Over the weekend, Frontier Developments held its first Frontier Expo, where it showcased upcoming plans for its lineup of titles. This includes its popular space exploration game Elite Dangerous. Players currently have their hands full as they fight the new Thargoid threat, and as the war continues, the developers will be hard at work with new content coming in the form of additional updates.
Frontier calls these series of content releases “Beyond,” as in what happens beyond the recently released “The Return” update that brought back the Thargoids. Based on the small timeline provided by the studio, it seems that this new batch of content will be available throughout 2018. They are book-ended by two major updates in Q1 and Q4, but they all focus on three major parts of Elite Dangerous: advancing the narrative, improving core gameplay mechanics, and introducing new features and content.
The Q1 update will continue some of the stories that are currently in progress within the game's universe. If you want to unravel some of these story lines, you’ll have to venture outside of your usual trade routes and hunting grounds. You’ll be rewarded for that exploration in the form of special items. In addition, you can now listen to galactic news as you travel across multiple systems with a new GalNet Audio feature.
If you prefer to continue your life of space trucking or piracy, the Q1 update will also introduce new mechanics to keep you at the edge of your seat. This includes improvements to system authority ships—which will act accordingly based on the severity of your crimes—and a better trade system, so that you know which items are best sold at a higher price. If you play with friends, you’ll also see more wing-based missions that will put your teamwork skills to the test.
Later in the year, the Q4 update will bring about a clan-like feature called “Squadrons.” This organizational tool allows you to recruit other pilots and create a system of hierarchy within your group. Joining these Squadrons also provides improved “communication options” and even the ability to purchase a fleet carrier, which you can use a mobile base as you and your comrades explore the galaxy. Speaking of exploration, the developers plan to improve on your trailblazing activities with new anomalies and events that occur in uncharted systems. You’ll also get a handy in-game Codex, which will serve as your main source for lore and keep track of exploration milestones. There are also plans to improve the mining experience with the likes of a new tools set and better methods of detecting and extracting resources. Those changes are supposed to make it so you can use the role as your main source of income within the game.
Smaller content drops will land in between these major updates. These include new missions, scenarios, and even ships, such as the recently revealed Krait and Chieftain fighter ships. Frontier also plans to improve many of the game’s visual features such as lighting, ambient and volumetric effects, and the scatter rock system. Most of these improvements are specifically targeted towards the many celestial bodies strewn about the galaxy, which means you could see more spectacular planet surfaces by late next year.
If you own the game’s Horizons expansion, you’ll get all of these updates for free. It's also available as a $30 purchase. If you don’t own Elite Dangerous and want to take part in the ongoing conflict with the Thargoids you can get the base game, Horizons, and the Commander’s Pack, which includes multiple paint schemes for different jobs, for $60.