The Elite Dangerous: Beyond – Chapter 1 expansion has a long name and a release date


Elite Dangerous is now four years old somehow, or five if you count the various betas. In that time, it’s gone from impossible promise (ah, those halcyon 2012 Kickstarter days) to absolute bedrock of modern PC gaming, what with its blend of solo noodling about, lethal PVP sandbox and slow-burn, community-driven storytelling. Whether it’s quite what we expected a new Elite game to be half a decade ago is an enduring question, but by this point it’s very much its own game, including embracing the ‘Seasons’ concept that’s so hot right now (er, again for about five years). Season 3, ‘Beyond‘ is kicking off at the end of this month, with a headline wordcount-challenging update named Elite Dangerous: Beyond – Chapter One.

It introduces a whole mess of changes, including new types of ship and traders, revisions to crime and the punishment thereof and an overhauled mission system.

Here trailer here:

That’s a lot of flash and space-noise, so you’ll be wanting some actual details, I imagine. ‘Beyond’ is the umbrella name for a bunch of updates that will span this year, with ‘chapter 1’ due for release on Feb 27. Its headline features include:

  • A new pilotable and purchasable ship, the Alliance Chieftan, which is designed to be super-manoeuvrable but without being a combat lightweight.
  • Revisions to the oft-griped about mission system, including much more in the way of co-op objectives and a choice of rewards (credits, reputations or commodities)
  • You can now see trade data from previously-visited systems, without having to schlepp all the way back over there to work out whether you’ll get a good price for your hold full of weevils or whatever. Also a slew of new market tools to work out what needs or sells what, where. I.e. they’ve just upgraded ED’s space-internet.
  • Improvements and more variety to planet surfaces – good news for explorers.
  • Something of a rethink for crime and lawn enforcement, including criminal charges being associated with ships rather than pilots but pilots now having a Notoriety stat that effects ship rebuy costs. Plus! Space Jail, being sent to which necessitates either paying off your fines and bounties or being declared bankrupt and winding up with just a Sidewinder Mk1.
  • New Traders, for Materials and Technology
  • A text-to-speech reader for GalNet reports.

And a whole lot more, a partial rundown of which is here. That’s all due out on Feb 27, and is free to anyone who already owns the Horizons edition of Elite Dangerous.


  1. Faldrath says:

    Free for Horizon owners? That’s a very nice surprise, I wasn’t expecting that.

    • SaintAn says:

      I hope they wouldn’t charge for this. It’s mostly just fixes and improvements to systems already in the game. It’s no more than a patch.

      • corinoco says:

        SO you didn’t try the beta then? There’s a fair bit more content, not the least of which is the new ship, the Chieftain, which is a hoot.

  2. Ariurotl says:

    Tried it recently when it was on sale and had to get a refund cause I couldn’t get Beyond: Space Parking.

    You’d think they would solve this in the spacefaring future (if nothing else, to protect their shiny space stations from me bumping repeatedly into them with my rapidly disintegrating space lorry like some sort of space moth) but I guess not.

    • Premium User Badge

      Drib says:

      This was my experience, though before steam refunds.

      Parking takes forever, learning to park quickly takes foreverer, and milling around in space (during launch year, haven’t played much lately) was flat and dull and boring.

      The game is a mile wide and an inch deep.

      • antszy says:

        If parking nearly put you off the game it’s worth considering you just haven’t found the depth.

        I haven’t been milling around in a kiddy pool for this many hours.

        • Premium User Badge

          Drib says:

          The rest of the game appeared to be, at launch, space-trucking, space-looking-at-stars, and space-fuel-scooping.

          I know you can find terraforming candidates now, and sure you can shoot people or pirate or whatever, but really most of the game is flying from point A to point B, or flying to Points A-Z and then back to A to sell data.

          • Blackcompany says:

            Even calling it “flying” is generous. It’s mostly loading screens and waiting.

            The flight model is great though. Pity that outside of combat, you don’t use it.

          • BobbyDylan says:

            /\ Actually, you do use the flight model… for docking, incidentally.

    • Tsed says:

      Docking computers exist in the game, but have to be equipped. Once that’s done, there’s an auto-docking sequence that plays The Blue Danube while you wait.

    • Det. Bullock says:

      There is a tutorial mission dedicated to parking.
      The docking computer means one less slot and it’s rather slow IIRC, though I think that trying fine manouvering with mouse controls might be the main culprit of parking difficulties, followed by people not using the lateral and vertical thrusters.

    • Misaniovent says:

      I feel like if you can’t figure out how to fly your ship, or simply don’t have the patience to, this game is clearly not intended for you.

      • Ariurotl says:

        Yes, I came to the same conclusion, hence the refund.

      • Kowie says:

        You’d think by now they’d know what they are getting themselves into, there’s a reason these types games aren’t popular with Activision/EA etc.

        • Kittim says:

          Really? Here’s another reason:
          Grind, grind, grindy grind grind. BORING GRIND, MORE BORING GRIND. Wrist cuttingly boring grind.

          Progression in Elite is just MMO pants. It’s lazy and utter poo.

          80% of what’s wrong with this game is the MMO aspect of it.
          Can’t do X because w*nker group Y have done Z out of nothing more than spite to other players. Thanks for that dipshits.

          Add to that core mechanics that are literally brain dead. Tag along with a group of NPCs and kill their enemies with them and all is golden. Accidentally shoot one, without even depleting their shields and they all turn on you and erase you from the sky in seconds. Yeah, that’s fun.

          If I wanted to play a ultrapoo SF MMO, I’d play spreadsheets in space, EVE Online. A game where 90% of the players should be flagged as real life psychopaths and a danger to the public.

    • LennyLeonardo says:

      Took me a while too but there is a simple, peaceful joy to a perfectly smooth space-park.

    • badmothergamer says:

      I remember that feeling and probably would’ve refunded too if they had been available at the time. I probably banged around for 20 minutes, then realized I was backward, then banged around another 15 getting into position. It was awful.

      Instead I kept at it and now parking is a joy. I nail a perfect landing about 50% of the time and the other half only requires a light booster nudge to lock in. I suck at every other aspect of this game but I absolutely love a smooth park.

    • Menthalion says:

      Had some trouble until I installed a 6DoF controller coincidentally called the Space Navigator, and could fly in and at speed in 5 minutes.

    • edwardoka says:

      My (admittedly limited) experience of E:D is that docking is far and away the most fun part of the game, especially when you’re doing a run with illegal cargo and your ship is rapidly overheating in stealth mode.

  3. Kefren says:

    I don’t understand the “seasons” terminology. Isn’t it just an expansion pack? If you have it then you can play it; if you haven’t, you’re stuck with the base game? (And any other expansions you bought.)
    DLC doesn’t make much sense either, come to think of it. Games themselves are DLC if you download them. I think the industry should use terms that make more sense to we grumpy oldies.

  4. JRHaggs says:

    Lawn enforcement!

  5. causticnl says:

    this is a classic fdev move, first saying they will be moving away from the season release model, and then releasing a new season.

    • AthanSpod says:

      I swear FDev at one point in recent months both stated that “Beyond” was not a new season, it’s definitely not a pay-for expansion (beyond needing Horizons), and that it wouldn’t be “3.0”.

      They’ve definitely gone back on the “it’s not 3.0” thing. I’m not sure they’ve gone back on “not a season” officially. Nor is it technically an expansion, as there’s no additional purchase required.

    • BobbyDylan says:

      Indeed. FDev are just making it up as they go along.

      • hippy says:

        @AthanSpod Yes, they have officially gone back on “not a season”. Their press release says “Beyond, the third Elite Dangerous season will be free for all players” link to

        All this funny business gets slightly clearer if you read David Braben’s ducking and diving in his communications with investors, which are public by the way. ED fell far far short of the sales projections he gave them at the start, and I should think they were not happy to hear him now say he’s given up trying to sell ED seasons. A couple of weeks back a shares analyst predicted an 85% drop in FDEV profits and a plunge in the share price knocked £100m off the company value.

  6. Gyro says:

    I only just recently started playing, actually. It’s basically multiplayer Eurotrucker in space, with guns.

    If I didn’t have other people I was playing with it would be hell. As it is, it gives me an excuse to listen to 3 hour Critical Role episodes while truckin’.

    • morganjah says:

      I had never heard of Critical Roles. It looks awesome! Listening to it at work right now. I am so going to try to learn to play this game again tonight while listening to Critical Roles. Especially now that I’ve learned that there is such thing as a docking computer.

  7. Asurmen says:

    Shame the feature I want most isn’t coming until the end of the year.

  8. Tazer says:

    These are some long seasons. What is this Westeros? I’ll show myself out….

  9. Titler says:

    If you’ve already played Elite… this “season” adds virtually nothing.

    The “Wing” missions are just the exact same missions you got from the Bulletin Board previously, but with much higher numbers of kills/tonnes delivered to complete them, that someone else can help you work towards.

    In Beta, they were so badly broken as to render the game unplayable in some states. Don’t assume they won’t go live like that too; when Module Storage went live it was possible to brick your entire account; I had to get the Devs to manually edit mine to return it every time I repeated the bug to show how it was done.

    The new Crime and Punishment is especially risky; currently the NPC Police still like to fly into you at full speed when trying to scan, which gives you a criminal reputation, which gets you gibbed by the Station… recently we’ve also been killed by skimmers falling out of the sky and into your shields, and thus flagging you and getting you killed, and passengers also adding to the instant death fun… Frontier have been incompetent for quite some time now, so the wise won’t even risk logging in for a week or so.

    The new Traders have new weapons, but there’s nothing new to do with them as mentioned. The plot is still being told via cutscenes and the odd ARG.

    The materials trader is to help take the sting off having to go and re-grind the materials yet again to perhaps get an upgrade on what you previously had; but despite players begging they abandon grind and time gating as content, you’re still locked into starting from 0 again and going through each grade in turn before you get back to where you were.

    Without anything new to do, and already having a respectably ranged exploration ship, I’m just not going to bother. I gather many others will ignore them too.

    The Chieftan might be nice but… with nothing… new… I still haven’t logged in to buy the Type 10 yet, even though I can afford it, because there’s really no point.

    The user interface issues might be pleasant, and take some of the problems those still active might have, so well done on those I guess. Assuming they work…

  10. Sian says:

    Still no offline mode, though, right?

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      Nope, and this is what pisses me off the most about the game. With an offline version, they could add mod support, and the community could add all the content that just isn’t there.

      As it stands, I haven’t felt compelled to load the game in over 18 months now. It’s just bad.

    • greener says:

      I’m not bothered by it not having an offline mode but am bothered by how they handled this.

      Had they immediately offered refunds to everyone who was understandably upset about this promised feature being pulled just prior to release, I would have bought it. I had planned to and had money set aside but then I read about this.

      So now instead I just read articles about it – to see how that scandalous game is doing.

      • BobbyDylan says:

        Uhh… back when the canned offline, offer refunds they did.

        • Arioch_RN says:

          Yes they did, then did a very good impression of trying not to pay them out. Remember all the hoohaa about “you pledged before a offline was announced” or “you’ve played some of the pre-release beta” and some backers having to issue LBA’s before they got their refunds?

    • Asurmen says:

      Get over it already. That ship long since sailed.

  11. Artist says:

    4 years and Frontier starts to acknowledge that it might be an idiotic system when you have to rely on external programs to get trade data? Wow! Now that was… fast..

    Unfortunatly I still dont see that Frontiers skills regarding gameplay have improved even a little bit. Still the same crap all over… add new gameplay options, cloth them in 90s-style grind. Yay.

  12. Premium User Badge

    Waltorious says:

    Were the first two seasons called “Bed” and “Bath”?

    (that joke may only make sense to residents of North America)

  13. geldonyetich says:

    I’m happy to give the game another try, I love the immersion and attention to detail of Elite: Dangerous. However, I’m worried that, upon booting up the game again, I’m just going to encounter the same old choice of monotonous activities.

    I really don’t get why the developers think we’d be entertained by that. If variety is the spice of life, giving us a new batch of missions which are basically the same mission with higher goal numbers… it’s a very bland dish they’re serving. It’s like a chef who responds to complaints that their diners are tired of the same fare by jumbo sizing it.

    Of course, if it was a high variety of insubstantial tasks, that wouldn’t be much of an improvement, either. You could task those existing tasks and spice them up a bit. Add pizzazz. Make them more exciting, less predictable, prone to unexpected permutation that hopefully delights rather than horrifies. That’s the difference between our iron chefs and fast food slingers.

    These analogies are leaning more food-related than I intended. That’s what I get for skipping dinner. Anyway, Elite: Dangerous… I want to play it again, but my concern about the monotony of the central game loop remains.

  14. Rindan says:

    I’m legitimately shocked that people still play this game. I have never played a game with such a complete lack of purpose. I don’t think I have ever played an MMORPG that allowed so little player to player interaction. You guys still can’t give other people money, right? Srsly.

    I wish to god they would liberate the flight engine and visuals and DO SOMETHING WITH IT. Make a single player Freespace style game that is mission based. Make an open world X3 style economic game with it. Make Eve, replace the combat with ED combat. Make a tight little factional PvP game similar to Planetside, but with more space shipping.

    Why waste those beautiful visuals and fun flight engine on that boring boring boring boring might-as-well-be single player always online pointless, plotless, questless, guildless, grind simulator. The obvious wasted potential of ED is what makes it so maddening to watch them not even try to add anything interesting. I’d swear that they are maliciously trying to keep the game as boring as possible out of spite of fun.

    They keep releasing this stuff, so someone must be buying it. The hell if I can understand why anyone would play this game after the joy at the visuals wears off though.

    • hippy says:

      > I’m legitimately shocked that people still play this game.

      Relatively few people still play this game, going by Steam player numbers.

      It looks like more if you go by web comments. That’s because a lot of those few players having nothing better to do during ED’s excruciating loading screens that write web comments saying how much they are playing the game.

      > They keep releasing this stuff, so someone must be buying it.

      Game price has been £5 for much of the last couple of months. At that price, lots of people fooled by Frontier’s fake-footage trailers will give the game a try.

    • Asurmen says:

      Make a bunch of stuff that has never been Elite’s focus, into Elite’s focus?

  15. AshkEl says:

    Wow, so much negativity for Elite, and mostly from people who admit they either haven’t played it, or haven’t played it in a long time.

    I, for one, am rather fond of Elite Dangerous.

    I think a lot of the perceived issues with it are more down to expectations than anything else. Modern games have trained gamers to expect certain things from their game experiences, such as ‘being a big damn hero’ or ‘breadcrumbs leading from plot point A to B to C’. Most importantly, gamers are conditioned to ‘grind’ through games to get at the endgame content.

    E:D isn’t interested in any of those things. In many ways it’s more of a flight simulator than a game in the conventional sense. You’re not a big damn hero, you’re nobody special and the game doesn’t care about you unless you *make* it care. It doesn’t babystep you into how to fly, it expects you to learn what all the buttons do.

    The question of ‘grind’ is central. If you approach Elite with a grinding mentality, then yes, it’ll feel grindy as hell and will piss you off no end. The thing is though, the pressure to grind is coming from within yourself and nowhere else. If you approach it more as a place to visit, an alternate world where you can jump around the galaxy in your own time and see and do whatever interests you, you’ll enjoy it a lot more.

    The best bits of Elite are:

    The space combat, which is easily best in genre. Easy enough to pick up but with a high skill cap that means a great pilot can win even with a far smaller and less powerful ship.

    The visuals and sound design are consistently outstanding.

    The sheer vastness of the playable area. Space is big, really really big, and this is the only title that even comes close to representing that. People complain about lengthy travel times, but to a certain extent they’re missing the point that it’s a pretty accurate simulation of the real Milky Way galaxy. To a person with an interest in astronomy, there’s a real joy to finding an unknown system with a weird and wonderful layout.

    That said, I’ll admit that the planned enhancements to exploration gameplay due in a later chapter of the Beyond updates can’t come soon enough.

    • Premium User Badge

      Mungrul says:

      The size is an illusion.
      I swear, if you take a mission, any mission, you spend more time in transitional loading screens than you do actually playing.

      • AshkEl says:

        I don’t agree at all. The size is anything but an illusion. Consider other games which have big maps. I’m thinking of GTA V, Witcher 3, Skyrim, Fallout 3/4, all of which are generally considered ‘big’. To traverse the entire map from edge to edge in those games, without fast travel but otherwise moving as quickly as possible, takes no more than a couple of hours at most.

        To travel from one edge of Elite’s galaxy to the other, in a tricked out ship and buckyballing all the way, might take something in the region of 20-30 hours (probably vastly more).

        The only loading screens are during a hyperspace jump, or when dropping in or out of supercruise. They’re not exactly long either.

        I’m kinda ok to suspend disbelief and allow that it takes the frameshift drive a little bit of time to perform the amazing feat of safely taking a starship from velocities exceeding the speed of light back to low speed, or hurling itself light-years across space.

        As I said, Elite has a big dollop of flight simulator in it and it helps to approach it with that mentality. Again, conventional games have conditioned the player to expect fast travel and generally ‘skipping to the good bits’ without doing the work that the character has to do to get there.

Comment on this story

HTML: Allowed code: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>