Horizons : An Overview

Updated: 18th October 2017

To see the most recent updates to this page see the Blog Update page.


Horizons is the name given to the first expansion of Elite: Dangerous. It will come in 5 individual releases (2.0 to 2.4). Although most headline content released during the Horizons season is specific to those owning the expansion, there are still plenty of updates available to anyone owning just the base game.  Anything specific to just Horizons is marked with a +.

You can look at the official Frontier Elite: Dangerous website for more information including current pricing.

Note: Any text in green is to signify this content is released or has been confirmed in the upcoming release. Any text in red is to signify that previously mentioned content update will not make it into this season of updates (and possibly any other future update).


> 1.5 & 2.0 – Planetary Landings

> Released: 15th December 2015

The first part of the Horizons season was released on the 15th December 2015 and features the ability to land your ship on airless planets and moons as well as drive across the surface in your SRV. Additionally you can find materials to refuel, rearm and repair your ship and SRV.

You can see the launch video here, or read the list of headline features here.


> 1.6 & 2.1 – The Engineers 

> Released: 26th May 2016 [PC] | 3rd June [Xbox One Release]

This update was released on the 26th May 2016. You can watch the trailer here and read the full list of known features here. Horizons for Xbox users was released on the 3rd June 2016.


> 1.7 & 2.2 – Guardians

> Released: 25th October 2016 (PC & Xbox One)

Frontier released ‘1.7 & 2.2 – Guardians’ on the 25th October 2016.

It’s recommended you head over to the The Guardians: 1.7 & 2.2 Feature List page to read all the details.


> 1.8 & 2.3 – The Commanders 

> Released: 11th April 2017

Frontier released ‘1.8 & 2.3: The Commanders’ on the 11th April 2017.

For a full look at its contents click here.


> 2.4 – The Return

> Release date: 26th September 2017

Frontier released 2.4 – ‘The Return’ on the 26th September 2017.

You can see the preview, here.


> Additional Horizons Content

>
Frontier announced that ‘Beyond’ would feature some free core upgrades to the game during 2018. You can read about them here.

The Future? “It’s on the list….”

UPDATED: 1st December 2017

To view the most recent updates to this page visit the Blog Update page.

Note: Green text is used to show the content/feature is now in-game but may still be expanded upon..


> INTRODUCTION

As with all game development plans, schedules and features can and do change, so this list is by no means a definitive confirmation, unless stated otherwise. 

With the scope and potential of Elite: Dangerous there’s a never ending stream of questions regarding when certain features (wished for or promised) might make it into the game. Below is a list that have been commented upon by Frontier Development staff. Although Frontier have always said the base game will continue to be expanded where they see fit, some of the items below will be available to it, others to the paid expansions.


> BACKGROUND

>
Frontier have various teams working on different aspects of the game. David Braben has said that the main features are written into the schedule, with other secondary features being more flexible. As David himself said during a Reddit AMA:

“We have ongoing work on planets, including atmospheres, planetary life, walking about and lots of other very exciting things for the future.”

You can also take a look at the developers speaking about the features they are looking forward to in the video below:


> BEYOND: CORE GAME PLAY IMPROVEMENTS

>
Frontier confirmed that content following 2.4 would concentrate on improving the core gameplay experience. Some of the content was revealed at Frontier Expo 2017 on the 7th October 2017. It will be free to all owners of Horizons.

The Roadmap

roadmap
Note: That 2.1 and 2.2 appeared in 2016, not 2017 as the graphic suggests.

Between January and March 2018, Frontier will release the first of two major updates to the game. Following that there will follow two smaller content updates, followed by the Quarter 4 update between October and December 2018. You can read about these on this page in the appropriate sections, or go to the Beyond: Core Gameplay Improvements page to see them as revealed at Expo 2017.

In terms of future expansions or DLC, it’s likely that there will be a change to the way content is released, with David Braben previously commenting in a Reddit AMA that,

“I don’t think people liked having to pay for multiple updates in one go, so that is something we are going to move away from. At this end of the ‘season’ it makes sense, as people can see the huge number of features we are delivering, but it makes for a higher price.”

Frontier’s Head of Communicaitons, Zac Antonaci, commented after Expo 2017,

“In addition to all the content talked about at Frontier Expo, we also have some pretty cool things in the works which will be available to purchase. We’re not ready to talk about them just yet so we can’t give you any details but rest assured that the lifetime expansion pass owners will be looked after and will be getting their hands on premium content as part of their lifetime expansion pass before the end of 2018 and the Beyond series of updates.”

There is no further information about what this might be at present.


> ‘SPACE LEGS’ / ‘ELITE FEET’

>
Frontier have always planned to have a first person aspect to the game and in the early days of its design this was mentioned as initially coming in the form of:

> Walking around interiors and combative boarding of other ships.

> Combat and other interactions with other players and AIs in the internal areas of star ports

On the 25th October 2016 David Braben said during a Reddit AMA about walking about that,

“It is of course something we have thought about a good deal. The real challenge with walking around, EVA, etc, is not the fact of doing it – walking around is something we have done in many other games – it is what you do while doing it to make it interesting. We have nothing to announce at the moment.”

David Braben again commented about this on the 21st December 2016 when he said,

“All of the things, and there are lots of other things as well, that we want to do are a way away, because to do them well… Doing an animated character is only part of the problem, you’ve got to have things to do with it, it’s got to be rich, and a great experience. So don’t hold your breath, but when it comes it’ll be great. It’s not coming soon.”

Then during a PAX: East Q&A Sandro Sammarco commented,

“Just to set the record straight, Space Legs and EVA gameplay, that’s way off in the future. That’s a goal. I’ve talked to David and it’s always been part of his core vision for what Elite really is, even from way back in the day, it’s always been about you’re a person in a real futuristic setting, not just a ship. However, I think it’s also fair to say Space Legs is effectively dovetailing a whole new game into Elite. We take steps towards it, it’s our end vision, but we’re not there yet, we’re… it’s a long way off. And when it does, by the time, if we get there, if we manage it, I’m sure we’ll have the time to sort out any consistencies that need to be sorted out.”

During the game trailer previewing the PS4 release some footage of players in their ships was seen for the first time. See here and here.

pilot
Screen grab taken from the PS4 trailer

It’s possible that future iterations will allow players to make repairs to the outside of their ships and to walk about on planetary surfaces, as they commented during Newsletter #32, way back in July 2014.

slfbay
Interior of a Ship Launched Fighter Bay – Credit: Commander Nuse
capture
Frontier concept artwork showing a player repairing the outside of a ship
capture2
Frontier concept artwork showing a player inside a damaged ship
station interiors
Frontier concept artwork showing the interior of two station types
insideship
Frontier concept artwork showing the inside of a ship.
capture3
Frontier concept artwork showing people viewing space from the inside of a station

> PLANETS & EXPLORATION

>
As confirmed at Expo 2017, exploration will be one of the parts of the game expanded upon in the series of updates following the release of 2.4 – The Return.

Frontier will be making some sizeable changes to both the colours and details of the planets in the game by ‘revisiting the shaders and graphs’ that produce the procedurally created planets. This will bring out some of the ‘contrast and details that already exist within the system’. This should give the planets a more ‘rich detailed look’ as well as a ‘wider variety of colour variations’. These changes will appear between January and March 2018. You can see the video footage from Frontier Expo below.

Between October and December 2018 will see the introduction of some new technology namely a new global lighting model affecting both planetary surfaces and how lighting is seen in space. Additionally Frontier will re-work their ‘scatter-rock’ technology. This is the way the system displays both rocks and boulders on the planetary surfaces. This will hopefully give a greater variety in the size, shape, scale and forms of rocks on the planetary surfaces. This will make the ‘environments more compelling to navigate’. They will also look at localised ambient affects for both fog and vapour which will bring ‘an increased depth to the visuals’ in the game.

iceicebaby
Artists impression of how future planetary surfaces could look after improvements.

Additional planet types to land on will be expanded as the game progresses, but most likely not during the post 2.4 core updates. David Braben has previously spoken about gas giants in the game which you can hear by listening to the video below.

Sandro had commented on the 13th October 2016 during the Horizons 2.2 – Beta 7 live stream,

“Atmospheric landing is a long way off, it’s clearly in the road map but we’re a long way from it still”

This was then later confirmed by Dale on the Frontier forum commenting on the 15th June 2017,

“Having spoken to our team at E3, atmospheric landings remains something we are still working towards and the whole studio, including David, is very keen to implement. We’d like to be able to give you an idea of the rough time frame for it, but unfortunately that’s not possible at the moment – we don’t want to make potentially empty promises to you.”

It’s likely that Earth-like worlds, the holy grail of Elite, will arrive very late on in it’s development plan. These procedurally generated planets complete with atmospheres, clouds, plants, creatures and the rest are a massive amount of work. This was something David Braben commented upon during the early days of the Kickstarter way back in December 2012.

Sandro commented during a Horizons 2.2 Beta 7 stream that they were looking at additional gameplay for planetary landings, specifically mentioning ‘science reports’.

The talk of there being caves in the game has been mentioned since before the release of Horizons. It’s thought there were some technical reasons that needed to be overcome to allow them to happen, as well as the fact they would only appear on certain planetary types.

Frontier announced at Expo 2017 that they will re-visit exploration and that they would,

‘Build on the systems and processes by which exploration takes place with the aim of making exploration more engaging’.

It was said this would also touch upon missions, commodities and resources. One new feature would be the Codex. This would not only log exploration discoveries but also act as an encyclopedia to give more depth and context to what you find as well as possibly hinting at other things that could be found in the galaxy. Additionally there will be new content, phenomenon and anomalies in the galaxy.


> CORE GAMEPLAY


Missions
The development of missions in the game is an ongoing one and something that is very complex given their procedurally generated nature and the fact there are so many ‘edge cases’ to design for. Missions are one of the core game components that would be expanded upon in ‘Beyond’. David Braben commented before the release of ‘The Engineers’ 2.1 update in an AMA on Reddit that,

“We do want to do a lot more with missions; more details to come over time. We’re not short of ideas.”

Chained Missions – These were originally included as courier missions. Feedback made them feel that they didn’t realise they were providing the kind of experience they wanted and they were later removed. It was stated that they were partly a test bed to find out how missions could progress into different areas of the game. They have been re-introduced into the game following 2.3 & 2.4 and are expected to be expanded upon further still.

Escort Missions/Combined Missions – When asked at Lavecon 2016 Sandro suggested this was a ‘desirable feature’ and that it blended in with multi-crew and ship-launched fighters, but didn’t go as far as saying when it would actually appear. During the Beta 7 video Q&A Sandro again mentioned something along these lines saying,

“Combined missions, scenarios – really nice nothing to talk about for the moment. Making missions and scenarios more interesting is something we’re interested in.”

Military Career – Michael Brookes has stated Frontier would like to make taking up a role in the military ‘a career path’, but that this would require ‘a large amount of work to do it justice’. It’s likely that these changes won’t be appearing until Season 3 at the earliest. During the Horizons 2.2 Beta 7 stream Sandro Sammarco commented that they are still looking at this and it could lead to ‘people with a Naval Rank being called up.’ During a live Missions Q&A stream on the 13th December 2016, Frontier said they  are aware of desire for something along these lines and they don’t have anything to announce soon, but it is being looked at as a possibility.

Wing Missions – Frontier confirmed at their Expo 2017 that Wing Missions will appear in the game during the first quarter of 2018. At this moment no further details are available other than that they would be,

“Challenging missions that you can take on with your friends as a team.”

Passenger Missions – These appeared in Horizons 2.2 – Guardians release, October 2016. It will also feature the addition of a passenger ship, the Beluga Liner. The ability to carry prisoners appeared in 2.3 – The Commanders.

Small (ship specific) Missions – Something that has been suggested several times by players is the ability to only do specific missions in specific smaller ships, ie, the Sidewinder. During a Reddit AMA before the release of 2.3 David Braben commented,

“I’d love to see this; it is a good idea we will look at.”

Mining
This original core feature will receive an update by improving the way players detect and extract resources via a ‘toolkit of modules and capabilities. This will give players more option and variety in how they set up their mining ships. Sandro said the idea was to ‘try and evoke a feeling of wild west prospecting’ by giving players crisis and challenges or through the concept of striking it rich by ‘deep core blasting a special asteroids’ to give better rewards.

‘In future any crafted upgrade at an Engineer will always be better than what you currently have.’

Engineers

Engineering will undergo some changes in the Beyond series. The current proposed changes to this part of the game are outlined below, can be found on the official forum, here and can be seen in Frontier’s live stream, here.

  • Guaranteed improvement – We want to make sure that when you upgrade a module the end result is always better. There’s a significant time/resource investment in engineering so we want to make sure that you feel it’s worthwhile before you even begin, so you can make informed decisions on whether to take part or not.
  • Increase efficiency – There’s always going to be a significant time cost to upgrading your ship, but we want to look at ways of sometimes mitigating where we think it’s appropriate.

These are the changes that we’re currently investigating.

  • We are removing all hidden statistical variables from the upgrade process. Whilst there is still a range of success when you craft, you will be able to see the range before you commit
  • One cool thing that secondary hidden statistical pros and cons did was ensure variety. Because we are losing this, we will try to ensure that each module has a set of experimental effects that allow you to tweak your module in a variety of ways, hopefully ensuring that there are a number of different options to aim for
  • We are removing any potential for the crafting process to result in an upgrade that is worse than what is currently fitted. Every time you pay for an upgrade, an upgrade is what you will get
  • All penalties in blueprints are fixed and only applied once per rank
  • You will need to maximize benefits from an upgrade before you can start applying higher rank versions to a module. We still want to reward the process of upgrading modules
  • You will be able to craft pinned blueprints at any starport that has outfitting. You won’t be able to gain reputation with the Engineer for doing this, and you won’t be able to fit experimental effects at this point, but it can considerably reduce the upgrading crafting loop
  • Experimental effects will no longer have a chance to occur during the upgrade process. Instead, each experimental effect will simply have a materials cost that you can pay to have it fitted to an appropriate module
  • This means that there is no way you can lose reputation ranks with an Engineer
  • We will institute a materials trader at specific starports. These contacts will allow you to trade (at loss) materials within the same class, allowing you to convert unwanted materials into useful ones
  • We will introduce a per material storage cap, probably around the 100 mark, to remove inventory shuffling
  • We’ll add quality and quantity indicators for materials in the game world, so you’ll be able to see at a glance how much you have of a material without having to check your inventory
  • We’ll add an ignore function for materials (and commodities, incidentally), allowing you to mine and collect more efficiently by preventing collector limpets from picking up ignored items and auto-venting refineries.

Grandfathering

A lot of you will already have engineered items. We will “grandfather” these. This means you can still use them, their statistics and effects won’t be changed.
However, if you want to apply further upgrades to them, they will have to be converted. Conversion will place them at the top of the previous rank (so a rank 4 upgrade would become maxed rank 3 upgrade) and would change all statistics and effects to represent the new blueprint.

In general, we will try to make sure that the new blueprints can max out slightly better than the old system (we want to encourage conversion).

Additional Engineers – Unofficially there are another 10 Engineers set to appear in the game. Their names, affiliations and locations can be seen below. Note: These are all subject to change.

  • Captain Banner (Independent) – HIP 61061
    Dorn Etienne (Empire) – Jupang
    Elui Shera (Independent) – Conven
    Kit Lange (Independent) – Torno
    Lex Avermann (Independent) – Thrudihe
    Marshall (Independent) – Na Zha
    Matt ‘The Gunner’ Sorbis (Independent) – Lelabo
    Mel Brandon (Alliance) – 70 Virginis
    Plasma Piotr (Federation) – NLTT 9949
    Trin Falcour (Independent) – Yavas

Trade
At Expo 2017 Frontier said that they would be making changes to this long standing part of the game giving access to better trade data to allow players to make better decisions when buying and selling commodities.

Bookmarks
Bookmarks appeared in 2.1 ‘The Engineers’, and a dynamic route plotter were confirmed for 2.2 – ‘The Commanders’. In response to a question about having “droppable beacons to bookmark specific coordinates/locations on planets (visible to the player only)” Sandro replied,

“We want this and have done for a little while, but its finding the right time and feature to slide it in with”

Player Journal
This appeared in the 2.2 update, ‘The Guardians’Replying to a question asking if there were any “plans to let players store tourist beacon/obelisk data in game or in the journal so we can refer back to them?” Sandro Sammarco commented that,

“We are looking at storing some of the more interesting player messages in the journal.”

Camera Suite
This appeared in the 2.3 update, ‘The Commanders’. Sandro Sammarco commented that there would be a compelling argument to add filters and other improvements to the camera suite if it sees a lot of use.

Crime & Punishment
A much requested area of the game to have a re-working by players will get a make-over during the Beyond series of updates. Sandro Sammarco has spoken widely about the changes to the Crime and Punishment system. The main points can be seen below, on the official forum here, or by watching the live stream here. Sandro Sammarco also did an interview with Radio Lave on the subject, covering some areas not mentioned in the live stream. You can find that here with the interview beginning at 40 mins 15 seconds.

“A little while back, we saw a relatively innocuous post in the forums. It suggested that crimes should be applied to vessels rather than Commanders. The more we thought about this idea, the better it seemed to get.

“Which has lead us to the following suggestion. We’ve worked through it reasonable thoroughly and really like the result. But we want to put it out for examination to you folk, to see what you make of it. The first part of the overall is the basic concept of how bounties and fines are applied:

New Rules For Bounties and Fines

  • Bounties and fines are applied to ships, making the ship “hot”
  • Bounties and fines never expire or mature
  • Hot ships have restricted services at starports
  • Hot ships have limitations to ship transfer, module transfer and sale
  • Fines can be paid off at the security office, bounties can be cleared using Interstellar Factors at an exorbitant mark up

“The second part of the overhaul deals with another big philosophical change. Currently, when your ship is destroyed you always go back to the last star port you docked at.

“The change we are looking at here is pretty big:

New Rules For Re-spawning

  • You re-spawn at a location dependent on the circumstances of your ship’s destruction, in a hierarchy:
  • If you were detected as wanted or hostile you respawn at the nearest appropriate detention facility
  • If you were not hostile or not detected as wanted you respawn at the nearest non-hostile starport in the system
  • If there are no suitable star ports in the system you re-spawn where you last docked.

“First, a word on detention facilities. These would likely be megaships, hand placed, few in number. They would be aligned with one of the super powers, with one set being effectively a private correctional facility used by all independent factions.

“Re-spawning at such a location would ensure that any legal costs would have to be paid, with no way to avoid them.

“Hopefully, you can see how this structure makes avoiding paying your dues much more difficult to do. When you factor in a pumped up authority response (internally we are calling them ATR, advanced tactical responders, and oh my, they are serious guys), we think the system is more robust, whilst retaining the principles of the current crime system.

“However, there’s no denying this is a big change! Fundamentally:

  • Your ship accumulates crimes, not you as a Commander
  • When your ship is boiled with detected crimes you are forced to re-spawn at a location where you will have to pay the legal costs
  • You will have limited access to services in jurisdictions where your ship is wanted.

“It’s worth adding a little bit of detail at this point. The proposed system is both potentially harsher and softer: it’s harder to avoid paying for crimes in a hot ship, but easier to avoid consequences if you’re prepared to shelve the wanted ship.

“In addition, we’d change the rules a little when it comes to issued bounties, probably by increasing the damage that it takes to suffer one, and adding a lower, fine-based penalty for smaller amounts of friendly fire.”

Ship Scanner

In reply to a question about extending Ram Teh’s scanner tech to find other surface features such as abandoned bases, Sandro Sammarco commented,

“Maybe – watch this space, nothing to announce at the moment.”


> GRAPHICS & ASSETS


Orrery System Maps
A much requested favourite among the player base this feature has long been wanted following the concept art below. It’s something that’s “on the list“, but with no date for implementation. David Braben stated he wants to see this, but it’s about,

“How and where it fits in with the rest of the game and it’s quite a big job to make it useful and interesting.”

orrerymap
Concept Art showing the Orrery Map

On the 29th August 2017 following a discussion on the Frontier forum Community Manager Dale Emasiri said,

“Having spoken at length with some of the designers, this is the general consensus with regards to the challenges that they’d face. Of course, those aren’t really the problem since our devs love a good challenge. The issue is that it isn’t a high priority as far as needed features or things that require refinement. It would be fantastic to have and I know for sure it’s on the wishlist of things that our artists and designers really would love to see, but that wishlist may not always be practical or realistic. I don’t think it’s a 3.x sort of feature we’ll see, but who knows? As is always the case, we’d love to; however, we have to be realistic about it.”

Stellar Objects
According to Sandro Sammarco comets and accretion disks will both make an appearance at some point in the Horizons season of updates. Accretion disks are something both David Braben and Michael Brookes has expressed a desire to see in the game along with an associated game play mechanic. Comets are in the galaxy simulation, but are currently not active in the game. During the Reddit AMA before the release of ‘The Guardians’ David Braben commented,

“We’ve been looking at the various kinds of bodies in the game, and some of you will have seen the updates in the beta to white dwarves and neutron stars. We have been balancing our effort across many different kinds of gameplay, ‘quality of life’ updates, and so on. I am personally a huge fan of the science elements, and we will continue to move forwards on them. Black holes, accretion discs, exotic star types like Beta Lyrae stars, and many other elements and features are on our list for attention, in no particular order. So yes, there are plans, but no promises as to when.”

Cities & Cloud Cities
David Braben commented that large domed cities would appear in the game, but not in 2.0. Frontier had previously commented during the early planning of the game,

Q. Cloud cities? (Like Empire Strikes Back)

Sandy: Yes – something like this (mining outposts in Jovian atmospheres) will be possible. This may not be a release 1 feature though.

Planetary Rings Shadows
Again, something David Braben said he has wanted “for a while” and will be included, possibly ‘at the back-end of Season 2’, but this could not be guaranteed.

Multiple source lighting
“Couldn’t be ruled out” as a possible feature, but if it did appear it would be a graphical setting for high end computers.

Module & Commodity Storage
Module storage appeared in the 2.2 – The Guardians update. Sandro Sammarco confirmed that at some point there would be “limited storage”, and that it was near the ‘top of their list’ but couldn’t give a date. During Gamescom Sandro Sammarco said that Frontier were looking at allowing some storage of materials at Engineers bases in relation to the creation of blueprints.


> SHIPS, CREW & VEHICLES, PLAYER STATIONS

>
Squadrons (Player stations)

Announced at Expo 2017, this new feature will give player groups a new way of working and organising by allowing players to create their own membership and hierarchy. It’s said to bring enhanced communication options and better co-ordination for players using it. Squadrons will also be able to purchase their own fleet carriers. These large dock able vessels will act as mobile base of operations allowing members to re-fuel, re-arm and re-spawn.

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Squadrons Promo image

History – This feature was first hinted at before the original release of the game in 2013. There has been little comment about it since. At the time Sandro Sammarco had said,

“We will not have player build ships/stations/buildings in release 1. This will happen – but the specific timing and content is up for discussion.”

In 2015 Frontier commented,

“Maybe, although it’s a long way out if it happens. Before this we need to change the background sim so that it is capable of creating new outposts or settlements.”

Then during the release stream for the 2.2 Beta David Braben was asked if players will ever be able to own their own stations. He responded by saying,

“It’s an interesting one, we have been talking about that for a while, there are a lot of challenges with that, particularly around game balancing, but yes it’s certainly a candidate feature.”

Multi-Crew
This appeared in the 2.3 ‘The Commanders’ update. When asked if other non-combat roles would be built into the feature Sandro Sammarco commented,

“Hopefully, no announcements at the moment. Lets see how it goes […] “There’s no reason other than time and resources why it couldn’t be expanded, but let’s take it one step at a time… It could get further. We have concepts for taking it further. Obviously nothing to announce at the moment.” 

Additionally there are no immediate plans to allow players to launch an SRV from the ship, although this has not been completely ruled out. However there are said to be some technical challenges to come due to instancing and ship ownership.

New Ships
At Frontier Expo 2017 is was announced that there would be ‘a lot more ships’ coming to the game. Many of these will be Alliance based ships and are new designs and names in the Elite universe, with one exception.

  • The Chieftain – Frontier said that this is a unique ship in that it is an answer to the return of the Thargoids and is a partnership between The Alliance and Lakon. It brings the previous aesthetics of previous Lakon ship along with a more ‘aggressive military feel’.
  • The Krait – This classic Elite ship has been given a new look with a rough work in progress version shown below.
  • Type-10 – The much hyped Type-10 has also been seen via this screen grab on Reddit.
type10
Screen grab of the Type-10
  • Underwater Ships – David Braben spoke of underwater ships making their way into the game at some point during the early game design discussions. If this were still to happen it would only take place once planets with water are available to land on.

    “A slightly more unusual enquiry that we received was for the inclusion of underwater ships. Perhaps surprisingly, this is actually something that has been thought about by the team.”

  • Generation Ships – These are now in game following the release of 2.3 – The Commanders update, complete with voice logs. There is however no current associated gameplay or continuing storyline. In the early days of space travel (before faster than light travel) these ships set off for distant worlds and had generations of people living on them. They never made contact with their home worlds again and little is known of their fate. Are people still alive? Well according to Frontier ‘The Missing’ will at some point make it into the game, possibly in one of the currently locked off areas of the universe.
  • Mega-Ships – Nine new mega-ships appeared in the 2.3 – The Commanders update. When asked during Pax: East if players could hitch rides with Mega-Ships or store ships on them, Sandro Sammarco gave a hesitant reply of “No comment”. Since then it has become possible to take a ride with one of the ships during server downtime. There are also some gameplay elements due with these ships, although due to a change in priorities these have been delayed for an unspecified period of time. As Steve Kirby, Lead Games Designer commented,

    “…we are as keen to get these locations fully fleshed out as you guys are. We don’t want these to be just a pretty location to visit once. We have read every single post in this thread and made a note of all the suggested gameplay for these locations. I’m in full agreement with you that these locations needs more meaningful interactions and links to other areas of the game. I will be doing everything I can go make these locations what we originally envisioned them to be.

    “Much of our planned gameplay for these sites has been slightly delayed due to several reasons I can’t go into, but we hope to implement them in the future. “As many of you know, we tend to implement these things in stages for various reasons. Now that we have the key installation types in place, we are now in a position to work on the deeper gameplay.

    “As for the reason this has not been completed already for 2.3, all I can say is that sometimes priorities have to be changed and we don’t get to implement everything we originally intended got the first iteration of a piece of content.”

  • Capital Ships / Large Piloted Ships / Docking
    One of the game’s great moments is seeing a Capital Ship drop in to a system and in the Horizons these behemoths have been woven into some available missions. However it’s expected that Frontier want to make more of these ships with David Braben commenting that ‘more could be done with them’. In the 2.2 update Frontier added a capital ship docking yard to the game. and in 2.3 several more large ships were added to the game. During an AMA for the launch of XBox ED, Michael Brookes commented on the subject of Capital Ships saying,

    “There aren’t immediate plans for controlling capital ships, but this does come up in discussion, so it’s not an outright no at this stage.”

    At some point in the future it might be possible to dock smaller ships with larger ones. During a later AMA with Reddit David spoke about this whilst answering a question about commanding and managing ships, rather than just piloting them,

    “There are a great many things in this area we have been looking at long term. Now we have ship-launched fighters, more lumbering ships can make more sense. We have also looked at more of the much larger ships in game – as NPCs and ultimately under player ‘executive control’ – but no promises as there are a good deal of gameplay challenges to be resolved first.”

    He also said,

    “That is something that we’ve thought about. We’ve always talked about the docking slot in the way the Panama canal limits ship sizes for those taking that route. The slot size should constrain ships. When you get to ships like the Cutter and Anaconda, they’re already quite sluggish. You’re already getting to the point where you wouldn’t go much bigger without going to executive control, controlling it like you would a liner or a battleship, saying go there and it turns very very slowly. But in the same way even with the Anaconda you often end up with a better result, and you’ll see this in Multicrew, if you go with turrets. So it wouldn’t be a case of a giant ship being flown by one person with one big gun pointing down the length. That’s the way it would work, but whether it fits with the game that’s another question. We already have big balance issues when people arrive with 100’s of 1000’s of tonnes of cargo. It’s an issue, shall we say.”

Additional SRV’s
It’s been confirmed that more of these would become available but only when the specific game play opportunities are right. The use of SRV’s to do mining on planets will appear, but David Braben has said during the PAX live stream on the 10th March 2017 that there is no ETA.

srv
Artwork for possible alternate SRV design

Planetary Aircraft/Landing Vehicles
Other forms of vehicles for travelling around the surfaces of planets are planned. Some of these may only arrive when the suitable planetary landing types and other mechanics are available in-game.

NPC Crew
The ability to hire NPC Crew initially came up in the early design discussions. The first sign of them in-game appeared in 2.2 – The Guardians when it became possible to hire three crew, with one of them joining you on your ship. Frontier have been quite guarded about commenting on when and if this feature might be expanded, but it seems likely that they will not now appear until at least 2019 given the schedule outlined for ‘Beyond’.

NPC SRV’s
These could be making an appearance but have been described as a “whole bucket of work” and something they want to do when the appropriate game play opportunities arise. Persistent NPC Ships – The idea of having repeated incarcerations with AI ships has been requested many times by players. During an AMA with David Braben he commented,

“It’s something we are looking at for the future.”

NPC Wing men
During the Horizons Live Stream back in December 2014, David Braben confirmed Frontier wanted to do NPC Wingmen, it’s mentioned in the Design Discussion Forums and in a Q&A Live Stream and again on the forums Sandro Sammarco said,

“No ETA’s, no guarantees, but we are looking at it at the moment, it’s a cool concept – but we’re absolutely not going to guarantee it.””This is something we still haven’t reached a decision on. The idea of NPC wing men is totally cool, but there are some interesting issues, mainly revolving around balance. What we’d prefer to avoid is a wing man being a “no-brainer” in terms of effectiveness.”

Station Variations
Greater variations in station interiors were made to the 2.2 – The Guardians update. David Braben also confirmed that they would like to do more with the look of stations in terms of them looking more run down etc., but that graphically this is a lot of work. He also replied,

“Maybe :)”

when asked during a Reddit AMA if it were possible that the game might see some “abandoned/destroyed space stations, asteroid bases or mega ships?”. This was also commented on by Dav Stott in a live stream when he answered the following question…

Q: Will there be an effort to make the background simulation more visible and audible from out of your spaceship’s cockpit? Having the look and audio of stations and settlements change depending on system states, for example.

A: Nothing to announce today, but planet bases already change decals if faction changes. (since Horizons launch). Nothing more to announce at the moment.

Hull Repair & Tracker Limpets
During a March 2017 Q&A Sandro Sammarco commented that Frontier were looking at introducing hull repair and tracking limpets. The later would presumably be of interest to bounty hunters and pirates although no confirmation of how they might work has yet been given. On the 12th May 2017 Sandro Sammarco commented,

“Some form of bounty tracker has been on the “big list” for some time – the concept definitely something we like, whether it’s a limpet, some form of tie-in with wake scanning, or something else. Of course, there are some technical challenges to overcome, so no ETA or guarantee, but I think we’re all on the same page here.”

CQC Updates/Bots
The ability to play CQC against AI controlled ships is something that Frontier have said to be keen on (Sandro Sammarco comment on 6th December Live stream), but realise it’s considerable amount of work. During the Reddit AMA for 2.3 David Braben also commented that changes to CQC were probably not likely any time soon as,

“…the player counts mean this isn’t a high priority, I’m afraid.”


> AUDIO DESIGN

>
Frontier’s audio design is recognised as being one of the highlights of Elite: Dangerous and they have proven keen to expand it wherever possible. This looks as though it will continue as the game progresses.

Galnet Audio
In a change to the way Galnet delivers its news it will now have the ability to deliver them via audio to the players.

Following the release of the 2.4 Beta, the patch notes revealed that,

“The radio chatter system works differently under the hood now, enabling us to do cool magic chatter based things in the future.”

This follows on from previous comments back in 2015 where Frontier said they would like to make changes to NPC Communications,

“NPC comms is still on the cards {…} The tier 2 NPCs is likely to change, but we need to see how other factors like NPC comms fit in and what we can take from there.”

[…]

“We also want to look at chatter providing hints and clues to hidden or secretive events like treasure hunts.”

During a Reddit AMA when asked about the use of voices for NPC ships, Jim Croft head of audio commented,

“It’s a huge undertaking to avoid repetition. I would like to use speech synthesis and do it procedurally.”

Ship Call Signs
In reply to a question asking whether station announcers would change your call sign to that of your Ship ID, Sandro Sammarco commented,

“This is something they are looking to and the audio team are keen on this.”


> ALIENS & THE GUARDIANS

>
The release of 2.4: The Return will see the Thargoids return to Elite. You can read the current preview here. During their Expo 2017 Frontier released a teaser video for The Return.

On the evening of the  the 6th January 2017 Cmdr. DP Sayre became the first pilot to be pulled out of witch space by an unknown alien species, thought to be a Thargoid. You can read about it here or get the full lowdown on the Official Forum or on Reddit. Additionally, find out more about Thargoid lore via Elite author Drew Wagner, here.

David Braben also confirmed that there would be other alien races aside from the Thargoids, one of which have already been discovered in game. There are said to be some things currently in game (as of 21/12/16) that have not yet been found, aliens possibly included.

At Expo 2017 Frontier confirmed that ‘The Guardians’ story line would return in the first quarter release of 2018 as well as releasing a recap video of the story.


> MYSTERIES

>
During the Live stream on the 20th December David Braben confirmed that there were still a number of undiscovered secrets in the game, including the mysterious Raxxla, which has been present since the launch of Elite: Dangerous.


> POWERPLAY

>
During an April 2017 Reddit AMA David Braben commented,

“We have talked a great deal about it internally, but we need a good solution – something we don’t yet have.”

This somewhat unloved part of the game currently has some time pencilled in to be revisited during the Horizons season. Details are short and Sandro Sammarco has expressed a desire to make changes to it that at some point would include:

Ability to toggle Powerplay status to be active or hidden, through either an option/decal/skin. Significant enforced cool downs when hiding your Powerplay status before you get the benefits.

Ability to “up vote” or “down vote” a system involved in Powerplay action. Other commanders from your power would see this up/down-vote data as a very clean, contextual communication of ideas. Importantly, you’d be able to see totals for both up/down votes for systems involved with Powerplay.

Outside of Powerplay, commanders can pledge as a System’s Freedom Fighter, so they can Undermine and Oppose in that System, effectively working with opposing powers to weaken the controlling power’s presence. Freedom Fighters would possibly be valid targets in any system controlled or exploited by any power that shared a major faction with the one being attacked by the freedom fighter. Freedom Fighters limited to support one system at a time, with a cool down or some mission to “wipe” their status clean.

More dovetailing between minor factions and powers, beyond the government versus ethos effect that currently exists. Benefits and penalties of ethos versus government scale per exploited system rather than at a set 50%.

Voting system will allow Powers to withdraw from poor control systems, with mechanisms to prevent withdrawal from profitable systems. Same voting system will stop poor control system candidates from being purchased as expansion targets.

Combo mechanism for fortification allotments, limiting the purchase of rushed allotments based on successful deliveries – more deliveries allow more paid rushes – whilst adding temporary fortification disbarring for losing fortification commodities.

Success multiplier for CMDRs in Open Play, magnifying the effectiveness of handed-in vouchers for Power actions (expand, oppose, fortify, undermine). At a minimum this will double the Powerplay effectiveness of CMDRs in Open compared to Group/Solo. Personal rewards will not be affected.

Gaining fortification vouchers for killing CMDRs supporting rival Powers in your own Power’s control systems.

Each Power to have one super-focussed undermine attempt per cycle, which can be countered by over-fortification.

A long and healthy topic on the official forum can be found here. Also thanks to StuartGT and Golgot 100 on Reddit for some the above information.


> CQC/ELITE RACERS

>
During a live stream before the release of the 2.1 Engineers Frontier mentioned that they had been ‘playing with some new technology’ that might be put to use in creating racetracks on planets. Previously Michael Brookes has said that more CQC maps would be released during the Horizons season.


> MODDING

>
This was briefly mentioned a year or so before the original release but has not been commented upon (nor asked about) since, with the exception of ruling out players having the ability to author their own missions due to the complex nature of the mission creation system.

Modding tools were another big request that we received for future updates. Giving players the chance to author their own scenarios and missions, or create completely new content would enrich the game even further and create completely new communities around the game. For this reason modding tools are also planned for the future, although not until much further down the line:

Sandy: Yes we would like to but definitely not until a number of updates have gone out. Probably as part of update 5 or later.

Michael: We do want to support modding, but as this requires considerable support this will be some time down the line.


> DIRECTX 12

>
David Braben has said that he expects the game would take up the use of DirectX 12, but not immediately. What is DirectX 12?

On the 19th September 2016 David Braben announced that Frontier planned to drop its support for Win32 and DirectX 10 in approximately 6 months time. This would he explained give,

“Principally better performance and prettier effects, but it should also help with dev time […] Obscure bugs can take a disproportionate amount of dev and QA time.”


> OTHER PLATFORMS

>
Frontier have confirmed that Elite: Dangerous will appear on the Xbox One X and have full 4k support. Other details are not yet known but will follow.

Elite for Linux has been the most longstanding platform request. Frontier commented back during the Kickstarter,

“Yes. It would be great. The PC version comes first though, and then we will look at the demand for other platforms. If the game exceeds its target, then there will be scope to increase the number of platforms. We will discuss with the backers in the design discussion forum, and how to address the issues that will arise, but I have every hope that we will cover some or all of these platforms.”

There’s a longstanding thread on the Frontier forums discussing the possibility, here.

Previously Frontier released Elite: Dangerous for the PC, Mac (base game only), Xbox and PS4.


> CROSS PLATFORM PLAY

>
David commented during the Christmas 2016 live stream that there were,

“Practical reasons for various platforms. There are things that we will resolve over time but no promises. Microsoft didn’t ‘stop it’, it’s more complicated than that, there are other people involved.[57:50] + On moving Cmdrs between platforms, no plans, but can look at it later.”