Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

What's in a name (plate) ?

UPDATED 11:36am

There is another BETA related controversy brewing. In the March 21st LiveStream, Frontier mentioned that the nameplates for ship hulls would be a purchased item.

What’s it all about?

In the next major release of Elite: Dangerous, a new feature will be ship naming. You will be able (in station outfitting) be able to set a name for each of your ships, which will appear on your HUD. You can also set a ship registry ID, which is your station traffic control call-sign. This name will also appear on other CMDRs HUDs when they scan your ship. This name will only appear on other players HUDs if you pay for a nameplate! The controversy is that most players assumed (right or wrong) that the ship name would appear on the outer hull of the ship by default, at no charge.

On yesterday’s LiveStream, Frontier instead said that the exterior nameplate would cost extra!

Now does that mean space credits or real-world wonga? It would appear to be the latter and that has got more than a few commanders hot under the visor!

CMDR Zeeman: I'm normally happy to support the FD store, but I'll be boycotting this, sadly.

 

CMDR BongoBaggins: Other CMDRs cannot see the name of your ship on their scanner unless you've bought a nameplate. That's not cosmetic DLC, its locking game features behind a paywall. It's opportunistic, mean-spirited and churlish, and I won't be naming my ships.

Back in the Design Discussion Forum (where ideas were spit-balled during the design phase of Elite) the agreed details on ship names were:

Ship Naming

  • A ship can be given a name by a commander
  • A ship name can only be registered at a reputable space dock
  • There is a fee to register the name
  • Names are not unique
  • Although ships have unique registration numbers that can be shown
  • Ship names can be changed using the same procedure
  • By default a profanity filter is applied to all ship names (separate from chat filters) “starring” swear words out

The impression at that time was that the naming would cost credits in-game, but now Frontier have said it will be a cosmetic DLC purchase from the Frontier Store.

The most common reaction is disbelief:

CMDR Oryana: I wouldn't mind just a free basic name plate with generic font and no bells and whistles. I'd then probably pay for cooler fonts, or other colors or symbols next to it. The fact that I have to pay to essentially stencil on some letters on my ship is a joke.

Well respected streamer and member of the Elite community Obsidian Ant had this question:

If I buy a paint job for my Asp, I can use it on all my Asps. If I buy a name plate for my Asp, can I use it on all my Asp's? And if not, what happens to the nameplate when I sell that specific Asp?

Personally, I feel that a basic nameplate should be free and that more elaborate stencils should come with a charge, much as each ship has a free basic paint-job and further cosmetic customisation is paid DLC. As for not showing your ship name on other players HUDs unless you've bought a name-plate, well if that is correct, then it's an exceedingly poor and short-sighted decision.

Frontier have not responded on the thread. Frontier responded today at 11:03 (around an hour after I published this article!)

Edward Lewis posted this statement
Hi everyone,

There’s been a number of questions from Commanders regarding ship naming and how ship name plates will work so we wanted to give you a little more information about how these features will work when they’re released.

In-game ship naming

When you have named your ship in-game, your ship name will appear in multicrew grouping and in your HUD. In addition to this, in beta 5, when other people scan you, or target you in space they will be able to see your ship name in their UI. This feature will be available for all players of Elite Dangerous (both base game and Horizons players) including Xbox One, upcoming PS4 release and PC Commanders.

Cosmetic Ship Name Plates

The ship name plates will offer an added layer of cosmetic personalisation for Commanders wanting to wear their name with pride, much like paint jobs and other cosmetics currently available in the store.

Name plates will be made available in themed packs. These packs will contain three designs, each of which will be available in three colours: black, white, and grey. This makes a total of 9 nameplates per pack. After purchase, each pack will be available for use across all of your ships (Ship launched fighters and SRVs don’t have name plates) and each pack of 9 variant plates will be coming into store at just £2/€2.5/$3. This means that purchasing one pack of name plates will allow you to use that style across all of your current and future ships, at the same time and rename each individual ship as many times as you like. We believe this flexibility offers Commanders great value and is a great way to help support the continued development of Elite Dangerous.

Thanks!

So what do you think? Is this a micro-transaction too far? Or have Frontier made the right call?

EDIT: In light of the updated information provided by Ed, I would say that while the lack of a free basic name-plate is a shame, the low cost point for having name-plates across all ships answers most of the complaints. That and the clarification that the ships names WILL be visible to other players on their HUDs.

2.2 Guardians BETA First Impressions

Audio

The first thing I noticed about the game when I got things up and running was the sound. It was, to my ears, louder and the sound had a greater range. Once again, Frontier have tweaked various effects. The sound of the Kill Warrant Scanner has changed. I will have to keep an ear out for what else has changed.

Ship launched fighters and crew

Well, they have packaged and delivered that “BattleStar Galactica” moment perfectly. The fighter launch is amazing! I tried out a Condor and a Taipan fighter and had a fly around – I haven’t tested them in battle yet, since I never got that far from the station. The ships seem a little slower than they did in CQC. The AI crew doesn’t fly my Corvette as well as I do! The pilot just loops around me until ordered to stay put.

The “orders” menu is fairly intuitive. You can instruct the fighter to fly in formation, stay put, attack your target or attack at will. These options can be picked in either the fighter or the mother-ship to control the one you aren’t flying.

You need a minimum Class 5 internal slot for a fighter bay. A Class 6 fighter bay can have two slots and equip two fighters, sadly however, you can only ever deploy one. I did try sending my crew out in one ship and deploying myself in the second, but it didn't work - the crewman just got swapped back to the mother-ship and I was left flying the already-deployed fighter. Ah well!

If your fighter gets destroyed, you or your crew-mate are unharmed, since it is flown on remote. The fighter bay then rebuilds (grows? prints?) the fighter.

The crew you need to fly the fighters are recruited in the new "Crew Lounge". They have varying ranks and the better they are, the more they cost. I think Austin Powers must be in charge of HR there because the first crewman I saw was Ivanna Bonner and depending on how you pronounce it {bon-nar or bone-her}, the name is slightly comical, if inappropriate!

You can have up to three crew mates on payroll, but only one "active".

New Engineers

Pretty much as soon at the station hangar had appeared, so did an invitation in my InBox. A new Engineer! How many others will there be? I'm not sure. We have fifteen so far and Frontier bandied the number thirty around when Engineers were first mentioned. So will we get another fifteen? Or will we get another five per release for the rest of the season? That's my guess.

As I find out what upgrades they perform, who they are and where, I will publish a follow-up to my earlier Engineers article.

New training missions

The entire set of tutorial missions has been reworked and now includes training missions for mining and ship launched fighters. If you're never tried the training missions, well shame on you! Do them. Now!! Also, if you - like me - haven't played any since the game was released, it is worth a retry. They are a good showcase of the game.

I did find there was a bug in the ship launched fighter mission for VR users and I have reported it.

Blimey! That’s a big one!

New stuff has been added to Elite. Space furniture. Things to see and interact with. All that mile wide, inch deep nonsense is so 2014! Within a few minutes of flying around the game, I came across a "Military Installation" which looked like some part of the CQC scenery. It doesn't matter I've seen the models before, the station looked incredible. And huge. It dwarfed anything I've seen before. My Corvette looked like a Viper next to the massive structure.

It was also rather hostile to my presence and didn't like my fighter taking a poodle around too close. My fighter was destroyed and I had to beat a hasty retreat to super-cruise. That'll teach me to switch to debug camera in unknown territory!

The Beluga Liner

As new kid on the block, the Beluga is the latest ship to arrive in the game. It was priced slightly higher than the Type-9, so I would estimate it will sell for around the 90M CR price-point.
The ship is slow, but feels quite agile for its size and handles well. The audio is, as always, amazing. Being an Oculus CV1 user, I got a good look around the ships bridge and it seems a very shiny hybrid of the Anaconda's bridge and the Orca's.

D rated, the ship had a jump range of just over 21 light years.

Ship relocation

The BETA uses a server backup from a month ago, back then my Anaconda was back in SOL at Mars High, so I requested it's relocation to Jameson Memorial in Shinrarta Dezrha, using the new "Ship Transfer" option in the Shipyard menu. All your stored ships locations are listed with a price and transfer time. My Anaconda cost 6,500 CR and took 15 minutes to transfer. Relocation takes place in real time, so if you set off relocation and come back tomorrow, it'll have all been done while you out of the game.

Pink lasers baby! Yeah!

A new option on the ship livery menu in outfitting is Weapon Colour. Will this be another cosmetic digital download option? Looks like it. For those that want a distinctive look for their ships can have it, without shifting the balance of weapons in the game. So pink lasers for everyone darling!

The not-so-good bits

When I ran the game it crashed. A lot. After five quits-to-desktop, Frontier issued an update, which I duly downloaded - however my PC needed a restart before my Oculus drivers recovered from their earlier harsh treatment.

The servers were clearly overloaded by all the players having a go. I think sometimes Frontier underestimate how popular their game is. A lot of lapsed players come back for new releases.

Anyway, so far all my problems stemmed from server stability and the issues from the first point release (let's call it 2.2.1). Late last night I managed a couple of hours of solid game-play with the 2.2.2 version. That's why they call it a BETA test.

The Beluga Liner - What do we know?

The Beluga Liner has been a long time coming. The ship was first touted in Newsletter #10 back in August 2013 - three years ago!

Beluga Liner with Orca and Dolphin

As you can see it's design has evolved from concept to implementation.


Beluga Liner in game

The only other ships we've seen in concept that are not yet implemented are the small passenger ship, the Dolphin and the huge trade ship, the Panther LX. Although we did get a sneak peek at the final Dolphin, but Frontier did not confirm it for 2.2.

So how big is the Beluga Liner?

Frontier don't give out specifications - they let the players grab data from the game, however FDEV did post a photo from October 2014 that showed a whiteboard with the list of ships on it, which (even back then) included the Beluga and the Corvette.

Top secret stuff

As you can see (with a bit of squinting) the Beluga is the same length as the Anaconda with a narrower body, the Beluga's tail making it slightly longer and a great deal wider.

Obviously this is going to be a large landing pad ship

What's it's role?

The Beluga Liner is primarily a passenger vessel.

Like the Orca, it will be able to carry luxury and first class cabins that other ships won't, so the ship will be required to pursue a career in tourism and luxury travel, the profitable end of the new passenger industry.

The internal slots may also be restricted to cabins rather than other equipment, just as the Orca.

The ship has 6 utility slots and has the following internal module slots:-

  • 4 x Class 3
  • 1 x Class 4
  • 2 x Class 5
  • 4 x Class 6

This should give you massive passenger capacity. And maybe some cargo capacity too?

Is the Beluga armed?

It has been confirmed that the Beluga will have five medium hard-points. That would give it comparable fire-power to an Imperial Clipper (I rate fire-power by multiplying the number of hard-points by their class size).

But, in addition to five Class 2 weapons, the Beluga will also have a fighter bay. So it won't be a warship, but it'll be far from helpless either.

How fast is the Beluga?

Well, not very. But a ship that size is not going to be a racer. Sandro said on Tuesday's Lave Radio interview that the Beluga was the same speed as the Hauler, so it will be 200M/s with 300M/s on boost. Now that is faster than an Anaconda and Corvette, but slower than the Cutter. He didn't comment on agility, but we would expect something similar to the Anaconda's flight model as the ships are of similar size.

The ship will come equipped with a Class 7 FSD drive, but because of the Beluga's size, won't give a high jump range.

 

2.2 Guardians in mid-October

Frontier had a busy week at GamesCom and made a lot of announcements about the coming features of 2.2 and revealed a lot more detail.

Tourst destinations

No ships for ages, then two come along at once

The 2.2 update will bring a new ship; the Beluga Liner, which as its name suggests, is a vast passenger liner. Somewhere between an Anaconda and Corvette in size, this large ship is aimed at servicing the new passenger missions.

Beluga Taipan

Also added is a new fighter craft, the Taipan; this joins the F63 Condor and Imperial Fighter as ship-launch-able fighters. The Taipan is the “tank” of the three. With the fighters added to the main game, along with the Beluga, there are now 33 ships in game.

Guardians Guardian; singular

The reveal of the ship launched fighters show video of a BattleStar Galacica-esque ship launch and the power, speed and manoeuvrability of the new fighters – much more so than their CQC versions – we saw a Condor smack down a Python in very short order. But it was stated that we’d only be able to hold one fighter per ship. A Keelback was used for the demo and it was confirmed that Anaconda, Beluga Liner, Federal Corvette, Federal Gunship, Imperial Cutter, and Type-9 would all be fighter-bay capable mother-ships. You will be able to “hot swap” between your fighter and main ship.

Launching fighter

F63 Condor Imperial Fighter

NPC Crew

Before you deploy your fighter without flying it yourself, you need to hire crew to fly them. You can hire 3 crew and their skill level has a cost attached, although you can rank up your employees as they fly, so fighter pilot apprenticeships are going to be a thing. There is now a “crew lounge” in stations where candidates can be recruited. While you may have three crew employed, you can only take one of them with you.

The Crew Lounge

Station variety, capital ship docks and military bases

Stations will now have very distinct interiors, denoted by their economy so we now have refinery, high tech, tourism and agricultural stations in addition to the plain and palm tree versions.
Frontier are also adding a bit more space furniture in the form of capital ship docks and military bases. They have also promised other unique sights including a ship graveyard from Elite lore.

Tourist station   Agricultural station   Refinery station   High tech station

Captial ship dock

Galaxy maps and surface maps

The galaxy map now has an amazing new feature that allows you to filter routes. Why is that great? Because now you can plot routes that only include scoop-able stars or via high security (safe) systems. Looking in the system map now shows the planet surface in exact miniature, displaying the terrain.

Galaxy map route filters

Stored ship relocation

Why couldn’t we have had this when I needed to move 29 ships to SOL from Shinrarta? Well, now you can select a ship in storage in any station shipyard and for a small fee, relocate it instantly to your present location. What will the transfer fees be to Jacques I wonder?
You could therefore fly to a remote location in your DBX with a high jump range, and then summon your Vulture. You can also remotely sell your stored ships.

Ship relocation

Skins and ship kits

There will be a number of ship skins being added to 2.2 as well as (for the first time) SRV skins and skins for the new fighter-class ships. In addition, there are ship kits (wings and spoilers) for the Vulture, Asp Explorer, Viper Mk 3 and Python.

Python ship kit Vulture ship kit Viper Mk 3 ship kit Asp Explorer ship kit

Fighter paint options

Passengers

So finally (big sigh) the Orca has a point to its existence! And with the new Beluga Liner (whatever that will cost) you can ferry bulk passengers around the galaxy, take passengers on luxury tours and visit the colourful corners of the galaxy and get paid.

First class passengers

Passengers can travel in economy, first class or (with passenger vessels) Luxury suites. You’ll need the passenger ships specifically to carry VIPs around in first class and luxury cabins. Standard ships will take passengers but only in economy cabins.

Beluga Liner

Volcanism (not Mister Spock, volcanoes!)

With 2.2 will come Volcanism, that means geysers, fumaroles and (hopefully full-blown volcanoes) and I hope, the ability to land on lava worlds.

Volcanic world Geysers and fumaroles

A. I. feel your pain

Elite: Dangerous shipped version 1.6 and 2.1 last night and a massive update it was.

Following the launch (and a fair bit during the BETA as well) there have been complaints about changes to the A.I.

NPC

What’s that? Well, if you are not a ED forum regular or don’t know what I mean, what we refer to as the NPCs or A.I. are the Non Player Characters in the game – the spaceships you fight that are not other players and the A.I. being the combat logic program that controls them. Much of this written by Sarah Jane Avory at Frontier, who has been christened the “Mistress of Minions” by the community. She takes great delight in the achievements of her “children”.

Now to the controversy; one camp is complaining that the A.I is now impossible to beat. That all the NPCs use all the Horizons Engineer upgrades. That the NPCs don’t follow the same rules as players, such as having infinite ammo and being immune to heat build-up.

The other camp, is saying that the NPCs were harder in the first BETA of 2.1 and have been “dumbed down” because of complaining from players who just can’t hack combat. Their argument, is that the game is called Elite: Dangerous and combat should be life and death. Not a stroll in park picking daisies. Their response has been the phrase “GIT GUD” meaning learn to fight.

There’s also the group who are in the “goldilocks zone” who think Frontier have got it just right. They are currently the majority.

Where lies the truth of the matter?

The NPC behaviour was different in the first BETA of 2.1 and it did make it harder, because the moment a ship lost its shields, the NPC would flee beyond your range and return when their shields were back up. This might have been harder, but was it better? It made combat take a LOT longer, but it wasn’t very intense as a result. So Frontier changed that and NPCs don’t flee like that now.
Do NPCs use infinite ammo? Are they cheating? I’ve seen no evidence of this.

I asked Zac at Frontier:-

Does the AI cheat?
No, the AI ships work in the same way as any other ships. Anything an AI can do a Commander can do (with exception of one small point noted below in Q3… )
Do ALL NPCs have access to Engineer Mods?
No, NPCs of a higher rank, much like Commanders of a higher rank, will have explored and done far more in our vast Galaxy than lower ranked NPCs. The higher the rank, the more likely you are to see Engineers upgrades
Do NPCs have unlimited ammo?
No. HOWEVER, they do have unlimited multi-cannon ammo. This is a deliberate decision and is designed as such because the multi-cannon fire is made to miss far more and generally to improve the combat experience.
Are NPCs immune to heat build-up?
No, in fact there have been some interesting times when NPCs have blown themselves up from heat build-up. This is a common misconception but NPCs do definitely suffer from heat.

So the claims of cheating don’t really hold up to scrutiny. What I have observed, is that NPCs are vastly different to fight, depending on their rank and the likelihood of meeting high-ranked NPCs increases with your rank.

Harmless, Mostly Harmless, Novice, Competent, Expert, Master, Dangerous, Deadly, Elite.

You now need to check what the NPCs rank is, before biting off more than you can chew. I could swat a wing of three competent Eagles, but a Deadly Dropship took all I had to stay alive.

Whatever camp you are in, the days of NPCs barrel-rolling in a stationary position while you kill them is over. The minions are fighting back!

Engineers could do BETA

The latest addition to Elite Horizons is the 2.1 engineers update.

Having played with it for the last seven days, I’ve began to get a feel for what it brings to the game.

The engineers are a bunch of solitary individuals who camp out on remote planet bases. These bases are by invitation only. The engineers require an initial “offering” before they’ll deal with you. Once there you can opt to upgrade components of your ship, in exchange for combinations of materials and data. In simple terms, you collect loot to craft better ship components.

Each engineer has different specialties, so some can pimp your FSD while others make your pulse laser blue and "fizzy".

Materials and data

How do you get materials and data? When you destroy another ship, it will explode and eject parts that can be collected (via limpet or cargo scoop).

These can also be found in wreck sites, USS’s and other POI’s in space. They are stored, like materials and are not part of the cargo. Data is obtained whenever you scan an object in space, such as another ship or an FSD wake.

Upgrades

Once you’ve got your loot, you can proceed to the base of the engineer of your choice (shown on the new panel) and exchange them for a spin of the roulette wheel. What? Yep, when you pick your upgrade, there is a sizeable degree of randomness to the result. What’s more, is that any special effects (such as healing lasers or shock blast) is also random chance. Which means, like any fruit machine, you’re more likely to get mixed fruit rather than three cherries. This is why the forums have been up in arms about Random Number Generators (RNG).

Upgrades may go down as well as up

The upgrades you can purchase come in four levels, one being the lowest and four the highest. As you "buy" more upgrades from engineers, higher levels (and other engineers) unlock. You get “referrals” from one engineer to another, while other engineers are unlocked by actions within the game - such as visiting Sag A or getting friendly with a minor faction.

Bigger may not be better though. I applied a level 3 upgrade to my FSD and got a range of 42Lyr, but when I applied a level four upgrade once unlocked, the FSD range went down to 39Lyr! RNG strikes! If I had spent all week hunting materials for that upgrade, I'd be less than happy.

Living la Vida Piñata

Phase two of the beta has unlocked all engineer upgrades - you no longer need materials, just fish; so I have been able to try a number of them and experience the fickle RNG effects. Because the results can be less than great, it might take several attempts. When you only have to hand over a few ton of fish, like now, it’s mildly annoying. When you have to hunt for materials for days for each try, it's going to be at best very frustrating.

Here’s the problem. Materials are random. Data scans (as far as I can see) are also random. I flew around for a week and failed to find enough ingredients for a single engineer upgrade! With only two or three hours to play per evening, having to stop after every ship kill and at every USS to scoop for materials was a major chore. The alternative was to fit every ship with a collector limpet controller and cargo rack (to hold limpets) losing two internal slots. That still didn’t help the fact I couldn’t target the components I needed in any way. There is, as far as I can see, no logic that can be applied, other than collect everything all the time.

Easter egg hunt, or virtual housework?

At this point my feeling is that Engineers will be a lot of trawling around in the dark to get a single attempt at an upgrade with a dubious outcome. I've never needed or wanted to grind in Elite and I don't want to start now.

Either the resulting upgrades need to be less random, so that special effects are influenced by the amount or type of materials and data used, or the materials themselves need some logic to their acquisition. Two randoms don't make a right.

The Engineers is still in BETA and some of this is bound to change. I hope it does, because I want the game to be more of an easter egg hunt and less like doing housework.

All the dirt on 2.1

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the core game content click here

Elite: Dangerous Horizons 2.1

  • Engineer modifications won’t just be weapons.
  • Hostile NPCs will now attack on planets.
  • NPC traffic between bases will be seen on planets.
  • Engineer mods are mostly beneficial. Only a few have negative effects.
  • Rebuy will cover the Engineer modifications on your ship, so you won’t lose them if you vessel is destroyed.

Engineers

  • Engineers are planet dwelling individuals (around 30 to start with).
  • They will deal with you based on your reputation and rank and your relationship to them.
  • Relations are built with Engineers by bringing them materials and carrying out missions for them.
  • They will sell modifications to ships systems as well as awarding them for services carried out (missions).
  • Some Engineers will be approachable immediately, while others must be found and some will only deal with players of rank from their faction.
  • There may be PowerPlay specific Engineers.

Visual changes

  • Improved graphical fidelity for planet surface textures.

Exploration

  • Man made Points of Interest on planets will be mostly within the bubble (i.e. crashed ships)
  • Natural Points of Interest now exist to be discovered.

Confirmed Engineer modified weapons

  • Regeneration laser – a beam laser that will recharge a wing-man’s shields.
  • Feedback cascade – a new rail gun that, if fired when a shield cell is being used, collapsed the targets shields instantly.
  • Thermal shock – heats up a target.
  • Force shock shells – projectile version of shock-mines.
  • Emissive munitions – applies to cannons and multi-cannons. This ammo will increase the radar signature of target ship. Counters silent running. Larger signature also means the target will take more weapon damage. Causes weapon used with ammo to heat up more.
  • Incendiary Rounds – turns kinetic weapons into thermal on impact.
  • Effects of these weapons is multiplied when used by more than one ship on the same target.

All the dirt on 1.6

Releases and platforms

  • Horizons will be released as a BETA on the PC week ending May 8th (so any time that week).
  • The full update for both the core game and Horizons will ship in June.
  • Horizons will be released for the first time on XBOX One in June with or shortly after the PC release.

For details of the Horizons content click here

Elite: Dangerous 1.6

Galaxy map

  • Named bookmarks. Select a system and pick a name.
  • Filter for political states of systems. War, Boom, Bust etc.

Visual changes

  • Visual effects for weapons fire now scale with the class of weapon. Bigger gun = bigger flash.
  • Improved graphical fidelity of asteroids in rocky and icy rings.

More weapons in larger classes

  • Large multi-cannon (Class 3).
  • Huge multi-cannon (Class 4).
  • Huge beam laser (Class 4), which fires four beams in rapid cycle.
  • Huge pulse-laser (Class 4).

Missiles

  • Missiles are getting a small increase in shield damage and splash damage (which damages modules and hard-points).
  • Missiles do not penetrate hull, so unless you target Power Generator, they will disable a ship rather than destroy it.
  • Missile guidance has been improved.

NPC changes

  • Improvements to skill level.
  • Security ramming fixed.
  • "Roll of death" fixed.
  • Higher security systems now have stronger security response.
  • NPCs can use Engineers modified weapons.
  • NPCs will no longer keep approaching you about a mission.

Missions

  • Missions are now affected by a system’s political state. i.e. war would generate weapons smuggling and assassination missions.
  • Completing missions will build reputation with minor factions and will introduce you to higher people with that faction.
  • Minor factions will now be represented by individuals with avatars.
  • Pilot federation rank will determine who you deal with in a faction and how they behave towards you. Your reputation also influences who you deal with.
  • Navy missions for Federation and Empire are being overhauled.
  • Your reputation with a faction will be visible on the mission board.
  • Criminal factions will offer more illegal missions than other factions, but all factions will offer some illegal missions.
  • Difficulty and rewards for missions are affected by the CMDR’s rank. New players won’t be asked to assassinate an Elite Anaconda.
  • Mission rewards won’t just be credits. In Horizons, you may receive materials needed for Engineer modifications. Other rewards are not yet revealed.
  • Missions follow a new set of templates for 1.6/2.1 with branching and multi-part missions. This affects Naval Ascension missions as well.
  • Mission branches will affect rewards. Mission timers may change on different mission branches and time may affect reward.
  • A new rank of "cordial" has been added between Neutral and Friendly for factions.
  • Missions may be given out in space by a faction representative.
  • Mission brief will list any equipment required, such as interdictor or scanner.

Exploration

  • Ships can now scan Nav beacons to get system map without a discovery scanner.
  • Exploration data obtained in this way from Nav beacons cannot be sold.
  • Unidentified Signal Sources are being changed.
  • Nav beacons contact information on locations of salvage and other signal sources to assist missions.
  • There is a new approach mechanic for Points of Interest.

Station outfitting

  • A more graphical tiered interface.
  • Statistics on each module.

Communications

  • Stations now have a traffic controller who hails incoming ships.
  • Each commander is addressed uniquely by the ship manufacturer and first three letters of their CMDR name. e.g. "Lakon Alpha Romeo India you have permission to dock"
  • Hostile commanders will be warned that they will be fired upon.
  • The voices used by stations vary around the galaxy.
  • The communications inbox is used more. Mission related messages will appear in your inbox in super-cruise as well as normal space.
  • New commanders will be given a welcome mission in their inbox. This is optional.

Small ships

  • Thruster upgrades for Class 2 and 3 thrusters.
  • This makes smaller ships faster.
  • These will cost "in the low millions".

Mining

  • Ice rings can now be mined.
  • There will be ice mining missions.
  • Ice rings contain new materials – some of which will be needed for Engineers

Sizes of coming ships behind the Frontier curtain

ship_size_smallOver the weekend a photo from Frontier offices, circa October 2014 surfaced. The photo was of a whiteboard concerning audio development, but posted on the corner of the whiteboard was a series of ship concept arts and ship renders.

This is where it gets interesting

Speculation alert!

From the concept art, I can identify all but the smallest ships. Interestingly the ships are all grouped by manufacturer.

The renders are all top-down. This gives us a clear indication of size, or at least the size Frontier planned.

Some of the ships are in their "early" form. The Imperial Clipper was still known as the Imperial Trader and was larger than the final Clipper became. The Courier was in the early concept stage and as we know changed a great deal in implementation.

inside secret

How big?

As you can see the Panther and Beluga top-downs show they are both longer than the Anaconda and Corvette. We are fairly certain that large pad is the hard limit of ship sizes and the pad would appear to be approximately 200m x 120m. The Beluga therefore is likely to be the same size as the Imperial Cutter and the Panther is that much larger, so probably very close to the maximum 200m long. That would make the Panther a pretty massive ship!

Panther Big

When?

With Horizons 2.2 "Guardians" we are going to get passenger missions, so it follows that the most likely time for the Dolphin and Beluga Liner to sail into the game is in this version.

Orca and DolphinDolphin, Orca and Beluga

When will we see the Panther Clipper? Well 2.1 would be a nice surprise, but my bet is the ship and maybe some others of the same size class, are being held back for something special in 2.4. Currently passing cargo is a matter of eject-n-scoop between two ships, but with advent of super-heavy traders in the game maybe we'll see a ship-to-ship docking mechanism added for cargo (and passenger?) transfer direct.
This would allow for player-to-player cargo transfer and ships as large as the Panther could visit tiny outposts like Hutton Orbital and be unloaded by a group of Type 6 transports. It would also allow for the transfer of passengers to ships. Maybe you can take some guests to that wedding barge?

Very large trading ships in Elite Dangerous

panther_dockingSource? Newsletter #92

Multi-Crew lets you fly in the same ship with friends, which will up the intensity and camaraderie levels of a joint mission even further! You’ll be able to share and alternate control of weapons systems, turrets and flight duties to multiply your effectiveness. Even to the extent of piloting a ship-launched fighter and working in combination with the mothership. It’ll be especially useful in some of the very large trading ships coming in season two.

Now the original Elite, way back in 1984 didn’t have any really big trade ships – the Anaconda was the largest, with the smaller Boa and Python in the mix, but there were some super-massive traders in Frontier and Frontier First Encounters. What were they?

Well, between Elite 1 and 3 the roles of these ships juggled somewhat. In Elite the Boa was smaller than the Anaconda, but by Frontier First Encounters (Elite 3) the Boa was the bigger ship.

The Panther Clipper; described as a “behemoth” in Elite 2 wasn’t the biggest in Elite 3 – that was the Lynx Bulk Carrier. How big was that? Well the Panther had a 2100T cargo capacity compare to the Lynx’s eye-watering 6000T cargo hold. A monster!

So what will the “very large trading ships” coming to Elite: Dangerous be?

We have been teased 3D renders of the Panther Clipper (called Panther LX in this incarnation) very early on during the Elite: Dangerous KickStarter, but it has been radio silence since.

Currently the biggest trade ship in ED is the Imperial Cutter which can carry (with shields) 728T of cargo. That’s only 35% of the original Panther’s capacity. Could it fit on the pad and carry that much cargo in ED? Well, no.

Panther LX

Based on the maximum dimensions of all ships, the Panther LX could be up to 192.6m L x 115.3m W x 33.4 m H and fit through the access corridor and land on a large pad. That is around 4% larger overall volume than the Imperial Cutter and would (at a 4% increase) give the Panther a 1540T hull. That would give an approximate cargo capacity of between 670 to 1104T – estimating a make-up of three Class 8, one Class 7, two Class 6, two Class 5 and one Class 4 internals. Huge.

Something we’ve not seen, even hinted at, is the return of the Boa. If based on Elite 3 this would be double the size of the Anaconda (in capacity) so would carry 936T of cargo (3 x C8, 1 x C7, 1 x C5, 1 x C3) not to be sniffed at! Based purely on volume, it could be smaller than the Corvette, say 160x114x32m and be twice an Anaconda’s capacity.

ship dimensions

Frontier could also pull something out of the bag we have not seen before. But we'll know soon, because they are coming this year to a game near you.