The next update for vast space simulator Elite Dangerous should make things a bit easier for land-lubbers who want to get their space legs for the first time. A new zone for beginners, simpler early missions, and new ship modules to automate docking and entering orbit are all among the slate of changes lined up for release on Tuesday, April 23rd.
According to a post made by developers Frontier Developments, “this year's initial updates will focus on introducing quality of life improvements and improving the welcoming experience for beginners.”
The Beginner’s Zone won’t be able to be accessed by higher level players, and will contain starter quests to get new cosmonauts used to zipping around the stars.
Cockpits have also been tweaked to give more information about “activities in an area, mission targets, plotted routes, Wanted status and if the threat level of some areas is too high.” Those activity markers are new, making it easier to tell what you might want to get up to in any given star system, as is the threat level, which will highlight whether you might want to skedaddle instead.
There are also tweaks to things like the trading system and the pilot’s handbook, and a tease about “Interstellar Initiatives” that says more information on those will be coming in a couple of weeks.
It’s these community events, planned to take about a month to play out, that pique my interest the most. Elite Dangerous is well-known around these parts for the space hijinks that its players get up to. Players lost among the stars being rescued by an intrepid group known as the “Fuel Rats;” expeditions being scuppered by planetary gravity; and our own contributor Corey Milne spending two months crossing the galaxy, only to find it full of ne'er-do-wells, engage in some accidental friendly fire, and subsequently get arrested.
Because of these kinds of stories, it’s a game some people talk about in terms of being more fun to read about than to play. I can relate to that personally; I’m very glad the game exists and I want to hear all the tall tales of space escapades, but it’s never really tempted me to pick it up. Still, making it less daunting for those who are tempted seems like a very good thing, both for those people and for the potential narratives that could unfold if the game’s average population is swung towards fresher blood. I imagine the Fuel Rats will have more rescues to undertake.