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Elite: Dangerous players may have discovered evidence of an alien language

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Of course, it could also be a red herring

Amy Adams in Arrival
Amy Adams in Arrival.
Paramount Pictures

The stakes keep rising in Elite: Dangerous.

Encounters with the game’s alien faction, called the Thargoids, are increasing in frequency. But while the majority of players seem focused on destroying the aliens’ massive ships, others are trying to understand their unique markings. Some think it could be the first step in decoding the game’s alien language.

Players who have come across Thargoids in the game world noticed that some appear to have unique markings near their central “eye” or “cockpit.” As new player equipment was rolled out, players discovered that those symbols were readable from their cockpits. One player, who goes by the handle Commander Orodir, began collecting images of those markings, while Commander Olivia Vespera and others have worked to collate them.

It’s unknown exactly what these markings could mean. Called “logograms” or “lexigrams,” they’ve been found by players before on Thargoid wrecks throughout the Milky Way. They aren’t unique in and of themselves. Instead, they appear to be formed from a finite set of unique, concentric rings — almost like an alphabet.

Early on, some players claimed to also see them within the structure of ancient sites that were found scattered around the game world earlier this year, but others are downplaying the similarity. Commander Orodir and others are currently exploring three working theories. From the community thread:

The first theory is the outer symbols denote the age and or prowess of the Thargoid, possibly getting thicker as they age.

The second theory is the inner circle could be a job/type designation of the Thargoid as the behavior between encounters seems to vary and so do the colors.

The last theory is the outer symbols are the name of the ship or Thargoid, but this has no evidence yet.

Some think that the circular structures found at ancient sites (shown here at the top and bottom of this aerial survey image) could be related to the images found on the outside of Thargoid ships.
Commander Olivia Vespera

Players are being encouraged to contribute to the analysis by uploading screencaps of any logograms that they find in Elite: Dangerous. First, they’ll need to equip an AX Xeno Scanner, and then target one of the four hearts on a Thargoid cyclops ship.

While reports of hostile encounters are on the rise, especially near the Pleiades Nebula, some players are finding that the Thargoids will only attack if provoked.

I had my first run-in with an alien just today while playing in VR. It was a harrowing experience as my ship’s systems were knocked offline and I was left drifting, face to face with a massive cyclops.

What’s interesting about my encounter is that it happened on the very last jump of an 18-jump trip. It could be coincidence, but that last jump was directed to Maia, a distant human settlement in the heart of the Pleiades.

Rather than open fire, the alien ship appeared to be moving laterally to block my path, as though it was trying to prevent me from reaching Maia. I didn’t stick around long enough to find out, though. I was already a long way from home and didn’t want to lose the ship.

Next time, I plan to go out with a scanner and see what I can find.