Spaceship! Wanted to get that out of my system before diving in since that's the other title I've been burning hours on aside from working through Elite Dangerous in recent times, so let's dive in. Elite Dangerous is the pinnacle of any space simulator that I've seen thus far, particularly on a console space. The fact that they were able to make this sort of game perform so well within this space is nothing short of magic. While I was young I often dreamed of space and the thoughts about being able to explore the far reaches of this dark void. It was something magical to be impressed by the scale of a universe and just the infinite things to discover within it. I'm sure many others have thought of something similar to that, there's just something that makes it so alluring. That whole final frontier aspect and wanting to push the boundaries of what’s possible. While Elite Dangerous does do that sort of thing on Xbox One, I feel that there's still more this game can push towards. Flying by a massive sun with streaks flowing off of it or circling a planet was neat, but I had this desire to explore further. I know that this aspect will be covered in a future expansion, yet this is something I wanted to experience off the base launch portion. This is where I need to go over the fact that this game is purely not for everyone. In the sense of a simulation it's perfect, this is a title for the explorer enthusiast and not something for those that desire quick thrills. While it does have a CQC multiplayer mode along with some moments of conflict, most of your time is spent peacefully flying around.
I think within those peaceful moments of space is where I had the most fun within this title, just some relaxing music in the background as I flew around planets or out in empty space. I honestly even took twenty minutes one time to throw it on a sort of cruise control speed and space just went by my ship quietly. That was a nice moment, at least for me though you should also know that hyperdrive is a thing so you can get to places quickly if you so desire. Just make sure to check fuel as you don't want to be left floating out in space like my current situation which was funny. Took some time to show off to my family and never thought to take a look at the fuel since I was doing some planet scanning the previous night. There's actually incredible depth within the stats of your ship and the surroundings though I want to cover that more below in the gameplay area.
The game doesn't follow a central narrative of any sort since it's not about that. The focus of the title is to provide a massive galaxy, which my words cannot do justice to since it's beyond a comprehensive. This galaxy is filled with life, stories and things to do within it. The concept does of course have limitations as I can imagine after a certain point someone will reach a max point of having owned all the ships and done everything so many times, though they may even continue since they enjoy the simulation. Exploration is a big thing as I discuss this further, the number of systems and stars is unbelievable for console play yet I'm sadly disappointed that so many in my general area have already been discovered and mostly by a couple individuals. It's rare to interact with others or even AI while in space, so when it does happen it's usually special. Sometimes I've been just scanned and luckily I wasn't carrying or other times it turned into a frantic dogfight where my ship was taking a beating. It's so fascinating to see parts of the ship break down and it feels realistic as possible, to see this early just fly near a sun for awhile and you'll get an almost similar effect which looks so cool.
It keeps feeling like I continue to get off track in going over this and I've tried to streamline it the best I can, but I want the excitement I've experienced in doing things come across. When playing you can choose to do silly things like I did where you fly about, though there are many quest-like scenarios to do which are categorized under contracts. While there was nothing Mass Effect scale where you solve major space crisis events (it's not that sort of game) you can get involved in interesting situations. The contracts vary from scanning systems, to finding grains out there or hunting down ships to name a few. These are largely collected when visiting terminals or stations and checking out what each has to offer. From there it's a matter of going out find what you're looking for in the vastly empty pockets of space.
While this may sound as though there isn't much to do, you're dead wrong in that account as the game progresses in which a space game should in that it takes time to do things and get places. It's a game of patience and taking in the various sights that go by on your travels. I want to mention for people just starting out that this can be a frustrating title at first and it takes time to get used to things. I'd honestly prefer if it was a tad more helpful, as the tutorial selection really doesn't get that much into things so tutorials online will need to be watched or there will be a lot of trying things out to figure out how they perform.
CQC takes the massive open universe of traditional Elite Dangerous and makes it a bit smaller. Pilots are able to face off against each other in a number of modes including deathmatch which is free for all; team deathmatch where two teams battle it out which is my favorite so far which is odd since I traditionally prefer objective and capture the datasphere which is built on capture the flag. Matchmaking was fairly decent for matches that I was able to play, though it was sparse when attempting at various times in the day. I'd leave that largely to the game not being officially launched and in preview. Since when it did find matches, they populated rather quickly. The game play in these modes is fierce and it's intense to have multiple players shooting at one another across the close environments. It's quite something to see minor explosions dot the sky as other ships fly by firing at each other. It's especially intense whenever you're chasing a player of being chased as both of the players attempt every move they can to escape the threat. This mode is for those that love close action and intense flight battles with this only bringing a small portion of the overall game.
Elite Dangerous for the most part looks absolutely beautiful, the ships and the suns you see are just stunning. The cosmos are also quite a site to behold as you look outwards at them and even hyperdrive is a constant treat for the eyes. I do however wish that some of the planets had better textures since they looked a tad rough at times. I'm assuming this will get better treatment with the Horizons expansion, but it seemed out of place compared to everything else. The scale of space within the title feels real and it makes your ship feel very small. This is expected for a simulator that truly captures the feeling and honestly don't know how the console handles it. Controls make sense for the title though I was still confused at times and needed to resort back to the control scheme page. Some options are also not even present within that like controlling aspects of the ship, so it can't be used for helping with every option. The interior of the ship was very well designed and feels authentic to a single fighter. At least when starting out as better ships become available for purchase over time, though I want to paint that starting out feel for those new. The details are really well done from the light up displays around you to the small controls like funneling extra power options. It was neat to look to the side and see displays appear, fancy details like that really made the experience feel futuristic. These displays had important details and most of all, the amazing galaxy map. It's one thing to just sort through some systems and then something completely different as you scale away to plot the next course. The universe just continues to expand forever as you move outwards to pick just the right spot and plot your course. Aside from the galaxy map there’s also a solar system map which gives a well laid out look at the current system and all its planets.
While it may be hard for players to get into Elite Dangerous is the ultimate space simulator that's available and the fact they made this work so perfectly on consoles was amazing. The scaling of the universe was fantastic and it was spectacular to travel right up to a planet or orbit around a massive sun. There's so much to do in the galaxy and I'm sure it will only continue to grow as they add expansions to the universe that's already available to explore. The multiplayer is also a rather interesting mode in that it gives players a space to practice or even show off their piloting skills in close dog fight battles. Elite Dangerous is definitely the space simulating game I've always wanted and the absolute best of what's available in this space.
Review Done on Elite Dangerous for Xbox One
Review Code Provided by Frontier Developments