Thargoids returning properly with Elite Dangerous 2.4

After yonks of warning signs, hints, puzzles, and tense first encounters in Elite Dangerous: Horizons [official site], the alien Thargoids are almost ready to start preparing to properly arrive in a bit. Frontier Developments have announced that the space ’em up’s Update 2.4, codenamed The Return, will kick off story events that will finally see Thargoids return to Elite as a proper part of the game. Yup, the wait continues but the end is in sight. When the Thargoids arrive, Frontier say, they’ll shake the galaxy up.

Thargoids are a powerful and mysterious who have appeared in previous Elite games but have, so far, only been a tourist attraction in Elite Dangerous. That will change with Update 2.4, which is slated to launch by the end of September. Frontier’s announcement says:

“Elite Dangerous: Horizons 2.4 – The Return continues the Horizons season with ongoing story events that will see pilots thrust into battle against the Thargoids for the first time in gaming’s modern age. More will be revealed in coming months about this terrifying alien menace as humanity’s relationship with the Thargoids evolves throughout Elite Dangerous 2.3 and 2.4, bringing a new dynamic to the Elite Dangerous galaxy. Players will be forced to develop new tactics and technologies of their own, or see humanity’s grip on our sectors of the galaxy recede.”

So yes, exactly what they’ll do is a little hazy. Presumably they’ll be a menace roaming the galaxy roughing humies up but, y’know, we do deserve it. Me, I’d befriend the Thargoids and fly my own spaceshell to help wipe out the human menace, if I could. I don’t know if that’s possible. We don’t know anything concrete about what Thargoids do.

Elite co-creator David Braben added:

“Story events have hinted at the Thargoids’ return for a long time, but the Thargoids are returning at a moment when humanity is at its most divided. The Federation and Empire are at each other’s throats, a second tiny human-occupied bubble has scattered humanity’s greatest pilots, and Thargoid scout ships are drawing near. They have already probed our space, infiltrated our starports and found humanity to be vulnerable. What happens next will be decided by every Elite Dangerous player.”

Or perhaps it’ll be decided by Harry Potter again.

Here’s Braben again, excited about filling the galaxy with aliens:


  1. dontnormally says:

    Am I the only one that really wanted this game to be filled with a living, thriving universe of many cultures and governments (and maybe but not necessarily species)?

    I was turned off when I learned there was a “bubble” where all civilization is. I wanted to live inside the most interesting part of a 4x game, as an individual.

    • Blackcompany says:

      You aren’t alone.

      The implementation of the “dynamic” (it’s not) galaxy in Elite has of the most disappointing mechanics I have encountered in modern gaming. Right up there with their RNG grind and slot machine mechanics.

      I honestly don’t think Frontier have the tech to make the game they promised. Elite is a space combat game. Period. It’s a sad realization, but one I am slowly making peace with as I put away the HOTAS, possibly for good but certainly until they develop something not directly focused on combat.

      • Mungrul says:

        Yeah, I stopped playing pretty soon after the introduction of the Engineers, dipping my toe in every once in a while, but always going from zero-to-bored in record time.
        While, yes, it has become pretty much solely a space combat game, that combat isn’t even very good, and devolves into overly long turning battles.

        On top of which, I quickly realised that the triple-layered instancing / travel system is perhaps the game’s biggest weakness, especially in Open, where there’s no opportunity for stealth in Supercruise whatsoever.
        And to get anywhere relatively interesting requires a constant, mind-numbing, lengthy and repetitive, let alone minimally interactive, application of hyperspace. Align with vector, hyperspace, brake on re-entry, align with vector, hyperspace, repeat ad nauseam.

        It had such potential, with peerless sound design, excellent graphics, and nailing the mundane stuff (docking and launch is still one of the best realised concepts in the entire game). But it gets dull very quickly, and the shoe-horning of MMO-type grind into the game just killed it dead for me.

        • Scraphound says:

          I agree with pretty much all you said.

          I’m still glad I bought it, though. I did get a lot of enjoyment from it. I think I’ve clocked in over 100 hours since beta, playing in fits and bursts.

          It’s really, really exciting at first. So much promise. Then it becomes a grind to get some big, bad ship. And once you get the big, bad ship, you discover that the little ship you had before was actually better suited to grinding and… you just spend 20+ hours farming shitty missions and exploiting the job board for nothing.

          There’s so much potential. At the very least we can hope that if Frontier can’t get it right someone else will see the existing demand and get it right instead.

          • Mungrul says:

            I honestly think the best thing they could do for the game would be to finish the offline version and open it up to Steam Workshop.
            Frontier have shown over and over that they don’t have the required narrative chops to make compelling content, so open it up to the community.
            But then they wouldn’t be able to sell over-priced ship paint jobs any more.

            It galls me, because while it’s online, even in Solo mode, they’re tied to keeping it “balanced”.

            Offline with mods could open up all sorts of interesting things, such as less ridiculously restrictive weight limits on modules, actual meaningful differences between them other than weight and power consumption, ranges larger than a couple of kilometers on weapons and scanners, scripted encounters, allowing players to become rulers of their own galactic empires or the banes of such, all manner of things.

          • Jay Load says:

            What I find interesting is that the grind was a huge part of all previous Elite games. Perhaps not as obviously MMO as it is now but yeah, I recall countless hours working the same trade run to get my new ship in Frontier, then upgrading the ship, then getting a new ship, upgrading that ship….Elite has always suffered deeply repetitive core gameplay coupled with a vast array of locations to do that grinding in. I can’t really fault Braben for delivering more of the same, the thing fans screamed they wanted at him for fifteen years.

          • Asurmen says:

            Mungrul, that’s a lot of work though. Like, huge.

    • Ugubriat says:

    • Stevostin says:

      Same here. The very basic things would have been to show people when you were docking. If you show palmtrees, show ppl ffs, what’s wrong with you ?

      And if you allow to drive on the ground, please allow to walk on the ground. It’s not a huge thing to ask, is it ? A few space guys assets walking on the surface ?

      Now of course what’s I’d really like would to have the ability to do everything star citizen style, but I get it’s a bit complicated and maybe not that good game wise. But hey! People ! Show people !

      • Asurmen says:

        Not sure I get your point.

        Walking is a huge step (pun unintended) and not something you can just throw into the game.

        • modzero says:

          I don’t think they mean “actual player.” Just assets, maybe with a basic animation. Not even AI driven, just on a medium-long loop. AFAIR there are cars, so add some people. And the spaceport cat.

      • Jay Load says:

        Fans asked for visible people to interact with in Egosoft’s X games. They’ve pretty much been regretting it ever since.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      I agree. I got it because I like the idea of exploring space, and seeing new places.

      There is one place in Elite D. That’s all.

      Once you see a station you’ve seen all stations. Once you see a system you’ve seen all systems. There is nothing new, ever.

      Sure you can shoot the guys, or buy a different ship to shoot the guys, but why?

      There’s no progression and nothing to do or change.

      It’s just boring.

      • Baton says:

        These are my photos from ONE month only, how can anyone say, all is the same in Elite Dangerous?
        link to

        • tomimt says:

          Yup, Elite is a pretty looking game, there’s no denying that. I play it on and off, as I’d love it to have some sort of tighter narrative, but there are times when I just halt my engines and marvel at the universe.

          • Keeper075 says:


            Elite: Dangerous is especially transcendent in VR with a HOTAS setup. It’s the closest (so far) that the average person can get to actually feeling like they’re out exploring the cosmos.

            Now if only there were more interesting things to do out in that endless black to make the game more interesting once you’re done taking pretty pictures.

        • MickeyPaul says:

          Absolutely glorious images you’ve captured there. Well done! LOVE THEM.

      • Captain Narol says:

        If you want endless exploration, you have No Man’s Sky.

        That game has lots of flaws, but exploration is the best done part and full of surprises.

        Elite Dangerous has other qualities, maybe you just picked the wrong game for your expectations.

    • Asurmen says:

      Where you expecting the entire galaxy to be colonised?

  2. Rao Dao Zao says:

    I can’t help but read “Thargoids” as a contraction of “Thanks, Argoids.”

  3. cpy says:

    You have to admit, it’s the best space game time filler before real space game Star Citizen arrives.

    • Premium User Badge

      Grizzly says:

      Which, on an astronomical time scale, is happening rather soon!

      • cpy says:

        Between big bang and the heat death of the universe, i think we have pretty good shot experiencing one of those things called star citizen.

        • Premium User Badge

          Drib says:

          The character depicted in Cpy’s avatar discussing things with the species depicted in Grizzly’s avatar is a fitting image. I really have nothing else to add.

      • tomimt says:

        The best thing about the long development cycle of Star Citizen is, that when it finally does arrive I have had enough time to actually upgrade my computer to run it faster than 20 FPS.

    • vahnn says:

      General space game, not by a long shot. Spaceflight combat game, maybe, but there are a couple others which come close to edging it out.

    • Rindan says:

      And Comcast is the best internet service provider in my area. That isn’t a compliment to Comcast. Likewise, Elite exists as the “best” because there is no competition other than some pint sized indie games.

      If someone was to simply update and remake Tie Fighter or Freespace (1 or 2), they would be vastly more interesting games than Elite is right now. Elite is so depressing devoid of interaction with, uh, anything. You have a ship. It shoots things or hauls things. I hope you really like doing one of those things over and over in exactly the same way.

      • Noccam Davis says:

        Not gonna lie, I’d love a sequel to Freelancer. It was my favorite Space Combat Sim game.

  4. TheSplund says:

    I played a mere 58hrs back in late 2015, in Single Player mode only, but I’m loathed to get back into it until some form of proper goal/story can be had in SP without having to churn/chug/grind and waste any more time just flying around (even though it is wonderfully chilled to do so)

  5. Kitano1314 says:

    typical FD, how much longer can they wring this out!
    they tell us the thargoids have finally returned except that we’ll have to wait another couple of months for it.
    i think the only point of this announcement was to please their shareholders rather than their customers