Following the release of 1.5, I have been beavering away at getting my Imperial rank to that of Duke, so I can buy an Imperial Cutter as a trade ship.
Gaining rank was easier in 1.4, but with the revised mission structure post 1.5, many of the previous “hot” locations are now no good for ranking up.
I had, in 1.4, been carrying out long-range trade missions from Fehu – these paid really well and gained me rank in the process. I had elevated myself from Viscount, to Count (the fangs chafed) and then Earl, then 1.5 was released and I stalled. The game now policed missions more carefully, which meant mission stacking was far less likely – no more two-of-the-same missions. The progress bar now spelled out how far I had progressed, but as they say “the watched pot never boils”.
So I relocated to another system I had visited by chance, CD-41 359. There is only an outpost there, but the Bulletin Board had a rich mix of short-distance courier missions and more critically, high reputation donation opportunities. So loading up my Asp “The Cousteau” with missions I set off and got delivering. This meant in the hour or two I had each evening, I could push my rank up another 1 or 2 percent.
Two medium reputation missions seem to give around 1.5% (estimated) so any high reputation smuggling (don't get scanned) missions were a bonus.
It took several weeks to make the next rank, Marquis – although I had other problems which impacted my time. This contrasted sharply with my efforts to make Baron early last year, when I loaded up my Cobra, flew down to Iota Hydri and made that rank in two days!
During the period November to January, I had a faulty power supply on my PC which caused a shutdown under load, so I replaced that in early December and I also had been experiencing communication errors with Elite servers, which meant I never got more than a couple of hours play before being thrown out of the game. These have been resolved just this week, by changing the MTU setting of my network card to prevent the game straining my BT Home Hub beyond its capabilities.
So I finally got the oh-so-precious "Naval Ascension Opportunity" and made the rank of Duke on Sunday and as I returned to my current home base at Shinrarta Dezhra, it felt like I had run the proverbial marathon. But it was worth it.
Well that went quick. This time last year I was driving up the motorway to RAF Duxford with my youngest son to attend the Elite Dangerous launch event. A year a lot has changed, not counting protest goats and bobbleheads.
In January we had the 1.1 update which added some of the elements missing from the launched game (like decals) along with additions to GalNet and the new feature of Community Goals. We also saw the introduction of the sexy Imperial Clipper and the not-so-sexy Federal Dropship.
In March we had 1.2 “Wings” update which added the PvP’ers favourite Fer-de-Lance and the bulldog of space, the Vulture. As the name suggested, this update added the ability to join three friends in a group with a means of finding each other and travelling as a group. This had more than its fair share of troubles due to instancing. While mostly behind us, instancing still occasionally rears its invisible head and blocks us from seeing each other. 1.2 also added shield boosters & cell banks, changing the combat mechanic. The price of fuel levelled out, rather than scaling up with the value of your ship – previously a ton of fuel would cost 100’s of times as much for a Type 9 as it did for a Viper.
Between these updates Elite hit the Steam sales platform for the first time, bring the game to a wider audience, followed by its first release on the Apple Mac in May.
Not until June did the next major update for the PC surface and this one, the 1.3 “PowerPlay” proved controversial. Many couldn’t see what it was for. Basically Frontier’s version of space power struggle & politics got, at best, a lukewarm reception. Since its launch PowerPlay has proved to be Marmite - with some people loving its benefits, while others ignoring it totally, or railing against it in the forums. On a positive note, 1.3 brought two new ships – the DiamondBack in Scout and Explorer flavours and the Imperial Courier; a long-range combat ship. I was indifferent to PowerPlay, but have since changed my stance and think it has its place.
In September we got the 1.4 “Close Quarters Combat” as did the Xbox one, taking the game to its third platform. With 1.4 we had a new arena combat mini game added. Personally I have found CQC fun in short bursts, but lacking any lasting appeal; I just want to get back to my “real” spaceship. In the core game, 1.4 added a greater variety to missions, including the new salvage mission type and new types of extraction site for mining and bounty hunting. The Imperial Eagle (the poor man’s Clipper) was added to the game, along with the Federal Assault Ship and the Federal Gun Ship.
And so, on to today and the next update – 1.5 “Ships” which brings us an extra ship for CQC (The Imperial Fighter). It also adds the Asp Scout, Viper Mk IV and Keelback, plus the Imperial Cutter; the largest ship in the game so far and the Federal Corvette a hardened battleship with everything, except half-decent jump range (12Lyr) which is it’s Achilles heel. The Cutter is fast and sexy, but turns like an oil tanker. Also these ships both require the 12th naval rank in the Federation and Empire, so not just any riff-raff can buy them (me included right now!). The core game has been given a lot of polish and missions have expanded again in number and type. Integration with version 2.0 have been added to the game, so what I would describe as “feature bleed” is taking place, giving core players access to some of the goodies Horizons players will see.
Now Elite is about to launch into its second year or Season, and we’re starting with Horizons, the biggest update yet! My X52 pro shows no signs of dust and I haven’t played more than a couple of hours on any other game all year. My main concern now being that I have the cash for a headset and the graphics card needed to play Elite in VR next year.
Multi-crew, player avatars, maybe even a PS4 version of Elite? Prepare 2016 for launch…
Frontier have now announced the full roster of ships for the 1.5 update in December. But it's good news and bad news.
The bad news first;
- No Panther LX
- No passenger ships (Belga liner and Dolphin) and so we can take this as confirmation that there will be no passenger missions added in 1.5.
- Two of the 30 playable ships are CQCC only ships (not playable in the core game) which to my thinking should not strictly speaking count.
The good news;
- The Federal Corvette and Imperial Cutter all confirmed.
- Three other new ships named Lakon Keelback, Viper MK IV and Asp Scout are confined and appear to be variant ships.
Below is the complete roster:
Following today's development update, we now have some names to put to the ship roster that makes up the promised thirty ships (excluding the Cobra Mk. IV arriving with Horizons in December).
Ships have been added to the game at almost every major release, in groups of two or three. Some have proved to be very unique, while recent additions have been variants of existing ship designs. Either way, we now have enough ships to fill the list of "over thirty" with only three craft as yet unconfirmed for 1.5.
So what are they?
Frontier have rather quietly announced the next major update to Elite: Dangerous after Close Quarters Combat Championship (1.4) will be called "Ships"
When is being released?
After CQCC in September, but before "Horizons" which is being released in "Holiday season" (late November to early December), so some time in October or early November.
What else is in the update?
Well, ships. Clearly.
The update will take the number of unique ships (excluding variants we assume) to over thirty. We already know Horizons will bring the Cobra Mk IV and 1.4 will add the Dropship Mk II, the Federal Gunship and the Imperial Eagle.
There are still a number of ships hinted and teased to date we haven't seen confirmed for any release and they are:
The Panther Clipper - large trade ship. This ship from the earlier Elite Frontier game had huge cargo capacity and formidable defences.
The Imperial Cutter - a large ship which we know little about, but would speculate is an Empire equivalent of the Python, somewhere between a Courier and Clipper or perhaps larger than a Clipper? The concept art we've seen appears to show what became the Imperial Clipper, so will we see a Cutter or not?
The Federal Corvette - the largest flyable ship to be in the game, almost a third larger than an Anaconda. A slow moving weapons platform.
The Dolphin passenger vessel and Beluga Passenger liner - which with the Orca, are Elites passenger transport vessels.
With the introduction of these passenger ships it would follow that passenger transport would become a career path in Elite as well. Something many have waited for.
What else might we see?
Big on the wish-list is ship-in-ship transport and deployment. With SRV's being launched from all ships in Horizons, the idea of a "launch bay rack" for Class 6 & Class 7 internals sounds more plausible. And rather appealing.