By: Ted Chow
If you don’t like playing the waiting game for Star Citizen and space sims are your thing, Elite: Dangerous could fill the void. With gameplay paralleling old titles such as Wing Commander, the galaxy is yours to conquer, one mission at a time. With an interesting online experience and a large number of players contributing day to day within the game, Elite: Dangerous is one game you can get lost in for hours.
Elite: Dangerous supports both your local keyboard and controller. Some aspects of the controls felt more natural with a controller than the keyboard inputs, especially in the aerial dogfights. The controller can feel overly sensitive with the default settings and be a bit hard to maintain a steady balance as you drift with your spaceship’s momentum.
While the keyboard feels more firm when you input commands, aiming and quick maneuverability aren’t as responsive compared to a controller. Overall, both are functional and available whenever you feel the need to switch between one or the other.
Planetary backdrops and spaceships are definitely pleasing for the eyes as it would encompass your every imagination as to how space would look and feel. From the asteroid belts to the solar rings of a gas giant, Elite: Dangerous is a space simulator that really brings the immersion of a pilot ready to chart the stars.
If there was one complaint it would be the vast emptiness during long travels that can make you wish you could just auto-pilot without the risk of another player knocking you out of hyper drive and stealing your cargo while you’re AFK.
The sound is pretty impressive as well as it is accurately captured as it would be in real life. Sound of blasters and weapon fire dissipating while air is leaking out of your cockpit is pretty darn cool.
Elite: Dangerous stays true to the space simulator genre in it that you will pilot a spaceship for the entirety of your play experience. All primary features are accessed through the unobtrusive UI and features such as trading and intergalactic space news can be obtained via trade/repair posts or listening in on your comms.
How you wish to impact the galaxy is entirely up to you. Will you be a hard working delivery boy or a pirate that steals to make a living? Will you enforce the unity of the sector or manipulate the space market to funnel credits to your bank account? The options are vast and individually unique.
Dogfights with other players are one of the highlights of Elite: Dangerous. The visceral combat and flashy lights of laser fire and kinetic weapons are weighty and thoroughly depicted. The mind games that come into play when you fight is what fuels the adrenaline of the experience and is far too underutilized to my liking.
When you are shot out of hyper drive and need to defend against pirates aiming to take you out, however, the “fight or flight” conundrum is heavily in play. The moment when you realize that you’re almost out of air in your cockpit and damage sustained to your spaceship is at its maximum before your hyper drive fails, is the moment where you are too caught up in the subtle details that make the game an immersive experience.
If there was one thing Elite: Dangerous could improve upon, it would be the random encounters, as they are sparse and far too spread out. While random events are a part of the RNG and the experience of travelling through deep space, in the end it is a video game and having to travel 15 minutes to a mission destination can be a bit much for casual players.
It isn’t enough to stop the player from having fun, but the best moments are gated behind RNG and that provides an unequal experience to the entire player base. More dynamic missions where a number of players can participate or just more frequent encounters would bring additional life to the gameplay.
Elite Dangerous is a title that will adhere to a niche group of gamers, but it does offer plenty of things for new players of the genre to experience. While the mileage may vary from person to person, considering the nature of space simulators, Elite Dangerous is a fun, immersive game that really stresses the inside-the-cockpit gameplay.