Boldly-going space sim Elite Dangerous is due to start its third season of updates, named Beyond, by the end of March but spacefolks will be able to check it out a bit early. Frontier Developments have announced an open beta test for Beyond: Chapter One will begin on January 25th, inviting all players to check out its additions and kick 'em around to see if they break. New features in it include objective-driven Wing Missions for squads, prettier planets, a new warship, and changes to mission rewards as well as crime and punishment. Oh, and those ↑ alien cuties are coming.
We looked more at overall plans for the Beyond update last year, so what's in this particular beta?
Wing Missions will add a little purpose, having folks team up to tackle objectives (which offer rewards, obvs). The Alliance Chieftain is a honking great new warship. Players will get access to more trade data too, able to see data from systems they've previously visited so they can better plan business. And Frontier will enact the first step of their plan to pretty-up planets, resulting in things like this sweetheart:
As for the rest, Frontier say:
"Chapter One also features a range of game-improving updates, including changes to the engineering mechanics, an overhaul of mission rewards, and an altered crime and punishment system. The open beta will also allow commanders to fly a new Alliance warship: the Chieftain. Additionally, GalNet Audio will allow players to catch up on the galaxy's latest news without ever leaving the action, bringing the ongoing narrative to the foreground at a dangerous moment for humanity's pilots."
More details on crime and engineering are to come, Frontier say.
Also, those lovely Thargoid Scout ships are coming. Crashed ones have been found before but, going by the open beta, the ones coming now are very much alive.
While the beta will be open to base Elite Dangerous players, some bits will be unavailable if they don't also own the Horizons expansion. January 25th.