Discovering Elite Dangerous in 2019

Are we there yet?

Elite Dangerous is a massively multiplayer online space game by Frontier Developments. Although the game requires a persistent internet connection it also features a solo or single-player mode. Elite Dangerous is the successor to Elite which was first released in 1984 and now 30 plus years later, the game has seen quite a change.

My history with Elite Dangerous is virtually non-existent aside from hearsay about a learning curve and how fantastic the game is to play in Virtual Reality. Now it’s true I have interest in open world simulation games such as X-plane, Microsoft Flight Simulator and both Euro and American Truck simulators but interest in a space game not so much. It seems most space games are about aliens, monsters and mostly shooting other spaceships in an arcadey fashion. Something about the wide open vast nothingness of space travel also hasn’t had much appeal….but then again I have never encountered game quite like Elite Dangerous.

Sidewinder training

What Learning Curve?

Something about Elite Dangerous seemed different. Oh and there’s that learning curve I kept hearing about. A learning curve to play a game? There is always some learning when you are starting a new game especially in flight simulators but this game simulation was suppose have a notable learning curve and was not meant to be taken lightly.

And so armed with a wee bit of knowledge of what I might be getting myself into only through those online game reviews and gameplay, I took the plunge into beginning my journey into the world of Elite Dangerous. And what a journey it has been.

A new ship, another Starport

Read the Manual and Make Friends with the Options Menu

Now I don’t consider myself a very fast learner and besides that I prefer to take my time to make sure I’m understanding what I learn. And so after 14 hours later, I was able to fly my first ship! Did I mention I like to take my time? You see, perhaps Elite Dangerous is a game at heart but it’s also a simulation that takes place in space. It must be experienced and that’s not even with VR! Now I generally do not enjoy multiplayer games and so my time in ED has been spent in singleplayer (Solo) mode, along with training tutorials and the options menu for keybindings and that is probably one of best places to start in Elite Dangerous.

If you aren’t familiar with the game, within the universe of Elite Dangerous there are 400 billion star systems as part of the in game reproduction of the Milkyway galaxy. All these systems can be seamlessly traveled to in a spaceship which you can upgrade as you gain credits. You begin the journey in a spaceship called the Sidewinder. If you die or crash in Elite Dangerous you will get your Sidewinder back but will have to start over. Later, when you buy a different ship, you will need to pay a rebuy amount (5%) of your total ship value should you die or crash it.

Find the dock

Flying and docking is an accomplishment in Elite Dangerous

For me the learning curve in Elite Dangerous has been first and foremost related to keybindings and understanding both the game, menus and ship systems terminology. At the start you will want to take a look or two or three at that Elite Dangerous manual which gives a nice overview of system terms. Of course you will need to learn how to operate your ship and it’s not a point and click operation (at first). Each ship features a six-way on-board thruster system (vertical(up and down), lateral(side-to-side), forward and backward and don’t forget about pitch, roll and yaw) somewhat like trying to fly a Harrier jet in space. But unless you would like to go spinning uncontrollable toward the side of the spaceport you might want to leave Flight Assist on.

If you have familiarity with flight/combat simulators then learning to fly in Elite Dangerous will a piece of cake, maybe. Your ship features thrusters are not unfamiliar but figuring out your keybindings just might be! I am using a Flight Stick with throttle control – Thrustmaster Hotas X (Hands On Throttle and Stick). Also a keyboard, a mouse and a Xbox controller. I have heard you can fly with a keyboard and mouse only but I haven’t tried it.

Hyperspace Jump

Moving your ship to another star system is another accomplishment

Moving from one star system to another within the galaxy is also a new experience which must be learned. We just don’t do that kind of thing on Earth!

Likewise docking (landing) in a spacestation-like port is also not like driving to grandmas around the block in your car unless you use AutoDock which is a newer feature of the game. (Note: All ships come equipped with AutoDock, Auto Launch and Auto Cruise. Auto Cruise can be useful when hyper-traveling around the galaxy.)

Focus on the task at hand

Doing most anything successfully in Elite Dangerous feels like an accomplishment

So you can move around in Elite Dangerous and you’re learning the keybindings and termology? Good. Now what? As a noob to ED at just over 80 hours (at the time of this post) I have learned about a few things you can do in this vast openworld galaxy. There is a war going on within the game but it appears to me, at least visually speaking, to be a nearly silent war (maybe it’s different in Open mode with human players?). But nevertheless, space is really big and so unless you go looking for a fight you might not find any. Each port features a news and mission board which displays information about the faction war and their particular allegiance (if any). You can choose to do missions for the leaders of the factions to earn credits (in game currency) or go exploring on your own.

I have found that doing Courier jobs at first helps as you are learning how to jump from star system to system and it doesn’t require any cargo space. The data is store on your internal computer and if you get scanned by another ship or pirate they will not try to steal your stuff. NPC’s or none playable characters are all that is found in the solo mode but in Open play mode you will encounter human players.

Should we land there?

Explore some Planets with Horizons

Recently I have begun to explore systems and map individual planets using the Detailed Surface Scanner (which must be bought at a Starport). The data you get after mapping a planet and from discovered systems can be sold 20ly (light years) away in a different star system for sometimes hundreds of thousands of credits!) If you prefer combat, you can learn how to shoot other ships down and gain credits for doing it. Besides doing missions, you might try mining an asteroid, landing on a planet and disabling turrets on the base for a particular faction leader. This is part of the war except you won’t encounter actual people or aliens walking around with guns. Maybe you like to free-roam and wish to visit a random planet (not for a mission). You can with the included SRV (Surface Recon Vehicle) that is part of the Horizons expansion pack in Elite Dangerous. Horizons is great especially if you want to be able to land on some of the planets and moons. (Note: As of this post there is no life on the planets and you cannot land on any Earth-like planets)

Request docking permission

The Universe in Elite Dangerous is really big

I haven’t really scratched the surface (aside from a few planets) of what this game probably has to offer since I am still quite new. However, I have been able to get a glimpse of what this game is and how vast it is. Elite Dangerous is masterpiece in it’s size and beauty but something more jaw dropping is what this game is based off of. When you go outside on a clear night, look up at the night sky and see hundreds of dots of light and realize those are suns similar to our own—one cannot but ask at least one big question. Who made all this?

I know the Maker of the Universe and perhaps you do as well. But if you do not know the Creator Almighty God, there is a reason why it matters more than anything else on this earth. Elite Dangerous was made by mere men but someday all men will face God. Some will meet God willingly in worship and some will be kicking and screaming but today you have an opportunity to find out who the true God really is and why it matters. Many people believe in Heaven but if hell is real place you need to find out what that means to you. I don’t want anyone to go there. If you haven’t already why not check out the good person test linked at my website or read my post called 5 things you should know before you die. And if you have a Bible start reading in John 1. The good person test and starting with John 1 from the Bible will give you a good start to understanding who God is and why it matters since none of us are promised tomorrow. And in case you wondered, this is a matter of life or death and not about joining a religion or church.

Outpost – Time to fuel up

But after all we’ve learned, is the game any good?

You learn quite a bit in Elite Dangerous, you need to even to survive but is it a game I would recommend? And how about that learning curve? I would enthusiastically recommend Elite Dangerous but especially to anyone with special interest in Flight/combat simulators and/or truck simulation games with a twist. If you don’t mind learning and setbacks and frustrations and grind to get a reward (menial at first) then you might like this game. Each person is different but do your research and then if you still like what you see, get it on sale with Horizons. Naturally, you will need to take your time to learn ED but I think it can be a rewarding experience when you learn something new. I know it has been for me (and that’s saying a lot).

My Rating (out of 10) 8.5 out of 10


AreYouGood.us

5 things you should know before you die

My early steam review

Elite Dangerous Deluxe Edition on Steam

Elite Dangerous Official Site

Elite Dangerous Manual

Watch what hope looks like -FullyFreeFilms.com


images are my own in-game screenshots

5 Simple things I wish X-plane 10 would improve on

DC9-32_3

I am a big fan of the X-plane 10 flight simulator.  However, there are many simple and complex features both visually and technically (such as ATC) that could be added to enhance X-plane 10.  Excellent airport addons and plugins are already available such as Real Terra Haze which can  greatly enhance ones playing experience in X-plane 10.    In this post I want to focus on 5 visual features that would enhance and do enhance its basic realism for the casual user.

  1.  Depth perception in X-plane 10 appears to be lacking especially in and around clouds.   In real life, when viewing an aircraft from the ground or from any exterior view, as it enters a cloud (s) the aircraft will disappear and emerge out the other side.  In X-plane 10 this does not occur but instead the aircraft is always kept in view despite it passing through clouds.  Not very realistic.
  2.  Contrails or vapor trails in X-plane 10 are not as visible and as bold as seen in real life.  In X-plane when viewing an aircraft from the ground in many cases vapor trails are not visible at all despite the aircraft altitude.  Contrails in X-plane 10 should be enhanced, brightened and even lengthened depending on the humidity and air temperature as occurs in real life.
  3.  Sun reflection on water doesn’t appear realistic but instead appears to be much too defined.   Many times it appears large and washed out. cessna_172sp_2
  4.  Types of Clouds and their height.    Cloud types in X-plane 10.41 have been improved since X-plane 10 was first released.  However, the height of clouds and various types of storm clouds such as Cumulonimbus clouds need to be improved and/or added to the sim.   In my opinion most clouds in X-plane 10 are still without great definition and appear as heavy fog or stratus layers even during a storm and in the distance.
  5.  Realistic atmospheric haze is not part of X-plane 10 by default but adding it creates yet another layer of visual realism.   Real Terra Haze (RTH) in conjunction with the plugin FlyWithLuia creates realistic looking atmospheric blue haze when flying over mountains and varied terrain.  These plugins can be added to X-plane 10 to give that necessary bluish realism (among other enhancements) we wanna-be pilots so enjoy seeing.

What visual enhancements would you like to see in a default copy of X-plane 10?

 

Related interest:

X-plane 10

X-plane 10 ORG

FlyWithLua

Real Terra Haze

 

Images from personal copy of X-plane 10.41 flight simulator