Brendan Caldwell has this unforgettable travelogue of a flotilla that is now traveling for the next three months through Elite: Dangerous’s uncharted systems:
The whole trip is estimated to take three months — and that’s just the outward journey. Officially, the expedition ends when the flotilla (or what’s left of the flotilla) reaches Beagle Point, a distant system on the farthest spiral arm from Sol (here’s a map of the journey plan to give you some idea of the distance). After that, the explorers are free to go wherever they want. Many will stay and explore the virgin systems of the far reaches. Some will simply head back to the “bubble” — the tiny region of space inhabited by humanity and populated with stations like Zillig City.
“Boredem is quite a weak word for what I’m expecting it to feel like,” says Kaii. “It’s more like complete tedium. It’s going to be very important to break it up. That’s why we’ve got all these waypoints along the way that are incredible locations, getting out in the buggy, bombing about. You can do like 100, 150, 200 jumps maybe and then take a nice break at the waypoints. That’s basically how you have to do it. Not all of us have the patience and fortitude of Erimus, who can do that trip in the space of a month.”
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.
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.
Cashed in the remaining money I’d made from selling trading-cards to get it.
At this time Frontier’s (Elite’s developer) Elite: Dangerous doesn’t have any Steam-specific features, and like some games you’re only downloading the initial launcher through Steam. All updates appear to be through the game-specific launcher.
Because itwas previously available only direct from the developer, the Elite: Dangerous players (a comedy troupe touring in your locality!) are rightfully upset that they haven’t received Steam keys for the game. People always want to consolidate their gaming libraries into one place, and a decade in it’s still surprising that some game developers don’t get it.
On the second page of the relevant forum thread, a Frontier community manager had this to say in response to a player’s request:
Hi Macro, thanks for the question. We don’t have any plans to do this at the moment, but we’ll be listening to player feedback and looking to see how much demand there is.
Just an FYI – there’s no functional difference between the Steam and our website version of the game. You can add the game to your existing Steam library. See the instructions below:
We have no plans to do so but we will of course listen to player feedback and assess demand.
Click Games > Add a non-Steam game to my library and add EDLaunch.exe, ordinarily located in C:\Program Files (x86)\Frontier\EDLaunch\ on a PC.
Valve provides developers as many keys as they would like for their games to be sold on the developers’ own store, so the only cost to Frontier would be in developing the infrastructure to hand out the Steam keys.