We’re beginning with airless, rocky worlds — places where a great deal of new gameplay can take place. These are planet-sized sandbox environments, with all sorts of things to discover hidden on them. You’ll find surface starports, crashed ships, mineral deposits, hidden bases and more.
These worlds are gigantic, and – like the open galaxy – you’ll be able to go anywhere. You’ll be able to fly over the surface in low orbit and choose your spot to land, you’ll be able to venture out in your Surface Recon Vehicle and hurtle across the surface at high speed. You’ll be able to sneak around or go in all guns blazing. The nimble SRV is tiny compared to your ship, and is virtually invisible on a long range scanner — ship-based weapons will find it very hard to hold a lock on them, but airborne and ground-based players can explore the same worlds together, so watch the skies!
As I’ve said already, I’ve wanted to do surface landings in Elite Dangerous for quite a while now — and we have been planning how best to do it since the Kickstarter. Elite Dangerous: Horizons is the first stage and a huge step. The quality people expect is, as always, very high, and the team have done a great job hitting that benchmark. These worlds will feel real and meaningfully unique.
Of course support will continue for Elite Dangerous even outside of Elite Dangerous: Horizons, and we’re keeping the community together. All Elite Dangerous and Elite Dangerous: Horizons players will share the same galaxy together and you’ll retain all your progress whenever you choose to join our new season of expansions.
Elite Dangerous: Horizons will be available to pre-order on our store today, and I’m very happy to announce all existing Elite Dangerous players will receive a £10 loyalty discount off the Horizons retail price. Existing players will also unlock the exclusive Cobra Mk IV ship in Elite Dangerous: Horizons. The Cobra Mk IV will be available in the game only to players who joined us in the first year — forever. It’s our ‘thank you’ for your faith in the game, and you’ll see more of the Cobra Mk IV in Friday’s Peek Of The Week.
With only non-inhabited worlds at first this is a more manageable chunk of game to develop as opposed to going for it all at once or in a series of modules if you’ve got maybe over 80 million in funding and somehow still can’t ship a game.
Unfortunately, the pre-orders for Horizons are only available through the official store and not on Steam. Existing Elite: Dangerous players on Steam still get the discount ($15 in USD) through the Frontier store if you use the same log-in credentials that you used when you logged into the Elite: Dangerous launcher. There’s also a more expensive beta pre-order which at $75 seems a bit much for pre-release access. Into the insanity zone you can get every expansion that will ever be released with the “Lifetime expansion pass” at an eye-sequelching $195.
As much as I love playing Elite, I don’t think it makes sense to pre-order an expansion, and giving a ship to those who do is strange as it violates the making your own way nature of the game.
Perhaps my favorite part of this expansion at this point is Frontier moving the colon in Elite: Dangerous to after the Dangerous since otherwise it would be Elite: Dangerous: Horizons which would be as ridiculous as charging four hundred dollars for a piece of concept art that may or may not turn into one ship in what might be a video game some day.