Elite Dangerous's Update 13 is live now, bringing an end to the two-year-long Azimuth Saga and laying the groundwork for the space sim's ominously titled next chapter, Aftermath. There's a cinematic video below which reveals the climax of the event, and then I'll dig into the patch notes a little.
Top tip: don't give a speech about how this is your day of ultimate victory before you fire your giant space lasers and wipe out your enemies once and for all. You're just asking for some dramatic irony to befall you, and I bet the "aftermath" is just the Thargoids pissing themselves with laughter.
If you want to see Elite Dangerous's latest story content, you don't need to have bought its most recent expansion, Odyssey. This is slightly complicated, but Elite Dangerous currently has two maintained version, 3.8 for the Horizons expansion and 4.0 for Odyssey. Frontier say that all players will have the option to move to 4.0 in the coming weeks "at no additional cost."
If you do choose to move to 4.0, you won't get access to all Odyssey functionality - it's still a paid expansion - but you will be able to experience the conclusion of the Azimuth Saga. "Moving forwards, all PC players will have access to content in the next narrative phase given they are using version 4.0, except in cases where on-foot gameplay (and by extension, Odyssey) is required," say Frontier.
Aside from wrapping up a chapter of Elite's ongoing story (with the remains of destroyed capital ships available to visit in-game), update 13 offers a lengthy list of fixes, AI improvements and resolutions to graphical issues. That's necessary continued work given the poor condition of Odyssey at launch, as Brendy explained in his Elite Dangerous Odyssey review. I suspect we'll be checking in on Elite Dangerous again in the near future to see how it's changed since that review was written.