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Elite Dangerous will let you go outside in Odyssey expansion

The advanced techology of Elite Dangerous‘s far future will finally grant humans the impossible power of legs, according to news from Frontier Developments today.

The space exploration and bwoomp simulator is getting a new expansion early next year. It’s called Odyssey, and it’s about getting out of your ship to jaunt about on foot on any planet you like. Well. Probably not the gas giants.

The blurb is rather ambitious, and emphasises a breadth of approaches: “play your way, from diplomacy and commerce to lethal stealth and all-out combat. Diverse settings, objectives, and NPCs offer endless mission variety and a near infinite amount of content to enjoy.”

Those are some grandiose claims indeed. I’ve only actually landed on a planet once, because it took several minutes to land and there was very little to do once I got there. That’s what you get for not planning ahead. More prepared pilots have been dropping little moon buggies from their ships and roving around planet surfaces for years, prospecting and retrieving goodies for missions, but this update promises to make the rocks much more engaging. There’ll be first-person combat too, in “a multi-layered, deep, tactical environment”, although it’s not clear against who, or on what kind of scale.

Players have long suspected that planetary walkabouts would be part of the big updates they’ve been expecting in 2021, about which Frontier have been pretty reticent until now. Players have also been critical (and I recently was myself) of how solitary it can feel. Odyssey will apparently offer social hubs for organising joint planetary expeditions, and tie together ships, land vehicles, and big stompy explorer boots, which I can see working if it’s handled right.

I’m curious to see how much freedom there’ll be in walking around, and how well it connects to everything else. ED’s cockpit and station interiors are great, but I never quite felt fully connected to its world when permanently glued to my chair. A bit more of a sense of being an actual person could do a lot to fully exploit several things the game does well. Merging shippy spaceflight bits with ground bits is a tall order though, with lots of potential for going wrong. But it’s also one of those big dream concepts that quite a lot of space fans always clamour for. High stakes indeed.

You can add Elite Dangerous: Odyssey to your wishlist on Steam now. It’s due out in early 2021.

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