Published on November 6th, 2015 | by Joseph Saulnier0
There is something special about the amount of freedom you have while flying through the Milky Way Galaxy. There are more planets to visit than anyone can visit in their whole life, and with very little structure or goal in Elite: Dangerous, it’s very easy to feel lost in the openness of space. It’s a confusing mixture of feeling completely free, yet having no clue what you are supposed to do with that freedom.
This pretty much sums up my concerns with Elite: Dangerous from Frontier Developments. It’s an ambitious space exploration title that found quite a bit of success in the PC world, and now it has made its way to Xbox One. ED provides pretty much the entire Milky Way Galaxy to explore, and it’s considering that they have built this on a 1:1 scale, it’s positively massive! There is so much to explore, yet this world (or universe maybe) can feel so empty if you do not know exactly what you are doing.
It is very likely that you will find yourself lost when you begin ED. There is very little in the way of a tutorial, aside from a few practice simulations that let you test some of the basic mechanics of the game. Basically you will understand how to dock your ship, but absolutely nothing about what you’re supposed to actually being doing in the game.
Just a tiny bit of text from Frontier Developments explaining the core basics of the title would have made a world (or universe maybe) of difference in making the experience more noob friendly. Instead, many players will have to look online and read guides or watch YouTube videos to get a handle on the basics of the game. It’s definitely not the best way to get used to a game’s mechanics, and it felt like I was doing homework again for the first time in 10 years.
Okay, so let’s say you’ve done your research. You are actually in store for a pretty amazing game. ED essentially allows you to play as you want. Do you want to be a space pirate who destroys any weak ship you see? Or how about a smuggler trading commodities in order to gain more money. It is 100% your call, and it can lead to completely different in-game scenarios.
Because ED’s complex, and almost unwieldly, control scheme, I decided to go a passive route of trading goods. Since Xbox One doesn’t have a keyboard to use as with the PC version, Frontier Developments has mapped several functions to each button on the controller. To access the alternate functions of the buttons, you will need to hold that particular button to access a pop up overlay with your different options.
This control scheme was anything but user-friendly, but one must admit that it is functional. As I spent more time with ED, the cumbersome interface became more like second nature. As I began, I could think of a million ways to change the control layout, but now I am not sure I would change anything. Sure, it’s complex, but it kind of needs to be for a game of this magnitude.
After I came to grips with the controls (get it?), I become more inclined to seek out space battles. ED’s relaxed pace becomes anything but during battle, and it becomes as intense as any action game out there. There is a log small nuances to the battle, including knowing when to tuck tail and run, but there is a true sense of accomplishment that moment when you blow up an enemy ship.
If you’re a fan of intergalactic dogfights, then ED’s online mode is definitely for you. This basically turns the game into one enormous MMO. You can also play solo, for which an internet connection is still required, but playing with others in this game just makes the game come to life. Some of the most fun I had in my experience with ED is randomly running into other players and teaming up to take out common enemies. One time, I and another player took out this particularly difficult space pirate, and then homie turned traitor and started firing on me. Wasn’t very fun at first, but it was definitely an awesome gameplay moment.
These types of random encounters are just one of the numerous things that make ED so unique and extraordinary. It covers so many genres from combat, to basic strategy, to exploration. Players will have to focus on supply and demand as well in order to earn a healthy profit on their business deals. All part of the massive overall experience.
While ED may seem clunky at first, Frontier Developments has done a fine job of porting their space exploration title from PC to Xbox One. If you’re willing to commit your time to learn the ins and outs of Elite: Dangerous, then you’ll discover a game that is truly unlike anything else on Microsoft’s next gen system. It’s just a shame that the game itself doesn’t manager to provide much education, leaving players to rely on online guides and videos. But with that said, it’s only a small price to pay for getting to explore the vast entirety of the Milky Way Galaxy.
4 out of 5 stars