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Elite: Dangerous update adds avatars to the game today

The Commanders adds multicrew ships, new player roles that change the game dramatically

Frontier Developments
Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

Elite: Dangerous, the spacefaring game first launched out of an extended beta period in December 2014, is finally making good on a long-promised series of updates. Among them is the ability for players to create a custom avatar for the first time.

Today’s content release is available only to those who have purchased the Horizons version of the game, now referred to as Elite Dangerous: Horizons, for PC and Xbox One. The free update is called The Commanders, and focuses on the first-person player experience. When it goes live, players who have been traveling its 400 billion star systems for years will finally be able to create a male or female avatar with a unique face.

Called a “Holo-Me,” that avatar will be visible in a new, cinematic third-person camera suite being added to the game. A portrait will also accompany messages sent to other players in-game.

More importantly, the Holo-Me will be visible to others when playing on ships that support multiple crew members. The Commanders unlocks this “multicrew” feature on more than a dozen ships, which will now support multiple players with distinct roles to play.

“Multicrew co-op in The Commanders gives groups of players the opportunity to fly aboard the same ship, assuming one of three specialized roles,” Frontier said via press release. “At the Helm is the pilot of the ship, while the Gunner handles secondary firing groups from a third-person tactical viewpoint and the Fighter flies into battle from the cockpit of their own ship-launched fighter deployed from the mother ship’s launch bay.”

Players don’t have to travel to the same location in-game to join a crew, a process that for some could take days. That’s where the “holo” part comes in. In the fiction of the game, players aren’t actually, physically on board a ship together. They’re simply represented by a hologram.

The Commanders brings with is a host of other small improvements and bug fixes. It also includes a new class of space station made out of hollowed-out asteroids, and “megaships” that will allow players to dock on them.

Today’s release promises to kick off a new round in the ongoing search for extra terrestial life in the world of Elite, one that has recently kicked off a kind of gold rush inside the game world. The changelog includes multiple entries that have been redacted, as well as references to “new mysterious things” and “new organics.”

We’ll keep tabs on the community, and let you know what they find.

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