UPDATED: 24th May 2017
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With Elite: Dangerous’s scope and potential, 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. 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. 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.
Frontier are working at least one season in advance, with different teams working on various 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:
3.0 – OVER THE HORIZON
On the 24th May 2017 Frontier confirmed that content coming after 2.4 would be concentrating on improving core gameplay experience.
“We’re happy to be able to confirm that the next major updates following 2.4 will focus on core gameplay, existing features, quality of life and other improvements! We’re delighted to be investing a considerable amount of development and effort into making the core gameplay experience even better for our fantastic community or players.
“We’ll be sharing more news on that content and our road map at a very special event coming later in the year – more details on this event will be released in the weeks after E3.”
In terms of how these will be sold to players it’s likely that there will be a change to the way content is released, with David Braben 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.”
‘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 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.”
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.
PLANETS & EXPLORATION
Additional planet types to land on will be expanded as the game progresses. First on the list could be volcanic planets (ice & lava) with no atmospheres. Some of these were said to appear in the Horizons season (beyond the small scale geysers and fumeroles that arrived in 2.2). Beyond that gas giants and planets with atmospheres (but no life) could appear then possibly the introduction of water worlds. Earth-like worlds are expected last on the list for the simple reason that creating 1-1 richly detailed worlds like that are really hard to do. As Sandro commented on the 13th October 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”
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. In the Christmas 24 hour stream on the 21st December 2016 David Braben dropped the first real hint that they would be in game when he commented,
“I’m not going to comment on that.”
Before smiling broadly…
David Braben during his Gamescom video interviews spoke about the introduction of some elements of archaeology into the game and ‘a long dead species, that has reason they are long dead long dead.’ These have been added to the game in 1.7 & 2.2 as ‘mysterious things’.
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. 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 – The Commanders and are expected to be expanded upon further.
- 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 dont have anything to announce soon, but it is being looked at as a possibility.
- Winged Missions – David Braben said that they were looking at improving the use of Wings in Bounty Hunting and Piracy missions and that hopefully the reasons for taking on these professions would improve in Season 2. During a live Mission Q&A stream Adam Waite commented that shareable wing missions are something they want to do, but are not in the immediate road map and will not be in 2.3. A lot of considerations have to be taken into account in about how they will work which in turn raises a lot of questions in multiplayer – which are much more difficult to solve.
- 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.”
- 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.”
- Ship Naming – This appeared in the 2.3 update, ‘The Commanders’.
- 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.”
- 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 was commented on by David Braben during the release of 2.3, when he said,
“We are looking at this now. We certainly do want to improve this, but be aware these changes can end up being far-reaching so we need to be sure they make sense […] It’s one of those things that’s coming.”
- Ship Call Signs – In reply to a question asking whether station announcers would change your call sign to that of your Ship ID Sandro commented that,
“This is something they are looking to and the audio team are keen on this.”
- 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.”
- 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.’
GRAPHICS & ASSETS
- 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 Shadow – 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.
- Ship Delivery – This appeared in 2.2, ‘The Guardians’.
SHIPS, CREW & VEHICLES, PLAYER STATIONS
- 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 – The Beluga liner subsequently appeared with the 2.2 – The Guardians release and the Dolphin with the 2.3 – The Commanders release. David Braben has said that he would like to see the Krait in game, but as with all aspects of the game there is a running order of when things are scheduled to appear. Additionally there was a mention by David Braben 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 – 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”. 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 – 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.”
- Docking with Larger Ships – 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.
- 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 does seem likely but unconfirmed that at some point more roles will become available.
- 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 Wingmen – 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 recent Q&A Live Stream 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.”
- Player Stations – 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.”
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.”
- 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,
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.
- Asteroid stations – have been confirmed as making it into the Horizons 2.3 release after being featured in the PS4 trailer.
- Hull Repair Limpets – According to Sando Sammarco at Pax: East these are ‘on the list’.
- Bounty Tracker Limpets – As above.
- 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.”
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.
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.
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 commoditie
- 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.
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.
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.
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.”
On the 8th December 2016 Frontier announced that in Q2 in 2017, Elite:Dangerous would be released on PS4. You can see the trailer, here and read David Braben’s comments on the upcoming release on the Playstation Blog, here.
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.”