Elite first began back in 1984, created by Ian Bell and David Braben, and gave players the chance to explore space in an open world game like never before. Now a staggering 30 years later and the latest edition, Elite: Dangerous has launched on Xbox One following a successful PC release promising to deliver the most expansive space open world experience yet seen on console. But can such a complex PC game make the transition to console and controller and still retain what has made it such a success on PC?
Elite Dangerous is a very special and deliberate gaming experience that is as unapologetic as it is daunting. Console players expecting an arcade style space shooter are in for a very harsh surprise. The first thing a player will discover is the complete lack of any real tutorial system to the game, none as the standard hand holding system similar games use for easing players into their mechanics has been removed. Instead the game offers links to YouTube videos to help show rather than lead the player through the first steps.
If you are looking to invest in Elite Dangerous I would strongly advise taking the time to look at YouTube videos to gage the level of complexity of the game, especially for new players. For a game so intricate and deep in the very basics of gameplay mechanics, it is a very brave decision but also a big risk to throw players in at the deep end right from the very start. Trying to navigate menus to do even the simplest of tasks can prove to very frustrating and potentially off putting to players expecting more help.To start the game puts the player in a basic ship and a thousand credits in your account and then it is completely up to the player what they do next. The very foundation of Elite Dangerous is the players freedom of choice and in a universe with 400 Billion systems. That overwhelming figure matched my bewilderment sitting in the cockpit of my ship, looking at the various menus and displays in front of me. After performing all my pre-flight checks and working out how to take off from the docking station I felt a genuine moment of exhilaration once the sequence began
The level of visual detail on take off really elevates the impact of taking off. You get a real sense of the freedom the game world offers once you are in flight. What I was not expecting was the moment I turned my ship around and was lost in the moment of seeing the Space station I had just undocked from come into view, and all those childhood dreams of wanting to fly in space all rushed into my mind at once. To then look to the distance to see stars and systems to visit just put a huge smile on my face.
How you choose to carve your path in the world is completely up to you. Checking space station bulletin boards for jobs to earn money was my first choice. But you can also buy cargo and act as a merchant by taking it to other stations to sell. Earning credits allow you to upgrade your current ship or save up to buy new greater capable ships. If business is not your choice then why not become a bounty hunter and track down wanted fugitives but do make sure your ship is ready for the challenge. If you rather play the villain perhaps the life of a space pirate or smugler is more appealling but do watch out incase a wanted bounty is placed on you! The options are almost as endless as the systems you can visit.
Visually Elite Dangerous for Xbox One is just stunning, losing hardly any quality from the port across from the PC. The lighting effects when in space to the outstanding attention to detail on the ships and space stations never stop being anything but spectacular. Complimented by an equally impressive audio system that enhances every moment as well as a musical score that simply brings everything together majestically. Elite Dangerous really is one of the most impressive looking and sounding games on Xbox One right now.
You can literally lose yourself in this game and the slow pace of it does allow you to take everything in but at the same time it also hinders the game in some respects. It can take a long time to earn credits needed to upgrade or buy new ships. Elite Dangerous both wants and demands players take time to learn how it all works but does little to help the player learn how the game works from within. The lack of guidance can lead to moments of just feeling lost and being out of your depth in the first hours of play. Whilst the community around this game has an abundance of help guides and videos to be found by players outside the game, not having those resources in the game I felt was a hindrance.
Elite Dangerous is tremendous example of how PC games with complicated control systems can be adapted and brought to console exceptionally well. Both the PC and Xbox One versions inhabitants the same game universe. Whilst players from either platform are unable to meet in that universe, if the power in a region of that universe is changed by player action or influence on the Xbox One, that change will be felt in the PC version as well and vice versa.
It is staggering to behold the capabilities of Elite Dangerous but it is not a game for the casual Player. It requires a huge time investment both in playing and researching outside of playing to get the most from it. The level of freedom is astounding but at the same time for those players who like to be given some direction, it can leave you feeling rather isolated in its massive universe.
For those willing to put the required time in, Elite Dangerous offers tremendous rewards and offers an experience unlike any other space open world game. For a game series that begun over three decades ago, this title has shown just why it has survived and thrived throughout its long life. It is going to take something very impressive to challenge what Elite Dangerous can do.