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Elite: Dangerous (PC) artwork

Elite: Dangerous (PC) review

"Essentially a late stage alpha/early beta that needs a lot more content to help flesh it out"

I've got 140+ hours in Elite: Dangerous. From trading in an Adder, to running drugs and guns between systems in a Cobra, to that revelatory moment when I took my beloved Asp deep into the Pleiades and saw my first black hole up-close, there have been some fantastic moments in this game.

However, once you've smuggled enough weapons to fund the next 20 years of wars, and taken your ship tens of thousands of light years deep into the galactic core, you start to realize how empty this galaxy is. It's a beautiful galaxy, but a lifeless one. The thrill of seeing your first black hole, or stumbling on a new type of exotic star, or dropping out of supercruise to surf the debris rings around a Jovian can't overcome the vast emptiness of Elite's galaxy.

Elite: Dangerous (PC) image

The complaint that this game is lacking content comes up so often because it's irrefutably true. There are only two general designs for starbases. Every starbase in the game has the same exact design, scuffed in the same exact places, in every docking port.

Once you get beyond human space, you will never, ever be surprised by anything you find, you will never be in danger, and you will never encounter anything but planets, stars and asteroid belts. There are no comet swarms, no dynamic phenomena, no stars going nova, This is a science fiction game, but there are no derelict starships, no long-abandoned starbases built by alien civilizations, no distant planets in far-flung corners of the galaxy with ruins suggesting intelligent life, no Dyson spheres, no inscrutable megastructures, no ringworlds, no artilects or machine consciousnesses, no nanoswarms, no artifacts.

Elite: Dangerous (PC) image

There's that famous J.B.S. Haldane quote that's often quoted in discussions about science fiction: "Not only is the universe stranger than we imagine, it is stranger than we can imagine." But not Elite's universe. Elite's galaxy is a lonely, lifeless place where you will never be surprised by anything.

Regarding the content, as other reviewers have pointed out, this is essentially a late stage alpha/early beta that needs a lot more content to help flesh it out. But instead of acknowledging how light the game is on content, the developers are releasing new content as expansions, condescendingly calling those expansions "Early Access," and using a pricing scheme that inexplicably punishes players who already have the base game.

So we've got devs selling a beta (at best), charging full price for unfinished "expansions" and calling them "Early Access" expansions to make up for the fact that the content expansions are lacking in content. It's essentially pre-ordering DLC for a game that isn't even close to being finished.

Elite: Dangerous (PC) image

And what do the expansions give us? The much-heralded Horizons gives us procedurally generated, airless rock worlds and buggies. That's it. If you were hoping for waterworlds, or atmospheric worlds with teeming jungles, or bizarre alien landscapes, you'll be sorely disappointed, because all you'll get is rock with a few random outposts thrown in for good measure.


- Beautiful visuals
- Sleek ships that all have different, realistic-looking cockpits
- Probably the best representation of space as it truly is, in any game to date
- Support for Oculus Rift
- Stunning views, like seeing starlight bent by a black hole's gravitational lensing, or a blue star bathing your cockpit in light
- The two existing starbase models are both visually stunning
- The transition between supercruise (multitudes of light speed) and standard cruise in or between star systems feels seamless and realistic


- A galaxy completely devoid of life or anything interesting
- Strangely, the planet textures are not HD
- Only two models of starbases, with very little variety in layout
- Most occupations boil down to grind, grind, grind. Traders, bounty hunters and smugglers will grind their days away.
- Still no simple support for easily switching UI colors
- Not a hint of anything mysterious or even remnants of other intelligent civilizations
- No megastructures, derelict ships, Dyson spheres, ringworlds or other commonly hypothesized signs of alien civilizations
- No dynamic events in solar systems, no comet swarms, no stars going nova or young systems forming
- Ridiculous practice of labeling expansions as "Early Access" and forcing players to re-purchase the base game in order to buy the expansion
- Even the expansions are extremely light on content, and include things that should have been in the base game


AtumHadu's avatar
Community review by AtumHadu (August 02, 2016)

Atum reviews games on Steam. Let's see if that catches on.

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Nightfire posted August 02, 2016:

I saw videos of this game and came to the same conclusion. You would really, really need to like the idea of sitting in a cockpit and waiting to arrive at your next destination to have fun with this game. It just looks so slow and boring to me. It reminded me of Wing Commander: Privateer minus the good characters and storytelling.

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