Frontier’s gargantuan space sim Elite Dangerous will be given away for free on the Epic Games Store today. You’re getting a lot for nothing. It includes the base game, and 2015's Horizons expansion pack that fills the 400 billion star systems with landable planets. The other game is a puzzle game with visual novel elements called The World Next Door.
Elite lets you choose your own space path. You can mine, fight, explore, or a mix of all three. There are factions to join, deliveries to make, and sights to see. Most people play it like a space trucker.
I got heavily into Elite Dangerous for a spell this year. Not really as a game, but as a career. I went mining. Hunting down low-temperature diamonds in asteroid fields, drifting along in VR, spinning my joystick around on the quest for space bucks. It was great, and I can thoroughly recommend doing something similar. Evenings were lost in the chilly deep while chatting away to a friend in another ship. We specced up similar ships, matched our jump ranges, cargo hold sizes, and engine boosters so we could glide together into the black. I even had a screen overlay and rewatched Babylon 5 on the longer trips we took.
Grab it. You might need wikis open on another monitor, and a site to keep track of your progress and to recommend trade routes, but get it now and you'll have plenty of time to practice for next year's Odyssey expansion, which will let you walk around ships and on planets for the first time.
I have spent negative 12 hours playing The World Next Door, but Sin played it and really seemed to enjoy it a lot. She said: "The battles are a sooort of match 3 puzzle. When monsters appear, the tiled floors light up with symbols, and by running around you can swap tiles around to form shapes, thus casting spells or summoning your choice of magical pal to throw in a power attack. It’s really well-pitched difficulty wise – some concentration is necessary, but you can afford to flail a bit and wing it. The writing is likeable too, with your friends filling in fairly typical US teen sitcom roles, but with the right level of warmth, and their pleasant babbling Simlish doing away with any threat of unwelcome severity."
You can grab the free games on the Epic Games Store at 4pm. As is usual, the giveaway lasts a week.