Elite: Dangerous Blog

News and events from the Elite Dangerous galaxy

What the PlayStation 4 Trailer let slip

Yesterday's trailer for the PlayStation 4 version of Elite: Dangerous was very cinematic, but hidden away in the folds of the advertising are gems of information on the next major Elite release.

E.V.A.

Now the first scene here, show a CMDR standing behind the pilot's chair. The ship looks to be a Cobra. While the scene looks more CG than game rendered, it depicts a pilot moving around the ship. Is this poetic licence, or a hint of what's to come in season 3? Walking around our ships and stations maybe?  Personally it might just be fluff for the trailer - a bit of scene setting. BUT... it could be an element of multi-crew. Instead of a fade-to-black screen when moving between each other's ships and chairs, we might see our avatar walk to the cockpit and sit down.

Asteroid bases

Since the Kickstarter in 2012, we've been tantalised with concept art of asteroid space stations. Either pirate bases or mining bases, built into larger asteroids. These have been high on players request list and the image at 18 seconds clearly shows "Boweens Hollow" an asteroid base. Awesome sauce!

More furniture in the room

At 49 seconds, the trailer shows a new space structure, similar to the civilian outposts we've seen added since 2.1. Not earth shattering, but nice to see more life in the galaxy.

It's not a station, but damn it's big!

With a drive section as large as Jacques stations, the ship depicted at 50 seconds is too "primitive" to be a Capital ship and it sure doesn't look Thargoid. So what is it?

Well, for those unfamiliar with Elite lore, there were, hundreds of years ago in game-time, generational ships that launched into deep space from Sol without the benefit of FSD drives. These ships would take centuries to arrive at their destination, with the great grandchildren of the original crew at the helm. In the time between, human technology progressed and ships could fly such vast distances in minutes, so present-day ships have caught up with those early pioneers.

The ship shown here is almost certainly one of the fabled generational ships. Who's going to be the one to tell their crew they could take a modern ship and be back on Earth by tea-time?

Crew-mates

Toward the end of the trailer we see a Cobra Mk III with a co-pilot. The real question here, is whether the person in the next seat is NPC crew or Human crew. We know 2.3 is multi-crew and we are going to have a commander avatar creator. Since the Cobra doesn't have a ship-launched-fighter, the other seat isn't occupied by the NPC drone pilot, so I'm fairly certain they are depicting human multi-crew.

Something fishy sneaked past at the end

Finally, in the last few seconds of the trailer, a little ship sneaks past (bottom left). It's not the Orca, even though it looks a lot like it. It's the Dolphin passenger craft. I would say that pretty much confirms the ship for version 2.3.

 

The road to Thargoids: What we know so far

TTV 2Not everyone is fully up on where Elite:Dangerous is now with its ongoing saga of hunting for alien life, or the rich history behind it.

Alien 101

Back in 1984 when Elite hit the BBC Micro, the “bad guys” were an alien race known as the Thargoids. Beyond that, very little was known.  They flew octagonal saucer ships and would drag unsuspecting commanders out of the hyperspace tunnel (also called “witchspace”) and attack the commander in the deep black gulf of space between stars, where no help was available. Unless you were quick to fight or flee, it was certain death for most ships. The sight of their saucers was feared across the galaxy!

A decade or so later, in Frontier and Frontier 2 the lore of this race expanded and we found out that the Thargoids were an insectoid race with six limbs, resembling a praying mantis.

Since the release of Elite: Dangerous, and even before going right back to the 2012 KickStarter, the community has been speculating how and when the Thargoids might appear in the game.

Early signs

In March 2015, with the release of 1.2, Unknown Artefacts began to appear. These were being carried by Type-9 ships in a convoy in Strong Signal Sources. The NPC chatter was all about the "strange cargo" they carried. We also began to see them floating in space and they made a peculiar noise. You could pick them up in your ship's cargo scoop, but commanders found that their ship became rapidly damaged by holding one of these objects.

What did the noise mean?

There were two signals the UAs made. One was Morse code, which spelled out the system they were located. The other was a mystery until CMDR Mike Juliet Kilo realised the signal was co-ordinates and when plotted, drew his ship - a Vulture!

Throughout 1.3 the UAs kept making these same noises, but began to be found in space always pointing towards the Merope system...

Blistering Barnacles!

In January 2016, after the 2.0 release of the Horizons expansion, explorers found alien structures on the planet Merope 5C. These objects resembled barnacles or some kind of ocean shell, with crystalline spikes appearing to grow out of the ground around them. The spikes could be blasted into fragments with the SRV turret and one spike would yield a large emerald-like crystal, that when harvested using the SRV cargo scoop was revealed to be a meta material.

Meta materials and UA bombing

Commanders who noticed that the Unknown Artefacts damaged their ship, tried various things to avoid having their ship destroyed while hanging on to the UA they'd discovered. However, the side-effect of their sheltering inside a station, was that the station itself took damage and station services would shut down. Enterprising CMDRs then found that by delivering and selling multiple UAs to a single station could shut it down and thus "UA Bombing" was born. Deliberate sabotage of stations using UAs as a weapon.

Subsequently, it was discovered that the Meta Materials harvested from so-called "Barnacles" could repair UA-Bombed stations.

More and more barnacles have been discovered in the systems around Merope and seem to favour systems inside nebulas.

Unknown probe

Unknown Probe

In May 2016, Horizons 2.1 shipped and explorers began to discover smaller unknown artefacts, which were named Unknown Probes. These objects were active rather than passive, like their predecessors. When scanned with a discovery scanner they would emit an electro-magnetic pulse, disabling nearby ships and then play a data signal.

The signal was decoded in June by CMDR Muetdhiver and CMDR Wace. When fed through a spectrum analyser the audio produced a hazy diagram.

Probe signal

When cleaned up, the signal is clearly some kind of iconography.

Clean signal

General consensus is that the diagram represents some kind of address, but no definitive meaning has yet been found.

UPDATE: The guys on the Canonn Research Thread (#8) have noticed that the Unknown Probes appear to be seeking ammonia based worlds.

GamesCon hints

During GamesCom in early August, Frontier's live streams were "interrupted" by alien signals, which were overlaid with binary and ASCII messages.

Once again, the guys at Canonn Research put their collective brains to the problem and solved the puzzle and this week - CMDR Nochtrach, CMDR BALALAIKAX3 and CMDR Ihazevich found the clues Frontier gave led to an alien wreck site on the moon of Pleiades Sector AB-W B2-4,
Planet 9A at co-ordinates -26,3772°, 97,6982°.

Alien wreck site

The wreck is very reminiscent of Ridley Scott/H.R. Gieger's Alien spacecraft. A bio-mechanical craft, laying in the bottom of a valley. The craft was huge – far bigger than any human ship in the game.

CMDR Niamhy has even mocked up what the ship may have looked like before it crashed. Scary.

Alien ship

So, is it Thargoids?

Well truthfully, nobody outside Frontier knows. The ship doesn't resemble the earlier Thargoid ships. Are they friendly or not? Again, we don't yet know. What transpires next is anybody's guess and may be decided by who finds them first and who shoots first (or not).

Be careful out there. We are not alone...

 

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.

 

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.

Horizons speculation alert!

buggyOn Friday Frontier, for the first time it should be noted, laid out a general plan for most of the coming season of expansions to Elite: Dangerous Horizons. Giving us an outline for what content was coming and when. So what are we getting? Well the first instalment is soon, probably next month, and is titled “The Engineers”

2.1 – The Engineers - Coming Spring 2016

"Everything changes. Introducing an expanded mission system and game-changing loot. Craft exotic weapons and modules for your spacecraft and build a ship unlike any other."

It is confirmed that we’ll have around 30 persistent NPC characters to interact with. These characters will process loot into crafted weapons and modules for you from blueprints. The toys on offer will depend on your pilot and federation, or empire, rank. Using the character creator, Frontier will give these engineers a face to see.

elite_frontier


We can speculate that these characters, called Engineers, will abide on the surface of planets at certain locations, which makes them by default, a Horizons-specific feature. Since they require loot to work, you will have to bring them materials(?) to work with in order to make your green beam laser (or more useful), a longer range FSD drive. They also require blueprints. How will these be acquired? Stolen? Found? Clearly a new avenue to explore. You can’t just grind 30T of hand-wavium and have the best ship in the galaxy; you are going to have to find, steal, trade or buy the means to make these upgrades.

Over the last year Frontier had expanded the bulletin-board missions, but as they’ve done so, the basic framework has started to creak under the load. In 2.1 we’re getting a total replacement of the mission system, incorporating these talking head NPC characters which will also be persistent, depending on your pilot rank, faction rank and possibly location. I would love to speculate that these characters will speak (audio? Text to speech?), but in all likelihood they will simply be the face of your mission-brief text, much the same as the characters were in Elite Frontier (shown above). The good news for players without the Horizons expansion is that this element of the game is generic to all, so it is highly likely that the new NPCs will be seen by players of the core game as well as Horizons players.

The new "mission givers" might look something like this:-

mission_face Continued..

1.5 Ships Update

ships_smallFrontier have rather quietly announced the next major update to Elite: Dangerous after Close Quarters Combat Championship (1.4) will be called "Ships"

When is being released?

After CQCC in September, but before "Horizons" which is being released in "Holiday season" (late November to early December), so some time in October or early November. 

What else is in the update?

 

Well, ships. Clearly.

The update will take the number of unique ships (excluding variants we assume) to over thirty. We already know Horizons will bring the Cobra Mk IV and 1.4 will add the Dropship Mk II, the Federal Gunship and the Imperial Eagle.

There are still a number of ships hinted and teased to date we haven't seen confirmed for any release and they are:

The Panther Clipper - large trade ship. This ship from the earlier Elite Frontier game had huge cargo capacity and formidable defences.

PantherClipper_ConceptArt_000

The Imperial Cutter - a large ship which we know little about, but would speculate is an Empire equivalent of the Python, somewhere between a Courier and Clipper or perhaps larger than a Clipper? The concept art we've seen appears to show what became the Imperial Clipper, so will we see a Cutter or not?
cutter

The Federal Corvette - the largest flyable ship to be in the game, almost a third larger than an Anaconda. A slow moving weapons platform.
corvette_newsletter_61

The Dolphin passenger vessel and Beluga Passenger liner - which with the Orca, are Elites passenger transport vessels.

R24WSTe


With the introduction of these passenger ships it would follow that passenger transport would become a career path in Elite as well. Something many have waited for.

What else might we see?

Big on the wish-list is ship-in-ship transport and deployment. With SRV's being launched from all ships in Horizons, the idea of a "launch bay rack" for Class 6 & Class 7 internals sounds more plausible. And rather appealing.

 

What's going to be the BIG Elite Dangerous announcement at GamesCom?

whats_the_big_idea

With GamesCom in Cologne coming up next month (August 6th-9th) Frontier have said they are making an announcement at the event.

 

"The Elite: Dangerous team is bigger than ever, and the majority are working on something secret for PC and Mac. It's not quite ready for the world just yet, but we'll be able to tell you more at Gamescom. Believe us: we can hardly wait."

 

So what is this big announcement?

Put on your tinfoil hats and follow me….

A LOT of people on the forum have been “SQUEE”ing (prematurely I think) that the announcement might be the Planetary Landing expansion.

For those who don’t know, Frontier have said, in addition to the core game which all players get, there will be two major expansions for Elite: Dangerous.

The first will be the Ship and Station exploration expansion that will allow players to leave the cockpit and explore their ship, as well as disembark at outposts and stations, go visit Starbucks and get a manicure etc.

The second expansion will be Planetary Landings, where players can take their ships into planet atmosphere and land on the surface to trade, set up terraforming and interact with native fauna & flora. 


planetary_landing

Both of the First Person expansions are paid extras, except for those players who signed on for the Alpha and Premium Beta.

It follows that Ship Exploration has to be launched before Planetary Landing, else why land on a planet when you cannot get out of your ship? For that reason I think it would have to be ship exploration first, or a simultaneous release of both.

More likely is the addition of passenger transport, as the Orca is currently a 43M Lakon Type 6 with some paint options. Passengers would give the Orca a game role and would allow for the introduction of the Beluga Liner and the Dolphin small passenger craft, giving players a whole new avenue to explore.

What else has been teased?

  • Stations in asteroids (very early on)
  • The Federal Corvette
  • The Panther Clipper.
  • Ship transport (mentioned early on, then teased in XBOX trailer - sidewinder launching from Anaconda).
  • Thargoids (the insectoid alien race from earlier games)

What of these constitutes a "big" update? Or will it be none of the above; something totally from left-field, like PowerPlay? A race of fashion-concious cats?

Like Mr Creosote (my personal hero) I would love to have everything, in a bucket, with the eggs on top, but it could just be a wafer-thin mint, so don't blow your air-lock just yet! We’ll know for sure in August.

Elite for the XBOX is good news, right?

funny_gif_collection_19What’s the fuss about? We’ve known for a long, long time (since March) that a console version of Elite would surface, since there’s a market there and Frontier are not a registered charity, so why the vitriol and outrage?

Well, probably for the same reason a parent gets angry when they see their child is playing on a console when their homework isn’t finished.
Elite: Dangerous isn’t finished yet, but Frontier appear to have moved on to platforms new. For some people, that’s a signal that they've been forgotten. They feel like Frontier have walked away without finishing the game.

I don’t think that’s the case, but because Frontier have been very tight-lipped about their future plans, people fear the meaning of this announcement. To misquote some green bloke:-

Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to questionable forum posting..

What do we really know? Not much. Which is the problem.

Well, as I’ve said above, Elite isn’t finished. I’m not talking about the Planetary Landings or Ship Exploration expansions which we know we won't be seeing "SoonTM", but the core game.

  • Ships previously promised and teased are still missing (Panther, Dolphin, Corvette, Beluga, etc.).
  • PowerPlay is (IMO) at a “first draft” state and needs some work.
  • Elements of the game are unbalanced and need review (i.e. Wing combat bounty).
  • Elements are totally missing, such as passengers; without which what is the point of the Orca?.
  • Exploration needs love, mining still has kinks. Private groups are dead if the player who created them stops playing (no way to set another commander as a group admin).
  • Variety is missing. With procedural generation I expected to see not just a different collection of planets in each system, but a variation in station exteriors and interiors everywhere I went. Currently we see generic station 1 or white station with pink holographics on very rare occasions – and that’s it; beautiful, but the same. I had hoped to see stations with dirt, damage and junk outside. I expected to see rich wealthy systems with more neon, bright, tidy interiors with lots of Orcas running VIPs around and in poor systems or mining colonies, I would expect to see dark and dirty interiors with variations in litter, graffiti, faulty pads etc. with lots of type-6’s and type-9’s ferrying goods.
    If I drive 25 miles, I’m in France where they speak another language, drive on the other side of the road and drink coffee so strong you get heart palpitations drinking it. In Elite, I fly 240 light years and the only difference between the interior of the Coriolis I left and the Orbis I arrive at, is the name-plate. Even the pads are the same uniform blue-green colour!
    We need variety. The promise of procedural generation fulfilled.
  • There is no group identity – Wings are transitory and there are no clan tags or playing in Open Play under a group name; you cannot even name your private group (why?). These are elements present in most multiplayer games, and have been for a very long time, so are not unreasonable to expect.

Anyone who’s ever watched any sci-fi like Firefly or Star Trek would expect to see certain elements in a space game that are currently not present in Elite. In 1984 we had Thargoids aplenty, but in 2015 we have three types of signal source, with very predictable content. Where are the salvageable wrecks? Where are the comets? Where are the abandoned ships? Where are the flotillas? Unmapped outposts? Pirate outposts in asteroids like those teased long ago? So much possibility as yet gone unrealised.
We have USS’s but they are random, not procedural so if I find canisters floating near Leesti, I cannot direct my friend with a cargo scoop to go there, because they are not really there, being entirely transient within a single player instance.

You could argue that none of this is essential, but the lack of these things shows.

I have a lot of faith in Frontier and I believe that we will see a lot of these things. When though, is the million dollar question?

So if people get riled at “Call of Spaceship Duty” for XBOX, while I’m not one of them, I sympathise with their frustration rather than ridicule it.

The ships in 1.3 PowerPlay

panther_dockingIt's been quiet in the world of Elite: Dangerous. I've been pretty busy playing the game, so I haven't posted much in the last couple of weeks.

However, things are about to change with the (official) announcement this week of what 1.3 "Powerplay" actually contains. One confirmed addition is the new ship the "Diamondback", as teased in last week's Newsletter.
But what about the rest? Where is the Dolphin, Beluga Liner and Panther Clipper? Will the Imperial Courier and Federal Corvette make their début in 1.3?

 

We've seen lots of teasers for the Courier, from early concepts to interior cabin shots and some 3D designs from January. These show a ship smaller, but more militaristic than the bigger Clipper. Historically the Imperial Courier was a formidable combat vessel, so we should expect this ship to fit into the same role (and presumably the same price bracket) as the Python, being a heavy combat ship rather than a light fighter.


peek_o_the_week_66 peek_of_the_week_65 PeekOfTheWeek_67_ImperialCourier

Then there's the passenger ships. Okay so the Orca is currently redundant. Without passengers to carry, it's a shiny white Lakon Type 6 for 42 Million credits more... But will 1.3 add passengers? If so the other passenger vessels would have a role to play at last.

R24WSTe

Plus flying around in a Beluga would look pretty damn cool!

Then there's the big boys. And when I say big, I mean really BIG! The Panther is bigger than a Type-9 Heavy and almost as long as an Anaconda. The original Panther had over 2000T capacity and was heavily armed and armoured. This could well be THE ultimate trader ship. Tough, big and with enormous cargo space.

PantherClipper_ConceptArt_000

Then there's the Corvette. Confirmed as being the largest flyable ship in Elite. Will it even fit through the station entrance? Just..

  corvette_newsletter_61 corv_landed

This ship looks to be both military and built for combat. Being a third larger than an Anaconda, it's probably a third more expensive too, so look to be paying 200M CR for this monster!