The second Elite: Dangerous [official site] expansion, from its 'Horizons' series of add-ons, will blast off on May 26th. 'The Engineers' will bring... engineers? Obviously. Little embarrassed I had to tell you that, honestly. They, in turn, bring even more ways to customise your ships and weapons - if they like you. Also, launching alongside The Engineers but not requiring anyone to buy the expansions will be a big update with a new mission system. Though Horizons has had a wee price cut.
Engineers are NPCs who'll be scattered across the galaxy, with special blueprints to jazz up weapons and modules in their area of expertise. Building relationships with them can get you access to better blueprints too. As this dev post from January explained:
"For example we have an engineer who is closely aligned with the Federal Navy and so your rank with the navy is his key consideration, so the higher your naval rank the better blueprints he will be able to offer. As well as naval ranks, the Pilots Federation ranks (including combat, trade, exploration and CQC) will influence some engineers. Some engineers will be affiliated with minor factions, so you’ll need to manage your relationship with them as well. Some will use your stats for mining or trading in illegal goods as well as a host of other indicators.
"As well as these initial governing factor there is a separate reputation with them, which must be cultivated along the lines of their governing factor to gain their trust and so more capable blueprints.
"Not all engineers are immediately available to all players. The factor that governs their relationship with a commander has a minimum threshold that must be reached for them to deal with the player."
So, knowing the right people can really get you further. And in the game. Here, meet The Dweller and get a peek at how this new crafting works:
The Engineers also brings loot to the world but look, I could quote patch notes at you all day or you could simply go read the beta notes yourself for an idea of what's coming in versions 1.6 (the base game) and 2.1 (with Horizons).
Down from the old price of £24.99/33,99€/$37.99, Horizons now costs £19.99/24,99€/$29.99. Along with The Engineers, it gives access to the already-released Planetary Landing content (you can guess what it does) and future features including ships crewed by more than one person and fighter ships launched from the guts of bigger ships. That's £40 for both the base game and the expansion pass.