Elite: Dangerous [official site] developers Frontier have already announced that the Horizons expansion would bring the ability to explore planet surfaces - along with multi-crew ships, a character creator, and more - but below is the first glimpse of what those planets look like. It's a short 23-second clip, but it looks nice.
It's just a shame that it arrives at the same time as a rough weekend for the main game, which might have resulted in some player data being permanently lost.
Last Tuesday, Frontier mentioned that they were upgrading the server which stores exploration data. Exploration is one of the main activities of Elite, whereby players earn in-game spacebucks by scanning new planets and spacestuff, then selling that scanned information at space stations. Every piece of scanned data, including duplicates, is stored in a database with "67 million lines", according to Frontier's head of community management. The server upgrade was designed to make this data more efficient to store and access.
Unfortunately, a few days after the server change, Frontier discovered a bug that was causing new exploration data to not be stored. They consequently recommended on Friday that people temporarily stop exploring while the bug was fixed, which had apparently happened by Saturday. Exploration data gathered from Wednesday through Friday is still absent however, and it remains to be seen how much, if any, can be recovered. That linked forum thread is 61 pages long at the time of writing and has seen Elite developers answering questions through the weekend.
That sucks for all concerned, but hey, look, planets!
Horizons lets you explore planet surfaces using a dune buggy and is the next step in expanding Elite's accurate simulation of our actual galaxy. The planet's are procedurally generated, and mostly atmosphere-less and barren, though apparently there will be earth-like atmospheres to discover out there amidst the inky black of space.
So far, there's no release date for the Horizons expansion beyond a window of 'holiday 2015' for the first part.