On Wednesday, the team at Frontier Developments let slip a brand new trailer for Elite: Dangerous’ second paid expansion, titled Elite Dangerous: Odyssey. It will add first-person shooting mechanics and social hubs to the game for the first time. The trailer also appears to introduce the ability to land on atmospheric planets, potentially opening up billions of new worlds for exploration.
“Odyssey’s emergent gameplay will let players forge their own path through a wide variety of missions,” Frontier said in a news release, “ranging from diplomacy and commerce to lethal stealth and all-out combat. Diverse settings, objectives, and NPCs will offer endless mission variety and a near infinite amount of content to enjoy.”
Frontier also said that the expansion will feature combined-arms combat, bringing together surface vehicles and starships with players on the ground. That could potentially bring Elite in line with the vision for the Star Citizen project’s multiplayer game, which recently detailed a 40-player combat mode called Theaters of War.
The original Elite was first released in 1984. This latest iteration of the spacefaring game launched in 2014 following a successful crowdfunding campaign and a lengthy beta period. At launch it allowed players to fly around a realistic recreation of all 400 billion star systems in the Milky Way galaxy. Later, a paid expansion, called Elite Dangerous: Horizons, added the ability to land on planets without atmospheres and drive around on them inside wheeled rovers. Planets with atmospheres are currently off limits.
Players in Elite have always been able to create a representation of themselves inside the game, but avatars have always been strapped down into a chair to pilot their vehicles. Odyssey will allow players to walk for the first time. The trailer also shows a jetpack and various weapons.
But, unlike previous iterations of the game, Odyssey won’t initially be compatible with virtual reality.
“We’re big fans of VR,” Frontier community manager Tim Smith said in a post on the official forums, “and we are truly proud of the amazing experience that we currently offer in Elite Dangerous. However, the new gameplay, mechanics and features that will be introduced with Elite Dangerous: Odyssey means that we had to re-examine if we could deliver that same experience without compromise, which, for launch, means Odyssey will not be VR-compatible.”
The lack of VR combined with the increased fidelity of the experience raises some interesting questions about the future of the Elite experience. Currently, players who own the base game and the Horizons expansion can play together online, but don’t always have access to the same missions or environments. Whether that will be the case with Odyssey is unknown.
“Odyssey is our most ambitious Elite Dangerous expansion to date,” said David Braben, founder and CEO of Frontier, in a news release. “Extending coverage to the super-fine scale that is needed for on-foot gameplay while maintaining the vast raw distances measured in light years, is a huge achievement by the team, and greatly extends the already rich Elite Dangerous experience.”
There’s also no information on how the expansion will roll out across all of the game’s available platforms. Elite: Dangerous is playable on PlayStation 4, Windows PC, and Xbox One. Odyssey is only currently available to be added to wishlists on Steam.
Reached for comment, Frontier said more information would be made available soon.
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