Elite Dangerous 1.6 / 2.1 patch brings incredibly difficult AI

Update #1 – The announced changes have been working really well and no longer am I am getting smashed.  It seems the AI has been balanced well now – harder than before, but not impossible at the launch of 1.6 / 2.1 patches.

With the recent 1.6 patch for vanilla Elite: Dangerous on the Xbox One being released I have gotten back into this great game.

Not long after getting back into it I noticed how much more difficult some of the enemy AI combatants were. I’m in a high spec’ed out Vulture and two nights ago noticed an Imperial Eagle was absolutely wiping the floor with me, to the point where I had to escape with smashed cockpit glass and 10 minutes of oxygen left.

I’m not the only one to have experienced this.  One of my gaming mates who is a die hard Elite: Dangerous player has lost three Anacondas which have added up to about 50 million credits gone.  He is getting soundly beaten by enemy AI much smaller than him.  This isn’t just pilot skill but a note that the enemy AI have been using all the Engineer tweaks available in the game.  This is actually not even remotely fair for those playing the standard Elite: Dangerous (all Xbox One users at the moment) because the AI has been given the gift of all the massive weapon tweaks the Engineers can provide and we can’t even adopt these ourselves until Elite: Dangerous Horizons (patch 2.1) comes out on the 3rd June.  PC users who are playing Horizons already have the 2.1 patch.

Thankfully Frontier Developments have been listening to the huge outcry (just check the Elite: Dangerous Forums) and are trying to reverse some of these interesting design decisions.

The information below is from Elite: Dangerous Forums

Hey guys,

We just wanted to get a post up to talk about some key issues that have come up in the community over the last few days and talk a little about some of the changes that are coming into effect from today and in future updates.

AI and NPCs
One of the most hotly debated topics in the community since The Engineers (2.1) is the AI and NPC changes. There’s no denying that higher ranked NPCs are now tougher to beat than ever before.

The aim of the AI and NPC changes is to ensure that there is a balance between having combat that challenges you and is exciting while not being so challenging that it spoils your ability to enjoy the galaxy and game on a day to day basis.

We’re aware from your feedback that this hasn’t hit that balance, either because of bugs or a number of other reasons, and so we’re going to be making some changes to help address those concerns.

The first change is that we will be removing almost all Engineers upgrades from the NPCs in game. There are a very few select upgrades that will remain for coding reasons but they will be low level and not combat specific upgrades. On the whole you should notice that the vast majority of upgrades are gone from NPCs which will mean that players will be greater equipped to deal with NPC threats and should be able to last longer in a combat situation, should they need to make a hasty exit. It will also mean that players who gather their own upgrades will have a technical advantage on the NPC combatants too. The good part about this is that these are all server side, which means we are able to make those changes today! Commanders will be able to see the changes taking effect shortly.

Staying on the topic of AI, we have also had a number of people discussing bugged or cheating weapons and abnormal, overly aggressive, NPC behaviour where NPCs are attacking Commanders without being wanted, being full of Cargo or for other known obvious reasons. In order to investigate these concerns more closely there are two new bug forum threads dedicated to these issues specifically. If you have any evidence or detail about these issues, we would appreciate you heading over to the Bugged weapons or the NPC aggro threads and giving us your feedback there.

With the removal of Engineers upgrades, even if the NPCs do become more manageable, we would still greatly appreciate any reports of AI attacking unexpectedly in the thread mentioned above as it will help us investigate the issues.

With the changes going out today the development team will be able to review the effectiveness of the AI on its own and see what additional balancing will need to take place. There are a number of additional changes that the dev team are looking at right now which could include balancing the frequency of higher end NPCs as well as other changes and we’ll keep you informed with more news on those as we have them.

The Engineers – RNG & more
We’ve also seen a lot of discussion on the Engineers generally we are listening to feedback. We’ve mentioned previously but in 2.1.1 we will be giving players the ability to exchange their experimental modifications for another modification but at a cost to your reputation with that Engineer. This will allow players a better opportunity to select what upgrades they receive. We are also very much listening to feedback on the Engineers and other updates too. If you have any specific feedback regarding the Engineers, the material gathering or any other changes, be sure to add them to the Engineers forum where the team will be reviewing and reading.

Bi-Weave shields
Many of you have noticed that Bi-Weave shields seem to have been taken off the shelves across the galaxy. This was the result of a bug fix which ended up removing them from circulation. These will be going back into game via today’s server side update. They won’t be available at every station but they will result in becoming available at stations across the galaxy, in the same way other items do currently.

Thank you again for your feedback, it truly is vitally important to us. Please do continue to give us your suggestions! Fly Safe Commanders!

So in effect they are removing a lot of the Engineer weapon tweaks from the enemy AI to help restore some balance to the game.

Another interesting post was that since the patch the context menus may have been turned off.  If you are finding you are accidentally boosting instead of raising the landing gear and can’t seem to get the context menus up then try this (also found on the Elite: Dangerous forum):

Under miscellaneous switch “enable context menu” to on to return controls to normal.

Important to note here that you’ll have to scroll through the list under “miscellaneous” to find the context option.  This has helped quite a few PC gamers as well.

Xbox One players – Elite: Dangerous Horizons comes out the 3rd of June.

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