Elite Dangerous: Review and Gameplay: Page 8 of 10

Elite Dangerous: Review and Gameplay
Blasting Enemies in Space


You may be tempted to get a tan near one of these things, but they tend to attract a lot of pirate types.

Elite Dangerous is a game brimming with detail, and the developers (thankfully) keep adding more all the time. The first time you approach the planetary ring of a planet to see the illusion of a smooth, flat surface give way to the dust, ice, and other particulates that compose the rings you will probably be as stunned as I was; it’s just not something that any game has done before.

A lot of other games set in space have avoided having to go to such lengths by relegating trickier objects to static backgrounds, or setting them at distances the player is not able to traverse. Elite Dangerous, on the other hand, has no such luxury. If a player can see it, they can travel to it, and so it has to look good at every possible visible range. Take those glittering diamonds in the dark, otherwise known as stars; in Elite Dangerous you can get close to them… Real close. Close enough to collect hydrogen to replenish your fuel stores, in fact. At that distance, you can observe a given star in all its thermonuclear brilliance: Seething magnetic distortions and arcing coronal mass ejections included. The stars in the game really are a marvel to behold — just don’t marvel so long that you fail to notice your cockpit beginning to smoulder.


Yes, hundreds of years from Earth and there's still advertising.

Speaking of the cockpit, it is yet another home run for Frontier Developments. Instead of tackling the lesser challenge that just dumping everything on a heads-up-display (HUD) represents, they elected to go all-out and model all the instrumentation and gizmos of the ship interiors in excruciating detail. Better yet, a lot of these gizmos actually correspond to real stuff that your ship is doing: Throttle up, for instance, and you will see your pilot’s hand manipulating the appropriate control stick. Looking to the left or right of the cockpit prompts a holographic display containing all sorts of handy information to appear (e.g. information about your target, the status of the various subsystems on your ship, contracts you have accepted, etc.). It’s a small touch, but one that goes a long way making the player feel like he is interfacing with a real ship, rather than just another game.

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