Elite: Dangerous – Can Frontier Developments Still Turn It Around?

Frontier Developments are the ambitious type of folk. Unfortunately though, their wishes for Elite Dangerous have yet to be fulfilled – can the spacefaring devs turn it around?

We loved Elite Dangerous. In fact, some might say that our time logged into the game bordered on clinical obsession – but we won’t nitpick over details.

Frontier Developments latest installment in the legendary gaming franchise has given us the ability to experience worlds in a way that we never thought possible. From staring at hypnotic neutron stars to skimming the surface of a gas giant’s accretion disk, Elite: Dangerous made an incredible first impression.

Unfortunately, the momentum wasn’t sustainable. After the initial surge of excitement over learning the ropes and exploring the universe had passed, the cold and stark reality of life in space quickly set in: there wasn’t much to do aside from make money. The “game” inevitably became a credit grind. Every action became valued in as much as it would pay out.

In a game about progressing toward more powerful and capable spaceships, this makes sense at base. What doesn’t make much sense, however, is how long Elite has been released and how little Frontier has done to expand the discoverable narrative within the name.

If you were to spend your time browsing the Elite: Dangerous subreddit, you could arguably receive a more cohesive understanding of the in-game world and story than through playing the game itself.

Between the incredible theories on alien life through xenoarchelology that scores of players contribute to, to massive community events, it certainly sells the image that it’s the community that is keeping the game alive.

Sure, the game features their “GalNet” articles – the fictional news site which reports the happenings from around the human-settled bubble of the Milky Way (and sometimes beyond), but rarely do players want to open a menu and read through paragraphs of texts to figure out what the latest crumb in Frontier’s grand bread-crumbing trail is.

To their credit, Frontier have introduced some excellent quality of life improvements over the last several updates, least of all see their “Engineers” update finally hit a point where a sensible individual would want to partake – prior to the fix, the “upgrades” the engineers would offer were handled by the often apathetic hand of RNGesus.

The game has just dropped their long-awaited update “The Return”, in which the galaxy finally sees the return of the menacing Thargoids, a powerful and mysterious NPC alien race whose motives for coming back to the bubble still remain shrouded in mystery.

Despite the additions of planetary landings, quality of life improvements, multi-crew and other features, Elite still feels as if it proudly bears the “a mile wide, and inch deep” moniker.

Frontier has shown that they’ve no end of interesting ideas to put into the game, now if only they spent more time on finding a way in which to bring them all together.

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