Update, 10/25/2016, 8:35am PDT: The Guardians update for Elite Dangerous: Horizons is now live. Frontier Developments released a new trailer for the update. You can also take a look at the update's changelog, which is apparently 16,500 words long, on the studio's forums.
At Gamescom we sat down with folks from Frontier Developments, who informed us about an upcoming update called “The Guardians” for Elite Dangerous: Horizons. The update will land sometime mid-October, when it will bring a whole range of new features including new ships, pilots, passenger transport and other improvements.
New Ships & Pilots
In The Guardians update, players will see three new ship-launched fighter ships: the Taipan, Federal F63 Condor and Imperial G97. The Taipan is like a small tank. The Federal F63 is fastest of the lot, whereas the Imperial G97 is the most maneuverable ship, but it is also the most fragile.
Thanks to telepresence, you’ll be able to control these fighters remotely from the main ship, so you won’t die when the fighter is destroyed. When you’re controlling a fighter, your main ship will switch to a simplistic auto-pilot mode. Frontier Developments intends for you to see the fighters as disposable ammo. “3D printers are pretty good in the future,” the spokesperson said, so you’ll be able to keep building them aboard your main ship until you run out of resources.
Additionally, the update will allow you to hire pilots of different ranks. A higher-ranked pilot will deal more damage, but also costs more to hire. If you’re patient, you’ll be better off hiring a lower-ranked pilot and giving them experience; it will be cheaper, and they’ll be more loyal to you.
Hired pilots will be able to fly the small fighter ships, and they also use the telepresence feature to keep themselves out of harm’s way. Alternatively, you can also let them control your main ship while you focus your efforts on the small fighters.
But wait, there’s more!
Baluga, Tourism And VIP Passengers
One of the new ships in The Guardians update is the Baluga, a passenger-oriented vessel. Part of the update is a stronger focus on ferrying passengers. In addition to bulk passengers (folks that merely care for being transported from point A to point B), you’ll also be able to transport VIP passengers. These special passengers will be more demanding and might request a more luxurious interior that only the Baluga offers. They may also request that you take them through conflict zones to spectate, or ask you to stop by a certain spaceport and get them a few bottles of liquor.
Bulk passengers are easy to satisfy, but if you don’t give the VIP passengers what they want, they may leave your ship without paying. If you’re lucky, that could happen when you dock at a spaceport, but if you’ve really upset a VIP, they may just leave with one of your escape shuttles.
Even though it’s a passenger ship, the Baluga does have defenses and a fighter bay.
On top of the Baluga and passenger transport, Frontier is also introducing fixed tourism hot spots, such as historical sites or just beautiful places. Moreover, if you’ve got an idea for a new hotspot, let Frontier know and they’ll consider putting it in the game.
Dotting The i’s
In addition to new content, the folks at Frontier Developments also worked on multiple game improvements, including an improved starport service interface, an updated route planner with filters, and a new kilometer-long capital ship yard. They also added fixed close-quarter combat (CQC) locations where players will be able to set up their own matches.
You’ll also notice improved services at starports: Frontier added a new “Shady Contact” who will be able to pay off fines and bounties elsewhere for you in the galaxy. You can also pay to have your ships transported between starports, rather than getting it yourself. The devs also added white dwarfs and neutron stars, and the graphics now have “cool swirls” for some of these stars.
The update will land mid-October and is free if you have the Horizons season pass.