Elite Dangerous

Platform(s): PC, PlayStation 4, Xbox One
Genre: Action/Adventure
Developer: Frontier Developments
Release Date: Dec. 16, 2014

About Tony "OUberLord" Mitera

I've been entrenched in the world of game reviews for almost a decade, and I've been playing them for even longer. I'm primarily a PC gamer, though I own and play pretty much all modern platforms. When I'm not shooting up the place in the online arena, I can be found working in the IT field, which has just as many computers but far less shooting. Usually.


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PS4/XOne/PC Preview - 'Elite Dangerous' Odyssey DLC

by Tony "OUberLord" Mitera on April 27, 2021 @ 12:00 a.m. PDT

In Elite Dangerous is a space simulation game where you take a ship and 100 credits to make money legally or illegally - trade, bounty-hunt, pirate, assassinate your way across the galaxy.

At long last, it is time to disembark, Commander.

When the Odyssey expansion for Elite Dangerous was announced in June of 2020, it likely received with more than a few audible cheers of, "Finally!" On-foot gameplay remains something of a rarity in the genre, but it's something that Elite Dangerous fans have been asking about practically since the game was released. We spent some time with the expansion's alpha build, getting our boots dirty with regolith and trading gunfire with laser rifles to see how things are shaping up.

Right off the bat in the alpha, you are tasked with creating your character's look, with a slightly updated "Holo Me" character creator. The current options are relatively flexible and let you change a lot of subtle details in the face and head, which is not much different than in the current, full version of the game. Despite the focus of on-foot gameplay, the only body options are limited to a gender selection and your preference for the times you want to show your helmet.

Once your new character is created, you start off with a Sidewinder starter craft and are on foot in one of the many stations. It is a treat to finally walk inside a Coriolis station and look out the bay windows to see the space traffic and watch various crafts land. The station interior is peppered with quest-givers, stores, and terminals that players can interact with. The interior areas are also the only spots where you can get on-foot quests and items; none of them are accessible from the cockpit of your ship, and I suspect that might be the game's way of gating that content for those with the expansion.

You start off with a lowly flight suit and a ballistic handgun, so to participate in any on-foot missions, you'll want to upgrade your gear. The flight suit comes with a couple of tools, such as the Energy Link that lets you charge your suit in one mode or discharge energy in its other mode to overload security panels (or people). Upgraded suits get you tools such as the Cutter to break into panels or secured storage, while also granting the ability to equip a primary weapon to a secondary slot.

This is important because the on-foot gameplay preserves the laser/ballistic dynamic from ship combat. Suits have shields that can be toggled on, and shooting ballistic weapons at a shielded target does laughably little damage. As such, it is important to use laser weapons on a shielded foe before switching to ballistic damage to finish the job. This also means that whatever you do, you are pretty much forced to have each type of damage in each weapon slot.

I am hopeful that the gunplay will be tightened up in a future build, as it's currently the roughest part of the expansion. Enemies can currently take a beating. Laser weapons are great against shields but do little against unshielded targets. Headshots don't do much damage either, with enemies usually taking at least two or three of them. Pair this with the AI being awfully twitchy and not reacting much to taking damage, and it tends to be better to aim for center mass, hose things down, and hope for the best.

The missions are somewhat varied, with some asking you to simply retrieve an item from a crash site and others asking you to raid a settlement. Obviously, the difficulty scales between them, and for those raids, you might want to elect to team up with another Commander. Many missions involve the use of tools to cut into panels to overload system or to steal power regulators from a power generator, so it makes good use of the expansion's new gameplay.

In the early phases of the alpha build, you could not even reach your Sidewinder craft. To travel between places, you had to use the new taxi system, which works quite well. To book a taxi, you go to a kiosk on a station, choose a destination, and then board your ride once it is ready. The problem is that Elite Dangerous is already a game with plenty of relative downtime, and it's not fun to ride shotgun in an AI-controlled taxi for 10 minutes with literally nothing to do. As such, I suspect most players will opt to fly their ships and rely on the taxi system in specific cases.

During the current alpha event (Phase 3), Commanders are flitting around the Elite Dangerous: Odyssey galaxy. There are some bugs and balance issues, but it is interesting to see where Frontier will take Odyssey post-launch. Barring some major content changes between now and its release in May, I get the impression that the expansion will be a starting point for additional content down the road. It won't be long before we can finally wear in our boots.

Previewed on: AMD Ryzen 7 3700X, 32 GB RAM, NVidia GTX 2070 Super

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