Elite Dangerous: Horizons Engineers Due Next Week

Offblast! Look, it's Friday afternoon, I'm recycling everything I can.

The second Elite: Dangerous [official site] expansion, from its ‘Horizons’ series of add-ons, will blast off on May 26th. ‘The Engineers’ will bring… engineers? Obviously. Little embarrassed I had to tell you that, honestly. They, in turn, bring even more ways to customise your ships and weapons – if they like you. Also, launching alongside The Engineers but not requiring anyone to buy the expansions will be a big update with a new mission system. Though Horizons has had a wee price cut.

Engineers are NPCs who’ll be scattered across the galaxy, with special blueprints to jazz up weapons and modules in their area of expertise. Building relationships with them can get you access to better blueprints too. As this dev post from January explained:

“For example we have an engineer who is closely aligned with the Federal Navy and so your rank with the navy is his key consideration, so the higher your naval rank the better blueprints he will be able to offer. As well as naval ranks, the Pilots Federation ranks (including combat, trade, exploration and CQC) will influence some engineers. Some engineers will be affiliated with minor factions, so you’ll need to manage your relationship with them as well. Some will use your stats for mining or trading in illegal goods as well as a host of other indicators.

“As well as these initial governing factor there is a separate reputation with them, which must be cultivated along the lines of their governing factor to gain their trust and so more capable blueprints.

“Not all engineers are immediately available to all players. The factor that governs their relationship with a commander has a minimum threshold that must be reached for them to deal with the player.”

So, knowing the right people can really get you further. And in the game. Here, meet The Dweller and get a peek at how this new crafting works:

The Engineers also brings loot to the world but look, I could quote patch notes at you all day or you could simply go read the beta notes yourself for an idea of what’s coming in versions 1.6 (the base game) and 2.1 (with Horizons).

Down from the old price of £24.99/33,99€/$37.99, Horizons now costs £19.99/24,99€/$29.99. Along with The Engineers, it gives access to the already-released Planetary Landing content (you can guess what it does) and future features including ships crewed by more than one person and fighter ships launched from the guts of bigger ships. That’s £40 for both the base game and the expansion pass.

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  1. Chewbacca says:

    I’m curious about the new mission system. The old was indeed quite bland. Still already got my money worth from the base game + season pass so far, so I’m looking for more!

    • Chewbacca says:

      But of course:

      Insert typical comment about ED being miles wide but inches deep. ;)

    • Rizlar says:

      Yeah, the new mission system will definitely get me to dip back in and I don’t even own Horizons. Fingers crossed it lives up to it’s potential and finally makes just flying around in space doing cool shit a viable way to play the game.

      And of course Chewbacca plays E:D… :P

  2. Morcane says:

    I haven’t played a lot of the Engineers beta (due to Stellaris and Doom taking way too much of my free time), but missions looked a lot more approachable – at least, influence changes were a lot more readable. Also, the additional voices and comm chatter was awesome.

  3. Zaxwerks says:

    Woohoo! That has made me sooooo excited!! Mainly because it’s reminded me that No Man’s Sky is out in a months time!!!

    Now what was it you were saying about “Erectile Disfuntion: Horizons”?

    If they had just had the foresight to implement procedural planetary generation like NMS then I would have been REALLY excited, but no, we got “space station bolted to barren planet’s surface” and “Mass Effect 1 Mako clone”.

    I BACKED YOU ON KICKSTARTER WHEN YOU PROMISED AN OFFLINE MODE (I shall never forgive you, never I tell you!)

    NMS has manged to procedurally generate 18,446,744,073,709,551,616 planets without the need for an online server!!!

    • Chewbacca says:

      Well, I’m still waiting what the actual gameplay in No Man’s Sky is actually going to be.
      You can ask the same about ED, but ED at least gave me a space combat simulator to have fun with, even when you leave out all the rest.

      I’m not sure how fun exploring random planets is going to do with nothing to do but grind for ressources.

      • Rizlar says:

        To be fair you can also look at the twelvty-billion different procedurally generated colour variants of the same earth analogue creature.

        I joke! Hope it turns out well and lives up to all the high expectations.

      • badmothergamer says:

        I feel the same about NMS primarily because of my ED experience. The first 20 hours were a blast, then I dropped it like a bag of bricks. I haven’t seen anything about NMS that doesn’t make me think it could have the same issue. A few hours of “ooooohs” and “ahhhhhs” then suddenly “wait, there isn’t anything to do”.

      • heinz says:

        I was wondering for the longest time too, heres a good video explaining what you actually do: link to youtube.com and a bit longer: link to youtube.com

        the tldr is, space exploration survival adventure.

    • shocked says:

      The problem with the gigazillion planets of both NMS and E:D is that they are pointless numbers. If you play for 100 hours visiting one planet after another for two minutes without doing anything else, then a) you could only visit merely 3000 planets and b) you would die of boredom while doing so.

      Large numbers of anything are used as a marketing device while they should be a warning signal for shallow procedural content.

      What would be really interesting are 200 manually designed locations in space. All different and really fascinating; space phenomena or weird alien structures to marvel at. Not X billion stars no one ever sees.

      • gabrielonuris says:

        Thank you, kind sir, you’ve just restored some sense on the internet (not to mention my faith on humanity).

      • milligna says:

        I wouldn’t find that interesting at all. I love their dedication to a 1:1 scale galaxy and it’s a marvelous achievement.

        • alphax1983 says:

          That huge galaxy simply makes every system empty , soulless repetitive place. Like the man above said – a galaxy of 200 properly designed systems would be amazing to discover.

  4. Phantasma says:

    Ah, the long awaited (and delayed) crafting update. Too bad it’s utter garbage.
    Not only do you have to gather the materials, you also have to grind rep for a faction to get an invitation to meet those engineers and then rep up for them again with crafting unwanted things (!) unless you may have a go at the modules you actually want (not to forget you still can’t store equipment, so essentially you craft these directly for the garbage bin). And on top of that the outcome is random. Nice, isn’t it?

    There was quite a heated debate in the beta forum, wondering why the engineer rep gain wasn’t tied to a more meaningful activity, for example… missions? Like this new mission system they have coincidentally worked on at the same time?
    Then a dev chimed in, basically stating that this was the plan but they didn’t have the time for it (6 months since the last update) and that this placeholder system is going to stay for a while.

    I had my fun with the game, sometimes even defended it a bit but now i’ve reached a point where my affection cooled down to a level that i just cannot care anymore. If they charge triple A prices i expect triple A quality. The last two years were very disappointing in that regard.

    Will they ever get there? Maybe. But how many 60 € xpacs and years have to go by until that happens?

    Good luck but count me out.

    • Phantasma says:

      until instead of unless.
      I’m constantly dreaming of edit buttons.

    • Phantasma says:

      Ah, seemsl ike my very intense affair with Stellaris left me a but uninformed.

      It seems you now can gain engineer rep through other means as well.
      Good, but my main point still stands. It is a clunky, grindy RNGeesy system and needing six months for a crafting system (and a mission update that should have been in the game since 1.0) doesn’t exactly fill me with confidence that they’ll fill those vast content gaps anytime soon.

      The mission system is free for everyone anyways, so besides cruising around liefless rocks in a buggy and now playing the slot machine for ship upgrades like its a MMO aprox. 2007 i’m wondering what i paid the Horizons expansions for. Ah yes, the joy of “seasons”.

      • jonfitt says:

        They are “fixing” the RNG nature of the upgrades. You will be able to roll the dice, or pay the engineer to work super hard and give you the upgrade effect you want.

      • slerbal says:

        I agree with you. Given my experience so far I won’t be picking up the next season of expansions, but I could still be converted around.

  5. jonfitt says:

    Actually, you probably do need to explain the Planetary Landing content. It allows landing on planets and moons with hard surfaces and not atmosphere/water. That means no landing on earth, or entering a gas giant’s atmosphere. It’s strictly Neil Armstrong buggy driving.

  6. Premium User Badge

    Jekadu says:

    Really looking forward to this. I spent almost two months in some kind of ED haze, racking up 400 hours of playtime. Haven’t played it since I came back from vacation, but as soon as I get some disposable income I’m buying a Warthog HOTAS.

    • Premium User Badge

      modzero says:

      For all it’s coolness, don’t buy a Warthog for this game – you’d probably be better off with something that has a clear neutral point on throttle, twist grip (pedals work, but take up lots of space and can be a bother), and more buttons than switches. And Warthog is quite expensive for the purpose, anyway – you pay good money for it being a replica.

      Unless you want to play with A-10 in DCS. Then totally get the Warthog.

      • Asurmen says:

        Another option that is popular is using Voice Attack or similar.

      • Mr_Blastman says:

        I disagree. Good sticks are worth it. The cheap twist-grip ones are plasticy and flimsy. Nothing beats the feeling of cold hard metal against your palm and pedals at your feet as you squeeze the trigger and unload into another ship. The Warthog is a solid piece of equipment and from what I hear is exceptionally accurate.

        • Premium User Badge

          Jekadu says:

          Can’t afford pedals right now, but I really only use yaw for non-intense stuff anyway. If the Warthog works out I’m making pedals my next purchase, assuming I will ever be able to afford them. The money for the Warthog was a very rare windfall.

        • Asurmen says:

          My T-flight HOTAS is flimsy. No need for metal.

  7. Psychomorph says:

    I’m hanging around somewhere between the core and the bubble. Much time to go forward, much time to get backward, much loss when suiciding to get back home, no way to be my twin sibling in the bubble to use the stored ships and have some change in the routine (other than exploring lifeless rocks).

    Game isn’t very user friendly. Are there any plans to change that?

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      This is one of the reasons I keep finding excuses to head back to the bubble whenever I go exploring. I wish Frontier would come up with a solution.

      • Asurmen says:

        Not really sure what needs solving here?

        • Ny24 says:

          I’m also not sure what the question is, but I think the answer is this thing where you can siphon fuel from suns. It’s basically what every explorer uses so that they don’t need to buy fuel and can fly almost endlessly (they still need to repair of course)

          • Premium User Badge

            Jekadu says:

            The problem is that once you leave the bubble of civilization, the gameplay gets very monotonous. It takes weeks to make any significant headway, and if you get bored and want to do something different, you either have to spend many hours making your way back or give up the exploration data (and whatever profits you may have gained) and self-destruct. It would be nice if one could switch between ships without having to physically travel to the station the other ship is docked at.

          • Asurmen says:

            Then don’t go exploring if you can’t handle it. It’s a space game. There’s no instant transportation. That would somewhat mess with the idea of the game.

  8. bill says:

    So this update includes NPC shopkeepers?

    Is it free? If not, I assume that there is more to it than NPC shopkeepers.

  9. soopytwist says:

    Still has to be played online though. Still not going to buy it then.

  10. slerbal says:

    Of all the things for them to add crafting is probably my least wanted. For me personally the entire crafting/survival genres are basically done and more grinding is the last thing Elite needed. If others are happy with it though: great. But I have to admit I’m very disappointed with the Horizons expansion so far. Planetary Landings were utterly dull. Elite is such a great base for development but they really need to add quality and depth to the game and give it some personality rather than keep adding more grind even though the original game was all about grind things have progressed in game design and I think they need more than that.

    • Zorrito says:

      The permanent mission NPCs have added a bit more personality. Agree on the ‘new grind’, but still waiting to see how it plays out in the wild. In Beta it seems that you can pick up a lot of low tier stuff just while doing other things (although picking up combat loot drops looks like a pain).

      General vibe I’m getting is there’s more life to it all, a few more distractions in Supercruise (and signal sources are finally not shit!) but biggest problem is that they’ve just reworked the old mission templates and barely added any new ones. I’m cool with the new mission system, of working your way into faction’s trust and getting passed between handlers. I’m also cool with them fixing up a ton of old placeholder content. Just feel it needs more actual/new content to go with it :/

  11. geldonyetich says:

    With it’s great depth of simulation, I’m always happy to give Elite: Dangerous another try. Here’s hoping they added some much needed context with this “Engineering” update. At the very least, they’ve added bigger multicannons.

  12. Titler says:

    The big problem for me is that, yet again, there’s no actual gameplay added which would give Elite a real sense of being worth the money it costs. By which I mean, you’ve yet another reputation grind, to get mods applied to systems that already exist, to do… what? The same old things again as before, except perhaps now a bit faster. Except…

    My friends and I still play, and we’re somewhat pleased that exploring will be a bit easier with a larger jump range. But unless you’re heading for a specific target many hundreds of light years away, it doesn’t change the basic unit of exploration rank, which is time to load each new star system and ping it.

    Combat would be easier with new, greater damage weapons, except they’ve made the AI even harder to kill, and it will have access to the improvements too. So, in reality it’s likely to be much slower.

    Trading I’ve seen very little information on. Can you cram more cargo space in? That may potentially bring that rank grind down a little for everyone. But the basic trading itself hasn’t changed, except where it was considered too lucrative, like Robigo missions, which have been removed.

    Likewise Imperial / Federal rank could be streamlined by either charitable donations, or ground assault stacking; also removed. There was talk of making Naval rank more of a true “Career”, but I don’t believe that is in this Engineers patch? You’ll grind out the same boring mission types and LIKE it for now, soldier. I personally got to King/Admiral now, whilst it’s still within the reach of the normal dedicated human patience, rather than the Super Nerd Patience required.

    Even the recent “Celebrate Your Special Day” birthday rewards have, according to all reports, just been discounts on ship skins (that should be in the basic game at some level anyway), so for your birthday you get to give THEM more money!

    And the rest? Walking around your own ship? Multi-crew? Even simple things like spare parts storage/loadout swapping? All further down the line… it’s ALWAYS further down the line. And the Super Elite Nerd Fan will always say “you aren’t allowed to criticize it NOW!!!”. Well, when CAN we say the development is disappointing, and the game is massively over-priced for what it is? I still log in with friends, do an hour or so grind a week just to have fun socialising with them, not the game, then we move on and do other stuff because, dun dun duuuuuu, the game is a mile wide and yadda yadda. And after engineers, I’ve not seen anything yet that says it’ll be any deeper. It’s just shuffled the grind around a bit.

    • Zorrito says:

      Yeah agree with all of this. Still think they’ll get there but my lord the advances come slowwwly. (Jazzing up the mission system, and dear god the signal sources, has come about 12 months late. Glad they’ve finally done it, but stilll…)

      Beta does feel like they’ve layered up the experience, but it’s a ton of subtle stuff. Think it’s an inch deeper as a result. Still… needs… more. Access to all ranked missions is something (once you’ve levelled with a mission giver) but it def still needs more gameplay choices, be they mission or not. Think after sampling 2.1 might be time to put it on ice for 6 months and see what passenger missions, the planned ‘military career’ stuff and more mission templates bring. Sigh ;)

  13. Bishop149 says:

    Must admit I’m unclear on how this bloody game is updated.
    I bought the base game for 20 odd quid a while back and thus far haven’t touched it. Then horizons came out which by looking at what actual content of the thing most other games would call it a “patch” or an “update”, but no they call it an “expansion” and want to charge another £20 for it.

    What is this engineers thing exactly? A patch for Horizons or another “expansion” to cost yet another £20? I get the impression its the former, but that exclude them doing the latter again a later date?

    If they expect me to swallow having to pay £20 for every “expansion” that is basically just adds 1 or 2 new features and some bug fixes then they can shove it where the sun don’t shine.

    • Premium User Badge

      Jekadu says:

      The game receives regular content patch updates. Prior to Horizons there had been 5, I believe. Buying Horizons lets the player land on certain types of planets and drive around. The upcoming content patches, among them the Engineers one, are going to have a strong Horizons theme. Most of it will require Horizons to access (the titular engineers have their bases planet-side), but some of it, like the new mission system, is available to everyone.

      As far as I’m concerned the “seasons” are just a yearly subscription fee. Not paying still nets you a ton of good content, though.

    • Zorrito says:

      It is pretty convoluted (you shoulda seen some of the flowcharts around the initial release). But essentially it’s just a year expansion. So buying Horizons gets you the planetary landings (on planets without atmospheres – no small undertaking as it goes, but still gameplay-lite at the mo), the Engineer craft/loot, Launchable fighters, Multi-crew (and the commander creator to change your Av), plus stuff that goes to the core game too, like the mission revamp and passenger missions etc. Plus some final mystery update. Maybe.