaining proposition & woven into a larger story…

        • Trotar says:

          To be fair, free market / capitalism is unlikely to survive once technology removes scarcity for pretty much anything people need.
          Why trade when you can create everything you ever need yourself.

          But space games aren’t about a realistic view of the future, it’s a fantasy and that’s perfectly fine.

          • Nate says:

            If scarcity didn’t exist, humanity would have to invent it. Maybe in the future they’ll be reduced to, I don’t know, trying to invent some system to prevent information from being freely copied. Or something.

            I know, it sounds absurd. Just speculating.

          • Flatley says:

            Perceived scarcity will always be a cornerstone of human psychology, to speak nothing of the actual scarcity that would naturally accompany life aboard a spacecraft/space station.

          • Neutrino says:

            Isn’t that what ‘consumerism’ is? Creating scarcity by convincing us to buy expensive things that are nice, but which we don’t really need.

      • LexxieJ says:

        The thing is, dogfighting and “capitalism ” (ie trading) are only the most visible aspects of the game, but they aren’t the entirety of it. Mining and exploration, humanitarian and courier missions are equally valid ways of playing. The key here is choice, and E:D has plenty of it.

      • Werthead says:

        BABYLON 5, one of the best space operas ever made, revolves a lot around the economy of how the space station and the various empires function (the Centauri are bankrupt, Earth is undergoing a post-war boom etc). The economies of spaceflight and interstellar travel also underpin a lot of Peter F. Hamilton’s SF novels and James SA Corey’s EXPANSE novels (the TV adaptation of which just started shooting today).

    • Hinty says:

      Stars pump out crazy amounts of radiation an heat, have phenominally enormous gravity wells, and produce solar flares (stellar flares?) that travel far, far beyond their surface with little to no warning.

      Just how close is “too close”? Is it a matter of poor scale, or just that even hundreds of thousands of kilometers is still stupendous lethal. Remind me Ted, is that cow small, or far away?

      • Hypnotron says:

        And it begs the question, why make travel so fast that scale sizes, distances and gravities are effectively irrelevant?

        We kind of know why… nobody wants to be bored traveling 400 million miles to Jupiter from Earth at “low” speed _AND_ nobody wants to engage in super long range battle against sensor blips without ever laying eyes on actual vehicles. But the scales, distances and gravities are pointless once you effectively eliminate long travel times. Think about that again… all of those features are pointless with “super speeds.”

        But that’s just the type of game they have chosen to be. Fair enough. But not my cup-o-tea.

        • Dante80 says:

          They are not irrelevant really, but thats beside the point. The reason you use an Alcubierre drive in Elite is exactly because distances and sizes are 1:1. How else would you be able to travel around? You don’t have the option of time acceleration since the game is MP, and you can’t shrink distances and sizes since your a priori design goal is to simulate the Milky Way as the playing field (ED is not produced in a vacuum, it is the fourth installment of a 30 year old franchise, and with 2 out of 3 prequels having half a billion 1:1 sized star systems).

          So, the answer is meaningful gameplay. The travelling speed is picked according to the design goal of meaningful player progression for a mainstream gaming session. And the travel times can be long, very long in some situations (for example, reaching a station 2000AU away in a multiple star system).

          • Hypnotron says:

            Dante80: Of course the life scales and gravities are made irrelevant. And please, don’t say it’s beside the point when it’s the point that I’m choosing to make. If you don’t want to talk about how irrelevant they’ve all become, that’s fine.

            And frankly you just re-worded everything I just said.

          • Caelinus says:

            Hynotron: I think you underestimate “Being Awesome” as a possible reason. The fact is that space is basically empty for any kind of reasonable human experience. It is also very very large. If you want to create a game with a realistic-ish simulation of the actual universe it stands to reason that it will be very very large, and pretty much empty.

            Thus: Alcubierre drive. Where you can have a quasi realistic experience of scale, while also not make the game impossible to play. And as an added bonus, such a drive may actually be possible in the future if we are really lucky. The main point of all this is that real space is largely empty an irrelevant, thus the simulation of it is basically going to be the same way. However, it is still way cooler to experience that scale in the small way our brains and lifespans can handle it, than it is to play something that fudges it completely.

        • Rikard Peterson says:

          Here’s a game that might be more up your alley: Journey to Alpha Centauri (in real time).

          :)

          • Kaeoschassis says:

            Was that an Only You Can Save Mankind reference…?
            I love you.

        • Dr Wookie says:

          The point is that while super fast travel is allowed, meaningful interactions happen in real space at more realistic speeds. When you lock onto a target, it gives you an estimated time of arrival based in the current speed. It’s pretty amazing to see something that would take days flying flat out at 1000 mile per hour takes a couple of minutes in supercruise.

          Also, with 1:1 scaling, celestial motion eclipses, sunrise etc all happen naturally and correctly, without having to account for scale; this makes the physics easier.

        • Werthead says:

          I’m not sure of the difference. In FRONTIER and FIRST ENCOUNTERS (the previous two games in the series) they pretty much had the exact same thing, they just called it ‘time acceleration’ rather than ‘supercruise’. You could keep the time setting to real-time and take six months to fly from the Alpha Centuari hyperspace exit point to Proxima Centauri…but why the heck would you?

          In E:D presumably you can just not use the supercruise facility and fly around everywhere at ‘normal’ speeds and just take weeks to complete a single mission if you really want to.

        • Xzi says:

          “nobody wants to be bored traveling 400 million miles to Jupiter from Earth at “low” speed _AND_ nobody wants to engage in super long range battle against sensor blips without ever laying eyes on actual vehicles.”

          So you’re saying you DO want to do these things? I’m not sure there’s ever going to be a video game that fills your desire for what is essentially a grass growing/paint drying simulator.

          • Neutrino says:

            “_AND_ nobody wants to engage in super long range battle against sensor blips without ever laying eyes on actual vehicles.”

            Actually I do because that would be more realistic, and I’m all about the realism. I’m quite happy to see the ships up close in the space station or when I’m picking over their wreckage after I’ve blown them up but I’d like to see realistic long range combat.

        • pancakeru says:

          Totally agree here. A major part of the reason that we have no sense of just how big the stars (and other objects in this game) are is because of how fast the ship is moving, even when not in the ‘hyperspace’ or warpspeed or whatever they’re calling it.

          The end result is that things do not feel 1:1. If any of the stars shown in the trailer are even similar in size to our sun, they should be filling up the field of view, they should be the most massive objects ever rendered in any game ever. But when I watched that trailer it definitely did not feel like that was the case. It looked like any other space sim’s interpretation of a star.

          I also agree with you on the gameplay front. What really captures my imagination in SciFi is not selling things and dogfighting until I bleed from the eyes. Not my cup of tea either really.

      • Sandepande says:

        Might be more “to scale”, but realistic, or semi-realistic, travel times would suck worse than vacuum.

        Drop out of supercruise near a celestial object and fly around with your thrusters. The size of things becomes rapidly more apparent.

    • Silverchain says:

      Everything in the game is 1:1.

      (Except for the spaces under the docking bays where the pads roll back to. They’re kinda TARDIS-like.)

      Ships are generally moving at several times the speed of light when near to a star, and hundreds of times the speed of light when far from large mass. You can see the speed indicator on the top right of the dashboard; it’ll be say something like “5c.” You can see the distance to targeted objects either next to the object or on the left target panel on the dashboard. If you’re really keen do some trig using the arc size of the star and its indicated distance.

    • Premium User Badge

      Earl-Grey says:

      Space is big. Really big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean you may think it’s a long walk down the road to the chemist, but that’s just peanuts to space.

  5. MrTijger says:

    Damn, now I guess I have to take the plunge and buy it.

  6. Stevostin says:

    I am usually more impressed byt ED vids than SC, but I have to say those ships / stations are pretty ugly. We’re far from the amazing sight of SC, but even of some older ED videos.

    • Armante says:

      Bear in mind they are in keeping with the very designs created 30 years ago – check the basic wireframe Cobra Mk3 versus the modern graphic version, and it’s the same ship. It’s part of its design aesthetic. Agreed, it’s not every one’s cup of tea but when you’re playing it they look just great :)

    • Kaeoschassis says:

      I see a lot of people saying something along these lines and that’s just fine, but it boggles my mind. I honestly think Elite: Dangerous is absolutely gorgeous, and I adore the ship designs so, so much.

  7. JiminyJickers says:

    This looks so incredible, I can’t wait for it to release. I’m glad I bought a joystick recently, and my FaceTrackNoIR rig is up and running. Bring it on!!!

  8. Red_Fox says:

    The game looks so amazing.

    No one will ever notice the stars are the size of small moons.

  9. Werthead says:

    Do we know what the full timeline is now? There’s this launch event on 22 November when the game’s final release date will be announced, and the expectation is that this is will be some time in December (since Frontier are adamant that the game will launch before 2014 ends). Any more big beta releases between now and then or is this it?

    • Zenicetus says:

      The game is at Beta 3 now, and there will definitely be a Gamma stage before it’s released. That’s all I know, and they haven’t announced specific dates. There could well be another Beta before Gamma, but it’s getting tight for that now if it’s released by years’ end.

      An important thing to know is that there will be a complete wipe of player ships and bank accounts at Gamma, and then probably (not guaranteed) no wipes after that. So anyone who buys the game now and starts earning credits to buy new ships, build rep with various factions, etc….. all that gets reset at the Gamma wipe, and we all start fresh with a basic Sidewinder ship and a few credits.

      That makes it huge fun for now, because nothing matters and we can just test the game and give feedback. But if you’re the type that can’t stand having everything about your gaming character rolled back to zero, you might want to wait for Gamma or the final release.

      • Werthead says:

        I’m definitely waiting for the final release. I’ve been waiting for this game since FRONTIER came out in 1993 (skipped FE after seeing how buggy it was), so a few more months to get the final product was no problem.

        • Smoky_the_Bear says:

          Same, I want the full game before I play it, I don’t want to cheapen anything about the intended experience in any way.

  10. Raoul Duke says:

    I wish thing wasn’t so damned expensive. Looking great, but it’s priced above the premium price of a typical AAA game, which just makes me wait until it’s been out for a while and drops in price, as it inevitably will.

    • Sorbicol says:

      The beta access is £50 I believe. The retail price is £35 on release. A game is worth whatever you feel like paying for it really. And it’s still cheaper than what EA are charging for Dragon Age: Inqusition on Origin.

      • Raoul Duke says:

        Sure, in a strict sense that’s right. So I guess my post is “this looks great but given my limited time to pay games 50 quid is too much to justify this at this point in time for me”.

        The reality is we live in a wonderful era of very cheap games. Many excellent, big budget games come out and drop to $20-30 within a few months (I’m Australian… 15-25 pounds or something, I guess). So it’s hard for me to justify $70-80 or whatever this costs in Australiaroos.

        • Armante says:

          Fair call. I rarely (actually almost never now) buy games full price. The last time I pre-ordered was Portal 2. I have way too many games still to play to worry about every new release.

          However.

          I played Elite back in 1984 when it came out. I loved it because it was so different, and because I love sci-fi. Having seen all the coverage, read the articles, watched the youtube videos I decided I couldn’t wait and splurged on the Mercenary pack. That’s 50 pounds, or $100 New Zealand. The most I’ve spent on a game in a LOOONG time.

          And it was totally worth it to me :) I also picked up a Saitek HOTAS setup, so that’s even more money, and I’m really enjoying it.

        • Dr Wookie says:

          Yes, ED is a bit more expensive than people are now used to paying, especially on PC. However, most games have lifespans of maybe 20-100 hours, with big multiplayer games being refreshed every year. By contrast, I’ve put in about 100 hours TESTING ED since last December! The plan is to expand ED for many years to come, and there will be no subscriptions so you can play forever. Big content updates will cost extra, but even if you don’t get them you could play for thousands of hours, like I did for previous elite games

          • Raoul Duke says:

            My views on the value for money proposition are a sad reflection of the fact that I doubt that in my personal case I will ever get thousands of hours to play this.

  11. jrod says:

    This from the detailed beta3 patch notes:

    “Oculus Rift/Direct Access: Allow the window to be resized to the desired dimensions (the ones specified in the options menu), while making sure the swap chain is created respecting the size of the Oculus Rift display, when Direct Access is enabled”

    Seriously the best news ever! After hours of frustrating debugging of extended mode failure, I might, just might, be able to get the bloody game going on my Rift!

  12. tomimt says:

    These Elite vids give serious goose bumbs. It looks and sounds so yummy.

  13. derbefrier says:

    Got it updated last night in preperation for the weekend. I have messed a round with Elite a bit but haven’t spent any serious time with it. Gonna fix that over the weekend, unless star citizen gets its update out(not betting on that but its a possibility).

  14. PlanetTimmy says:

    I intend to buy this when it gets its proper release, along with a nice joystick to play it with.

    However, deep inside I suspect I may be secretly wishing I was playing a remake of Independence War…