Elite Dangerous introduces super-rad alien encounter

Thargoid alien spacemen have arrived in Elite Dangerous [official site], following a string of hints and discoveries, and they look pretty flipping cool. Players can now encounter a whopping great Thargoid ship in a scripted sequence with all the mystery and threat I’d want from first contact (well, in this game) with an alien civilisation who consider me so far beneath them. Here, come watch a meeting with the spacemen.

People think they’re Thargoids, at least. We don’t know. The Thargoids, to briefly explain, are a hugely advanced and mysterious insectile race who appeared in earlier Elite games with the ability to pull ships out of warp – as they do now. If you want to meet ’em, apparently the secret is to find yourself an Unknown Artefact–items that have tied into all this buildup–and warp around between stations until the martians get curious. Here’s what happened when they came for Alex Nguyan (skip to 7:10):

Ah that’s smashing! A brief encounter with something unknowable before it’s gone. A terrifying mystery. The sad thing is, I can’t imagine the moonmen will be this cool again. I almost wish this would be their final appearance in Elite Dangerous, a short “Cor isn’t space weird and magic?” event. Seems unlikely, dunnit.

No, a year from now you’ll be casually smashing Thargoids to collect units of Tharg Juice to trade with factions for reputation points to buy a nodding dog for your spaceship’s dashboard.

That said, I do hope I’m wrong: if Frontier can top that, it’ll be fantastic. I don’t even play Elite but I found this encounter jolly exciting.

Go on Frontier, make cool scripted moments for other things too.


  1. Premium User Badge

    phuzz says:

    I’ve not ever played it, but just from videos, Elite does have bloody marvellous sound design.

    • Janichsan says:

      It has, right from the beginning. One of the best I’ve seen.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      But “frameshift drive” often sounds like “friendship drive” in the voice work, and makes my warping around sound less cool and sci-fi.

    • Aurvandil says:

      It really does. Every ship having a cool different engine sound, the weapon sounds, the sound of your canopy cracking before blowing out into the empty void, and the audio processing they do on player voice communications. Sound design is one of the (unfortunately few) things Elite does right.

    • GERIKO says:

      Yes it does indeed. I often just sit in my cockpit listening to everything work away in the back ground. It is splendid!

    • Rindan says:

      That was always the maddening thing about ED; it looked so damn good.

      If ED had been an ugly game with a shitty generic space action feel, I don’t think anyone would have cared that the game play came out the way it did. Everyone would have just declared their opinion of the game and forgotten about it.

      But Elite is fucking beautiful. The ships, the controls, the stations, the docking, the everything. It is fucking beautiful. It isn’t just good graphics, and it IS good graphics, but it has an awesome and unique style. It is the sort of dark neon style that just screams gritty industrial cyberpunk space future. Everything fits the theme from the font and color of the text, to the way your character brings up information on your spaceship’s computer. The designer for Elite is a fucking god in my opinion.

      And there is more. The physics of Elite feels great. The way your ship handles is this nice mix of winking at realism while preserving the traditional World War II dog fight feeling of a space combat game. It has these nice little touches like dealing with heat, and powering up and down systems. You can do crafty shit like build up some speed, and then coast in undetected with your ship off in amoung an enemy. It’s fucking brilliant. It feels so good to play.

      So you have this game that is beautiful to look at and touch and… they gave it the most piece of shit game play anyone could have possibly conceived of. If they had made a FreeSpace style campaign combat game it would have gone down in legend as an amazing single player game. If they had taken this awesome flight model and style and duct taped it to Eve’s MMORPG model, it would have been amazing. Instead, they made this mostly single player Eurotruck Simulator grindfest, if EuroTruck simulator was made of procedurally generated roads and cities that went on forever.

      Some people like that sort gameplay and can probably describe it in more charitable terms than I. For people like me though, it is like watching savages being handed the cure for cancer and instead they use it to keep their beer cold; that is to say not do the awesome thing it could, and do something you kind of wish it wouldn’t.

      • Sire says:

        That is so spot on. So fucking sad really. This game had a huge potential. Still has, but I’ve lost hope.

        Also, like mentioned by op, the sound design is the best I’ve heard in a lifetime of gaming. And I’m old enough to have played the first Elite.

      • Jane Doe says:

        Can’t sum up Elite: Dangerous better than this. An unmatched shell of a game arround an empty core.

      • elevown says:

        Can’t agree on most of the negatives you raise – because that is exactly the sort of game it was meant to be – a big open galaxy of free-form trading and combat – i.e what the original elite(s) were but improved and modernized. All the fans who loved the original certainly didn’t want some dumb linear mission driven campaign like free-space!

        Many also wanted no multiplayer aspects too – not sure what % play in single player mode though.

        So yes it’s kinda like space euro truck sim – and many people love euro truck – except it has a hell of a lot more to it.

        You could call it grindy – if you just want to raise loads of credits for some goal, but I think that’s not really the kind of intensive play it is meant for.

        I would suggest rather than a problem with the game – it is simply not YOUR kind of game. Like I don’t understand the draw of putting hundreds of hours into something like overwatch or LoL – doing the same things in the same tiny maps over and over – but I don’t think they are crap games – they are just not the type of games for me – and there is no point saying if only overwatch was single player and had a campaign and was like stalker, then it would be good – because then it would be something else.

      • Zorrito says:

        Beautifully put. I really do love/hate this game in a similar way. Although part of me thinks they’ll eventually turn a big long lugubrious corner by layering in gameplay options, and that could form something far more intriguing than a classic campaign. (Free-form options and emergent content that aren’t just truck in a line or shoot things in a space barrel.)

        It’s just absolutely, categorically not there yet. And will probably take about as long as a truck driving to Venus to get there.

        And if they don’t ever make it, and it remains a big beautiful empty space, I guess I’ll still drop in to see the latest shiny, do some mindless combat farming, and sigh some more at what could have been. I’ve still got some fingers crossed that it’ll be a bit more than that. Eventually…

  2. Khoryos says:

    Thargoids, eh?

    I guess my years of being a Squaxx dek Thargo are going to pay off!

    • Keios says:

      Splundig vur thrigg!

    • Kefren says:

      Personally, early access games like this seem to be Thrillsuckers: by the time it is “finished” you’ll have seen everything even if you don’t own it. Each scripted one-off, each ship, each mystery. I’m glad it became online only and I decided not to buy it – it means I can see all the major stuff in it without the grind, and without costing me a penny. Splundid!

      • GERIKO says:

        Its not early access bud. Its coming into its 3rd season now with 7 more promised at least. Is it grindy? Yes it is. Is it is worth it? Absolutely! I took the plunge two years ago and since have been salivating over the prospect of bumping into an alien race. Two alien races have been promised so far but like every other promise Frontier have made we usually end up getting more. Frontier are like a kid going into a candy shop with €100 and told he can only buy 2 things. Well that ain’t gonna happen.

        • Kefren says:

          Well, early access in that the game is not feature complete, as this article shows. It’s a drip-feed of content, with everything being covered by the gaming press along the way. Whereas when I bought previous versions of Elite in the past it was a complete (offline) game.

          • CartonofMilk says:

            you could kinda say this about a lot of mmo though. I mean i’d probably agree the first season was still very much beta but ever since season 2 came about i feel it’s not really a beta game anymore. Now will the game be vastly different and improved and have lots more features five years from now? yes, but again you could say the same about a lot of mmos.

          • Head Bob says:

            So by this logic, World of Warcraft is an early access game because they’re still releasing updates for it?

          • Kefren says:

            I thought this game had a single-player mode, that is not an MMO because there are no other players in this game? For people who play like that it is an early access game, not an MMO.

          • TheSplund says:

            Whilst I’ve not touched it a year (waiting for more content and a bit peeved over the price of the Horizons ‘DLC’) I’ve never played it in an ‘online’ environment.

        • CartonofMilk says:

          coming into its third year rather. Because the third season won’t be around until probably another year. At least based on how slow they’ve been with season 2. we got half of it now and that took a year and there’s still another half to come so…. at the very least i wouldnt expect a season 3 until next fall. And thats best case scenario. I truly hope season 3 will be more than thargoids though because frankly unless the coming of aliens adds loads of stuff, i cant’ justify spending another 60 bucks just to fight new types of ships, however different they may be from the current ones.

        • SaintAn says:

          So it’s Early Access without the EA flag to warn people and they can charge people $40 per update of their $60 Early Access game. Sounds like a scam.

      • jasta85 says:

        Yea it is grindy as hell but other than that the game is fine, and this is actually the first major scripted event in the game that I can remember. There was a whole thread about the topic on the ED reddit, as up until now everything has been open and player interactive for the most part. Even docking using the automated docking computer can be thrown off if some NPC or player decides to ram you.

  3. int says:

    Reminds me a lot of Scrin from C&C3.

  4. Ieolus says:

    Felt like the first encounters with the Shadows from Babylon 5.

    • gwop_the_derailer says:

      Reminds me of the Walker of Sigma-957.

    • nitric22 says:

      OMG Yes! Those strange happenings in hyperspace. Odd disappearances and ghost signatures on sensors. The mystery of the Shadows was one of the best slow burn reveals in sci-fi history.

  5. SuicideKing says:

    My god the first 7 mins were boring.

  6. mercyRPG says:

    ELITE already is way way more awesome than super crappy sTar ciTizen..

  7. Zenicetus says:

    Well that’s cool, I guess. We always knew they’d make it into the game at some point.

    Unfortunately I’ve done very little with Elite since it was released. I was massively involved in the Beta, and then bailed out soon after release when I found out how grindy and multiplayer-focused all the additions would be. So I doubt I could grind my way up to whatever is required to deal with them.

  8. renner says:

    All jokes aside, a nodding dog is the only bobblehead I’ve ever wanted for my ship.

  9. iucounu says:

    I dunno. I loved Elite as a kid – had it on the Acorn Electron – and bought ED a while after launch, but it really didn’t click with me. In particular, it’s a lot harder to fly the ship than it was back when I were a lad – feels like a flight sim. Is there a way back into it that I should try? I found the in-game tutorial stuff a tad inadequate, especially when you’re suddenly supposed to just apply it all at once the second it’s stopped teaching you how to play it.

    Always nice to see Thargoids though. Can anyone remember the cheat that you could do on the Spectrum (at least) while you were in FTL, which would get you to Thargoid space?

    • ZXDunny says:

      On the Speccy, you paused with CAPS SHIFT, then pressed F, then un-paused with CAPS SHIFT again. Then Hyperspace – you’ll get halfway before you’re dragged out of witchspace and attacked by Thargoids. Repeat the process to exit witchspace.

      • iucounu says:

        Now getting a full-on Proust moment

      • TheSplund says:

        I remember never being able to survive the 1 large and 8(?) smaller thargs that (if my memory hasn’t completely misled me that is)

    • renner says:

      You might want to try rebinding the controls, I hated the default ones, especially having roll on the mouse. I just bound it almost like an FPS; space is up, ctrl is down, mouse to pitch and yaw, Q and E to roll.

  10. Vurogj says:

    I’m reminded of the short story “Genuine Thargoid” by Moira Sheehan, which was in the short story collection that came with the box edition of Frontiers First Encounters.

    A very large part of me wants this to not be real Thargoids.

  11. CartonofMilk says:

    it should be pointed out that there’s been a lot of theories that this may not be a thargoid ship yet. For one, after it disables and scans you, the thing it shoots at the ship refuels it. That’s a pretty benevolent thing to do for a thargoid. Way more than anything we’ve seen them do before.

    It’s been further theorized that these ships might be the guardians the last update’s name referred to. perosnally i still think it’s more likely referencing the wingmen addition, not to mention that if this was intended as 2.2 content then youd think they’d have made it happen on release of 2.2. But that beign said we are still “in” 2.2. I still think there’s a good argument to be made for this thing not being a thargoid. Maybe some sort of sentient being meant to protect the galaxy from the thargoids. Hence explaining why they scan us when we have the artefacts.

    as far as we knew 2.4 is supposed to be the thargoids update. Well, it’s never been mentioned but it’s always remained unnamed unlike all others so, it stands to reason. OF course they could have changed their plans in th elast year and decided to make thargoids season 3 and use every update in season 2 to slowly introduce them.

    • Asurmen says:

      None of the videos I’ve seen show a refuelling, and the graphics makes it look like its scanning and pulling something from your ship.

  12. geldonyetich says:

    I kinda feel like it’s a publicity stunt. Since there’s nothing else like that anywhere in the game. And I sorely wish there was.

    • Toadsmash says:

      By what measure, though? The art style of that ship is certainly in line with the derelicts and alien scraps we’ve already seen in the game. This is just the first active ship.