With “The Guardians” update now out for Elite Dangerous, it might be surprising that with all the new additions to the game, I think it’s the addition of people (virtual ones) that’s the best new feature.
But with the introduction of passenger missions to the game it really opens up a whole new area of opportunity for players to make a living and I’m impressed with how robust it is from what I’ve seen so far.
Before players can have their ships become space tour buses though they do need to install passenger cabins which may require some hunting around for stations carrying that upgrade. Like it is for fighter bays this might take a little bit of time to find but I was able to grab everything I needed at Lowry Ring in the Lalande 4268 system… plus a decent discount on an Anaconda too.
Once you are set up there is a lot of work available for players willing to ferry passengers to and from locations. Some pay a lot of money and those ones may result in passengers making demands that force you to changes enroute, but with the kind of money being offered it might just be worth it. There are some pretty epic jobs here that pay extraordinarily well if you’re willing to travel thousands of light years. Much like expensive cargo, they may also make you a target for pirates too.
An interesting addition to the game are tourist beacons which are often used as waypoints for trips. When targeted they also provide a little snippet of in-game lore in much in the same way as reading books in games like Skyrim or The Witcher. For long time players a lot of this probably comes across as unnecessary but for those new to the game trying to invest themselves in it I think it can help give them a sense of the greater world that isn’t always presented clearly.
With the new ship transfer and module storage features there’s a lot of incentive now to hold on to your ships and equipment. Previously there was only a list of the ships you own and their location but now you have the ability to sell them regardless wherever you are or pay for your distant rides to be brought to you.
For me the wait for my ships didn’t exceed thirty minutes however what might put some off from using it regularly is the cost which clearly scales based on the ship’s value. My much used and loved Asp Explorer was going to set me back more than half a million credits to be brought to my location.
The visuals in the game have been given another boost with new sights out there for players to find – some even present their own hazards. The first time I ran into a white dwarf star ejecting material I spent too much time marvelling at it instead of steering and I was soon yanked out of supercruise and left in a sorry and damaged state. Despite my mistakes in navigation, it was a pretty spectacular sight and I couldn’t help but record it.
The updated station interiors are really impressive too with some new modelling and changes in lighting that better reflect the station’s purpose. Industrial stations look more like foundries or factory floors.
I think there’s also some use of alternate colour palettes as well to get away from the sea of grey you’d previously have seen.
Every update where Frontier adds more variety to stations in both space and on the ground does wonders for player immersion. You spend so much of your time taking off and landing from these stations so reducing the odds of seeing duplicates on your journey is greatly appreciated.
The addition of ship launched fighters and NPC crew hiring is interesting but feels like it isn’t completely cooked yet. When you have a hanger capable of holding two fighters but can only launch one, it raises a lot of questions.
The NPC crew members can be used to either fly a fighter or manage your ship while you are taking one out for a spin. If you’ve never flown one from the CQC/Arena mode, they are nimble and have quite a different feel from the larger vessels. So far I’ve found it simpler to hire a skilled NPC and have them fly a fighter as cover. They do get a decent share of your profits but I think it works well. Just don’t forget to recall them before jumping into hyperspace or they’re lost.
For all the cool things added, it seems that performance has taken a hit on the Xbox One version with station menus and the galactic map running much slower than before. This could just be early teething issues but the experience is impacted a lot the way it is right now.
For the majority of players I think that this update has far more benefits than 2.1 (The Engineers) and that is thanks to the addition of passengers. Chasing loot upgrades through Engineers was a lengthy process whereas here the rewards are much more tangible wih credits in your pocket after dropping a few people off.
It’s certainly got room for improvement but this update is the most significant one since the original Horizons release in its ability to open up further options for players and give them their ultimate Elite experience.