When Frontier kickstarted Elite: Dangerous, they promised continued development that would greatly expand the universe with planetary exploration, walking in ships and stations, and other such niceties. Now that the multiplayer combat variant (as opposed to the existing open world) of Elite, titled CQC, is just around the corner, they’ve decided to unveil another component to the growing space sim: Horizons.
In the Horizons expansion, players will be able to land on planets, drive a Surface Recon Vehicle (SRV), and explore new lands. Frontier is promising activities such as mining ore deposits, discovering hidden signal sources, and attacking fortresses protecting valuable goods. It all sounds very similar to the Mako sections of Mass Effect, which were – depending on who you ask – either incredibly awful or a mixture of terrible and okay. I lean more toward the latter myself; the physics of the Mako were always comedic and I like to coast across alien surfaces.
This announcement is a welcome one for explorers, as there’s a severe sense of boredom when it comes to charting new systems. Most of the galaxy is comprised of balls of inert ice and rock, which give very little payout when scanned. This means you can go hours without finding anything of significant worth and limits your payout to (on your average expedition) a few million credits, tops. With the addition of planetary exploration, scanning, and combat, there’s going to be a lot more for explorers to do than mindlessly jump from star to star until they hit the jackpot.
This announcement didn’t come without its own bit of drama, however. Horizons is currently priced at £40, which is £20 less than Elite: Dangerous at launch. Furthermore, it also comes with the core game. This pissed off a significant number of people, ranging from veterans who expected the expansions to be piecemeal to newcomers that feel cheated for buying the core game at retail price. Some are also complaining that Frontier is charging for a half-finished game, saying that there is not enough content in the game as is to justify purchase. The associated reddit thread is unsurprisingly large and filled with salt.
It’s a similar problem faced by other developers in recent memory, most notably Bungie with The Taken King (the recently announced Destiny expansion). It’s a difficult problem to solve – how do you please both existing consumers and potential consumers with the same release? – but it’s one that should definitely be considered from both sides. After all, game developers need money to live, but consumers should be rewarded for their loyalty in the early era of a game’s lifespan.
Elite Dangerous: Horizons launches Holiday 2015. For those players that already own Elite: Dangerous, you get a £10 discount on the expansion and a free Cobra Mk. IV, a variant of the popular multirole Cobra Mk. III. Frontier recently reopened their lifetime expansion subscription as well, at a whopping £130 for all future expansion content.