Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Ship Chieftain

What We Have to Look Forward to in Elite Dangerous Beyond 2018 – Part 1

Earlier this year at Frontier Expo, Frontier Developments announced what’s coming for Elite: Dangerous in 2018. Now that we’re nearing the end of 2017, commanders are starting to look forward to the next year. What do we have to look forward to in 2018? Let’s take a look at the Elite Dangerous Beyond updates that are coming in the new year.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Roadmap

The Beyond update is huge, so I’ve split the discussion into two parts. In this article, we’ll talk specifically about what’s coming in Q1 and some thoughts on those updates. We’ll break down the Q4 updates and the smaller content updates in a later piece.

Elite Dangerous Beyond – What Is It?

Frontier announced that the new content will be called “Beyond” (or 2.4 and Beyond), and will effectively be a new season of updates. It’ll be free for anyone who owns the Horizons season pass, which is exciting news. Elite Dangerous Beyond will contain four updates in total. Two updates will be larger content releases, during Q1 and Q4 of next year. There will also be two smaller content releases in between, but these two don’t have specific release dates.

Zac Antonaci also stated that additional premium content will be introduced in the future as well. Anyone who owns a lifetime expansion pass will get this content for free, but other commanders will have to pick it up separately. There’s little information on this additional premium content currently, but hopefully we’ll hear more soon.

Elite Dangerous Beyond Q1 Updates

The Q1 patch will obviously be arriving sometime between January and March 2018. It’ll contain quite a few new features (including two long-awaited new ships), as well as some quality of life improvements. We’ll break this update down now with what we know so far.

New Ships – Krait and Chieftain

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Ship Krait

Two new ships have been announced: the Krait, and the Chieftain. The Krait is an old design from the original Elite games. The Chieftain is the first of some new designs for the Alliance. This is a welcome addition as the Alliance faction has never had any ships for players to work towards. A lot of players have avoided building reputation with the Alliance because there’s no inherent reward or military ranks, unlike the Empire and Federation ranks which allow commanders to purchase specific ships.

The Krait was originally a small fighter in the previous Elite games. In Elite: Dangerous, it seems to be a medium ship, with at least two medium guns and a fighter bay. However, this is just speculation. If the ship is indeed medium, it’ll likely have more weapons. It could also end up being a lot smaller than we expect instead (perhaps around Cobra/Viper sized).

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Ship Chieftain

The Chieftain is a completely new design not based on any previous Elite ships. It’s the first of the Alliance ships, which are also apparently all brand new designs. It’s an interesting looking ship, though what its role will be remains to be seen. There’s a lot of back and forth on the forums about what size the Chieftain could end up being, but I’d estimate it’ll be medium or large rather than the smaller sizes some community members are guessing. It looks to have anywhere up to four to six hardpoints, as well as three crew seats in the cockpit.

Speculation on the New Elite Ships

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Chieftain Multicrew

The community is doing a lot of speculation on what roles the new ships could fill right now. Both the Krait and the Chieftain look to be multicrew compatible due to the number of seats in their cockpit. The Chieftain, in particular, we’ve specifically seen three individual seats, and the Krait seems to have three parts to its cockpit, implying there are three seats there as well. This would put them at most likely medium-sized, rather than small.

In previous Elite games, the Krait was popular with pirates. This would mean possibly giving it the internals to allow it to be formidable at bullying other ships into dropping cargo using limpets and such, but not necessarily a beast in combat. It’d be great to see more additions for piracy in Elite: Dangerous as it’s not a super common player role, but it’s definitely an interesting one.

The Chieftain, on the other hand, looks quite beefy. With the three crew slots and the potential for many weapons, it could play into the improvements to missions and multiplayer elements that Frontier is going for. While the missions are being tweaked to add new wing missions, there’s no reason that multicrew couldn’t fit there too. Multicrew is a great feature, but it’s definitely one that needs a bit of work. Maybe we could see some hardpoints that would suit being turreted weapons more, allowing for crewmates to play a big role in the ship.

New Guardians Weaponry

Elite Dangerous Beyond - New Weapons

The Guardians are an apparently extinct alien race (I say “apparently”, because who knows with Elite?). Throughout the last year, commanders have discovered Guardian ruins with relics and data packages containing their history and lore. In Elite Dangerous Beyond, we’ll be developing some new Guardian technology, including weapons. The weapons look fantastic already.

The big question, however, is what these weapons are for. Initially, we theorized that the Guardian tech could be used against the Thargoids. However, we now have our AX weapons to fit the same role. They even used Guardian tech to build the AX weapons. What could we use the Guardian weapons for, then? It’s possible they’ll end up being a new tier of weaponry to be used in the escalating conflict with the Thargoids.

It’s worth noting that Guardian weapons tended to be biological in nature. They’ve also met the Thargoids before. Will they be on our side, either in life or from beyond the grave, in the ongoing conflict?

Personal Narrative and Improved Missions

Something players have been wanting for a long time: a personal story they can follow and engage with. Frontier has confirmed a personal narrative, mostly related to the Guardians, will be coming in Q1 and is something we can look forward to. This could mean commanders will have an easier time of tracking the ongoing stories and experiences, such as the Thargoids and Guardians storylines, rather than having to do it out of game. The feature also ties in with the technology we mentioned above: players will be able to unlock new equipment through the personal narrative.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Personal Narrative & Guardians

I’d love to see Frontier add more ways to engage with the lore and the story. If the personal narrative feature can fit within that, excellent. At the moment, players can go about their business in space without even knowing that there’s a Thargoid conflict going on. A lot of people find out about things by reading Reddit or the forums. If there was a better way for players to find out about and track the ongoing story, that’d be fantastic. Frontier is also adding some improvements to Gal-net to help with this. We’ll talk about those in a moment.

Missions will also get a bit of an update. As we mentioned above, there are some improved wing missions to tackle with friends. Whilst Elite is often a fantastic solo experience, it really comes alive when you play with other commanders. Adding new reasons for players to wing up together and take on a common mission is definitely a step in the right direction.

Planetary Improvements

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Planetary Improvements

Planets often look very beige at the moment. However, in Beyond, Frontier is revisiting planetary shaders and colors. They’re revamping how planets look. This isn’t just going to affect the colors, but also the amount of detail that can be seen. As a career explorer, I’m pretty excited, as at the moment exploration can feel a bit samey.

In Q1 we should start seeing a wider variety of surfaces within planet types, making the galaxy feel more “alive” and interesting to look at.

Other Improvements and Updates

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Gal-Net Update

A few other things are coming as well. As mentioned above, we’ll see changes to the way Gal-Net works. This should hopefully make it more likely for players to actually engage with it as a source of information and news. For example, there will be a text-to-speech feature, allowing players to listen to Gal-Net news articles while they fly about the galaxy. No longer will commanders have to stop and read articles, they can listen while they fly.

Engineers are changing too: each time you engineer a module, you’ll now be guaranteed to get an improvement rather than it being completely random. At the moment, commanders might get offered a worse “upgrade” than the one they already had equipped. This will finally be a thing of the past. This is both good and bad: it’s great for the more casual pilot, but for those who are into PvP, it’s going to make the environment even more competitive. It’s already difficult to get into PvP without engineering your ship, but in Q1 it will pretty much become a requirement.

Frontier is also adding improvements to trade data. This will make trading more structured, giving players the ability to research what they want to trade within the game rather than having to rely on online resources for all of the information. Hand-in-hand with this is the new crime and punishment updates. Traders and other more peaceful commanders are often prime targets for ganking and griefing. Authorities will now be better equipped to deal with troublemakers, and we hope to see additional changes in the future. This is not to discourage people from attacking traders or other peaceful ships, but to have realistic and reasonable consequences for taking aggressive actions against an innocent commander.

Elite Dangerous Future Update Wishlist

With all of the new features coming both in the first update of the year and later, it’s an exciting time for Elite players. However, there are still a few features I’d love to see developed further, and some new additions that would be great for the game’s future. Here are some things I’d love to see developed in the coming updates.

Reasons for Explorers to Land on Planets

Commanders will see updates to planets in Q1. At the end of the year, we’ll also have some very impressive changes to planet surfaces. There are a few other great things coming for explorers in Q4 which we’ll talk about in a future article, but it’s still an area that could use some work.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Reason for Explorers to Land

I’d love to have a reason, as an explorer, to land on planets. For example, in Mass Effect 2 you could scan planets and get alerts for anomalies on the surface. This feature kind of exists in Elite, but wouldn’t it be great if you were out in the black and scanned a random moon only to be told that an anomaly had been detected? You could fly around the planet searching for the point of interest, the way we already do. Once you’ve detected it, you could land and find something interesting that no one has found before because it’s on the surface of an undiscovered world.

This could be any number of things. We could find crashed ships like we can already find on planet surfaces, or ways to develop the ongoing alien storyline. Or, perhaps Frontier could add new PoIs. It would be really interesting to find a stranded explorer vessel, who’s run out of fuel or damaged their ship, and you have to help them in some way.

Improvements to Crime and Punishment

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Feature Wishlist

Frontier is already adding an improvement to crime and punishment within the Elite: Dangerous universe during the Q1 updates. We’ll see the authority ships getting a bit of a buff. However, at the moment a lot of players avoid Open Play due to the fear of getting ganked or griefed. Regardless of how you define those words – whether it’s any kind of PvP on an unwilling participant or only PvP where the player is actually harassed repeatedly – most people can agree that there aren’t really sufficient protections in place.

I’d love to see players be genuinely afraid to go into Anarchy systems because there’s no police presence. The first time I entered an Anarchy system, I thought I was going to be blown up on the spot. The stations with their red lights and pirate logos made me genuinely think bad things were going to happen to me there. But they’re not really all that scary. If Anarchy systems were to be avoided, that’d add an interesting layer of depth.

On top of that, having the authorities be something to be feared, even by the most experienced PvPer, would be fantastic. Players with “Report Crimes Against Me” turned on should feel safer in higher security space. I don’t think it should go as far as Concord in EVE. This felt a little too intense, but it should be something to give so-called “griefers” pause before unleashing hell. Maybe when a player with the report function turned on gets interdicted in high security space, nearby authorities in supercruise swarm on the location to help. This gives the attacking player a few minutes to either pirate their target or kill them, if that’s their goal, but if the authorities show up they’re going to have to run or be shot.

A Reason to Fly Smaller Ships

One thing EVE did do right, in my opinion, is giving smaller ships a role in combat. I often flew smaller ships because they were faster and could get in under the guns of a larger ship. Also, they could be used as a “tackle”. This means holding a ship in place and preventing it from warping away so that your bigger, badder friends could come in and back you up. We often did this as a PvP corporation, and I’d love to see smaller ships in Elite have a purpose.

Elite Dangerous Beyond - Feature Wishlist

Right now, small ships feel a bit like a stepping stone on the way to bigger, better things. Most commanders seem to fly one of the larger ships in PvP. While player skill is much more important in Elite, it does feel a bit like smaller ships are just made for playing at the beginning and then moving on. I’d love to see more ways for a small ship to contribute, perhaps to wing gameplay.

Some members of the community complain about the grind. This is because they always feel like they’re working towards an end goal of a big ship. What if they had less of a reason to do that, and more reason to stop and admire the scenery on the way? By that, I mean what if they had more of a reason to go back to their Viper, or their Eagle, or even their Sidewinder?

Closing Thoughts

Frontier has always said they have a pipeline of many years of updates in mind. It’s exciting to see some major changes coming to the game next year. Even better, they’re free for Horizons owners. We have a lot to look forward to in Q1, and even more throughout the rest of the year.

If you’d like to watch the full announcement, you can find the Frontier Expo presentation here.

What are you most looking forward to in Q1 of Elite Dangerous Beyond? Let us know in the comments below!

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About Psyche

Psyche is a loud, obnoxious gamer, streamer and writer from Northern Ireland. She formerly worked in the games industry as a community manager and eventually project manager. When she's not writing about games, or playing them, she's working on her first novel. RPGs, books, a cup of tea, and talking about outer space are the ways to her heart.