Over 12,000 intrepid explorers are signed up for a months-long journey to the edge of the galaxy in Elite: Dangerous, starting today. Across 16 weeks, the player-organised Distant Worlds 2 expedition will pass through the centre of the Milky Way, stopping to build a science station to study a black hole, then carry on through to the far edge of the galaxy. The journey has quite a casual pace, giving players one week to reach each waypoint of the journey, and a number of groups are roleplaying stories and activities to keep things interesting. You can join in yourself, and of course loads of folks plan to livestream their adventures.
The expedition leaves from sunny Pallaeni at 8pm tonight. Their destination is Beagle Point, one of the most distant and difficult places to reach in the sandbox space sim.
"Things are about to change forever," says the expedition's in-character blurb from spaceman "Dr. Kaii", leader of the European wing.
"With the advent of new scanning and mining technologies, along with the most comprehensive database of knowledge the explorers of the centuries have gathered being released to the public, the sun is rising on a whole new Age of Discovery. The Codex talks of profound mysteries; unfound, unseen, unknown. The call of the black is on us, and it's time for us to blaze a new trail once again in the largest expedition ever organised. Join us as we journey through the heart of the Milky Way, to the other side, old grounds, through the furthest reaches of exploration and science, to discover these mysteries beyond the distance. To work as a team, to share the excitement, to create memories of a kind we can't yet fathom."
In short: space is cool and pals are nice, so let's go be spacepals.
Along with building a science station to study a supermassive black hole en route, the convoy will survey, mine, shoot, and such other Elite antics. Fun competitions and events are planned for the big weekend gatherings at the waypoint for the next step of their journey, such as races, skeet shooting, and mountaineering with spacecars. Some players even plan to stage dramatic events.
Polygon had a wee chat with Alison "Commander Wishblend" Goodman, a spacelord who's plotting some story events that will unfold across the journey, reacting to how things play out. A number of other roles and roleplaying groups are involved, everything from a navy protecting the fleet through spacetruckers to spacescientists doing spacescience. It should be exciting, even just for spectators.
See the Distant Worlds 2 website for more information, including on how to join their adventure yourself. Dr. Kaii said yesterday that a PC squadron still has space too. See this forum thread for a handy overview too.