Following a bug-riddled grind fest called Engineers, a bug-riddled fun-to-a-point called Guardians, Frontier has recently released their third major update to Elite: Dangerous‘ Horizons season, called Commanders. Oh boy.
Tested by customers who paid their own money for the privilege, Commanders has been thrown into the wild in a surprises-no-one sorry state. My absolute fav from the raging bunch of galaxy-breaking bugs that slipped through the beta would be the map-ravaging scaling flaw that forces people to play in 1080p. Or get fucked. Same flaw was, of course, reported in said beta. A number of times.
Being a ‘content’ update thought-out thoroughly by designers at Frontier, Commanders’ newly-added multi-crew also turns out to be an entirely optional gimmick, inconsequential to anything and everything that happens in the galaxy… well, OK, that ain’t entirely true. It is an amazing tool for trolling and ganking. A ‘playstyle’ not just shrugged off, but pretty much backed, by Frontier. You do read that right.
Another bit of ‘content’ Commanders update crams into the game is an avatar creator. And since it has been designed at a board meeting rather than at a team brainstorm meeting, every little thing beyond acceptable feature-set minimum finds itself behind a microtransaction paywall.
The truly sad part is, those issues are awe-inducingly dwarfed by one simple fact of the matter. The multi-crew content – if one can call it that – brought to Elite: Dangerous is painfully half-arsed, and stone-cold dead-on-arrival.
This is not just some hyperbole snaking and spiralling out of (otherwise abundant) Reddit tinfoil hats, no. Frontier’s CEO himself, David “Recourse-Free Money” Braben really is of the opinion that a half-cocked barebone of a feature – which many, many of the game’s bolt-ons undeniably are – should not be supported or even prioritised unless people use it in significant numbers. Amazing. Just amazing.
Frontier needed that empty ‘promise box’ captioned multi-crew ticked. So they did. No one can call them out on non-delivery, and that’s all that matters to them. They are, in their minds, open, friendly, passionate, and infinitely pro-consumer. ‘In their minds’ being critically important there.
I’ll avoid any doom-and-gloom philosophical bullshit over Elite: Dangerous as I don’t really care any more. I once enjoyed the game, the not-much that was in it. It spoke to me. It was… sincere. But it’s failing. It’s ‘Early Access’ drip-fed with more ‘Early Access’ – a kind of ‘Early Access’ inception if you will – with everything and anything that matters “coming Soon(TM)“. Well I, for one, have had enough of that.
Now let’s go back to talking about actual video games before I snap and buy an actual shotgun.