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Elite Dangerous update launches two new ships, but space legs still nowhere in sight

Loot Krait

Elite Dangerous is giving its pilots more space goodies today, including two new rustbuckets to whoosh around in its galactic theatre of lasers. This is part of the second update for their latest season of treats, Beyond (free to those who already own the last big expansion, Horizons). Basically: you astrobods are getting new spaceships to fly and new aliens to blow up. But this continuing trickle from developers Frontier is also making shipbound pilots like myself wonder: why don’t my legs work yet?

First, here’s a wee trailer showing off the two new ships to be added in "Chapter 2" of the Beyond season. The Alliance Challenger is a mid-sized spaceboat, more or less a powerful re-skin of the already-existing Chieftan (thus its community nickname, the "Beefy Chiefy"). But the Krait is a new beast. It’s got a fighter bay and lots of module slots, good for both combat and non-violent spacing.

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The Challenger costs 26-30 million credits, and the Krait is 40-45 million credits, according to Elite-knower Obsidian Ant, who summarised the specs of each boat.

There are other tweaks in the update. There’ll be new Thargoid ships to blast, megaships to inspect, hackable turrets, and more planetary sites with audio logs to discover. They’ve also eased up on friendly fire, permitting more accidental damage to non-hostile ships, so rather than being marked as hostile because of a single stray bullet against a cop’s hull, you’ll be given a bit of leeway. Here’s the full patch notes for update 3.1.

Overall, it feels like a relatively small update. Especially when you look at what is still supposed to come. A cinematic trailer was released last week showing a Commander waltzing through a spaceport and entering his ship’s airlock using his disgusting human legs. A reminder that this bipedal ability is still missing from the game.

Previously, Braben and the band had been very vocal about that feature, emphasising it in road maps and marketing jazz. In one early dev diary it was the most-cited feature when devs were asked what they were looking forward to the most. After that, they reiterated that you'd be able to saunter around on your tootsies quite often. However, more recently they’ve become less vocal about this feature, and when asked about it have suggested that it won’t come for a long time, certainly not in this season.

“The team and I all see Space Legs as the feature we will love to add," said Sandro Sammarco, lead designer, in a January interview with French website, "and it is at the top of our list, but it's something that won’t happen in the Beyond season.”

Of course, "top of our list" would suggest that it's the next thing they're doing, which seems unlikely. We asked a representative from Frontier if the space legs were still being worked on, or if they had been dropped altogether, and were simply told: “[W]e can’t comment on rumour or speculation, and we have nothing to announce right now.” Which is disappointing, if not exactly a surprise.

I share some of the frustration of my fellow spacers. Four years have passed since the game first became playable, and the oft-promised ability to go walkabout on the surface of a faraway planet, or a grubby space station, has yet to appear. I enjoy soaring through the docking bay and space trucking to a playlist of outlaw music. But four years is a long time to be stuck in a chair, friends. I’d say I’ve got itchy feet, but I don’t – that’s the problem.

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