When boring is good
Release Date: OUT NOW!
Format reviewed: Platform PC Publisher: Frontier
Dangerous succeeds at much, but it isn’t finished. A game of this scale might never be. Frontier has drawn a line under the game’s lengthy beta at a point where it is, arguably, feature complete. It’s a space game where you can hunt, trade, pirate, smuggle and explore across a 1: 1 model of the Milky Way – but where many of those features lack the depth that might give them meaning, or the variety that might reward lasting engagement.
In part, Dangerous is great because it is boring. This is a sim, committed to its own part- science, part- fiction set of rules and mechanics. It’s not interested in being a piece of entertainment that you pick up and consume. Elite’s Milky Way is a place that you inhabit, criss- crossed by ships that behave like real machines and governed by systems of trade, law and political power that churn away according to complicated, directorless algorithms.
Other games have attempted the same, but none have approached Dangerous’ degree of fidelity or visual spectacle. Every player will, at some point, tell the story of the first time they discovered a dying star or saw a capital ship materialise in the middle of a heated battle. You will, whether or not you appreciate it consciously, benefit from the extraordinary attention paid to the little things: docking animations, station detail, utterly extraordinary sound design.
As an MMO ( a classification that doesn’t quite suit Elite, but it’s an online- only game) it’s reliant on influence percentages and reputation ratings to determine who rules what. Sadly, you personally are unlikely to ever really change anything. Even when the community attempted to force regime change in a system through mass intervention, nothing really came of it. The game also needs tweaks to its balance and progression curves, intelligent alterations to the algorithms that generate content to discourage repetition, and a substantial injection of depth into its influence systems. It needs more stuff, and deeper stuff.
But its weaknesses only come to light because of its strengths; Elite is capable of delivering some of the best stories about spaceships that you’ve ever taken part in. It’s a great game and, with time, potentially a classic. Much rests on Frontier’s ability to build on these broad but somewhat shallow foundations. Chris Thursten This is the fourth in the Elite franchise, but the first since 1995’ s Frontier: First Encounters. Which was rubbish.
Could be interpreted as hostile…