The first thing I do with a new BETA of Elite, and I’m sure everyone does this, is to buy all the new ships and weapons. Then go crazy pew-pewing everything in sight. Then I go exploring a bit, then start looking at the mundane stuff.
So what is 2.1 like? Well, so much has changed it is difficult to point at one thing.
The graphics for planets, both from orbit and on the surface have been visually improved and the performance is better, giving much higher FPS on my GTX 970. Planets look so amazing from orbit, I doubt anyone could see better currently without joining NASA. Stations look a little different too; not sure if some fog has been added, but it looks better.
As you approach stations, traffic control hails you in a wide variety of voices (depending on system), with your ship designation – in my case “Core Dynamics Alpha Romeo India”. It is a small thing, but adds a huge level of immersion into the Elite universe. You feel like you’ve arrived at a space station. And if you cut throttle down and listen carefully, you can hear – very faintly – radio squelch in the background, inaudible conversations between the station and other ships.
Obviously there are the new engineer modifications (I’ll get to those) but the main change for both 1.6 and 2.1 are the addition of large multi-cannons and huge multi-cannons, beam lasers and pulse lasers. I fitted my FAS with large multi-cannons and medium pulse lasers, then took it for spin. The multi-cannon performed very well on the ship, but it didn’t feel like it was an overpowered mega-weapon, it just inflicted more damage than the smaller class version. Overall, very satisfactory. Gratifying audio too.
So following that, I switched to my Corvette and tried the huge beams, multi-cannons and pulse lasers. The beams looked damn sexy, but I found the pulse lasers have the most effective results. Mainly because of the new NPC AI.
While people on the forums were raging about the NPCs running away, I found that some had a low “cowardice” threshold while others stuck around a little longer before bugging out, but overall, they displayed human-player-like behaviour. When their shields were down, once damage was done, they would run to 6-7km distance and wait for shields to come back up before returning to the fight. If damage got really low, they’d high-wake.
How did this affect combat? Well, my Corvette in the weapon configuration I started with was useless against small ships. As soon as they took damage, they’d run and a Corvette is not a ship you can chase anyone with. The FAS was far more successful, as I could keep ships in range long enough for a clean kill. With this in mind, I changed the Corvette’s weapons for short-burst high-damage weapons and had far more success. So the dynamic is moving towards that you'd see in PvP.
I have only tried one mission and due to time constraints, I failed it (had to log off and sleep). Yeah, I’m rubbish, I know. The missions are defined far better than ever before, with a detailed overview and list of required equipment. The mission giver was rather obsequious towards me (an Elite pilot) basically being a kiss arse. All this makes the mission feel more tangible.
The job was to kill 7 smugglers, some not-so-wanted mission targets amassed a bounty on my head in Nuenets. So yesterday, I logged on for a bit of bounty hunting in a RES site on the new ice ring RES at Fong Wang and I was interdicted by a bounty hunter NPC – an Elite Anaconda – so I let him shoot first, making HIM wanted and began to fire back. The NPC flew the HELL out of that ship, using shield cells, chaff, missiles, flight assist off. My Corvette had the advantage in both weapon and manoeuvrability, but it was still a battle royale; this guy was my match.
Then security turned up and it was over for him. By then he was on 10% hull anyway and the Viper that showed up distracted the Anaconda enough for me to make the kill.
So if you do something illegal, expect trouble to follow you.
Now when a ship is destroyed, it isn't just cargo and scrap left floating, but also components which can be traded with Engineers for upgrades. Basically, every enemy is now a Pinata. This means most people are going to want a collector limpet controller on combat ships and the cargo rack for limpets.
Good or bad?
I'd say this is good. With ship AI changes, my game had to adapt. I'd pick an NPC and do enough to make him flee. Then I'd hit another, the finish off NPC 1 while NPC 2 licked his wounds. Overall my kill rate didn't suffer any. While the Corvette lost some of it's effectiveness on small ships, with the right load-out I was okay. Big ships however, took more effort - especially if they had high rank. But that, in my opinion, is how it should be.
In my next post, I'll talk about enhanced thrusters, meeting Engineers and what to do with the loot.