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Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is now letting alpha players scan space plants

Sample the local flora when you land

Greetings, Commanders. Here's your regular status report on the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey alpha. After gradually expanding the capabilitties of alpha players from their initial walkabouts to some FPS games, Frontier Developments are now sending players off to explore new planets again. The latest alpha phase, focused on exploration, turns players into exobiologists with genetic scanners.

"The third stage of the Odyssey Alpha continues to expand the playable portion of the galaxy to 50 light years and moves focus towards the exploration of undiscovered planets and the Exobiology career path. Additionally, Commanders will finally experience the coveted 'First Footfall' moments within the Alpha, when they set foot on a previously uncharted planet for the first time."

Frontier give an overview of the exobiology activities down here in their new video.

After squeezing into that new suit, you'll be able to use the genetic scanner to sample vegetation on the surface of planets. Organic stuff won't all be evenly spread across the surface, Frontier explain. They've beefed up the Detailed Surface Scanner which can now show you before you enter the atmosphere where organic life is located.

Once you're down there, scanning space cactus and whatnot looks familiar enough. Point the plant tickler at your organic matter of choice and voila you've got a sample. You do need to collect samples from a wide area though, which seems like a decent requirement to ensure you actually explore a bit of the planet before jetting back off to space.

It sounds like getting boots in the space dirt and exploring what new things the surface is holding is the real bright spot in Odyssey so far anyhow, moreso than the shooty bits. In his Elite Dangerous: Odyssey preview, Brendy Caldwell explains that wandering about on foot has been one of the highlights of the alpha.

"One of my favourite moments was in exploring a completely derelict settlement on the dark side of a moon, a small, dead colony in total blackout. Some fellow CMDRs showed up, but they weren't aggressive. We blinked our flashlights at one another and said our crouch-hellos before splitting up to explore the abandoned base. Consoles sparked in the command centre, fires flared in the storage warehouse. Everything had a gloomy, haunted vibe and I got to properly use my space gadgets for the first time, cutting open the panels to power outlets and hacking the doors to a medbay."

With the exploration phase now in swing, the fourth and final remaining phase will be "compatibility" for testing out how Odyssey meshes with the rest of Elite's systems. If you do happen to be playing, you can find phase 3's features and known issues over on the Elite forums.

Elite Dangerous: Odyssey is set to launch in full in late spring this year.

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