The future of Elite Dangerous coming in 2020

With the Beyond series of updates now complete many players of Elite Dangerous have been curious as to what is coming next. Turns out we might have to wait a while before it arrives. A recent Community Update on the Frontier Forums has set a date for the next major update to the game and unlike more recent ones we’re going have to wait a while with it being aimed for late 2020. There will still be updates to the game coming through such as the recent tweaks to the background simulation but these will focus more on improving the existing experience rather than fundamental changes to the game as it stands now.

Fans are wondering if this means player/squadron owned carriers which were meant for Beyond Chapter Four are still coming or will be delayed further and there’s no concrete answer (yet). But for the team at Frontier Developments to be setting a date so far in advance there is likely a lot planned that is going to require such extensive work. Doing that is likely them wanting to be proactive in the messaging so that players have a clear understanding of what to expect – at least in the short term. Still… until further announcements are made there’ll be plenty of speculation. Obsidian Ant provided his own take in his video which you can see below:

With such an extended timeline for the next big update you could certainly make some big predictions too. No Man’s Sky’s NEXT update set a high benchmark for what could be in store for us in terms of a substantial update but to counter that it was also what players had wanted from the original game. But it did finally deliver and made a lot of people happy as a result. Elite Dangerous has made a lot of promises too over the years so could this be when we finally get atmospheric landings on habitable planets or the ability to walk inside ships and stations so we can finally our avatars to some use? A fully offline mode returns? Time will tell!

And time itself is worth discussing too. The game launched back in December of 2014 and though it’s had some considerable upgrades over that period to keep it looking incredible on upgraded hardware there’s also a good chance it has accrued some significant technical debt in the process that may be impacting what the developers can deliver. To be able to add a new feature or solve an existing problem in software often means having to cut corners so it can be delivered on time or to people’s satisfaction however that can also result in something that isn’t easy to modify or maintain. Being able to step back and rebuild these systems so they are better suited for the longer term is a rare luxury in software development and probably rarer still for games even with the gradual shift to a “software as a service” approach for games. Whatever the reason, Elite Dangerous is approaching five years old now so the extra work was probably needed.

It’s going to be a long wait for everyone but I’m sure it’s going to be worth it and we’ll still be playing the game for another five years. 🙂

Elite Dangerous is out now for PC, Xbox One and PlayStation 4.

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