Title: Elite Dangerous
Platforms: Xbox One, PC (reviewed on Xbox One)
Developer: Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Release Date: Out Now
Price: $39.99/39.99 Euro
Tagline: A beautifully crafted homage to the hardcore space sims of 20 years ago.
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Verdict: Buy it Already
Microsoft made a big deal about offering up early access titles on their Xbox One, with Elite Dangerous being one of the first. The idea of Elite Dangerous being on a console is rather strange sight, but the fact that it makes the transition from PC to Xbox One flawlessly is amazing. It is unlike any experience that you can find on the console at this point and it makes solid first impression.
Just talking about Elite Dangerous is a difficult proposition if only because there is no real structure. No two games will ever be the exact same. There is no single player storyline for you to follow here, or any structure really to give the player direction. You get your ship, a handful of credits and you get sent on your way to make your story as you see fit.
The items you can engage with in Elite Dangerous are numerous. You can trade goods between ports, play escort, becoming a defender of space with your combat skills, or play sides against one another. Or hey, just be a space pirate and plunder the universe to fulfil your own greed complex. You can even mix and match as you see fit, in order to get those credits and improve your ship.
None of this would matter if Frontier Developments had not created such a vast and wondrous expanse of space to explore and engage. Elite Dangerous is a beauty to behold when travelling, keeping all of the detail and splendour that PC players enjoyed months before the Xbox One release. Of course, having such a large area to explore can be intimidating, especially when you really do have no direction from a story or plot to assist in directing you. I mean, you can keep yourself centralized to one area of the galaxy, but the size and scope of your vision is the only thing limiting your itinerary.
As Elite Dangerous is a throwback to the space games made twenty plus years ago, I figured that shoehorning the controls necessary onto a controller would be a convoluted affair. Thankfully, this is not the case as the controls are well defined, using combination keypresses with the D-pad to make most choices. This kind of depth is necessary as you can control so many aspects of your ship. Landing gear, thrust, power levels to individual systems and even communications with other vessels in space are here and require you to interact on a regular basis. It is a bit of a learning curve in the beginning, but over a short period of time, the controls become second nature.
Elite Dangerous is your game to create, define and execute, however you see fit. That kind of freedom can be intimidating and could be a problem for some that need some more structure in their games. It harkens back to a time where controls were cumbersome, there were no directives and the universe is always out to get you at some point. It is the kind of game that can be appreciated and enjoyed by anyone if they are willing to invest the time into learning its intricacies. You can find yourself losing hours just flying around in the serene peace of space, and the next, frantically managing power systems while deflecting a pirate sneak attack. It is not for everyone, but if you give it the time it requires, Elite Dangerous is a gem of a game.
- Never strays far from its hardcore roots
- Space looks absolutely gorgeous
- You choose how you want to play your game
- Can be very intimidating for a lot of console owners
- Controls take a bit of time to grasp and learn
- Another game that suffers from PC On-Screen Text syndrome
Elite Dangerous is one of those weird games that does not hold a lot of violence or behaviour issues, yet it is a game that I would only recommend to those late teens and up because of its high degree learning curve. Many younger kids will not be able to sit still long enough to get the bare minimum of the game. Yes, there is some space combat, but it is relatively benign, but the hardcore roots of this sim make it something only the older kids and up will enjoy.
This review was prepared using retail Xbox One code provided by Microsoft.