Frontier Developments have recognised that September's big Elite Dangerous update "introduced a number of issues and bugs which caused a lot of frustration." They're "really sorry" about that, they say, and by popular demand have declared a new commitment to fixing the game up. The next few updates will focus chiefly on improving both "recent and longstanding issues", and frankly it sounds welcome. This does mean they're delaying new content a little, pushing the fancy Fleet Carriers back from December into next year. Which is probably sensible. What use is a 16-player ship if it's flying in a frustrating universe?
They plan is to have a series of updates focused "almost exclusively" on fixing bugs, Frontier said in this week's announcement, coming every three to four months-ish. They're planning to run these through public beta testing and make time to fix issues the beta flags. The first bugbashing update is due in beta in December, then to launch properly in early 2020.
Bringing back open beta testing for updates is one of the requests made by a self-appointed council of concerned high-profile players in September.
"All of us love Elite :Dangerous, and we feel that Elite: Dangerous is not what it could be," they said. "We don't ask Frontier Developments for miracles. We don't ask for new content and we don't ask for a major shift in development. We simply want everything already delivered to be maintained properly."
While it seems Frontier are now following several of the suggestions, their initial response was less enthused. A lengthy reply from Zac Antonaci, Frontier's director of publishing, deflected a lot of criticisms and said "While I do commend the aims listed of having a better and closer relationship between community and Frontier, I am unable to condone this approach." It does seem to have worked somewhat.
With the new focus on fixes, Fleet Carriers are now due in 2020 between April and June. A delay's unfortunate but probably good on balance. If the game is in a bit of a sorry state, new content will be novel but be undercut by unresolved frustrations. The rest of game would drag them down. Better to arrive when the game's one players are more pleased with in general.
The honking great Fleet Carriers will function as sort of mobile, player-controlled stations, with 16 landing pads for spaceships and facilities to refuel, rearm, refit, and repair. Carriers will be customistable with different loadouts and support vessels for different tasks, from exploration to mercenary work. Very fancy. If you have the creds for one. Or are friends with a spacesquiillionaire.