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Elite: Dangerous Explorers Reach New Heights After Developer Accidentally Creates Superpowered Stars

Two pilots in Elite: Dangerous [official site] travelled to the ceiling of the galaxy after a mistake by the developers accidentally gave players a huge boost to their jump drives. Frontier recently added plumes of white energy irradiating from the game’s rare white dwarves and neutron stars which, when entered by pilots, would cause some “turbulence” and a small boost to their jump drives. They had intended to set this boost at 25% but thanks to a “number mix up” it was accidentally set to 300%. Two curious explorers noticed the massive boost and began to chart a dangerous course into the highest layers of the Milky Way.

These powerful jetstreams are only part of the beta testing phase for the upcoming ‘Guardians’ update, and not available to all players yet, but two of the pilots in that beta were quick to make use of the plumes. Dr Kaii and Erimus – two explorers who you may remember from their 3-month-long expedition across the galaxy – started mapping a course into the upper reaches of the galaxy using the neutron stars and white dwarves as launchpads. Eventually, they reached their destination and recorded a stunning view of the galaxy, 1884 lightyears above the “galactic plane”.

You can hear about the whole journey in Kaii’s video, below, including the problems they faced. Explosions, set-backs, panicked scrambling for fuel – all the hallmarks of a tough space voyage.

“It was complicated, risky and required a lot of collaboration,” says Kaii, “It was so much fun.”

Only afterwards did Elite’s community manager come forward and admit that the 300% boost had been an error.

“Unfortunately there was a number mix up,” said Zac Antonaci in the Frontier forums, “which has made the boost way more powerful than was intended. The actual boost benefit, which should be in Beta 2 will bestow 25% extra range, still a significant benefit.”

The intrepid pair of explorers would later learn that their destination could theoretically be reached using “normal” means. But it’s nevertheless an impressive feat and one that proves the usefulness of the jetstreams, says Kaii.

The community seems to agree. Following the revelation of the “mix up” and the announcement that it would be reset to 25%, Elite pilots kicked up a fuss, clearly enjoying the new possibilities of these jetstreams. As a result, the huge boost has since been retained in the beta testing phase – at least for the time being.

Dr Kaii and others are petitioning Frontier not to remove or nerf the plumes when the update is released to everyone and the explorer ends his video with an appeal to the developers to allow these launchpad stars to stack with “jumponium” – the community’s nickname for a special fuel which already exists to allow greater jump distances.

“[It is] just what the exploration community needed,” he says, “something new, a new way to go about exploration, something that adds risk and challenge. Please see this for the gem that it really is.”

Elite may not have lived up to the entirety of its promise (you still can’t get out of your ship and walk around on space stations and planets, for instance – a major promise from the earliest days of development) but it’s fun to see that pilots are still finding ways to amuse themselves, whether they are discovering alien crash sites or group-warping into hyperspace beside a supermassive blackhole.

The Guardians update, meanwhile, will add ship-launched fighters and tourist spaceships as well as a slew of other tweaks. It’s scheduled to come out this month.

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Brendan Caldwell

Features Editor

Brendan likes all types of games. To him there is wisdom in Crusader Kings 2, valour in Dark Souls, and tragicomedy in Nidhogg.

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